It’s time for the 329th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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Is Larisa Iordache going to Euros this year?
My guess is that the Romanian federation will want to add her to their roster based on how she competed at nationals. She has the best vault and bars in the country, and with a fully hit day, has the potential to add the most to the team’s overall performance. Given the international field right now, she also has the potential to medal on every event but vault, and that’s only because she doesn’t compete two vaults. I doubt they’ll keep her off the team and am expecting to see her added on one of the nominative roster updates soon.
I’ve always enjoyed in older bars routines when gymnasts did their L grip giants with a pike shape at the end of the swing and I noticed that today’s code still allows for this. Why do you think we don’t see this anymore? Is it still going to get hammered by the handstand police even though it’s an accepted technique?
I feel like we still see it regularly enough for me to not think that it’s gone obsolete? But I might be picturing more MAG than WAG because I can’t think of any concrete examples in WAG now that I’m trying to come up with one. I feel like in general we just don’t see a ton of plain old non-pirouetting L grip giants in WAG anyway, so I guess it’s just likely that those who are still using them regularly just prefer the straight-body cast (or have coaches that prefer teaching the straight-body cast). I feel like it might be easier for most gymnasts to just keep their bodies straight/in the same position for the entirety of the swing than it would be to swing straight through, then pike down only to have to open their hips back up when going up into handstand…but for others who struggle with getting front swings around, that motion of opening back up again could give them that last push of momentum they need to get it around.
Was the bars routine Elise Ray did in prelims in Sydney out of a 10 without her Ray + Tkachev connection and/or her eponymous dismount? Or was it just injuries/execution that held her back from making event finals?
I can’t find for sure what start value she was given and can only see the final score. Based on what she competed (Maloney, Ray, Tkachev + straddleback + Ray, hop full to hop full, and full-twisting double layout), I *think* she had enough to reach at least a 9.9 start value, but that code is kind of annoying to look at when trying to build start values. Her dismount either way would have been an E, so downgrading to the full didn’t affect her at all, and I think her other connections built her up to a 9.9, but her Ray transition to the high bar wasn’t yet in the code so I don’t know for sure. Unless her Ray release was an E, in which case with two E elements, wouldn’t she just be at a 10 without any connections at all? That skill also wasn’t yet in the code, but a Hindorff was an E, so I’d guess a Ray would be as well.
I think her score was still pretty good regardless…she was only 0.013 away from making the final and only 0.163 down from the top score which I feel like is still pretty excellent despite her shoulder not cooperating, and think her not making it was more about the depth in that final than anything negative on her part…but obviously if we find out that her score was knocked down a tenth in its start value, then yeah, with the Ray + Tkachev connection she would’ve easily made it and probably even medaled.
Does jumping from the low to the high bar count as an A (or higher) skill in NCAA or J.O.? Or is it just not counted in the routine?
Jumping to the high bar isn’t a skill at all. It’s the skill performed on the low bar – like the squat-on, stoop-on, or sole circle – that counts as a skill, and yes, it would count as an A element.
How do judges come up with random scores that don’t end in 33, 66, or 00? For instance, Grace McCallum at 2019 worlds scored a 14.641.
Occasionally we see weird scores that don’t fit what would normally happen when you average three scores, and that’s usually because a reference score is applied. Competitions like worlds and the Olympics have reference judges evaluating routines in addition to the execution panel, and occasionally, scores from the reference judges – which are top-rated judges with “excellent” results from the international practical exam – will be used in addition to the scores from the execution panel. This usually happens if the execution panel is out-of-range in either direction compared to the reference judges (either too high or too low), so they’ll take the averaged scores from the execution panel and the averaged scores from the reference panel, and then average those to get the final execution score.
I don’t have full insight into the breakdown from the scores at worlds last year, so I can’t tell you exactly what happened with Grace’s score. But in Rio, for example, Daria Spiridonova averaged an 8.866 from the execution panel. This was more than two tenths lower than the two-person reference panel’s average of 9.100, which is considered to be out of range. Due to the difference, these two averages were then averaged together to get an 8.983, giving Spiridonova a 15.683 total. Depending on the score, sometimes a score will still look normal even when the reference panel’s score is applied, but if you see a weird-looking score, the reference panel is likely the culprit.
