You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Anna Pavlova

It’s time for the 298th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!

We apologize if we haven’t gotten to your question yet, but we try to answer in the order in which they were received (unless they are super relevant and need to be answered in a timely manner).

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In your opinion, is anyone getting full credit for their ring leaps?

On floor I’d say many would get credit, but on beam…yikes overall, but I do think a few of them do. In terms of currently competing gymnasts, Flavia Saraiva’s are often my favorite, though hers can be hit or miss, especially between the ring leaps (which I think are usually angled weird) and switch rings. Many, if not basically ALL, of the Chinese gymnasts who compete at the international level right now are usually pretty tight with their ring shapes. I can’t think of any I’d typically not credit…there are a few whose ring elements are a bit angular which isn’t really an aesthetic I love, but the positioning is correct and that’s what matters. 

I think my favorite of all time is probably Anna Pavlova. She had it all, and then some…not only did she have all of the correct positioning and hit every requirement of a switch ring leap, but she also had EPIC oversplit and hyperextension. Most gymnasts can’t even do this on floor, so for Anna to look this good on beam was just incredible.

I also remember loving Nastia Liukin’s for the oversplit/hyperextension, but she lacked the back flexibility and her ring didn’t really close the way it should, so I don’t know if it would be credited today. Even though it looked aesthetically gorgeous, it just didn’t hit every requirement of a true ring position.

Would you ever like to see a change in uneven bars with more emphasis on swing elements than the constant start/stop of every move coming to a handstand? Maybe a requirement that a gymnast comes to a handstand twice, and the rest of the routine shows a continuous motion of swings, connections, transitions, and release moves like routines in the 70s?

I think most routines now are pretty fluid with a lot of back and forth and very few pauses to cast to handstand, at least in terms of the strongest routines we see. One of the most common routine styles we see now is that Russian-style routine where it’s a lot of back-and-forth in terms of transitions, and then they do a release near the end before dismounting, so there’s really only one or two “breaks” in the fluidity of the routine.

I also think that the difficulty level of most releases now requires a pause for gymnasts to cast to handstand. I’m sure there are gymnasts that could pull together simpler routines with more of an emphasis on connecting swing elements and looking perfectly fluid throughout, but these routines just aren’t that difficult and I don’t see future codes taking a step back to the years before releases were popular, since releases are literally what changed the entire direction of the uneven bars in the 80s with the bars being set further apart.

A good compromise might be increasing the connection bonus you can get from having multiple skills back-to-back, so these gymnasts who want to connect basically all eight elements in a row can be able to do this and have it actually be worth something…and to increase the cap on transitional elements so that there’s more room to play here. Right now it’s only really worth it if you’re doing connections that are all D+E or higher, so you can get that 0.2 CV, because five D+D connections in a row only adds up to four tenths in bonus, which isn’t really much when you have gymnasts doing multiple F+ release skills on top of multiple D+D connections. An incentive for gymnasts to build greater difficulty with a routine showing continuous motion could spark a change, but with the way routines are evaluated now, it’s hard to make a routine like this worth it.

What counts as a hit routine? Does the gymnast need to stay on the apparatus, or does the E score need to be a certain number?

There’s really no set standard…it’s all just subjective based on the person calling a routine a hit or a miss. Most people just say a routine with no falls is a hit, whereas a routine with a fall is a miss, but for me, if a routine has a million wobbles and near falls and major mistakes, I wouldn’t really call it a “hit routine”…I’d probably be like “well, at least she didn’t FALL” but I wouldn’t exactly call it hit. There’s also no specific E score that would make a routine “hit” especially because on beam, a routine with a 7.5 at worlds could be excellent, but just have lots of little technical deductions. I really just go off of how I feel about the routine, honestly, and I guess most other people would. The only people who have any reason to call a routine “hit” or not is when talking about a routine casually or in commentary, so it’s not like judges are marking routines as hit or not in record books or anything, and this really isn’t a huge topic for concern among the FIG. I have seen colleges track hit routines for athletes, and they all seem to just consider a hit routine one that didn’t have a fall, which is obviously the easiest way to look at it. But I personally don’t consider a routine with a million mistakes “hit.”

Has any woman ever won a medal in every event at a single Olympics or worlds?

Simone Biles won medals in the all-around and team finals as well as in all four apparatus finals in 2018, following in the footsteps of Larisa Latynina in both 1958 and 1962, as well as Natalia Kuchinskaya in 1966, Ludmila Tourischeva and Olga Korbut in 1974, and Elena Shushunova in 1987.

Larisa Latynina (1960 and 1964), Vera Caslavska (1968) and Daniela Silivas (1988) are the only gymnasts to win medals in all six events currently contested at a single Olympics. Beyond Daniela, a few gymnasts have gotten five medals at one time, including Margit Korondi in 1952, Agnes Keleti in 1956, Karin Janz in 1972, Nadia Comaneci in 1976, Ecaterina Szabo and Mary Lou Retton in 1984, Shannon Miller in 1992, Nastia Liukin in 2008, and Simone Biles in 2016. Technically Larisa and Agnes had six apiece in 1956, as did Margit in 1952, but for each of them, one of the six was for the “team portable” event which no longer exists, so when you consider the six events that have been contested since then, they only get to count five.

