You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

Gymnastics World Championships, Day 10, Stuttgart, Germany - 13 Oct 2019

It’s time for the 295th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!

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Please note that I am offline for the month of June, and am posting a backlog of questions and answers in the meantime. If you submit a question, it will not be answered until at least July!

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Have the springs in the floor exercise mat gotten springier over the years? It seems like gymnasts continue to do more difficult passes with even more height as the years go on. Is this in part due to apparatus order?

They definitely have gotten a bit springier over the years, but not to the point of making gymnasts easily able to do really difficult tumbling. The floor first got springs in the early 80s, and then over the past 30 years, the engineering of how these springs work has been fine-tuned to consistently make it better for gymnasts, but springs only do so much. You basically need to know how to work the springs to use them to your advantage, and you still need a ton of power to get the bigger skills around. 

Double doubles have existed since the 80s and it took us 30 years to see a triple double in WAG, but that’s because of Simone Biles, not because of the springs. The springs haven’t improved so much since the 80s to make this happen, and if you didn’t have the strength and speed to do a double double in the late 80s, you probably also don’t have the strength and speed to do one now. 

I think the rise in such skills was more because gymnasts started conditioning differently to be more muscular and to have more power, whereas previously they were kept tiny and more lean with a focus on the aesthetic over anything else. As the code started opening up to require more difficulty to get a start value out of a 10, and then as the open-ended code came into place, the gymnasts had to change along with the sport, and that meant we finally saw an appreciation of greater body diversity because it became more about what you could do than how you looked. Gymnasts are helped by springs, but they’re doing bigger and more difficult tumbling because of how bodies are changing more so than how springs have changed.

Does MyKayla Skinner get a deduction for how she casts up to handstand? Would it be considered a straddle cast handstand or a straight cast handstand, since she doesn’t really straddle?

I’ve never thought about that before, but watching them closely now, yeah, she does a kind of straight cast with her legs slightly apart when she first comes out of the kip and then waits to straddle until she’s past horizontal. I think they’d just consider this a straddle cast, since she does eventually straddle into handstand, and don’t think it’s something she’s losing too much on, but I can see her losing a tenth for making them a bit more ambiguous than they should be.

In 1991-1992, Kim Zmeskal and Svetlana Boginskaya famously hated each other (Kim even used the word “hate” in an interview). They later trained together under Bela Karolyi. Do you know if they became friends from that, or if they are friendly now?

I think most of their “hate” came to be because the press really worked hard to pit them against each other, especially after Kim got the world title in 1991, which was kind of controversial because Svetlana definitely had the stronger overall performance. After worlds, Bela started spouting off about how Svetlana was SO OVER and that gymnasts like Kim were the future of the sport, so then Svetlana was basically like “Kim sucks, she is NOT the future of gymnastics,” so Kim was like “I hate her, she’s old, retire!!!” 

It was a lot of that back and forth all via the press, never really one-on-one, and I don’t think Kim “hated” Svetlana, or vice versa, in the way the press made it sound like, especially since Kim was mostly just mirroring what Bela was saying. They didn’t really ever know each other, and were just urged on by the press to be shady about each other, so that’s where that animosity came from and they definitely didn’t have a good relationship when they were competing because of it. 

However, and kind of hilariously, Svetlana ended up moving to the U.S. after the 1992 Olympics to train with Bela, OF ALL PEOPLE, and she actually became good friends with Kim after that. She still lives in the Houston area now, and the two remain pretty close, with Kim consistently inviting Svetlana to be one of the “legends” at her annual invitational. It’s kind of similar to what happened with Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, and with many others who are great rivals in the sport…sometimes the press can literally control the relationship of two people in a rivalry more than their actual experiences with each other can, all simply to drive a story. It’s sad, but I’m glad that they mostly seem to realize this as they get older and try to rectify things.

Could you please do a deep analysis of the difficulty score of the floor exercise routine from Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos during qualifications at the 2019 world championships? I can’t seem to get to the score of 5.8 that she was given by the judges.

I think the issue is that whoever edited the FIG’s qualification videos for some reason cut out parts of her routine? Because they don’t show her full-in, and instead do a weird camera angle switch that makes it look like she goes right into her leaps after her first pass, but I was there in person and have the full-in included in my live blog, so literally what are you doing FIG?

I’ll still do the “deep dive” so you can see it WITH the full-in included. Floor is what I’m worst at in terms of putting together the start value because there are a billion different connection bonuses and I always mis-remember, but this is what I have…

  • Roundoff + back handspring + full-twisting double layout (H)
  • Roundoff + back handspring + full-twisting double tuck (E)
  • Switch ring (C) + tour jeté half (D)
  • Double wolf turn (D)
  • Front layout (B) + roundoff + back handspring + double tuck (D) = 0.1 CV
  • Roundoff + back handspring + double pike (D)
  • Split jump full (B)

Top 8 Skills: HEDDDDCB = 3.4

Connections: 0.1

Credit Requirements: 2.0

Total = 5.5

So I’m also not at a 5.8, and I don’t think I missed anything? I just watched her EF routine and it’s the same exact skills and she was awarded a 5.5 there, so I’m assuming the judges somehow made a mistake with her qualifications routine or something because no matter how I try to add it up, I can’t seem to get to a 5.8. Like, did someone think she did a double double for her second pass in quals? That’s all I can think of, unless I’m just totally losing it and not seeing something.