Of the 79 uneven bars routines in Rio, the reference score was applied 9 times, so the execution panel is about 88% on par with the reference panel for that event, just to give you an idea of their accuracy and how often this is actually used. On other events, the accuracy is much greater, but I think bars is always going to have a wider range in scores due to the judges not being positioned well enough to see everything…some are always going to see more faults than others. Even when I’m sitting super close to bars during competitions, I sometimes can’t see things like feet hitting the bar based on my angle (though I can hear it!), so there’s definitely a lot that can go unnoticed. Also, sometimes the reference judges are wildly out of range with each other. The judging for Kylie Dickson’s bars score in Rio was hilarious because the middle three judges on the execution panel ranged from 7.1 to 7.5 to average a 7.333, but one reference judge had her at a 6.7 while the other reference judge had her at a 7.6…though these scores also averaged a 7.333, putting them exactly in line with the execution panel even though they were both way out of range on their own.
What is it about the back 2½ to front full that makes it so bad for Rebeca Andrade’s ACL?
That twisting motion that has her landing into the ground and immediately punching out again to continue twisting is killer on your knees. Often when gymnasts land a twist, that twisting momentum is still continuing into the ground, and when they punch into a twist, they start twisting before they leave the ground. Both of these motions where your foot is attached to the ground but your knee is in motion? That is an ACL injury waiting to happen for anyone, not just Rebeca. With the way momentum works when punching into connecting twisting passes, it’s basically impossible to fully stop the 2½ safely before then also starting into the front full, so that motion is going to continue almost no matter what and the best thing for her knee history would be to just not connect back-to-back twisting passes.
How does Mary Lee Tracy reconcile blackmailing gymnasts not to leave her gym with her deeply religious faith?
I’m not Mary Lee, I’ve never been a religious person who has used my faith to justify behaving like a total jerk, and I can’t even begin to put myself in the shoes of someone like her so I’m probably not the best person to ask? But from what I’ve seen, it seems like she’s very good at twisting anything and everything from the bible to support her warped views. She posted one bible verse about forgiveness that I legitimately thought was her owning up to what she did and asking for forgiveness, but then when I read her commentary…nope. She was legitimately saying that she needed to forgive those who had wronged her, meaning the children she had abused who were starting to speak out about it. Because yes, SHE was the victim, and the CHILDREN she harmed were HER abusers. I can’t. So…how does she reconcile blackmailing gymnasts or literally anything else she’s done? By being in complete and total denial about herself and the things she has done, by believing that she’s right and has always done the right thing, by refusing to listen to the dozens of people who tell her otherwise, and by thinking that everyone is out to get her even though she believes herself to be a saint who has never hurt a soul. Maybe someday she’ll sit back and try to develop even the slightest sense of self-awareness, because so much of her behavior just absolutely bastardizes everything she supposedly believes in.
Do you have any idea when we will have concrete information about the NCAA season? Is there a deadline for when decisions for winter sports must be made? It seems so odd to know basically nothing with a month to go until the first scheduled meets.
I feel like until we actually get to the first week of meets in January, we’re not going to know for sure what’s going to happen. All we really know right now is that the Ivy League and Alaska have canceled their seasons, but everyone else is releasing schedules and seems to be set on competing. I’m sure we’ll even see some meets get canceled the week of based on state-by-state lockdown decisions as cases get more out of control going into the winter. After nine months of COVID, the only think we know concretely is that we should expect the unexpected, so if teams are choosing to go ahead with seasons and don’t want to cancel them outright, they should be prepared to potentially have them interrupted.
Why did Chellsie Memmel have to continue competing in the 2006 team final after injuring her shoulder on bars? It looks like Ashley Priess and Natasha Kelley didn’t go up on any event.
I don’t think I ever heard any exact reasoning for this and always just assumed that because Martha Karolyi expected Chellsie to do all four events in the team final, there was no way for Chellsie to get out of it, especially with Nastia Liukin already injured and Martha desperately needing Chellsie’s scores. With the whole “the team comes first” deal under Martha, Chellsie absolutely would not have been allowed to compete in any of her individual finals if she didn’t do what Martha wanted her to do in the team final. I feel like the response would have been like, what, you’re healthy enough to compete for yourself but not for ME?! So Chellsie pushed herself for Martha, and then had to scratch from her individual finals because she just had nothing left to give.
