It’s time for the 324th 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.
How good are some of the new Russian seniors that could potentially make the team for Tokyo 2021? Do you think Russia could possibly stay competitive and win some individual medals (besides Angelina Melnikova)? Who should we look out for leading up to Tokyo 2021?
Russia’s two best new seniors for 2021 will be Vladislava Urazova (who is actually a new senior this year, but we haven’t seen her compete yet due to COVID, so it may happen that we don’t see her make her senior debut until next year) and Viktoria Listunova, and it’ll be especially exciting to watch them next year, as it’s been a year now since we’ve seen either of them compete, so we really don’t know how they’re looking, what upgrades they’ve managed to add to their competitive routines in the past year, and so on.
They’re both absolutely brilliant, elegant, gorgeous, and super talented gymnasts who were among some of the best in the world as juniors, so I can only imagine what they’ll do as seniors, and am expecting to see big things from both of them. Viktoria wasn’t initially expected to be in the mix for Tokyo, but of all of the 2005-born gymnasts, she’s pretty much the only one in the world I expect will suddenly jump up as a key contender for her team, and I’m sure Russia’s absolutely thrilled things worked out for them in this way.
Along with Angelina, these two are expected to be stars for the team and have the potential for several individual finals, and while in years past I’ve worried about Russia getting on the team podium at worlds due to all of their injuries and inconsistencies and struggles this quad, going into Tokyo I’ll feel more comfortable about them almost assuredly being guaranteed a medal, assuming they hit in the final. I would say “guaranteed silver” but China is also looking fabulous in their own right, so it could be very tough competition for these two…and honestly if Simone Biles didn’t exist, the U.S. team would have to watch out for both Russia and China, because they’re both looking that good. Just very exciting potential all around for next summer’s team competition.
Russia also has girls like Anastasia Agafonova, Yana Vorona, Elena Gerasimova, and a few others who I think are very talented and could fit into the mix for the team, and I also wouldn’t count out Lilia Akhaimova, because she’s consistently been one of the top performers on vault and floor and I could see them needing that in the team final. If only Tatiana Nabieva trained floor seriously. Sigh. As lovely as someone like Elena is on beam, for example, her beam routine won’t add as many tenths as Lilia’s vault will, though I do think Russia will pick up a non-nominative spot at Euros and can see them taking one of the younger ones mentioned above, or perhaps a specialist like Anastasia Iliankova for bars or Maria Paseka for vault, assuming she’s alive. But no team situations change faster than Russia’s, so with about eight months to go, obviously anything can happen.
I remember you doing a post about Camille Rasmussen of Denmark a while ago. How is she now? What are her chances at Tokyo?
I just got this question today and assume it’s in response to Denmark’s national championships over the weekend, where Camille won the all-around, vault, bars, and beam titles in her first year as a senior! This is her fifth straight national all-around title after also winning the youth titles in 2016 and 2017, and then the junior titles in 2018 and 2019.
Unfortunately, as she was born in 2004, Camille wasn’t eligible to contend for a Tokyo spot at Stuttgart last year, so her only way to qualify will be to attend European Championships in Basel next year, where there are only two spots remaining for all-arounders. Since you have to be a top-two all-arounder who has not yet qualified individually or helped a team qualify, these are likely going to be gymnasts from top programs (like Vladislava Urazova from Russia getting a non-nominative spot for the Russians, or Larisa Iordache or one of the 2004-born Romanians getting a nominative spot), so I don’t think Camille’s likelihood of qualifying this way is very high…but I think had she been given the shot to qualify at Stuttgart, she would have absolutely been in the mix of those capable of getting to Tokyo as an individual all-arounder. It’s so unfair that 2004-born gymnasts are eligible for Tokyo but were NOT eligible for the Tokyo qualifier.
But Camille is super talented, and is the first gymnast from Denmark in decades who has the potential to qualify to the Olympic Games, so I hope she can keep going at a high level and qualify for 2024! By the time the Paris qualifier comes along, she’ll be 19, so hopefully she’ll have even more upgrades and be in an even better place to potentially earn a spot. Right now she has an FTY and her other difficulty is all in the 4.3-4.6 range, so with a hit day she’s capable of all-around scores in the low 50s, but obviously it would help her out if she can get those D scores up closer to the 5.0+ range to be a bit more competitive, and so she can have room for mistakes in a qualifying event.
Is Maggie Nichols going for Tokyo?
No, Maggie is retired and has no plans to return to NCAA or elite.
What does it mean to be named Muscle Milk athlete of the week at UCLA? Do they win prize money?
No, it’s just an honor that the athletic department gives out to athletes from various sports, like many college athletic programs have where they call out the standout athlete of the week. The only difference for UCLA is that Muscle Milk is a sponsor of the athletic program, and probably pays them a higher level of advertising money to slap their name onto the honor. The money goes to sponsor the program, though, not the athlete.
How do people find the hotels teams stay at for NCAA nationals? I always see videos on the gymnasts’ stories of crowds cheering them on the way to the competition!
Most of the people you see cheering them on the way to the competition are the athletes’ families. I feel like sometimes when you’re at a competition if the arena is close by and most teams are staying there, especially at NCAAs where there are so many teams and athletes, then you tend to find out pretty quickly where everyone is just kind of naturally, because you see everyone walking around to and from the hotels…especially in Fort Worth. When I went in 2015 I went to a restaurant near the arena with some friends and about 800 people from Florida all came in screaming and then left and went into the hotel next door so in cases like that it’s obvious. But if people are finding out in advance and showing up at the hotel, they’re probably just nosy and jumping into athletes’ DMs and asking or something?
Why didn’t Brooklyn Moors compete at Elite Canada in 2019?
She was dealing with a minor injury and didn’t want to rush coming back too soon, so she skipped Elite Canada and then also ended up withdrawing from the American Cup so that she could be fully prepared for nationals in May. She ended up looking fantastic at nationals, and then she went to Pan Ams, where she won gold on floor, and worlds, where she made both the all-around and floor finals, so I think it all ended up working out pretty well for her!
What is the start value for this beam routine – punch front pike mount + wolf jump, standing arabian, Onodi + front aerial + front aerial + split jump, bhs + bhs + layout full, sissone + switch half, double turn, bhs + bhs + double-twisting double tuck dismount?
Let’s see if I can do this not terribly…
- punch front pike (E) + wolf jump (A)
- standing arabian (F)
- Onodi (D) + front aerial (D) + front aerial (D) + split jump (B) = 0.1 CV + 0.1 SB
- bhs (B) + bhs (B) + layout full (G) = 0.2 CV + 0.1 SB
- sissone (A) + switch half (D)
- double turn (D)
- bhs (B) + bhs (B) + Biles (H)
Skills = HGFED (acro) + DDB (dance) = 4.0
CR = 2.0
CV = 0.5
Total = 6.5
Note that there’s really no bonus for A jumps, so the mount into the wolf jump and the sissone into the switch half would both be pointless connections. A front pike mount to a straddle jump would be worth an extra tenth, and then a typical switch to switch half would also be worth a tenth, so that would be a relatively easy way to change that, and to eliminate two connections that currently have no value.
Also note that the while there is a front rebounding B+D connection bonus, it would not apply for the Onodi to aerial connection, nor for the aerial to aerial connection, because these skills aren’t considered rebounding elements (though in last quad’s code, these were allowed and this would have been a valuable series at 0.5 CV plus a 0.1 SB).
Initially I also gave 0.2 in CV and 0.1 in SB to the dismount series, but I literally just learned today that a back handspring can only be used a maximum of two times for CV/SB, so since that already happens in the layout full series, the dismount series wouldn’t get anything. A roundoff into the dismount, though, would get 0.2 in CV, bringing this routine up to a 6.7 total.
Which Kelley daughter is the better gymnast, McKenna or Emma Jean?
