You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Photo from Heavy Medals, a 30 for 30 podcast

It’s time for the 307th 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).

Something you want to know? Ask us anonymously by going through the contact form at the bottom of the page.

What ever happened to Rick Newman, the scary assistant coach at the ranch who married one of the moms? Has he ever spoken out about the Karolyis?

Starting off this post by letting you know I tried to compile all of the questions I received about Heavy Medals, the 30 for 30 podcast about Martha and Bela Karolyi, “how they transformed women’s gymnastics in the United States, and the steep price of all that gold.” It’s an incredible podcast everyone should listen to, so please be sure to check it out and I’m happy to answer any additional questions that come in about it and everything it covers.

Last I heard, he was still coaching at Technique Gymnastics in California…this was about a year ago that I heard he was there, and I think he has a lot of level 10s in his group.

I don’t think he has ever spoken out about the Karolyis, but that’s probably because he basically IS a Karolyi in terms of his coaching style, at least what it was in the 90s. Michelle Campi – whose mother was the one romantically involved with him for a time being and he even moved into the house where Michelle lived while coaching her – was pretty vocal about him being abusive as her club coach, especially when she had a fear skill on bars and he continued to force her to do it even though she begged him to change it. She ended up falling on that skill and breaking three vertebrae, ending her elite career.

But basically every article you can find about Rick from the 90s links him to abuse and calls him a “Karolyi disciple” so I hope he’s since changed considering he’s still coaching young girls but I also think if he came out to speak about the Karolyis, a lot of people would likely come forward about him, and I’m sure he wants to avoid that.

When Bela and Martha Karolyi sold their Houston gym, did it become another gymnastics club or is it a Best Buy or something? Has it ever been explained why they didn’t just turn day-to-day management over to someone else and keep cashing checks?

Sorry, I initially read this as being about the ranch, not about their actual club, so I answered about the ranch originally! So the club itself was sold to James Holmes, who renamed it Acrofit, and according to Keri A. on Twitter who alerted me to the fact that I missed the key part of this question, Monica Flammer was training there in 1997 while trying to get a scholarship. Acrofit is still a thing today, though not a super high-level gym. They’ve had some level 9s, but usually just one or two at a time, and that’s where they’ve maxed out. Olivia Hollingsworth, currently a senior elite, actually got her start at Acrofit and continued until level 9 before moving, first to Stars in 2013 and then World Champions Centre in 2018.

The Heavy Medals podcast mentioned that Tasha Schwikert first went to a national training camp at the ranch when she was 12. That would have been in 1997…after the Karolyis retired from personal coaching but before Bela became the national taem coordinator. Who was using the ranch during that period, and why?

The Karolyis continued using the ranch for their summer camps even after they retired from elite coaching, but I don’t believe the ranch was used for national team purposes that year. I know they had their pre-worlds training camp in New York in 1997, but it seems like there was no singular centralized location and that national team camps ended up being held at various clubs, so perhaps the Karolyis let USA Gymnastics use the ranch for some sort of junior or developmental camp at some point in that year?

I was really surprised to hear that Chelle Stack visited Bela and Martha Karolyi recently because I was under the impression that they hated each other (my only memory of reading Bela’s memoir is how thoroughly he trashed the Stacks). What’s the deal with that?

I’m not sure…I know Chelle Stack’s mom hated the Karolyis and wrote her own book about Chelle’s career that got in-depth about how terrible the Karolyis were, so maybe the drama was between them and her mom while she still maintained some sort of relationship with them? Also, I heard a couple of years ago that Bela was getting really sick, so if Chelle’s own relationship with them wasn’t terrible, or if she somehow softened in her feelings about them over the years, she probably wanted to see them before things got bad or something. I feel like while some people truly hate the Karolyis and others truly love them, the majority of people who worked with them have incredibly mixed feelings about them and their time as elite gymnasts, so I can see many wanting to visit them for a variety of reasons and don’t think it’s odd at all.

Do you think Simone Biles will ever elaborate on her statement that there were “under the table deals’ that dictated the team selection in 2016?