Since Martha was also big on only including those in team finals if they were truly top-three on that event, it was clear that she wanted to put up the best possible team in the final, and since Ashley and Natasha weren’t in the top three on any event, they didn’t make the team final lineups, simple as that. We’ve seen it so many times where athletes on the team weren’t included in the final because they simply weren’t as strong as the others on the team. With the U.S. trying to beat China for gold, they needed Chellsie on all four events, and I don’t think Martha was willing to give her up on any of them unless she was literally dead, and I think Chellsie knew that if she backed out of the final and went against Martha’s wishes, she would have been blacklisted for the rest of her career. Martha should have worshipped her ass for eternity, and yet she still felt the need to slap her in the face in 2012 and refused to let her go out on a high note at nationals because Martha is the devil. Honestly, I wouldn’t doubt if that snub in 2012 was due to some hang-up over Chellsie “losing” gold for the team in 2006 due to her fall on bars, because despite her competing with her shoulder hanging by a thread, nothing is good enough for Martha unless you win. I’ve never thought about it this way before, but knowing Martha? I wouldn’t put it past her.
Do you think the Cheng is easier than the Amanar, despite being worth more? This quad, it seems many more gymnasts are competing the Cheng.
I think the Cheng takes more skill and more power, but I think the advantage over the Amanar is that it doesn’t have a blind landing, and since landings are often responsible for as much of one-third of the deductions a gymnast gets on vault, eliminating the kind of “surprise” landing that comes with an Amanar is probably why a lot of gymnasts would rather work on perfecting the Cheng. It’s also worth a little bit more than the Amanar, so it has that going for it as well, but I think the landing really is everything. That front layout off the table is no joke, and I’m sure many gymnasts find the back 2½ easier than the front 1½, especially if they grew up doing the straight backward Yurchenkos without any twisting onto the table, but I also think that the landing does make it all worthwhile and I can see why gymnasts who are generally strong on this event and have a ton of power would put in the extra effort to learn a brand-new vault family for this reason.
Do you think Danusia Francis has a shot at taking beam gold or a medal in the Commonwealth Games in 2022? It would be great to see, seeing as they are in Birmingham.
That would be awesome! I know she’s getting married, and after the wild ride she’s had in this sport with the years it’s taken for her to get to the Olympics, especially with COVID giving her that last special smack in the face on top of everything else, I’m sure retiring after Tokyo is at the top of mind for her…but it would be so cool if she could keep training beam in some way so that she could at least just do this one event at the Commonwealth Games on home soil. I think she’d easily have a shot at the final, and then a medal would be a cherry on top and also wouldn’t be out of the question. Obviously it would depend on who else is competing, but I think based on who we normally see attend, Danusia could be one of the top beam talents for sure.
Has Simone Biles’ post-Olympic tour been officially canceled yet? Because…that’s definitely not happening, right?
I haven’t seen any official cancellation so it’s probably still up in the air depending on what happens with vaccines and things like that. I’d imagine it’ll be canceled if we’re still in a place where spectators still aren’t allowed at sporting events by next summer, but I can see them waiting until the last minute to make the decision official. These tours don’t take long to rehearse since most of the numbers are solo or small group acts, so all of the conceptualizing can be done at home in advance, and once they make a final decision about what’s going to happen, they can then kinda figure out the rest, so I don’t think waiting will be an issue.
When college walk-ons have signing ceremonies at their gym or school, what exactly ARE they signing if it’s not an NLI? They almost always are shown with a pen and paperwork.
Technically, they don’t need to sign anything, but many of them will talk to their future coaches about something to sign and wear because their participation on signing day is just as important as the participation of the scholarship athletes. Maybe they just have a blank sheet of paper but they might also have a contract or agreement with the gymnastics program or athletic department committing them to the school as a walk-on. I doubt it’s legally binding or anything, and is likely more for show or done as a formality, but it’s still nice to include them.
Who is responsible for the calculations of major international competitions? I do this for local meets voluntarily and we use different flavors of crappy, handwritten software or sometimes just fancy excel sheets. Is a professional company taking care of that at international meets?