I feel like McKenna is the stronger of the two, just in terms of how she looked as a level 10 compared to how Emma has looked so far. McKenna wasn’t ever one of the top level 10s in terms of winning J.O. nationals every year from age ten and she actually took a few years to grow into that level but as an older level 10 she was fantastic and it was clear she was going to be a college standout. Emma never really got close to that stage as a level 10, so it’ll be interesting to see how she ends up looking at the NCAA level. She was great on vault, and has the occasional strong floor routine, but I think as an overall gymnast, McKenna was definitely the standout between the two.
It’s actually funny, because as younger gymnasts – like preteen-aged – McKenna was pretty much unknown, while Emma got all the hype for being the one who was going to be an elite superstar someday and become the next Mary Lou. I think McKenna just ended up being more of a late bloomer and really found herself as an older gymnast, whereas with Emma, after elite didn’t work out when she gave it a shot in the 2018 season, she kind of just stopped competing almost entirely.
At an LSU meet, Bailey Ferrer fell on bars. She jumped back up, but Jay Clark felt she wasn’t ready to start again because he stopped her and she hopped off again, took a few breaths, spoke to him, and then mounted again. Should this technically have been evaluated as two falls?
Technically, yes, if you remount the apparatus, you’ve started your routine again, and it’s a fall if you come off again whether you’re intentionally hopping off or if you unintentionally fall. But maybe in college gym they’re a little more lenient, especially in regular season meets? I think also because she hadn’t yet started on her next elements yet, the judges probably just considered it still part of the last fall, though in postseason, I think they would have needed to be more strict and taken a second fall.
Have any U.S. men done elite but not NCAA?
The two biggest examples in recent years are definitely Danell Leyva and John Orozco, both of whom opted to turn professional and forego NCAA competition during their elite careers. I’ve heard stories of other national team members kind of treating them like crap for this, and the whole groupthink environment within both the 2012 and 2016 teams gave people the idea that Danell and John cared more about individual success than team success, so lots of guys on the team literally blame them for the team not doing as well in these years which is like…what? The women seem to be doing just fine in the team competitions without having even gone to college yet, JUST SAYING.
But apparently the whole NCAA team culture is carried over so strongly into the men’s elite program, some see it as almost insulting when guys don’t go the NCAA route. Super unfair to Danell and John, both of whom had their reasons for not doing college gym, and it’s total BS to think that they think differently about the team medals or aren’t as good at contributing to a team competition just because they haven’t been on a college team.
Who does the announcement before each event at U.S. meets?
I have been covering U.S. meets live and in person since classics in 2010, so over ten years now, and it’s been the same guy the entire time…and he also does announcements at international meets, like the Rio test event and several world championships. I still have ZERO idea who he is. I meant to ask Scott Bregman once, so I’ll have to message him and will update you when I find out. I’m pretty sure he would know.
I’ve heard rumors about John Geddert intentionally neglecting Jordyn Wieber’s beam routine and not making sure that it had proper connections in 2012. Is there any truth to that?
I highly doubt it was intentional…I’m pretty sure he wanted her to get into the all-around final and win gold as badly as she did, considering how pissed off he was when it didn’t happen. I think it was more that he saw those connections get credited at home in U.S. competitions and expected to see them also get credited internationally, only to be just as shocked as she was when her routine was docked. Funny how U.S. judges have been pulling this crap for YEARS and coaches are still trusting their judgment when constructing routines. Her connections were a risk, which he and everyone else knew, but I think because she was getting them consistently at home, they assumed they’d be fine in London and that was that.
Let’s say a level 7 gymnast made up a new skill and did it in a competition. Can it be named after them or is that only reserved for elites?
Gymnasts in the J.O. program can get skills named for them in the J.O. code of points, which is separate from the FIG code, so often skills that have one name in the FIG code could also be named for a U.S. gymnast in the J.O. code if the J.O. gymnast did it first…but it will only be named in the FIG code if it’s performed at an FIG-eligible competition. Jade Carey and Shilese Jones, for example, both have skills named for them in the U.S. J.O. code of points. Jade’s skill is the tucked tsuk double full on vault (which is actually listed in the current code at a 4.9 D, though I don’t think it was ever named for anyone), while Shilese’s skill is the full-in half-out double tuck on floor.
Is it possible to do a full pirouette into reverse grip? Like a stalder full but ending in reverse grip? I know you can do half pirouettes into regular grip instead of reverse grip so I was wondering if the opposite was possible.
I think you really have to finish a full pirouette into regular grip. I just spent a full five minutes hanging onto my shower curtain rod trying to position my hands in a way that could realistically make it work but I feel like there’s no way to get your hands in the correct grip positioning and still stay over the bar enough to then go into a front giant, especially when so many full pirouettes finish short of being perfectly vertical. Like, it could be possible, but I don’t think it’s super realistic for pretty much anyone to have in a routine.
Edit: The awesome Jared Goad just sent through this video of Brittany Rogers doing a stalder full that finished in reverse grip at Pac Rims in 2016! He said “it has to finish almost right in handstand every time” so that’s probably why it wasn’t consistently part of her routine, or why it’s not consistently part of anyone’s routine, but she’s proof that it is possible!
If a gymnast created their own skill and performed it at a competition without having it credited at worlds, the Olympics, or wherever, how would the judges know what value to give the skill?
They usually have a conference about it beforehand. When this happens, the gymnast typically isn’t just like “surprise!” with the skill shown to them for the first time in competition. Whether it’s at a U.S. national meet, an international friendly meet, or some other competition, it’s usually brought to the attention of the judges beforehand so that it can be evaluated prior to that meet. I feel like when/if the FIG eventually evaluates it, it could potentially have a different value than what the judges at a local meet decide to award it, but for the most part, the judges at more local meets are following the same pattern the FIG tends to follow, so I think the U.S. judges gave the same value to Simone Biles’ triple double at nationals that the FIG ended up awarding it at world championships.
Sometimes you do have it where a gymnast will accidentally do a new skill that’s never been done before, which was happening with Simone and her Weiler full on bars in training and Brooklyn Moors with her triple attitude turn on floor. In these cases, if they happened in competition, the FIG technical committee would have to conference during the meet to see what to do with these elements, but the gymnasts wouldn’t get them named because you have to submit them in advance for that to happen. That’s why Simone started submitting the Weiler full, just in case she happened to accidentally compete it.
Why is a double front beam dismount not eligible for connection value? I love this skill and wish we saw it more. If someone did a front handspring into it, would it count?
While a front handspring to double front dismount would technically fall under the B+F dismount CV that’s worth 0.2 in the current code, I believe the code requires that the gymnast is supposed to punch into it? If that’s not the case then it’s likely an issue with rebounding from a front handspring into the double front.
Why do male gymnasts walk into the corners like that on floor?
In men’s floor, the guys aren’t allowed to walk from place to place, so they choreograph the movement in their routines so that they always end up essentially where they need to be. But sometimes, when they land a couple of feet away from the corner (or wherever they need to be standing to begin their next element), they have to take a hilariously large step or hop or leap into that spot.
What the bloody hell is a peach? I don’t get pbars, and I want to.
I hate p-bars so much, so I’m with you, but I’m LEARNING, ALWAYS LEARNING, and the more I learn, the more I appreciate and enjoy them! I call peach elements “baskets” which is another name for them, and a peach is also sometimes referred to as a Felge. And of course there are a bunch of variations, but basically in the simplest terms they do a piked swing below the bars and then cast back up, most commonly up to handstand at the elite level, though there are many variations…the simpler ones just cast to support or straddle, while the more difficult ones go up to pirouettes in handstand, like the Zhou Shixiong, which casts up to a 1¼ turn to finish on the single rail and is rated a G.
With all the chaos and so many countries withdrawing, are this year’s Euros still the qualifier for the Olympics?
No, the European Championships happening in December are not the qualifier for the Olympics, and I think that’s part of the reason no one’s really prioritizing going. Instead, the Euros happening in 2021 will be the qualifier for Tokyo.
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