You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

29Nov_Caitlin_JO-1

It’s time for the 311th 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.

With the new qualification system based on continental championships, does that mean the “continental representation” spots are no longer a separate thing? If so, could we actually see South Africa get a spot they’d accept?

Correct, the continental championships basically take away the need for a continental representation spot, so those no longer exist and the only “required” spots to fill are the host country spot (which is generally not needed because the host country qualifies in its own right more often than not, so this gets thrown back into the general all-around pool) and the tripartite spot. Caitlin Rooskrantz actually qualified to the Olympic Games outright at world championships last year, and South Africa is letting her take the spot because she earned it, and then South Africa also has the potential to earn an additional spot at continental championships, so they’d also probably let that athlete attend since it’s another “earned” spot.

Simone Biles posted videos of her throwing a double layout to double tuck, and a triple double off beam. What would these be worth in the COP?

So the double layout to double tuck would just get CV, it wouldn’t be a skill rated on its own. Right now the most you can get awarded in CV for a connection like that is 0.2, but if she were to seriously compete that, she could petition the FIG for more, like Ellie Black did when she got 0.3  awarded I believe for a 2½ through to double tuck (or something similar, I’m not trusting my memory with that one!). I think Simone could realistically get 0.4 for hers, but since it’s a direct connection, I’d want it to get more…though knowing the FIG, they probably wouldn’t go more than that. A triple double off beam should be a K or more, honestly, but given the current dismount value progression, the FIG would probably give it an I.

Do you think athletes should get the same credit/points towards carding or national team status if they were only reserve or non-traveling alternate?

I’m not sure what this means…well, the “points” and “carding” part of the question, anyway. Do you mean like, should they be allowed to call themselves Olympians if they were alternates and didn’t get the medal? I think so, because for many countries, reserve athletes are considered part of the team even if they didn’t actually compete, so an Olympic alternate saying she was part of the Olympic team is accurate. The same goes for the worlds alternate, who is often now actually part of the team on the floor. Alternates work just as hard as the athletes on the team, and even though they’re not contributing points to the team totals, I do think that work should be acknowledged in some way. Even if they’re not technically “an Olympian” it’s absolutely fair that they can say they were part of the Olympic team, and the same goes for worlds.

What do you think of Anya Pilgrim? I felt last year that she had a lot of potential for upgrades and think that 2021 might be too early for her but I could see the old Hill’s model of slowly coming into her own as a contender for later years.

I agree that she’d be a bit green going into the Olympics next year, especially because she has been injured and just doesn’t have the experience that most other athletes do, but I think she’s tremendously talented and I’d love to see her make the national team as a senior and get out there in some way. I’d also love to see her get the front inbar skill she has named for her at a world cup or something if she doesn’t end up going to worlds or another larger meet!

How do you think leaps are treated on floor compared to tumbling passes? Are judges as strict with deductions and devaluations?

Yes, they’re strict with leaps on floor, but tumbling passes often just have more to deduct from. Like, you’re very rarely going to see a landing deduction for a leap, whereas that’s a huge deduction for tumbling passes in even the best routines, and most gymnasts are pretty solid with their leap form on floor (compared to beam where leaps are much messier), so unless a gymnast really struggles hitting 180, or just isn’t doing the correct shape of the leap, it’s possible for many gymnasts to come away with zero deductions for some of their leap elements.

Are all the elite Russian FIG disciplines run out of Round Lake, or is it just artistic gymnastics?

The rhythmic team trains at Novogorsk, which is another large national facility in the same vein as Round Lake, but I’m not sure about tumbling or any of the other disciplines. From what I remember picturing Novogorsk, they did have a lot of large trampolines, so it’s possible the T+T athletes use those facilities, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. In terms of Round Lake, it’s not actually just for gymnastics. Other sports also have their national teams housed there, like swimming and fencing, so I consider it more along the lines of the USOTC in Colorado Springs than something like what the ranch was for WAG. 

Is Lali Dekanoidze still competing elite for Georgia?

I don’t think so. She hasn’t competed since she was a junior in 2017, and she’s committed to begin competing NCAA in the 2021-2022 season, so she seems to be focusing mainly on level 10 instead of trying to do elite. I think if she was really serious about elite, she would have been at worlds last year to contend for an Olympic spot, but it seems that wasn’t a priority for her, so I’d guess she just tried it out when she was younger and decided not to continue with competing at that level.

If Ana Porgras hadn’t retired, where would she have fit in 2012? Who would she have replaced?

Considering how great a bar worker Ana was, you have to take away one of the bar workers from the team, and since Diana Chelaru ONLY did bars in the team final, it’s gotta be her, sadly! I also would have wanted her on beam and would’ve taken Diana Bulimar off of beam in the final. That would’ve been such a perfect team, honestly, though both Dianas were fabulous and got the job done in London. When Ana first retired I was seriously worried about the team, but even if they weren’t perfect in London, they were pretty close to doing everything they needed to do in the final. 

Can it happen that a Gienger or Deltchev is executed in a way that it would be difficult to say which of those skills it was? Would this be a problem for the judges to figure out which to credit or which deductions to take?

I think there can definitely be ambiguous skills…I’ve never been SO confused regarding a Gienger or Deltchev before because I feel like they’re always done clearly enough so that the difference is easy to spot, so I’m sure the judges are mostly fine with these, but the one I have trouble with is the punch front on beam and whether it’s tucked or piked. Usually this is because a gymnast doing a pike will bend her knees to land it, but if she does it too early, she ends up tucking the majority of the skill, and I’m always like, I have no idea what she’s trying to get credited, but I’d give it a tuck. This definitely happens when a gymnast’s body shape isn’t perfect on a skill, because to the judges, it looks like she’s doing another skill, and they’ll credit it for what it looks like. I feel like it’s a fine line between when judges just deduct for poor form versus when they actually credit a different skill, so it’s not always obvious if something will get downgraded or just deducted, and sometimes you don’t really know what the judges are thinking until you see the D score awarded and it’s lower than what you expected.

Who is the genius who decided gymnasts should wear leos and why is it standard? It seems so incredibly impractical. Why don’t they just switch to something more practical?

Leotards or similarly form-fitting outfits common for a lot of aesthetic sports and activities (like other gymnastics disciplines, diving, cheerleading, ballet…) because the athletes are judged on how their bodies look technically, and leotards and similar outfits make it easier for those technical aspects to stand out. Leotards have been a part of gymnastics for pretty much the entire modern era of the Olympic version of the sport (so 1928 for women), and though they involved shorts at first, eventually these disappeared so that the line could become cleaner from the hip down. I don’t know why the modern version of the leotard with sleeves became a thing, or why they thought it made sense to cover arms while leaving the legs exposed and not the other way around, or why leotards became so decorative with an emphasis on adding crystals and swirls, but there also have been advances in performance technology, like materials that are flexible and move with the athlete or are sweat-absorbing. Considering the long-sleeved performance leos have been a thing since the 60s with no real changes outside of material and style since then, I do think it’s time for an update, and would love to see someone who works in fashion technology do a redesign to create a new version of a gymnastics performance outfit that would work to both complement the gymnast aesthetically while also helping them perform at their best.

Is Texas Dreams’ Colbi Flory still intending on competing in NCAA gymnastics? Is she committed to UCLA?

Colbi is no longer doing gymnastics, and is therefore no longer committed to UCLA. She last competed at J.O. nationals in 2018, and then decided to quit the sport. She started cheerleading for her high school and will be going to Baylor University this coming year.

Do you know if Annie Beard still trains and if she’ll compete elite?

Annie quit elite and dropped back to level 10. She was actually doing SUPER well this season before COVID shut everything down! She is committed to LSU for the 2023-2024 season, and was one of the first verbals of her class among all university programs, so she was clearly very much in demand.

I was watching Kyla Ross’ instagram story,  and she and her UCLA senior class  were watching the UCLA athlete graduation video. They all started laughing when Stella Savvidou’s name came up, then they all shushed each other. I remember Stella was originally slated to do a 5th year, then withdrew in the fall. Have there been any reports of team dynamic problems at UCLA? I also checked, and none of the UCLA gymnasts follow Stella…but she follows them. Wondering if any reports of bullying have ever come out? Seemed weird to me how they reacted when her name came up at graduation.

I don’t follow the gymnasts’ personal lives so I don’t know what the deal is or who people follow/don’t follow, or why. I would hope there’s no bullying that was going on, but I’ll leave this to the comment section if people want to discuss.

Has Riley McCusker given a statement on the Maggie Haney situation?

She hasn’t been super outspoken in terms of releasing a statement or anything official on her Instagram or something, but after she left MG Elite, the press started reporting that Riley’s mom was one of the parents behind the push to get Maggie suspended back in 2019. I feel like people were saying Riley at first had something on Instagram that was in defense of Maggie, but I’m sure she was in a difficult position of liking her coach for various reasons despite being in an abusive situation. After she left, though, the story came out mostly via documents related to the SafeSport case, and hopefully it was easier for Riley to see what a good situation looked like compared to the one she had been in…but she never said anything directly that I’ve seen.

What are your views on Ellis O’Reilly and her coach Sam James and making her train with bulging discs which caused her to fall off beam in Rio 2016?

I think it’s not so much about the bulging discs “causing” her to fall. Everyone falls regardless of bulging discs, so whether they caused the fall or not, that’s kind of beyond the point. It was more about the abusive training that led to her having severe back injuries, and then no one being there to check on her after her fall. How she was training in the lead-up to Rio went far past her physical limits, which is what caused her back problems to get even worse, and it was entirely unnecessary when she had already earned an Olympic spot and could have just gone in with lower-difficulty routines, like many other injured individual qualifiers did rather than give up their spots. Instead, she was pushed to the breaking point in training, so by the time she got to Rio, she already had three fractures in her back, and when she then landed on her head on her beam dismount, she wasn’t given a proper look-over at all, and her coach even patted her on the head, which could be lethal to a person with a head or neck injury. It wasn’t until she returned home that she learned she had a broken neck from that fall. The doctor told her she could be paralyzed if she had one more fall like that, and said that if she continued gymnastics in general, it could result in a lifetime of health problems, which is why she opted to retire directly after Rio rather than attempt to continue her career. 

Do Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes have a passive-aggressive dislike for each other in a way Shawn and Nastia used to? Each was commentating in London and, when asked, each only mentioned that they had seen the other in London. It was a little too tight-lipped. Is it possible they were pitted against each in the media and it took a toll on their friendship?

I don’t think they have a passive aggressive relationship. I’ve been around them many times and they seem pretty friendly with one another. I was sitting next to Dominique in the press stands at trials in 2012, and when Shannon walked by, Dominique was like “just sit down and chill for a second” and Shannon was like “NEVER!” and Dominique made a joke about how she literally never stops moving. They were always chatting with each other and joking and laughing. At the Olympics, both of their jobs were to comment on what was currently happening in the sport, not to talk about themselves. Most former athletes who are now commenting hate when their co-commentators ask about stuff that isn’t relevant to the current competition, so they probably were just like “yes we saw each other here now MOVE ON” or something. I don’t think that says anything about their friendship, just that they were trying to be professional while working on the air.

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

26 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • What event is this? I always remembered hearing about this “It’s a DELTCHEV” moment from Nastia but have never figured out what it’s from? The only familiar faces are Nastia and Bogi.

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  1. In many interviews, Shannon and Dominique have always spoken very highly of one another. Also, in the recent IG live rewatch of 1996 Atlanta team finals with Amanda and Shannon, Shannon reminisces of how much she adores and respects Dawes whenever Dominique’s routines came up.

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    • That’s awesome! I figured from what I saw watching them that they were still good friends, they seemed to have a great rapport and I didn’t get anything but a good impression.

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

  3. Wtf is going on at Texas Dreams?? At this point I can’t understand why anyone serious about pursuing elite would go there tbh, it seems to be a guaranteed way to *not* have a senior career!

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      • I’ve talked about this a lot before. When you have such a large number of elites, you’re going to have a higher number of injuries and kids retiring. Most gymnasts aren’t built to do elite, but Texas Dreams “allows” more kids to try it than other gyms might. Some gyms have requirements for kids who want to compete at the elite level, but Texas Dreams is known for letting kids just go for it, though that means most won’t be super successful at the elite level and will probably jump back to level 10 pretty quickly.

        I remember at nationals, I believe in 2013 or around that era, Macy Toronjo had one day where she hit all of her routines and still placed like dead last, but she was the happiest kid in the mixed zone and KZB was the happiest coach. I asked if she was happy about her performance and Macy was like “omg yes this is the best day ever” and KZB was like “her one goal for elite was to just make it to nationals, so this goes beyond her wildest expectations!” Because elite programs are so expensive and time consuming, you basically NEVER see a coach who is like “our goal is to make nationals.” The goal is ALWAYS national team, worlds team, Olympic team. Allowing a bunch of kids at this level, though, obviously means it ups their injury count when they have like 6 kids doing elite and other gyms only have 1 or 2. Chow has an amazing reputation but he’s only had about 2-3 kids max who are elite at any given time, and all of his kids were always injured (that Alexis Vasquez-Norah Flatley-Rachel Gowey group especially), but because he only had a couple, it didn’t look that bad and no one asks why he always has one million broken kids.

        I will say I was confused about why Ragan’s foot took a million years to heal and why she kept competing on it and why she never had surgery, but since her family came out and said that this was THEIR decision, not the gym’s, with a comment about they had every right to do what they thought was best for Ragan and fans shouldn’t question their medical decisions when they don’t know what kind of treatments she’s had and made a comment like “do gym fans know more than Ragan’s surgeon?!” then I guess they’re right in that we can’t judge her family’s medical decisions for her.

        EDIT: I wrote this just a few days prior to Ashton Kim coming forward with her story about the abusive culture at Texas Dreams, one that essentially bullied kids into overtraining so that they could “prove” themselves to their coaches. This behavior absolutely leads to injuries, and is likely the key reason we’ve seen such a high number of injuries at that gym over the past decade.

        Without previously knowing Ashton’s story, or that Texas Dreams was basically just the Karolyi culture remixed, I used what I knew from parents and gymnasts as well as my own observations at competitions to speculate why the injury rate would be so high in an environment that didn’t come off as abusive, but that’s the problem – the most abusive cultures show an entirely different picture in the public to manipulate people into thinking they’re “the GOOD gym” in a sea of abusive gyms, so that when abusive behavior happens behind closed doors, people are more likely to be like “Texas Dreams?! NEVER!” I never once got any vibes that they were one of the “bad” gyms, and aside from questioning a few things back in the day – including the high number of injuries, but also the fact that they often pulled kids from meets despite them not being injured in what seemed like a “punishment” for not performing well – I didn’t suspect that things were anywhere near as bad as we now know that they were.

        It’s alarming to find out that people you once really liked and trusted were complicit in a culture that is so abhorrent, especially because this isn’t the first time this has happened and this won’t be the last time we’ll experience this kind of manipulation. All I can do is step back, reevaluate everything I thought I knew about the gym and its coaches and culture, and change my perception when talking about them to include Ashton’s incredibly insightful and important story. I never want to accuse coaches or gyms of abuse without having these stories actually confirmed, which is why I’ve never before included “abuse” as a reason for injures, but when speculating about these kinds of questions in the future where abuse isn’t confirmed, I’ll include a disclaimer that discusses the overall culture of abuse in the sport as one of those reasons.

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        • Ashton actually reached out to me and asked if I could share her tweet. I was the first person to RT it. I then shared this comment with her and apologized because I wrote it so recently, and explained that my most recent Texas Dreams opinions were based on hearing the story of a L10 gymnast who reached out to me on Instagram, Anastasia Cardino, who went to Texas Dreams to escape abuse at Iarov Elite. She said Texas Dreams has been her “safe haven” in letting her skip practices when she needs to, because her trauma is so great, she sometimes can’t get out of bed. I thought wow, Texas Dreams must be doing something right, and then bam, two weeks later, I see Ashton’s story. Ashton said she hopes Kim and Chris have gotten better since she trained there, and hopes that her coming forward will help them think even more about their actions so that they can change. She was not offended by my response here and said she understands that it was based on what I knew personally about Texas Dreams, which to this point has been mostly positive (based on what gymnasts and parents have said, compared to other gyms). I’m keeping this comment up just like I’m keeping up my summer 2014 article about MG Elite, because both show how easily manipulated the outside picture can be when there is so much abuse behind closed doors.

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  4. I believe Ellie Black’s bonus pass was when she did a 2.5 to triple full. A D+D indirect, which the 2.5 to double tuck would be, has an assigned CV (0.2), so it wouldn’t make sense for her to get additional bonus, but the 2.5 to triple was a D+E indirect so that seems like somewhere they could petition for an extra tenth.

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  5. Also, I’m the one who asked about the continental spots and South Africa. I somehow missed that they’d qualified an athlete at Worlds (although that is totally cool), but I was specifically wondering about the continental championships because it is kind of different, but at the same time, it seems like a certain amount of it is optics and details — in both cases, they’re qualifying by being the best gymnasts from the continent, it’s just a difference of how and where, but maybe the fact that it’s direct competition for those spots would matter to the federation.

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    • Oh yeah, the continental championships totally takes away the need for the continental representation spot, so even if they hadn’t qualified a spot at worlds, their Olympic Committee would likely still allow a gymnast who qualified from continental championships to go to the Games because she “earned it in her own right”…their argument for not sending gymnasts when they get the representation spot is that they don’t want to pay for someone to go when they didn’t actually “earn” it.

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      • No, I get that, it’s just that from where I’m looking at it, it’s like…but either way, unless I’m much mistaken it’s the best gymnasts from that continent, the only question is how that’s determined. But I can see how having a direct competition for the spot would feel different from picking the “best” from worlds finishes where all the potential contenders are pretty low in the overall standings.

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        • Yeah, their reasoning is literally just about it being “earned” or not. I don’t think their Olympic Committee even looks at scores or standings or anything. A gymnast who gets a 48 and places one spot away from qualifying but gets a “representation” spot is “lesser” in their eyes than a gymnast who gets a 42 but still falls within a high enough ranking to “earn” the spot. That’s really all it comes down to.

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  6. Regarding the Deltchev/Gienger, my guess is that as with a lot of other twisting skills, the technical commite doesn’t differentiate between them, so if it’s straddled, it would be considered a Deltchev, if it’s piked, a Gienger, no matter when the twist happens.
    Of course, the code is a big mess, and the current women’s code still specifies that a Deltchev is a twist into straddled front salto, and the Gienger is a piked back salto with half Twist, so maybe if, like Alexa Moreno, you do something that definitely looks more like a piked Deltchev, you could actually get a deduction?

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  7. Not sure where the info about Stella Savvidou and the team is coming from. I didn’t go to every single team member’s profile, obv, but Kyla, Madison, Peng, and Anna follow her on Instagram. She has so many followers that you can’t always search for specific people via her profile and have them populate properly.

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  8. South Africa earned a spot at Worlds, but so did Egypt! Mandy Mohamed (60th) qualified ahead of Caitlin Rooskrantz (68th). In terms of the continental meet, it will be a close contest between Egypt and South Africa IMO. Naveen Daries (RSA) was 70th in Stuttgart with 49.399. But don’t count out Egpytians, Farah Salem (80th-48.699) or Farah Hussein (92nd- 48.199) On any given day one of these three could win or even Nancy Taman of Egypt, who had a poor Worlds. Egypt did a great job in the team competition, with only 4 athletes due to Zeina Ibrahim out due to injury. The team is definitely on the rise. It is exciting to see strong competition in Africa.

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    • Yeah, this was specific to South Africa because they often don’t let gymnasts go to worlds if they get the continental representation spots (like Claudia Cummins in 2016, who the Olympic committee in the country wouldn’t let attend), and that hasn’t been a problem in Egypt.

      As for continental championships, Farah Hussein is the best gymnast in Egypt and probably all of Africa, but just had a bad day at worlds last year. She can score in the 50s on a good day, and I think she’s most likely to get the spot at continental championships over another South African girl, but still, the possibility exists that South Africa could send two gymnasts to the Olympics who qualified by their own right, which is amazing given their history of turning down the continental spot!

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  9. It was an event called the ‘Pro Gymnastics Challenge’ in 2013 I believe – there are some videos of it on YouTube, it was good fun!

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