There are many large-scale software companies that do programming for international gymnastics meets. The FIG uses Longines and a newer system called SmartScoring, and I really love Sport Event Systems, which a lot of the Nordic countries use. Canada’s Sportzsoft isn’t bad either. Every national federation also seems to have built some sort of program as well, and if they don’t own it outright, it’s something they’ve outsourced…but I’ve also seen smaller international meets use Excel spreadsheets. They’re pretty popular in Belarus, haha. I feel like there are a ton of meet software companies in the U.S. for lower-level meets, but of course these all have costs that the meet organizers would be responsible for, so calculating them yourself with Excel is the cheaper way to go about it.
Did Maria Paseka get married? Didn’t she get engaged to her boyfriend like three years ago?
Yeah, she got married a few weeks ago. She’s been with her now-husband for a very long time…I don’t know when exactly they got engaged or why they took a long time to get married (especially in Russia where gymnasts seem to turn 18 and then get married five minutes later), but I’m happy for her, their wedding looked like a blast.
How did Cheng Fei get a 15.275 for a lovely Amanar in the team final at 2006 worlds? It is such a low score, but it looked like she got the twists around to me?
You’re right, she did get all of the twists around, and yeah, I think the score was probably a little low…but maybe only by a tenth or two, not by much. She was pretty deep in the landing, and had two large steps out of it. The landing alone was probably almost a point off, at least 0.7 if not 0.9.
If a gymnast did a tumbling pass like a whip + back handspring + whip + triple full on floor, would they get both the CV for the A+E direct, and the CV for the A+A+E indirect?
Hmmm…since this isn’t something I’ve seen come up and that hasn’t actually been addressed by the technical committee (at least not in this super specific way), all I can do is guess. Using beam as a precedent, if you have a D+B acro and dance combo as part of a triple mixed B+B+C (or more) connection series in your routine, you’d get both the D+B connection and the series bonus even though you’re using the same skills to count for two different bonuses, so using that logic, they could also potentially allow for something similar on floor.
But since it’s a little bit different with this particular scenario, and since the FIG can be a bit stingy, I can see them saying that this wouldn’t be allowed, especially because in the triple series, while the A+E aspect can be indirect, I think the A+A has to be direct, even if the code doesn’t actually say that…I think that’s just one of those “common sense” rules where the FIG would be like, oh yeah, that’s totally a rule, it’s totally obvious, we totally thought about it forever ago, and six months from now we’d see 50 pages dedicated to it in a FIG Flack newsletter. They’re a reactive bunch when they see something they don’t like, and I can see them hating this, hahaha.
Why does the men’s team choose the national team twice per year but the women’s team chooses once per year? Can the men add people over the course of the year like the women can?
The men’s program and the women’s program in the U.S. are just different, run by different people who have different objectives and strategies. The women’s program selects the national team at nationals as a formality, but adds and removes gymnasts from the team on an almost monthly basis depending on the needs of the team. They select gymnasts for international assignments based on camp performances, adding gymnasts to the national team if they aren’t already on the team when they earn assignments. The men’s team tends to select its major international assignments based on nationals (world championships and other late summer/early autumn meets like apparatus world cups) and the Winter Cup (all of the big spring assignments), so they just choose the national teams at these times as well to coincide with the assignments. I don’t think they usually add gymnasts throughout the year unless someone was injured at the Winter Cup or something but then comes in and makes sense for a random meet like Pan Ams, but I feel like most of the time it’s not something you really see happening, and that just doing the two-a-year reconfigurations eliminates the need to be constantly adding and removing athletes.
How early do U.S. gymnasts travel to competitions like classics and nationals? I know there is at least a day of podium training, but are they all training in a gym together for days before, the way they do at worlds?
If a competition like nationals starts on a Thursday or Friday, they usually arrive by Monday or Tuesday night, and then start training the next day in the training gym. There’s one official podium training day (usually the day before the meet for classics, but two days before for nationals because they swap back and forth with the men), and they are also able to train on the podium at least once more prior to competing (the “official” podium training is the one the media can attend and is the one that’s streamed, but the other one is private).