I don’t think Simone will, and honestly I’m shocked that she went as far as saying that because rumors have existed for years, but hearing her say it out loud was rather alarming and makes me think that if she’s talking publicly about it, there could be something happening there that will eventually break. I don’t want to substantiate rumors or speculate about what she said beyond just the possibility of back room deals existing, because this kind of speculation has the potential to hurt many innocent people. What she said was obviously intriguing, but I doubt she CAN say more without hard evidence, and think it’s best we just wait for something official.

The Heavy Medals podcast mentioned that Mattie Larson was a Beijing alternate at one point. That’s…not correct, right?

No, the three alternates were Jana Bieger, Ivana Hong, and Corrie Lothrop. A lot of mainstream media thinks anyone who doesn’t make a team is an “alternate option” so they refer to them as “alternates” in that sense a lot of the time, even though they weren’t actually named an official replacement athlete for the team. That’s what I think likely happened here…that they assumed because she was at trials and contending for a spot on the team, not making it made her an “alternate” in the sense that she was an option.

Speaking to Mattie Larson’s comments about gymnasts having lifelong trauma, does the national team have mental healthcare? Is there a therapist available to gymnasts? Did Martha and Bela Karolyi ever have mental health professionals available?

I don’t think there was ever anyone at the ranch under the Karolyis who was there to work with the athletes on any mental health concerns. Often gymnasts who weren’t performing well would be referred to sports therapists who would help them work on stuff like handling nerves and pressure in competitions and stuff, but there was never a focus on most other issues that fall under the mental health realm, which is kind of odd considering any number of mental health struggles would obviously contribute to a gymnast not performing well. I feel like since the breakdown of USA Gymnastics over the past few years, they have added mental health professionals to the national team staff on some sort of basis…probably not full-time I’m guessing, but I think they’re available in some official capacity in a way that they weren’t before.

Which was the more shocking podium finish at world championships, Great Britain in 2015 or Italy in 2019?

I think Great Britain in 2015. I personally had said since 2017 that the Italian juniors – the Brixia Four – were going to challenge any major Russian or Chinese team at the major international level and that team absolutely had it in them to snag a medal in 2019, though I thought it would be over the Russians, not over the Chinese. It was in every prediction post I made that they were capable of it, and I feel like anyone else who watched that team grow up would have said the same thing. It wasn’t a guarantee because I do think China was a much stronger team pound-for-pound, but it was certainly a possibility, especially with the Russians looking a little rough in the months leading up to worlds, so even though it didn’t happen the way I expected, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they made it happen!

But Great Britain in 2015…that to me came out of nowhere. Yes, they had a very strong team, and could have easily been predicted as a top five squad based on the sheer talent, but this is when we were still living at the tail end of the “Big Four” and even though Romania got knocked out of the team final, it seemed inconceivable that anyone would break into the United States-Russia-China bubble. There was still a pretty clear divide between “the best” and “the rest” but even after Great Britain came in third above China in qualifications, I thought, eh, in a three-up three-count team final, Russia and China still had a CLEAR scoring advantage if they hit their full potential. China had a great recovery in the final, finishing four points ahead of the Brits which is pretty telling considering they came in two points behind in qualifications, but the Russians – who had been four points ahead of the Brits in qualifications – had a meltdown in finals to miss the podium by half a point. The Brits were fabulous and did an incredible job to take advantage of the Russians missing many routines, but going into worlds, I didn’t see them as a major medal threat unless something went seriously wrong with a leading contender. In the end, the Russians missed what should have been a pretty easy medal for them, but the Brits get all of the credit for being one hundred percent focused, in the zone, and prepared to do exactly what they needed to take down one of the best teams in the world.

Once NCAA gymnasts have finished their time at college, can they go back to elite gymnastics? Can Ruby Harrold now go back to Great Britain and try and compete for a spot at the Olympic Games? 

Yes, they can, and it’s done all the time, especially for smaller program teams. I don’t think this is Ruby’s plan, but she could very well try for Tokyo if she felt like it. In 2016, Brittany Rogers completed her career at Georgia in the spring while training elite and competing at elite competitions simultaneously, and she ended up making the Olympic team that summer.

