It’s time for the 316th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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Why did Kyla Ross change her toe-on technique from one leg at a time to both at the same time?
She actually used to do her toe-on technique with both at the same time, mostly when she was a junior, but I think she tended to go back to the one-at-a-time technique when she was dealing with a lot of back pain and piking down into a toe-on caused too much pain. The one-at-a-time method is a lot easier on your low back, so when you have low back stress injuries over an extended period of time like Kyla did, you typically want to be piking down as little as possible, and the one-at-a-time method is a good compromise to still build up a routine with toe-on skills without being in constant pain. Doing a true toe-on with both feet hitting the bar at the same time is more aesthetically pleasing, so maybe she tries to go for that when she’s feeling capable of it, and then does the one-at-a-time method when her back is flaring up? I feel like I saw her do it both ways in the 2019-2020 seasons.
Apparently in 2018 Jordan Levi scored a 10.05 on vault. Is that possible? Is it a mistake? Can we finally give an 11 to Kyla Ross?
In J.O. there is a one-tenth difficulty bonus for vaults that have a 10.00 difficulty, so she must have gotten a 9.95 for her total, and then also got the one-tenth bonus for sticking to get a 10.05. At Congress before this happened, the technical committee decided that a 10.00 was the highest possible score regardless of bonus, but judges make mistakes all the time so they probably didn’t realize that was a rule? In senior elite, for example, anyone who does a Yurchenko full is supposed to get a two-tenth penalty, which the judges applied at most qualifiers in 2019 except for one, where gymnasts got the full 4.6 SV instead of the 4.4. One gymnast wouldn’t have qualified had she gotten the penalty, but she ended up qualifying without it being taken, so she got really lucky because in that case the judges’ mistake was what enabled her to qualify elite. I feel like a lot of these technicalities with bonuses and penalties that aren’t spelled out in any code are at risk for being forgotten during competitions. This stick bonus does not exist in NCAA, however, so unfortunately we can’t break the scale for Kyla, no matter how perfect she is!
Why do virtually all Russian gymnasts have piano riffs in their floor music?
The simple answer is that the national program probably gets all of the music from the same person, and when this happens, it’s easy to find similar themes between different pieces of music. Another answer could be somewhere along the lines of the Russian program thinking that this somehow sounds “balletic” or “artistic” or whatever else Russia thinks floor music is supposed to be. I know Valentina Rodionenko has a kind of old-school perspective on what an “artistic” floor routine should be and often the whole “balletic” piano trope somehow means artistry to some people, lol. Newsflash…it’s not.
Have you ever considered doing a cross-platform collab with a YouTube channel like sporteverywhere? What do you think about channels like that and their contribution to helping bring the sport to the public?
I haven’t thought about doing a crossover but I really like the channels that try to educate fans about the technicalities of the sport that are sometimes difficult to figure out just by reading the code…I especially love Flip Fly Tumble’s D-score and E-score breakdowns using actual routines and the scores that were awarded in competition to show what the judges credit or what they’re looking for execution-wise. Even as someone who knows the code pretty well, and who has a pretty good eye for what a skill should look like, it’s nice to get an FIG judge’s insight into what they’re looking for. It’s funny because sometimes I find myself judging a routine much more harshly than the actual judges did, and other times I’m much more lenient…so to see what I go overboard on or what I miss is a great way to keep improving as a non-judge judge.
These sorts of channels are obviously very helpful, but at the same time I and others who own certain videos have had our videos taken without permission by channels like sporteverywhere and some other fan channels, and reposted on these YouTube with ads, which is frustrating. I can see wanting to repost someone else’s content if you’re adding to it by showing a D-score breakdown and then crediting the owner of the footage, but for a recent example, I had exclusive video of Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos training new skills on bars and instead of just sharing my video, sporteverywhere downloaded it, reuploaded it as their own, slapped ads on it, and didn’t credit me as the source. The same thing happened with some of my footage from a couple of gym visits, as well as interviews from world championships, which sucks because I don’t make a profit on what I do and often spend a lot of my own money to travel to these places to get these kinds of exclusives.
Share footage and credit the source, but taking other people’s content and posting it as your own to earn money off of it is actual theft. I rarely do videos because I’m not legally allowed to film at most competitions (since broadcasters usually own those rights), but I know a lot of other video producers who regularly have their content taken in this way and some of them are in my position of doing it for no money, so seeing it end up on other sites is a bummer.
I’ve noticed some elites have ugly giants where they spread and bend their legs on the swing down. Why do coaches allow them to do this? It’s so ugly and should be an easy fix.