Using classics as an example, they get in on Tuesday or Wednesday night (there’s no requirement and some gyms prefer to stay home longer, especially if they’re local and don’t need to travel far), they start with two-a-day trainings in the training gym on Wednesday and/or Thursday, they move to podium training on Friday, and then the competition is on Saturday (and seniors get another podium training early Saturday morning before the juniors arrive for their warm-up).
What do you think about this comment from Artur Dalaloyan: “Therapeutic exemptions? You can see what Simone Biles does and what other girls do. It’s not fair. If you’re on drugs, compete at the Paralympics.”
It makes me sad because I love him tremendously yet this is such a truly awful and hurtful comment (not only to her, but the Paralympics comment? are you f—ing serious?) that it makes me want to smash a cast iron skillet into his skull. He clearly is an idiot who has been brainwashed by a country that doesn’t believe in neurodevelopmental disorders for…some reason? Even though science exists and studies exist that prove conditions like Simone’s are real and are helped by the kind of therapeutic medication she is taking, for some reason we still need dumb pretty boys who studied phys ed at a bottom-tier university telling us their opinions about how methylphenidate is somehow the reason she can do a triple double.
Do you know any gymnasts who have done a forward inbar stalder on bars, or any men who have done it on high bar? I can’t quite picture it. It would be different from a jam, right?
Yes! Chloe Sims of Australia competed one back in 2011, and then U.S. junior Anya Pilgrim competed one with a half turn when she was only 12, which was so awesome. And yes, it’s different from a jam. For the first half of the skill, they look similar, but the forward inbar continues the full circle around the bar in the inbar position before opening back up to handstand at vertical, whereas in a jam, at the halfway point, the circling stops and the gymnast kind of stoops through and back up to handstand. I hope that makes sense? It’s kind of hard for me to explain with words especially for people who don’t understand bars as much because something like a “stoop” can be difficult to visualize, so I’ve included visuals of both so you can see the difference.
This is a jam:
And the first skill in this routine is a forward inbar (with a half turn):
What skill was Taylor Lindsay-Noel attempting when she became paralyzed? Has anyone competed it since? She said in her podcast she was learning the skill and afraid of it, so why wasn’t she training it over a foam pit?
She was training a toe-on double front dismount, which was a brand-new skill and I haven’t seen any elite women compete it or even train it…though in MAG, Kazuki Nakao has trained it recently and in his caption on Instagram, he wrote “is there anybody who can land this skill?”
A toe-on front tuck half is something we see regularly in elite competition. It’s what Ellie Black competes, and is rated a C, while the layout version is rated a D. Adding another salto onto that would basically NEED to be a G, at least, that’s how hard it is, and it’s like the Produnova where it’s not a knee or an elbow that you’re going to injure if your hand slips or you lose air awareness or you’re even a nanosecond off in your timing. It’s going to be a neck injury.
Unfortunately, that worst-case scenario happened with Taylor. I don’t know why she wasn’t training it over a pit…basically no coaches would have someone training that to a mat. I guess if she was training it to be competition-ready, it would move to a mat, but from my understanding, this wasn’t anywhere near that stage, so I don’t understand the reasoning behind having her go for it so soon. I do remember reading somewhere that she didn’t have a pit…I remember seeing a coach write something about how this case proved that all gyms should have pits.
I saw the Brixia gym posted in which Asia D’Amato is training a Nabieva and Alice is training the Amanar. I’ve noticed Alice now has a better DTY than Asia, and that Asia now has some struggle with it. Will she ever be able to upgrade to an Amanar? What about Giorgia?
Asia has now been competing the DTY since she was 12, so going on six years now, which feels impossible to me! I feel like she’s still a little wee one. I think for her, it’s just gotten a bit stagnant, and because she was doing it so young, as she grew it kind of regressed and she wasn’t able to keep up with it. Alice didn’t really start attempting hers until she was 14, and even then, she stayed mostly with the full over the next couple of years as a junior, with the DTY only becoming her staple in her first year as a senior, so comparatively, the DTY for her is only about two years old and I think that’s limited her from having the same “growing pains” with it. Hers consistently gets better, especially as she’s been able to stay healthy over the past year or so, so it’s great to see that she might be able to get the Amanar, especially as everyone has always expected Asia to be the first Italian to do it. I feel like Asia has been trying for so long, but at this point, if it hasn’t happened yet, it probably won’t happen, especially now that she’s gotten weaker. And with Giorgia…her DTY has the foundations for a strong Amanar but I also kind of fear for her knees a bit too much given her history. I know she’s wanted to do it for a while, and she’s another one who has been competing a DTY for about five years now, but I just worry about her going for it, especially since she doesn’t really need it…at least not to make the Italian team.