Do you know what order release moves are usually taught in?

It depends on the gymnast and the coach. Most will do drills for various types of skills in general that they may never end up competing, but they still often try them out just to see if it’s something that may work for them. I would say that the most basic straddle Tkachevs and straddle Jaegers are considered the two “standards” for releases, and many gymnasts might start learning both around the same time, unless a coach is particularly successful with one over the other and just has all kids doing Jaegers or something because that’s their thing. But I think in general most coaches have their gymnasts try a lot of skills when they’re just getting started, and there’s never a set “first Tkachevs, then Jaegers, then Giengers, then Deltchevs” progression or anything.

Are the ‘famous’ or top elite coaches wealthy? I know most tuition goes to training time and costs, and that rec fees are the big money maker at gyms. Are the elite coaches living large? I know team and rec coaches often say their salaries are low.

Usually if top elite coaches own their own gyms, they do have the ability to earn a lot of money. You’re correct that rec kids are where the money is, and so a gym owner might coach a handful of elite kids, but the big money is coming from having droves of kids in rec programs. Some club owners can make bank doing this, especially if they have huge gyms with thousands of kids coming in for classes every year, but some gyms do have struggles and find it difficult to make ends meet. Really just depends on a lot of factors, many of which have nothing to do with gymnastics.

If a coach is at a gym they don’t have any ownership in, salaries can be pretty low, especially at the rec and compulsory J.O. levels, and many coaches supplement their incomes with other things…I know a few coaches who are also teachers, as well as many coaches who do a lot of judging on the side. 

I feel like if a coach does really well at the higher J.O. levels and starts getting big results and even qualifies a few elite kids, come salary negotiation time, they can absolutely use these results as leverage to get a higher salary or a big bonus, and often coaches who don’t get what they feel like they deserve in these situations could then decide to move to another gym that has seen their success and wants to snag them, so they’re willing to reward them nicely for it. 

If the American Cup is dead, does that mean it’s the end of the Nastia Liukin Cup as well?

I don’t think so. I think the Nastia Liukin Cup can exist in its own right as an invitational similar to other big level 10 invitationals. If the American Cup disappears forever and the Nastia Liukin Cup can no longer piggyback on all of the work that goes into organizing a major competition, then I don’t think the event will be as huge as it’s been, and also don’t think it would be a premier televised event or anything…but if they scaled down a bit, or tacked it onto a legit invitational where they could make more money by having open J.O. competitions at every level in addition to the usual closed meet that you have to qualify for, I could see it doing very well. It would obviously take a lot of planning, and it might be too late right now to plan an entire J.O. invitational for early 2021, but it could definitely work as an option in the future!

Plus, the WOGA Classic is a thing, so instead of using it as a qualifier to the Nastia Liukin Cup, they can schedule all of the qualifiers to happen beforehand and then the Nastia Liukin Cup can take place at the WOGA Classic. The WOGA Classic also has a few top-level events like the Liukin Invitational for guys and the international elite session for the gals, so they can probably squeeze this in as a third big-ticket competition as part of the larger WOGA Classic, and that could probably work out pretty well.

Why did the junior elites in the U.S. only get a 4.9 for performing an FTY last quad? This quad it looks like they get a 5.5 instead of a 5.4 for performing a DTY, which makes sense because it’s bonus for doing a harder vault, but last quad it looks like they received a deduction for performing an FTY when seniors got a 5.0 for that same vault.

Last quad, both the juniors and seniors got docked as a “penalty” for performing the FTY, because the women’s program thought this would encourage them to go for greater difficulty, but this quad they just decided to shift gears and keep the “penalty” only for the seniors, whereas the juniors now get bonuses for more difficulty. 

I think the way they’re doing it now with a bonus instead of a penalty is better for younger kids, because they’re not really “losing” anything now if they have a weaker vault, whereas last quad, a tenth off for an FTY could’ve been the difference between qualifying elite and not qualifying, or getting on the podium or missing it (a few seniors this quad have missed elite qualification because of that penalty, and then at some events, judges forget to take the penalty which resulted in one girl qualifying to senior elite with the exact score she needed even though her score should have been two tenths lower based on how other gymnasts were scored, lol…love it). 

Now for juniors it’s like, don’t have a DTY? Cool, do what you can, and you’re fine, but if you CAN go bigger, here’s a little reward.

How would Chellsie Memmel actually qualify for Tokyo? Can she qualify for an individual spot, or for the team?

Her best shot would be to get the non-nominative individual spot that the U.S. will likely qualify through the all-around world cups. I feel like that spot will go to someone who is a top six all-arounder but who also has a really strong apparatus that could be a medal contender in finals (think MyKayla Skinner in 2016), so if Chellsie doesn’t bring back her other events, I don’t see them sending her *just* for beam, especially because one little misstep in qualifications, and it’s like, okay, she’s not making the final, why did we bring her?! But if she does get a decent all-around program back, or if she shows that she’s beyond brilliant on beam and they absolutely *need* to bring her, then I could see it potentially happening that way. Of course, making the team is also an option, so if she casually comes back and is one of the best in the country, then she can also make the team, but I don’t see that as being super realistic, and think if she does have a prayer at having this work out for her, the individual non-nominative spot is her best way in.