It’s easier to generate momentum through a straddled giant than it is to do so with your legs together…and it’s also easier for someone to hold onto the correct straddle form compared to holding your legs together, so gymnasts are less likely to get hip and leg form deductions doing straddled giants. Finally, straddled giants are also easier for taller gymnasts who want to avoid hitting their feet on the low bar. Both straddled and straight-leg giants are allowed in the code, so there’s no penalty for doing the straddled giants. Even though they’re not as aesthetically pleasing, they’re both easier and more efficient for most gymnasts, which matter more than aesthetics in terms of what judges are allowed to deduct.
Gabby Douglas appeared to look strong at the start of 2016 but seemed to lose steam. Do you know what happened?
I think she was just dealing with a lot and maybe either didn’t fully want to be there, or wasn’t mentally able to be fully committed in the way that it takes to be at a hundred percent. Obviously we know now that she was dealing with the early stages of the Larry Nassar fallout, she had to once again move away from her family to train after getting a sense of normalcy for a couple of years spent with them in California, she was pulled away from a coach she really loved and trusted when she was forced to leave Chow’s, she was struggling with her relationship with her coach at her new gym, her family’s financial situation depended on endorsements which required her to still be in the mix for Rio, she was literally bullied by members of the national team who were supposed to be her teammates…
It’s a lot to deal with, especially as a young adult who seemed like she wanted to have more of a balance in life. Like, Simone Biles now with her own house, choosing her own coach, having a boyfriend, making her own decisions…that’s something Gabby was basically denied in her comeback, and at 20 years old after nearly two decades of gymnastics being her entire life, I can see why someone in her position wouldn’t be as invested.
Of course, this is all speculation, and I can’t speak for Gabby, but I remember watching her family’s reality show back in 2016 and there was one episode where her mom asked about her comeback, and Gabby seemed pretty ‘meh’ about it in that conversation. I think if she was mentally in a place to be fully invested in the sport, she had the talent to be a major challenger for an all-around medal, and even not at 100%, she still proved to be one of the best in the world, but I think with everything she had going on in her life outside of the sport, it’s incredible how far she came.
When and why did the uneven bars get moved further apart? What was the reaction from gymnasts and coaches at the time?
The bars were moved further apart in the mid-80s, but the change had been about a decade in the making, as gymnasts in the early 70s started experimenting with the more MAG-style releases. Olga Korbut’s eponymous salto was the first to hit the competition floor in 1972, Nadia Comaneci debuted her own release in 1976, and then in 1978, Silvia Hindorff did the first reverse hecht release in WAG with her clear hip into the Tkachev.
It was clear that the uneven bars were going in a new direction, and since these bigger releases required giant swings to generate amplitude, it made sense to push the bars further apart, which also facilitated innovation with transitions and flight between the bars. I think most gymnasts and coaches were on board with the changes, especially since gymnasts were already doing (or attempting) bigger releases on the old bars in the early 80s, where routines were essentially hybrids between the old style and the new style. Spreading them apart just made everything easier for the athletes, so I feel like most were happy to see them change.
Why do some uneven bars pirouettes look different, like Huang Huidan’s?
What do you mean by “different” specifically? To me, the only real difference is that most of her pirouettes looked like they were actually fully completed while still in handstand instead of finishing late, hahaha. She was always very quick with her pirouettes, and very precise, but nothing stood out to me as being particularly odd in comparison with others!
Do you maybe mean her hand movements? Her transition to L grip is SUPER noticeable compared to how most others do it, and someone on Twitter also brought up that she has some additional hand movements, so I’m assuming that’s it. With most gymnasts I barely pay attention to reverse grip vs. L grip because you don’t see the transition unless you’re really watching the shoulder angle, but with Huang it was so noticeable with the way she changes her hand grip, I didn’t even need to see her shoulder angle to know she was in L grip.
Do you think Liang Chow will come back to the U.S. and get an elite program going again?
I think he seems pretty committed to the Chinese program right now, and don’t see him leaving before 2024. Maybe eventually he’ll return to the U.S. to coach full-time at his gym once again, but I think with his current success leading China at the national level, they’re going to want to keep him around for a bit longer, and that’s a job that comes with so many fantastic opportunities and prestige. Most of the coaching he did at his club was at the J.O. level, so while he did get to do the elite thing a few times a year, it was never his main focus, and he was often double-teaming elite and club gymnastics, which is a grueling schedule…a gig like he has now is no walk in the park, but he’s able to focus on one team, and really take control over everything that goes into creating a successful national program, which is kind of the ideal job for a coach with his level of talent. I think if he does come back to the U.S. full-time for any reason, it would be to take over the U.S. national program, which is still something I’d love to see happen eventually.
Is Emma Kelley still training at Texas Dreams?
No, she only spent about a year or so at Texas Dreams and ended up going back to Stars in Houston in 2018. I think the move to Texas Dreams was so that she could give elite a shot in a stronger elite-level program, but when she didn’t get the scores she needed and chose to just focus on Level 10 again, it just made sense for her to move back home with her family.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins