It’s time for the 296th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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Why does Giorgia Villa continue using the front full pirouette on bars? She probably loses multiple tenths on that element alone and she seems capable of doing something simpler and cleaner that she could actually connect to her dismount.
This is one of the biggest changes I want to see happen for the Italian team in the coming year. It was cool at first to see all of the wee Italians doing pretty great front giant difficulty a couple of years ago, but now that they’re competing at the highest level, it’s separating them from the other top competitors because there are just so many unnecessary deductions, and it’s not even just Villa or the front full! Though that’s definitely the most glaring and most in need of a revamp. She, Elisa Iorio, and Alice D’Amato are all so great on bars, but I feel like their front work is keeping them from consistently being in the mid-to-high-14s on this event internationally, which is where they should be with 6+ start values.
What on earth is the logic behind throwing athletes out of practice when they’re making mistakes? How can coaches stand to lose the training time? And how can they see it as a way to fix repeated mistakes? Wouldn’t continuing to practice be more beneficial?
In general, throwing a kid out of the gym is supposed to be a way to teach discipline, because when you’re kicked out of the gym for acting up and your teammates are still training, your teammates are getting ahead of you, so the thought is that you’ll eventually start to realize that getting kicked out means getting behind, and you’ll try harder to behave in the gym to keep from getting kicked out. It’s a psychological conditioning tactic called negative punishment to decrease the behavior from happening, and it’s probably something you’ve experienced regularly as a kid and adult when you’ve done something wrong, like having a toy taken away if you fight with your sibling, or having to sit in the principal’s office at school for 10 minutes if you’re loud in class.
Coaches do need a way to discipline kids who act up and create disturbances in the gym, because their behavior affects the other kids around them, so kids do need to learn discipline in the sport and making kids sit in the lobby or do rope climbs isn’t inherently a bad discipline tactic when you have a child who is misbehaving to the point where it’s disruptive. But the problem with throwing a kid out of gymnastics in many instances is that it’s not used to discipline a child for being rowdy or behaving unsafely on the floor. It’s reached the point where kids will get thrown out of the gym simply because the coach gets frustrated, and that’s where it’s crazy to me, because the child isn’t “acting up” or behaving in an undisciplined manner if they miss a release or take too long putting on their grips or something.
Coaches who discipline children for mistakes are acting out of their own anger, and nothing else, which ends up creating a super problematic relationship between them and the kids they coach, because when kids are punished for essentially nothing, they’re just going to learn to fear and mistrust their coaches, which obviously is not healthy both within the context of the sport and in general. “Punishments” for repeatedly missing skills should be something like drills to make these skills more successful, or other relevant learning experiences that make kids better. Taking away valuable training time in these instances makes absolutely no sense! They miss their flight series on beam? Go to the low beam and see if you can hit ten in a row. They’re taking forever to put on their grips? Set a timer and see if the kids can beat it. This addresses the problem but in a way that can actually solve it, whereas kicking kids out just creates more and more problems.
I was watching Christa Tanella on floor at the 2006 U.S. championships and I remembered that music that she did her floor routine to. Who else has used this music?
A LOT of people use this music! It’s called “Nah Neh Nah” by Vaya Con Dios and it’s been pretty popular over the past 10 years. Last year, Polina Borzykh of Georgia and Claudia Villalba of Spain both had it, and every time I heard it, I was like “WHO used this music?!” It drives me crazy every time, and I knew it was someone in the 2012 quad, but thanks to Twitter, I was finally able to learn that it was Lizzy Leduc in 2010! Another WOGA gymnast, so they seemed fond of this particular jam.
Why did Oklahoma only sign two level 10 athletes when they just lost Maggie Nichols? I think one of their commits is only a level 9!
They didn’t only sign two…they initially announced the first batch of athletes who signed last November, which includes six gymnasts, including Audrey Davis, a former junior national team member who will add a lot to the program, as will the number of strong level 10 kids they’re bringing in. The two they just recently signed are both walk-ons, which is awesome, because OU isn’t known for having a lot of walk-ons. They have a total of eight incoming freshmen, which is their biggest signing class under KJ Kindler, and while some of the walk-ons might be weaker level 10s, it’s still great to have a number of athletes on the bench who might not be stars for the program but who can work to get really strong at one or two events so that the team has more back-ups in case of injuries.
Do you know what the eighth leo for the U.S. team in London looks like? I rewatched the Games and it’s driving me crazy that they had another leo we never got to see. I saw Sarah Finnegan sold her leos, but I didn’t get a peek.
No, and I even looked at Sarah’s fundraiser thing, but mostly to see how many people were actually bidding and giving money to a fake organization (the website for her “charity” doesn’t exist anymore, she literally just had the link up so she could get money, which is actually illegal lol). I think it was just a different color option of one of the ones we saw, though…like when I was on Sarah’s fundraiser thing, nothing jumped out at me as being something I’d never seen before.
How did Sui Lu only get a 5.7 D score in the 2010 floor event final? I figured her double L turn may have been downgraded, but she seems to have spare C elements that could make her 5.9 go down to just a 5.8, which would’ve given her the silver.
I don’t have a copy of the code of points from that quad handy, but she did a 2½ to front layout in qualifications and a 2½ to just a front pike in finals, which would cause her to lose a tenth in CV, if I remember correctly. She should have been counting all C+ skills regardless of that change or not, so she was never counting the front layout in her routine, but missing the CV would take it down a tenth, and then if she was also downgraded on the double L turn, there’s another tenth.
Why were Kyla Ross’ bars scores in London so much lower than the ones she received at nationals and trials?
Many gymnasts are scored higher at home than they would be internationally, and Kyla was one of those gymnasts, it’s really that simple. With some gymnasts, they try to boost confidence by giving them higher scores at home than they might receive elsewhere, and I feel like that was the case with Kyla a few times…she was a great gymnast, but also very young, and I think needed a little push, especially since the bars field was so competitive that year and the question was like “do we take a good bars worker like Kyla, who can do other events, or do we take a GREAT bars gymnast who can’t compete anything else?”
Kyla ultimately ended up proving that she was solid and reliable, and maybe getting those crazy high scores at home helped her believe in herself more on that event, but it was always pretty clear to me that while she had a really good bars set, she was never going to be getting 9+ E scores at the Olympics. The mid-8s were still great E scores, though, and she had fantastic routines to become a reserve for the final with the second-best U.S. routine…she just wasn’t at the same level as gymnasts like Beth Tweddle, Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Yao Jinnan, or He Kexin, who are basically the only gymnasts who should’ve been getting 9+ E scores on that event.
What in your opinion was the most innovative period or quad in women’s gymnastics, and what changes to the code do you think led to the greatest artistic innovation or opened up difficulty increases?
I’ve been watching a lot of 80s and 90s meets recently, and I really feel like the mid-80s to early 90s was just like, THE best time to be watching gymnastics. You can really see the sport begin to shift at that point once they started spreading the bars and putting springs in the floor, but at the same time, gymnasts were still taking ballet and had insane artistry and expression, so it was kind of like the best of both worlds, where you had gymnasts starting to do big tricks but not sacrificing the art of the sport. I think the mid-90s showed some of that art starting to drift away as the code opened up to require greater levels of difficulty (instead of gymnasts just doing difficult skills because they were badasses and felt like it), but yeah, 1980-1996 is basically the perfect gymnastics period in my opinion, with the middle years – maybe 1983-1992 – the absolute tops for me.
We’ve had innovation since then, of course, and the change to the fully open-ended code is probably what most would pick here because it completely changed how the sport is judged and who can get on podiums, but I think if you were to take a deep dive and see when every new skill was debuted, it’s that 80s-90s period where it was nonstop with daring new skills that wouldn’t have been imaginable only a few years earlier. I think it’s absolutely nuts that the time difference between first seeing the Yurchenko as a vaulting family and then seeing a Yurchenko double in competition on that rickety old horse is only a few years, but then it took another decade to get the 2½, and it’s now been 20 years since that upgrade, and we’ve still only had unsuccessful attempts at the triple in WAG. Things definitely moved so quickly in the 80s, with everyone rushing to be the first at trying something new, and now that we’re maxing out on what the human body can physically do on the existing equipment, we have much longer waits between one variation of a skill and the next one to follow.
How do coaches know how to teach new skills that they personally have not done before?
It’s not all that difficult. At this point, gymnastics is so formulaic, they’re basically just able to watch videos on YouTube to see drills for the skills they want to teach. Even if you haven’t done it, if you’re a good enough coach to have gymnasts at a high enough level where they’re learning big releases or tumbling passes, both you as the coach and the gymnast have the building blocks already in place to get there by basically training foundational skills along the way, so it’s really just about adding all of these foundational elements together through drills and then from there you can work your way up to coaching that skill.
If you’re at the developmental level in the U.S., you also have the added bonus of learning from all of the experienced coaches at the camps, which to me is the biggest benefit of having these camps in the first place. If you have an eight-year-old who is scoring through the roof in tops but you’ve never coached more than the lowest-level optionals, you suddenly have access to some of the best coaches in the world who will show you exactly how to take your gymnast to the next level, which is why the U.S. has so many young elites and pre-elites coming up through the system with young coaches at never-before-heard-of gyms. It’s a brilliant system, and though USAG hasn’t gotten a lot right in its women’s program, this is something they can actually be proud of.
Does anyone have any idea where Marta and Bela Karolyi are and what they’re doing? Obviously they’ve been laying low, or as some people have said, they’re “in hiding.” But it’s my understanding that they have been specifically named in one or more lawsuits. Do you think they will end up just not being talked about at all when it comes to gymnastics in the United States, since no broadcasts mention them any longer when discussing the U.S. success?
I’ve heard a lot of rumors…that Bela is very sick, that they moved back to Romania, lots of things that don’t really have much behind them. They do have a daughter who lives in the Houston area with her daughters (who look almost creepily like young Martas) so my best guess is that they’re still in that area, especially because I don’t think they can just up and leave the country given their current legal situation. They’re definitely laying low, and it’s not like USAG or NBC or anyone is going to be like “wow, the Olympics are coming up, let’s hear from Marta and Bela to see what they think!” after everything that’s happened. But I don’t know for certain where they are or what they’re doing, and just assume that they’re living their lives as retired people with grandkids, since being part of a lawsuit isn’t something that would require anything from them on a daily basis.
I feel like in the future, broadcasts – at least at the Olympics – will HAVE to talk about them, because they were such a big part of the sport’s history first with Nadia Comaneci and then running the U.S. program for 30 years, you can’t just ignore that. It would also be terrible and insulting to the survivors of their abusive culture to just erase them from the sport’s memory. I get that NBC will want to keep it light and focus on the current athletes when they next cover an Olympic Games, but after spending decades talking about how amazing the Karolyis are and making an entire documentary about how perfect the ranch system was under USAG’s guidance even though USAG knew full well what was happening with Larry Nassar at that point (GOD THE ABSOLUTE BALLS AND LACK OF CONSCIENCE, I WANT TO SCREAM), they seriously cannot just pretend they don’t exist, and I hope they do use future broadcasts to continue this discussion that exists about changing the culture and why it needs to keep moving forward away from the ranch and what Bela and Marta created.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins