You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

Becky Downie

It’s time for the 315th 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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Why didn’t Great Britain take Becky Downie to London in 2012?

Becky was still coming back from injury that year and didn’t compete at all until Great Britain’s second of three Olympic trial meets, so without really getting enough time to really prove what she had to offer, it just didn’t make sense to have her on the team based on what she showed…at least going into the Olympics. Looking back with the gift of hindsight, I probably would’ve included her on it. But this will always be a tough decision for me because that group of athletes was all-around awesome.

From what I remember, at her first competition back, she had a weak vault, but hit beam. Going into the final trial, I remember Rebecca Tunney, Hannah Whelan, and Beth Tweddle essentially going in as locks, so bars was very clearly covered, but beam and floor needed more depth. Becky improved on her vault at this meet, and had a decent beam set in prelims, but her bars weren’t reason enough to knock Rebecca, Hannah, or Beth off off the team, and her beam wasn’t one of the top routines at the meet. Since she didn’t compete floor, which the team needed, that put her at a disadvantage, and since Jennifer Pinches and Imogen Cairns both had two of the strongest beam and floor routines at that competition, they ultimately made the most sense for the team. 

The biggest issue is that Becky just didn’t have enough time to show what she could do on bars and beam, and without that chance, her only hope of making the team would have been if Rebecca or Hannah didn’t end up working out. I actually think with a bit more time, she probably could have made the team over Hannah, but Hannah ended up doing fabulously in the team final, and Imogen didn’t actually end up competing floor even in qualifications despite how good she looked on the event a month earlier, so in hindsight I would have probably replaced Imogen with Becky.

But going into the Games, it wasn’t that simple a decision, and I still think Imogen more than earned her spot. I remember being torn on this and pretty much every other choice that had to be made here, especially since this was a home Games for the Brits and everyone got into top fighting shape to get the chance to compete in that atmosphere. GB’s team was the most difficult for me to figure out that year because they had SO much depth and so many gymnasts who were “right” for the team, so while Becky would have been a great option, everyone who made it was also a great option.

Is Trinity Thomas still on the national team? Where does her stipend go if her training is covered by her NCAA scholarship?

She’s not on the national team at the moment…usually if you’re not going to camps regularly or in a position to make international squads, you’re not considered to be an active member of the team and can’t get the stipend. The stipend is basically given to those who are actively contributing to the team, so if someone takes a few months off for whatever reason (like competing in college), they usually lose their national team spot and the stipend that comes with it (this is something that’s voted on in elite committee meetings…they’ll be like, well, Trinity has to miss the next four camps, so we’ll take away her funding, and since so-and-so and such-and-such are both coming back to camps, let’s split the stipend between them).

I’m not sure what would happen to the stipend if someone is actively participating with both the national team and her college program at the same time…I know Trinity at one point was going to camps while in college, but that’s because the camps were held in Florida and didn’t conflict with her competitions. I think in general most college programs wouldn’t allow someone to skip practices/meets for elite, so it’s rare that someone would be eligible for the national team stipend while in college. But if it DID happen, I’d guess they’d have to just accept the team spot without taking the stipend, since the stipend is only supposed to be used for training-related costs, which would be already be covered by your college program.

Why was Olivia Trautman ranked first on floor though her scores weren’t that high?

I don’t know what time period or competition this is referring to specifically…ranked first on floor for what? One week of the regular season rankings? Her scores in 2019 were all pretty high, but more importantly, they were consistently high and she didn’t have any super low scores that would drag her overall average/RQS down, so even though she only had one 10, with all of her scores in the 2019 season at 9.925 or higher, she was easily going to be one of the top-ranked floor workers of the season over someone who got a few 10s but then had mishaps other weeks that brought their averages down. Again, really impossible for me to answer this specifically without knowing what ranking you’re talking about, but above average scores plus consistency are always the key to ranking at the top.

Realistically, what scores are needed for a J.O. gymnast to have a shot at college gym? Do level 9s ever make teams?

Getting a 38+ consistently will pretty much guarantee top colleges for J.O. gymnasts, with scores in the 36-37 range also basically going to get you a spot at a D1. That’s on average, of course, not a hard rule…and there are other things to consider, like if you’re a 9.5+ gymnast on three events but an 8.5 gymnast on the third, you will likely still be recruited by top programs if the coaches are paying attention. If a gymnast dips below a 36 occasionally, it’s not going to hurt them too much, but I think if you’re often in that sub-36 range, D2 or D3 is more realistic. 

Level 9s are also super rare for D1 programs, because they sometimes don’t meet all of the skill requirements for NCAA competition, but again, this is something that can be looked at on a case-by-case basis, especially if a program needs something specific (like a vaulter) and a L9 gymnast has the skills on that one event. There are definitely L9 gymnasts spread throughout D2 and D3, and I’ve personally known a few who have gotten interest from lower-ranked D1 teams. I’ve also known of a couple who have walked on to D1 teams because they had L10 skills on one or two events, though this was over a decade ago as far as I can remember…now there is more depth in L10, so that obviously makes it more difficult for L9 kids to get recognized.

Can you explain the high floor scores Nina Derwael received at worlds in 2019? I don’t see her execution as being better than others like Lieke Wevers. Fewer landing deductions because of a two-pass routine?

Essentially, that’s really it. With a two-pass routine, you inherently have fewer acro elements to deduct from, and acro elements tend to get the heaviest deductions (compared to leaps and turns). Say a gymnast averages 0.4 in deductions for each pass due to landings and form in the air…someone with two passes then gets 0.8 off just for tumbling compared to someone with three passes who gets 1.2 off. Nina is also pretty clean in the air on her tumbling, and very precise and controlled on many of her skills, so a lot of what she gets taken off is minimal (like flexed or floppy feet on a lot of her dance elements, and then steps on her landings). Watching Lieke’s routine in comparison, she’s very good with her leaps, but her landings also weren’t perfect, and she’s a bit messier in her twisting form, so she has her own little things going on. Overall, watching one after another, they look like very similar routines to me, so I think Lieke’s extra pass makes all the difference compared to Nina’s routine.

I  always found it weird how Gabby Douglas’ back handspring before setting into her layout stepout would finish with her legs apart instead of together like everyone else’s, which looks like it would have been harder. Why was this?

Oh yeah, I’ve never noticed that until now, she lands the back handspring with her feet staggered and you’re right, punching out of that position makes it a lot more difficult to get amplitude, which is probably why her layout stepout always started out looking a bit iffy and landed a bit short. Ideally you want your two feet to meet up when you complete a back handspring, and then you use that to generate the power into the next skill, and the way Gabby does it is definitely limiting in the amount of energy she can generate.

I can’t say why specifically Gabby would have done this without asking her, but my guess is that it’s either a bizarre technique she picked up from a coach as a kid that no one ever thought to get rid of, or maybe she had problems landing the back handspring with her feet together because it caused her to miss a foot or something? If she was regularly missing a foot and getting NO punch into the layout stepout, then a staggered landing and still getting SOME punch was a worthwhile compromise. It’s not ideal, but not everyone is going to be comfortable using the perfect technique for every skill, so sometimes you have to find another way that might not be as efficient, but that still works better for that particular gymnast.

Do you know if the split jump to the floor from Katelyn Ohashi’s floor routine would be counted as a fall in elite?

No, it would probably just be considered choreography and not an actual split jump for value. Split jumps on floor are only A skills in elite, anyway, so she wouldn’t be doing one for its value if she wanted a competitive elite difficulty score, and I think it would be pretty clear to the judges that she’s doing choreo here and not completely screwing up an A-level skill. I think it would just be considered as a creative way to use choreo to transition out of the tumbling pass, and nothing that actually affects the overall difficulty or execution of the routine.

Why are NCAA gymnasts not deducted for landing with their legs apart and in a deep squat?

In college, gymnasts are allowed to land in a “controlled lunge” and that’s essentially what the legs apart deep squat landing is. Some lunges are made to look really lovely and elegant, but others just aren’t cute…and for me, this applies to the kind of feet-apart squatty landing you’re talking about. It’s aesthetically not something I love, but the reasoning behind it is that these kind of landings help protect the gymnasts knees. It’s basically how you learn to land in gymnastics, because you absorb the landing more easily and it doesn’t do as much harm on your body over time, so NCAA allows it because they’re competing every weekend for nearly four months in a row. I do think there should be a way in the code to differentiate between a legitimate controlled lunge and a deep squat, but since there isn’t, then these squats are totally allowed.

What are the name of the vaults Youna Dufournet performed in 2009 world championships?

Youna performed a (glorious) Yurchenko 1½ for her first vault, and a Lopez (Yurchenko half-on to front layout half) for her second vault. It’s crazy to think that these two vaults, which are considered relatively simple today, won the bronze medal a decade ago, but she was an absolutely gorgeous vaulter and that was a really weak year for that apparatus, so it was great to see her be able to reach the podium. Now, you essentially need to add a full twist onto both of these vaults to be in the mix for a medal!

How does one tell the difference between a split full and a switch full? I find it way harder to keep track of which is the leading leg when the athlete is twisting and changing body directions.

It’s really hard for most people to tell with the naked eye, I think, so you’re not alone in that! Basically, you just have to look at which way the gymnast turns, whether it’s toward her front leg, or away from it. In a split leap full, also known as a tour jeté half, the gymnast turns away from her front leg, whereas in a switch leap full, the gymnast turns toward her front leg.

I guess for me, the switch full tends to look kind of scissor-like in the air? And the split leap full/tour jeté half is really noticeable to me because the hips look really open during the first half of the turn, compared to the switch leg version, where the direction of the turn combined with the way the leg is positioned during the turn makes the hips look more closed. Eventually after watching a lot of them you just intuitively know what you’re seeing, but I hope this helps you kind of know what to keep your eyes open for in the future!

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

One thought on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: It Was A TUCK! | The Gymternet

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