Many others from countries that often send elites to NCAA programs – Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, etc. – have had similar stories with gymnasts either simultaneously doing NCAA and elite, or coming back from NCAA to return to an elite program. Not all qualify to the Olympics, but many give it a try, especially if they’ve been able to maintain a high elite level in college. While it’s more rare for U.S. gymnasts to make elite comebacks during or after college, it’s also not impossible, with Mohini Bhardwaj making the 2004 team after competing for UCLA and Alicia Sacramone making the team in 2008 after spending a couple years at Brown. Following in their footsteps, MyKayla Skinner is now attempting to make the Tokyo team after three years at Utah.

Did Dominique Moceanu get deducted for the front straight jump rebound out of her middle tumbling pass in 1996, or is that allowed as a connection?

This was choreography out of the pass, which is allowed and is not a deduction. It wasn’t a connection, however, as it’s too easy an element to be worth any value or have any connection value. I think it was likely choreographed out of the pass to cover up any landing deductions, which you see happen in NCAA a lot now (Gracie Kramer’s jump out of one of her UCLA passes is the one that most comes to mind because everyone always asked me if it was a deduction).

Can Maggie Nichols be compensated for Athlete A? It obviously filmed while she was in college but the money making part didn’t happen until after her career in NCAA was over, assuming it is over.

Most documentaries don’t pay its subjects because once you pay someone, they’re working for you, which blurs the line of ethical, unbiased storytelling, which is the whole point of a documentary. But that said, many people will pay for the exclusive rights to tell someone’s story, and I think this could possibly fall under that, in which case Maggie could have been compensated. I think getting paid to be featured a sports documentary while an NCAA athlete would go against eligibility requirements, but if compensation was involved, it could have been that they waited to pay her, paid her through her family, or something along those lines. I do think that since this was a legit documentary, and since she was its subject, it would have been inappropriate to pay her, though there are obviously opportunities that come out of being featured in the doc, and since the film came out after her NCAA career ended, she is absolutely in a place to take advantage of these opportunities now.

Why do gymnasts attend world cups if they know they won’t qualify to the Olympics via finals, or won’t even make it to finals?

Most, especially those from smaller programs who don’t otherwise get a lot of competitive experience, do it for the experience, and because if they do make the final – even if they don’t have a huge shot at placing at the top – they can earn a little money. Larger programs have major national-level meets and often get invited to top-level international friendly meets, but smaller programs don’t have anything really at the national level where they’re able to compete in front of a large crowd (in some countries, national championships are basically a glorified camp-style verification in a gym), and they have fewer international options available to them.

The apparatus world cups have long been where smaller program gymnasts go to prepare for bigger competitions like continental championships, worlds, and the Olympics, and since the overall level of competition is typically weaker – especially prior to world cups being used as Olympic qualifiers – they do often have a chance to make finals, especially at the world cups that don’t have high attendance because of where they are geographically, or when in the season they’re held.

Someone like Tjasa Kysselef, for example, is a long shot for a European Championships vault final, let alone a worlds final, but she’s done incredibly well for herself on the world cup and world challenge cup circuit over the years, consistently making finals and also often ending up on the podium. Now that the world cups have more depth due to being Olympic qualifiers, she’s less likely to be in medal contention, but it’s still worth it for her to go, get the experience, and hope to at least make the final because all those who earn final spots get prize money.

There are others who are long shots for even making the finals at world cups because they barely get into the double digits for their event scores, but again, there are some world cups that end up being massively under-attended, and so they can still end up in the position to get the experience of making a final and taking home prize money basically just for attending (this is more common at the challenge cups, but at Melbourne in 2019, despite it acting as an Olympic qualifier, only 11 gymnasts competed on vault in qualifications, as well as nine on bars, 11 on beam, and ten on floor, so with eight spots open in finals, you can pretty much go, compete all events, and bet that at least one finals spot will work out).