How does a gymnast know how many twists they are doing? What happens in the air? Is it all about training until you know how much force and speed to put into the tumbling?
I feel like this is one of those “you just know” kind of answers. Having only really twisted fulls, and mostly into the pit or attempting them on a mat or trampoline with a spot because I was terrified, I felt like it was just easy to do the same motion every time…but that’s because you build up to that muscle memory by doing drills, and as you build one drill or skill onto the next, eventually you work your way up to more difficult things and your body just keeps adjusting as you add more. I feel like yeah, if you were to randomly just try throwing a triple full into the pit having never experienced what it’s like to twist before, you’d be like ummmm yeah, I can’t wrap my brain around what my body is supposed to do.
When I first started twisting, I’d basically just do a roundoff back tuck off a trampoline, and then do a half twist at the very last second, landing it on my back in the pit. From there, I worked on jumping into twists, like landing a back tuck on my feet and jumping the half twist around right after landing (in the harness on a trampoline because I’m pretty sure I never landed back tumbling on my own hahaha), and then I built my way up to doing the tuck with the half twist happening a split second before landing, and then I was able to bring the half twist a bit earlier in the skill so that it was a cleaner tuck half. Then it was time to work on pikes and layouts. And this wasn’t an overnight process…I feel like I did the tuck half to my back into the pit for months. Again, I couldn’t back tumble at all, and I moved pretty slowly in gymnastics in general, so I’m sure this process moves much faster for those on the elite or optional J.O. track, but shhhh. I also did a lot of trampoline drills…I remember doing swivel hips on the trampoline really got my body used to twisting in the air before I ever actually tried twisting on a salto, so when I did my first salto twist drill, my body already knew what direction it wanted to twist and everything.
But yeah, the basic answer is that your body uses building blocks to learn and grow just like it does with everything else. Twisting might seem very foreign to you, but if it’s something you’ve been putting time and effort into on a daily basis for years, doing a triple full feels as natural as walking, and you’re not thinking “here’s twist number one, number two, and number three!” when you’re in the air. Your body is just kinda going and doing what it knows.
Are the rails of the uneven bars smaller in diameter than they used to be? I did gymnastics back when the bars were made of wood. Now that they’re made of fiberglass, they look thinner.
Yeah, they’re definitely slightly more narrow than the wooden bars were…I think this was a result of more same-bar releases being done, since it’s easier to grasp the bar when catching a bigger release when the bar is narrow. I think that’s a major advantage of the high bar as well…we talk about high bar not having the low bar in the way, so it’s easier to build momentum into huge skills like the Kovacs, but it’s also a bit easier for them to catch these skills with the way they can get their hands around the bar a bit better. Sometimes I see women catch a skill and it looks like they literally have it with both hands on the bar, but they just don’t get their hands around, and I’m like ugh, if that were a high bar, could they have had it?!
Out of curiosity, how bad is the backlog of questions?
I made a little video for you. I think there are about 500 over the past year or so that I still need to answer. I’ve been trying to do a mix of older questions with newer ones so that I’m consistently clearing out my inbox but I usually get 25+ new questions per day, so I feel like I’m just never going to have the manpower to get through all of them honestly…sometimes I have the time to crank out a ton of these, and I always feel bad when I can’t get to everyone IMMEDIATELY (which apparently people expect me to do judging by the multiple emails I get days after the initial email asking why I haven’t posted their question yet), but I also work a full-time job where I’m often expected to work 10+ hours per day, and I have a life outside of the Gymternet so I can’t always spend every available non-day job second answering questions when I have other things to handle. Getting through all of the questions I get on a daily basis would be a full-time job, but I try!
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Article by Lauren Hopkins