Do you think it was a good decision for Jordan Chiles to defer and continue for the Olympics? Does she actually have a fighting chance?

If this is what she wants to do, then I think it’s a great idea! She’s a long shot for the Olympics, and she probably knows it, but if she feels like she still has more to give in elite gymnastics and wants the chance to at least try, then she absolutely should go for it. I think moving to WCC created such a change in her gymnastics in such a short time from what we saw in 2019, and while competing in 2020 probably still would’ve been tough just given the overall depth in the United States, an extra year to prepare could do wonders for her, and I can totally see her getting to a very high level on vault and floor, and then also getting solid enough on bars and beam to end up as one of the top all-arounders in the country. While she knows her chances might be lower than others, she clearly thinks that she could potentially be in the mix given the extra time to train, so I think she’s making the right decision to follow that dream even if it doesn’t end up resulting in a team spot.

Which current elite that’s going to NCAA do you think will absolutely crush it the way Kyla Ross and Maggie Nichols did, or were they rare?

I don’t think Kyla or Maggie were rare…there are always those who come into college after successful elite runs who end up completely dominating in their careers. Kyla and Maggie are rare in that they were competing at the same time and had more of a “rivalry” because their schools were also the top two in the NCAA fighting back and forth for team titles, and so there became more of a push for judges to give them 10s for every single routine because they had to keep continuously one-upping each other…but they’re no different than Bridget Sloan was, or Sam Peszek, or Courtney Kupets, and so-on. 

I think it’s rare that we get two gymnasts as hyped as Kyla and Maggie were at the same time to create a rivalry like that, because for the most part, it’s really just one gymnast at a time who’s hyped as being the most dominant or a legend or someone going down as the best in NCAA history. Don’t get me wrong, these ‘hyped’ gymnasts are doing amazing things in NCAA, but a LOT of gymnasts competing simultaneously are doing just as much and just don’t get the recognition for it because they don’t have “the story” that these gymnasts have, and unfortunately, that hype creates situations where they’re able to win titles and get 10s on name only, whereas gymnasts without that hype are doing the same thing without as much recognition. It’s weird, how much your name can drive your prestige in NCAA, but there have been dozens upon dozens of college gymnasts who have “crushed it” just like Kyla and Maggie and any of the other big name gymnasts did, but they’re not considered to be in the same category simply because they just don’t have that name recognition.

With all of that said, then the current elites who go and “absolutely crush it the way Kyla and Maggie did” is any elite who goes to Tokyo and then shows up in NCAA afterwards with a consistently solid all-around program. I feel like someone like Grace McCallum having been on a couple of worlds teams could go either way, but someone like Sunisa Lee would be the new “it girl” over Grace because she’d probably come in with the bigger name value, if that makes sense. Any of the current elites looking toward college in the future has the potential to be a knockout at the collegiate level, but some just have more potential to be “hyped” than others, and that’s what the real difference is. You have to be an excellent collegiate gymnast to get that hype, so it’s not undeserved for Maggie or Kyla or any of the others over time, but you also have to have “the name” to go along with it, and the fact that this is what differentiates gymnasts as being “legends” in college is crazy when there are other gymnasts competing just as consistently and at a high level who don’t get that same recognition (like Trinity Thomas right now as one example, but there are lots of others in the same boat).

What would happen to the code if somebody competed a double back dismount with 1½ twists on beam? Would the Biles be upgraded?

No, they’d probably just rate it I assume the same as a Biles, since rating it the same as a full-in would be a bit too low. When it came time to reevaluate the code for the next set of changes, they could then talk about the values and whether they should increase the Biles, but they wouldn’t do it directly when evaluating the 1½. 

Do you know of any gymnasts who have competed a full-twisting double tuck where they do the twist before both saltos?

No, and I can’t even really wrap my brain around this…so like an arabian but with a full twist before salto-ing instead of the half, I assume? I mean, I think it maybe could physically be something that could happen, but it’s not something I can ever remember seeing.

Obviously Oksana Chusovitina deserves every iota of praise and wonder she gets, but why doesn’t Daniele Hypolito get the same clout? Five Olympics in the modern era!!! Are there others who have had similar streaks and are still active or who recently retired?

I wrote about this a while back, I think when I wrote an article highlighting the careers of gymnasts over the age of 30, and I did the same in 2016 to celebrate the veterans in Rio, but basically I think the reason why Daniele isn’t as celebrated is because Oksana did everything Daniele’s doing just a couple quads in advance of her. I remember watching Beijing and being like “WOW, Oksana is 33!?!?! HOW is she still competing?!” and my sentiments were pretty much echoed…but now that Oksana is competing at age 44, seeing a woman in her 30s compete is like…so? It’s so funny, but I also remember commentators calling 18 and 19-year-olds old, and 20-year-olds outlandishly ancient, so we basically just adjust our perspectives as we keep moving through the sport. When Oksana is competing at the 2028 Games at the age of 53, women in their 30s and 40s aren’t going to seem as impressive.