I also just don’t love the whole “what’s the point of doing gymnastics if you’re not the best” attitude in general, because if everyone thought like that, then only a handful would bother staying at high-level competition, and the sport would be pretty boring. Most of my favorite gymnasts are the ones who never make major international finals, but they have other qualities that make them standouts in the sport, and they clearly love the sport and love trying to reach bigger and better heights, which is why they keep going and why they attend competitions where they’re unlikely to medal or make finals – because they want to do it, they want to improve, and competing among the best is going to give them invaluable experience that makes them even better.

Why are gymnasts always waving their arms around or posing on beam in between acro or tumbling elements? Are there specific requirements or are they just supposed to create fluidity? I find them distracting!

They’re supposed to move fluidly throughout the routine and not take any pauses, and the arm waves and posing is supposed to be the choreography that allows gymnasts to keep moving in between skills. However, while a handful of gymnasts are good at moving fluidly from skill to skill with choreography that makes sense in the context of the full routine, most of this “choreography” is just random, even sometimes frantic, movement that doesn’t work at all, but they do it anyway so they don’t get penalized for stopping. I’d personally rather see a routine with a pause for the athlete to concentrate on her next skill than one where she’s racing around moving JUST because she has to move.

If the Olympics get canceled next year, do you think the U.S. will repeat what they did in 1980 and hold trials and name a team anyway?

I hope so! A trials event – even something held at a camp with just the athletes and their parents – would be a great way to honor the gymnasts who worked so hard this quad, regardless of whether they end up being named to the team or not. I’ve heard epidemiologists recently say life won’t get back to normal until 2022, so I do think we have to start thinking now about the possibility that Tokyo just won’t happen at all, so it would be nice to have some kind of backup plan that includes how we can honor the athletes. I like expecting the best but preparing for the worst, and now that we’ve seen “the worst” happen in so many aspects of life, not just sports, I think it would be smart to always have these sorts of back-ups on hand just for our own peace of mind.

Can you apply to college gymnastics or do you have to be recruited?

Most large programs actively recruit gymnasts, which involves coaches reaching out to athletes and vice versa. Technically any athlete at any level can reach out to the coach and see if there’s interest, and I’ve known gymnasts well below the levels schools typically recruit still see if they could get the chance for a try-out for a walk-on spot, but obviously if you’re a 17-year-old level 5, you’re not going to get much of a response. Some programs have forms on their website that you can fill out to share your interest and let the coaches know things like your GPA, your skill level, and so on, and most gymnasts who are level 9-10 have YouTube channels or Instagram pages just for recruitment purposes so if they’re not one of the most highly-recruited elites or level 10s, they still have everything readily available when they reach out to a coach.

Gymnasts will also sometimes work with “recruiting expert” consultants that parents pay (like Jill Hicks) who tell athletes what they need to do on a step-by-step basis if they want to get recognized by NCAA programs, and I’ve even heard of situations where a consultant might know exactly what a team is looking for and facilitate a relationship between an athlete and coach. The consultants who have personal relationships with collegiate head coaches might know that one team is really on the lookout for vaulters, for example, so if a recruit signs up with her and is notable for her vault talent, she might be able to link the two.

I’ve actually been the middle-man for a couple of coach-athlete relationships, not as a consultant, but just from hearing a coach make an off-handed comment and having someone in mind for their needs. Both times, the coach was interested, so I got permission to share the athlete’s contact information once they were of-age, and both of these situations ended up working out, which was awesome to see, even just personally as someone who desperately wanted these specific gymnasts at a specific program, haha. Coaches work very hard to notice gymnasts who could be standouts for their programs, but with thousands of gymnasts competing at a high level in a position to be recruited all around the world, they can miss a lot of good options, so I feel like from my own experience, there are probably a bunch of “middle man” situations like this where coaches talk to various people and get recommendations based on their exact needs.

With all of the explosive allegations that have come out recently regarding all forms of abuse against gymnasts, is there any federation with a good reputation in terms of how athletes are treated?