Is there a difference between Jaegers in reverse grip and in regular grip in terms of the skill value and actual difficulty?

No, the Jaeger doesn’t include the circle element going into the salto as part of the skill itself…it’s just the salto and whatever shape the salto is (straddle, tuck, layout). That said, a reverse grip into the front giant is a B, whereas an L grip front giant is a C, so if you don’t have a ton of high-valued skills in your set and you do an L grip into a Jaeger, you’d at least get a higher-valued front giant to add into your top 8 skills…but most gymnasts competing at the international level are trying for all D+ elements on bars, and so an L grip front giant isn’t worth it to them at all when they’re not gonna count it as a skill or get any bonus out of it. Perhaps if the FIG made a specific differentiation in the code between the element values of reverse grip Jaegers and L grip Jaegers, more gymnasts with all D+ elements in their routine would opt to try the L grip version for that extra tenth?

I never really pay attention to the grip in the front giant before Jaegers when watching routines, because for the most part, the gymnast isn’t going to be counting that front giant in her set and so they’re almost all just doing reverse grip, so I honestly don’t even know if anyone has competed an L grip front giant into a Jaeger that I’ve seen, but there have been a few cool hops to L grip into Jaegers throughout history, including Missy Marlowe in 1986 and Mirela Pasca in 1992. I’m assuming the combo may have been worth something in older codes…definitely a possibility!

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

22 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. What happened to American Cup being dead? Did I miss something?

    Also thank you SO MUCH Lauren for all these You Asked posts. 100% my gymternet MVP for the COVID pandemic.

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    • Thank you!! Apparently there was some talk about the American Cup no longer happening…I heard that USAG isn’t going to include it on the schedule in 2021, mostly because the 2020 American Cup is what counted towards Olympic qualification, so there’s no need to host it again in terms of using it as a qualifier for the Olympics, so that makes sense…but I’ve heard that it might not happen again BEYOND 2021, so…do with that what you will. I haven’t heard this confirmed officially, but it’s been discussed out there in the universe, so there probably has some layer of truth to it.

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      • I’m not a fan of them cancelling the American Cup, because for American gym fans, it’s our only international comp, but I wish they would make it later in the year so we can actually see some gymnastics….

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        • I wish it would go back to being what it used to be a couple decades ago, where it’s no longer a world cup, no longer invite-only, and instead all countries are allowed to send gymnasts so that you have a few dozen athletes competing in qualifications and then the top eight make the final. Two-day competitions are more worth it for gymnasts who are traveling from across the world to compete, especially when it’s in cities that don’t have legit airports. For Greensboro, even I had problems finding direct/short flights from NYC! Gymnasts from Brazil can get to NYC and other major U.S. cities in like 10 hours max, but it takes them like 24 hours to get to these tiny ass cities because they end up having a billion layovers. It’s insane, and it’s why many countries often turn down spots. There are so many things they could do to change it to make it more attractive to international athletes who would love to come to the U.S. and compete with the best in the world, but instead it’s become this exclusive little world cup that top countries turn down and smaller programs can’t get invited to, hosted in the middle of winter in “cities” no one can get to. It blows my mind that they have the opportunity to make this such a great international meet and instead it’s like, here’s the top two Americans, one or two pretty strong international girls who can’t beat the Americans, and then a bunch of last-minute replacements who will score a 50 because everyone else withdrew once they realized how pointless this meet is. It only “means something” this year because it was an Olympic qualifier, but most years I’m just like…literally what is happening lol. Such a waste.

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    • Oh damn, she did! I took my information from when I worked at NBC and the research team had a graphic about Simone tying the other greats for five medals, so I guess that graphic was wrong, LOL. I’ve literally had that graphic in my head for four years and use that as my source for this info, so thank you for the correction. But now that I’m thinking about it, more gymnasts than just the ones I’ve listed had five, so I’m thinking the graphic maybe related to most gold medals or something. I just looked at my medal rankings and there were like five gymnasts I missed with five medals, hahaha. I also missed Vera Caslavska with 6 in ’68!

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  2. And I forgot to add THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all of these YATGA posts! It’s helping us through this drought of competition

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  3. A lot of people complain about Anna’s front leg being to low on her leaps, but to me its fine. Yes a little lower than her back leg but not that much.

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    • Yeah, it’s still like, at 180 even if it’s not raised, and she’s still in a really lovely position. The picture I used, she’s not really oversplit at all, but I watched a video earlier of one of her switch rings and that oversplit was definitely there! I mean, I guess you can’t be perfect EVERY time…but she was close! Better than you could expect from almost anyone else on beam.

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    • If you’re not splitting 180 parallel with the floor, your back leg NEEDS to be higher than the front leg. Nothing less visually pleasing about a leap than both legs pointing down lol

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

  5. Did Loan His do a L-grip to jeager or was it a regular reverse grip? I can’t tell but what she did seemed a little different than what most gymnasts usually do. Thanks for all the work you do for gym fans

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