But competing in your mid-30s and having five Olympic Games under your belt is obviously an incredible accomplishment, especially when you’re just two Games behind the incredible Oksana. I feel like TWO games is a major accomplishment for gymnasts, so five or seven, both are an incredibly big deal. Daniele and Oksana are the only two women to reach five or more Games, and for the men, you also have Yordan Yovchev at six and then Heikki Savolainen and Josy Stoffel at five, and then there are quite a few who have been three or four times, but for pretty much all sports, five seems to be the most significant and illusive of the milestones, and both Daniele and Oksana are legends for making it happen.

Why don’t elite gymnasts switch to the trampoline events after they retire from artistic gymnastics and their bodies can’t handle the hard landings on floor anymore but they still have something left? Any thoughts?

Trampoline is still plenty difficult, and it’s not easy to just transition over to it from artistic! Yes, you’ll have the basics down, and it would be easier for a former elite artistic gymnast to get started in trampoline than it would be for someone from a sport like basketball or something where they have zero gymnastics basics, but there’s still a lot to learn, and if your body is hurting enough for you to retire from artistic, it’s generally just a better idea to retire entirely than to go into a sport that also causes plenty of nagging and lasting injuries.

That said, there are lots of gymnasts who begin training as artistic gymnasts and then switch over to trampoline because it’s a bit easier on their bodies, and because it’s generally also easier to reach the higher levels than it is in artistic, simply because fewer people do trampoline. An artistic gymnast who is still physically healthy but no longer wants to compete at the elite level in artistic could probably do very well in elite trampoline with a few years of training.

Have a question? Ask below! Remember that the form directly below this line is for questions; to comment, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page. We do not answer questions about team predictions nor questions that ask “what do you think of [insert gymnast here]?”

Article by Lauren Hopkins

12 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered – SportUpdates

  2. Not exactly sure if the full in question was referring to something like this, but Tatiana Groshkova did a 2/1 at the beginning of her double back in 1989:

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    • Yeah, there are a few double-in skills when an element has two twists (instead of the typical full-in full-out), but it sounded to me like this was asking if there is an example of a skill with one twist where the twist happens before the flips, so a little different!

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      • Maybe they meant if anyone does a tucked full-in similar to a piked full-in, where you do the twist almost laid out and then pike? For example Jennifer Gadirova pretty much does that in her tuck full-in beam dismount.

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        • No, I think they meant actually *before* the flip, because that’s what they asked…I feel like they would’ve phrased the question way differently if they meant “do the twist laid-out in the first flip” but they specifically said “where they do the twist before both saltos” so I assume they’re picturing something like an arabian which like, I GUESS could happen if they’re fast enough but it would look super weird.

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  3. Also, I think I remember something about MDJDS getting credited for 1 leap in fx quals that she didn’t get credit for in the EF. Not sure if that helps.

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    • Ahhh, yeah, possibly? I’ll have to go back and rewatch with that in mind but yeah, I was going crazy trying to figure this out because I literally had no idea where they were getting the QF start value from.

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      • I think the judges just gave her the wrong D score. Her maximum is 5,7 (in TF with the triple wolf turn). In the qual routine she only did a double so should’ve been 5,6 (the split leap 1/1 is a C)

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        • Yeah, going back and looking at it, I also think they just gave her the wrong score. I can’t find any possible way she would’ve gotten the SV she was awarded.

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  4. Sometimes the reputation-based scores in NCAA are utterly perplexing to me. I agree, it’s like each gymnast, and each team, are scored on their own personal COP. Perfect Y-1 1/2 vault from Taylor Houchin – 9.925. Y-Full with a hop from Nia Dennis – 9.95. Okkkkk

    In the 2020 season, I couldn’t comprehend how the judges decided Kiya Johnson would be one of the top scored gymnasts in the country. Way too many of her 9.95+ scores looked 0.05-.1 too high. How does that come to be? I get that her DTY was impressive, but she seemed to be gifted that 9.95-10 range of scores way more than deserved.
    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Kiya’s gymnastics. But her scores were nearly up there with Kyla and Maggie’s.

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    • Yeah, it’s really weird who gets picked to be one of the top scorers…there was a super random LSU gymnast a couple of years ago who honestly wasn’t that great, and wasn’t even well-known prior to NCAA, and yet she always got ridiculously high scores and I never understood why. Like, she was good, but…her scores REALLY confused me, lol. That’s just one example of one gymnast at one program, but yeah, I feel the same way about a lot of the bigger programs, where a gymnast who isn’t all that great benefits from the name of the school and then truly great gymnasts at smaller programs are fully ignored.

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