I don’t want to even mention a program as “looking” like they have a good reputation, because from my experience, the programs that look the most supportive and amazing on the outside are the ones that are the most screwed up on the inside. I think inherently most federations are poison to athletes because their primary focus should be the athletes, but as businesses, most end up caring more about money than anything else. I think there are a lot of good coaches within various federations, whether club coaches or at the national level, but I feel like I’ve heard stories about every federation having some level of cover-up whether related to abuse or just unfair treatment of athletes, especially when there’s a “star” of the program who gets special treatment while the others on the team are treated like they don’t matter. From big program down to the programs with a handful of international gymnasts, nothing seems great, and there’s somehow always corruption.

I just thought of Chile as an example because Tomas Gonzalez as head of the federation probably treats himself well, but the women’s program within the Chilean federation has SO much drama with some coaches and their athletes getting preferential treatment over others, so like…no one’s safe, unfortunately. I can think of something I’ve personally seen or a drama I’ve heard about from every single federation that’s coming to mind right now, which is basically encompassing of every single federation in the world. It’s funny, because in the past, China had the worst reputation for athlete abuse based on images of children being ripped out of their homes and forced to train until they cry, but lately, they seem to have spent a lot of time on improving the athlete experience, which is funny because that decision was actually based on what they perceived the U.S. experience to be. They created a rec program that’s name loosely translates to “happy gymnastics,” and the program is strict, but when I see the girls at international meets, they always seem to be happy and having fun with each other. Again, that’s just what I’m getting from my perspective, and I’m sure they’re not perfect, but they seem to be on the upswing at a time where we’re learning the once seemingly-perfect programs aren’t really that great.

Has Ryohei Kato retired?

No, he was still competing last year, and at a pretty high level, but he’s just no longer one of the top guys in Japan, so he’s been unable to earn international assignments. I saw him on a list of competitors for the All-Japan all-around competition this year before it got canceled, and assumed he wanted to push forward to get the chance to at least try for the Tokyo Olympic Games, but he wouldn’t be a top option at this point unless he makes some drastic improvements in the next year.

What happens if you do two vaults from the same family in qualifications? Like if a gymnast was competing a Yurchenko double but wanted to try and get a perfect 10 for an FTY, could she do the DTY first and then the FTY second and just not qualify for the final? Or would the second vault get a zero?

You get a two-point penalty for doing two vaults from the same family, so even if you do like, a triple-twisting Yurchenko and an Amanar and are basically perfect at both of them, you’re still going to get two points docked from your score, so you’ll be among the lower qualifiers and it’s not worth it at all.

I mean, if you don’t care at all about making the vault final and want to try to get the first perfect 10 in execution under the open-ended code, then go for it? But FTYs at the elite level are really difficult to score well with, because if you have the power to consistently do harder vaults, you’re likely going to have too much power on a simpler vault like an FTY and have significant landing deductions even if you were perfect in the air, and if you don’t have the power to do the more difficult vaults, you’re probably not going to have a ton of height or distance on your FTY, so you’re likely to get deductions for lacking in these areas. It just doesn’t seem likely that this specific vault is the one we’ll see a perfect score on, and the NCAA gymnasts who consistently get 10s in college would still probably get a handful of deductions at the elite level. If McKayla Maroney didn’t get a 10 for her team final Amanar in London, I feel like no one’s getting a 10, unless Simone Biles uncrosses her feet and sticks her Cheng. But I’d totally be open to the U.S. sending a bunch of NCAA gymnasts to a world cup to do their “perfect” FTYs and seeing what the judges do with them!

I’ve been watching Make It or Break It during quarantine. Do top elite gyms ever have friendly competitions with each other in the real world? Like WOGA and Texas Dreams?

Not really. The closest we get is when gyms have invitationals that include elite sessions with team competitions. The WOGA Classic international session has an elite session where scores count as both individual and team results, so if multiple U.S. clubs send enough gymnasts to have full teams competing, then that’s kind of a team competition between U.S. elite gyms. I can’t find team results for most of the WOGA Classic meets, but in 2018, the international session saw the Japanese national team in first, WOGA in second, a Japanese club in third, and Hill’s in fourth. We see a few little invitationals like this each season that involve elites, but most clubs – especially those with national team members – don’t send gymnasts, so we only rarely see true club vs. club elite team battles in the U.S. Many other countries have a “team championships” each year in addition to the usual individual national championships, which would be cool for the U.S. to adopt, especially as an early-season meet. To include clubs that don’t have a ton of elites, they could make it so that everyone can compete, and the top two scores per club count or something…I think it would be a fun, low-pressure way to kick off the season, and it’s something I’ve wanted to see adopted for a long time!

A couple of years ago I remember you saying Maria Paseka’s vaults were unsafe. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that? How is what she does riskier than any other meh or bad vault?

The difference between a risky vault and one that’s just not cute for me comes down to whether it’s performed safely, and if you’re just chucking yourself at the table and hoping for the best in the air and on the landing, it’s usually not a very safe attempt. Like, people have their issues with some of the technique in MyKayla Skinner’s Cheng, and it’s fair criticism, which is why she’s working on improving those issues, but Maria’s problem isn’t that she lacks technique on her Cheng…it’s that she literally shouldn’t be doing it right now because she lacks the power and ability to get it around safely, and yet is throwing it anyway and just hoping it works out.

MyKayla’s Cheng in comparison lacks some fine-tuning, but it’s not unsafe, and that’s the difference for me. It doesn’t even mean Maria is a bad vaulter…her Amanar has almost never looked unsafe to me, and her Cheng has also had its decent moments, but since her back injury, her Cheng has just looked terrifying this quad. It’s not even so much the lack of technique that bothers me…it’s the fact that she’s focusing exactly zero percent on the technique because all of her energy is going into merely trying to get it around in the air.

I think about it like, I can do a full pirouette in ballet and get every technical aspect correct when I make that my focus, but when I’m trying to throw a double pirouette on flat or a full pirouette on pointe, both of which are newer to me and much more difficult, I end up throwing it and all technique goes out the window because my thoughts become about getting the rotations around, so it’s like, the rotations are there, but it’s super gross, and even dangerous for my ankles on pointe. But when I go back to putting my focus on the technique and don’t just wildly throw myself into the turn, I can just do one because I don’t have the strength yet to do more than that. At the end of the day, the correct technique makes the rotation easier, but you also need the strength and power on top of that, and if you’re missing one aspect, overall it’s just not going to work out and will be lacking in one of those two areas.

Bringing this back to Maria, if she tried a Cheng and focused on all of the correct technique, she probably wouldn’t get more than just a half rotation around because she’s lacking power, and if she just chucks it with zero attention to technique, she can kind of get it around, but it obviously it looks crazy in the air. If she gets her strength back and can work on making the technique a focus again, then I think she can get this vault back to a safe place, but as it’s looked over the past few years, it’s scary to me because she’s missing so much of what she needs to make it safe.

In terms of NCAA success, who had more – Bridget Sloan, Kyla Ross, or Maggie Nichols?

I consider all three on the same tier of NCAA success, aka the top of the NCAA charts throughout history. I think it’s impossible to judge who is the best all-time NCAA competitor in gymnastics because the scoring changes on a meet-to-meet basis, so you can barely accurately compare top scores and records and accolades across a single season, let alone across years and eras. I think there are a number of all-time NCAA legends and while some may have had more 10s or better hit records or bigger national titles, they all sit relatively equally in my book.

Who out of the current U.S. women’s team seems most likely to have Oksana Chusovitina-esque longevity?

Honestly, Simone, but I don’t think she WANTS that kind of longevity and that’s the difference between them. The reason for Oksana’s longevity is partly because she’s built for it, meaning she barely gets seriously injured or put in a place where she NEEDS to retire, but Oksana also wants to keep doing it and refuses to give it up, whereas I feel like Simone is basically ready NOW to move on and doesn’t want to spend her life in the sport. Body type plays a huge role in it, though, so the gymnasts who are built with bricks for muscles would be best able to sustain a high-level career for a longer period of time. I’m thinking, like, Aly Raisman, Brenna Dowell, MyKayla Skinner, Jade Carey…I low key want MyKayla to do gymnastics forever because actually she might be more physically able to handle it than Simone, now that I think about it. This girl has been doing double doubles on floor and vaulting DTYs or bigger at pretty much every competition at every level for over a decade at this point and she seems physically unstoppable. I feel like if she was from a smaller program and could qualify to the Olympics as an individual, she’d be at every Games until she’s 50.

Why are Amanars worth so little these days?

They initially decreased in value from a 6.5 to a 6.3 between the 2012 and 2016 codes because they were thought to give an “unfair advantage” because gymnasts could realistically “easily” score in the 16s on vault if they had Amanars, whereas on other events, gymnasts with similar start values weren’t as likely to reach the 16s because more is taken off in execution on bars, beam, and floor than is taken off on vault.

Some people (mostly Americans lol) say this because of the Americans winning in London, and say the FIG just hates Americans and want to limit them, but while the FIG definitely has it out for certain aspects of the American dominance (e.g. Simone Biles’ eponymous skills), limiting vault difficulty in comparison to other events hurts everyone, and besides, the Americans didn’t win in London or Rio or any of the billion other competitions they won JUST because of vault. Bringing Amanars down to a 6.3 did absolutely nothing to stop their dominance, and the 2016 team could’ve shown up with a bunch of FTYs and still snagged gold.

With another code change going into the 2020 quad that took all vault start values down about three to five tenths to match the similar decrease in credit requirements on the other three events, the Amanar again saw a decrease from a 6.3 to a 5.8, but this was mostly just about the rest of the code changing, not so much about being mean to the Amanar. They opted to make all vaults that follow a pattern within the same family four tenths apart from one another, so a full is a 4.6, a 1½ is a 5.0, a double is a 5.4, a 2½ is a 5.8, and so on, making the progression more logical than it was before.

But that said, seeing an Amanar go from a seven-tenth advantage over a DTY to just a four-tenth advantage is a really big drop considering just how much more difficult the Amanar is, and it’s made it not really worth going after because you’re more likely to score higher on a solid DTY than you will on a chucked Amanar. Basically anyone wanting to make the 2012 U.S. team pretty much were told they needed Amanars to help take the team to the next level, but now it’s like, it doesn’t really matter at all. If you can do one brilliantly and safely, amazing, but that alone isn’t going to get you onto the team over someone who hasa really strong DTY and can contribute on other events.

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

9 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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

  2. How is it possible that Donna Strauss’s name is staying out of the conversation regarding abuse of gymnasts? She has been verbally abusing gymnasts for decades and has been captured doing so on film (Many times) in the 2003 Parkettes documentary.

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  3. “I don’t think he has ever spoken out about the Karolyis, but that’s probably because he basically IS a Karolyi in terms of his coaching style, at least what it was in the 90s. Michelle Campi – whose mother was the one romantically involved with him for a time being and he even moved into the house where Michelle lived while coaching her – was pretty vocal about him being abusive as her club coach”

    Does anyone know if the very similar plot point in Stick It was based on this, or was it just a coincidence?

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    • Ooh, good catch, I don’t know if it was based on that or if the Stick It team would have been that clued-in to someone even most hardcore gym fans don’t know about, but maybe?!

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      • The writer, whose name I’m forgetting is a fan so may have known? It wasn’t mentioned in the commentary (yeah, I listened to it) but she may not have wanted to bring it up publicly. At the same time, if one wanted a dramatic plot involving a teen athlete and her mother, that would be an obvious choice, so I don’t know.

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  4. Can anyone tell me more about Biles’ statements regarding ‘under the table deals’ for the 2016 team selection? I totally missed that..

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  5. Re. the seemingly-random and at times frantic movements on beam, LORDY, you said it, Lauren! 🙂 I’d love to see less of it. It’s a goofy requirement. Maybe a compromise, like limited number of pauses allowed or pauses allowed before/between certain types of things? (Maybe that’s a stupid idea or isn’t practical; just thinking out loud.)

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