Feb. 2, 2012
UCLA Gymnastics coaches and team members will be answering your questions every Thursday over the course of the season. To submit questions for future Q&As, CLICK HERE.
Jeff (Los Angeles, CA):
Every now and then I hear of a gymnast wanting to upgrade her routine. What is the advantage (besides personal growth) of upgrading a routine that already has a start value of 10.0? It seems like you would be taking a risk with a more difficult skill without the possiblity of recieving a higher score.
Valorie Kondos Field: This is a great question and one that pops up not only when we have an athlete who is capable of performing higher level skills, but also when she has a skill that may not be worth much but is her "signature" skill, such as the Homma Flip on beam. Leah Homma created this unique move. It is a difficult skill to perform well on floor, let alone on beam. She did compete it on beam for us even though it was only valued at a "B" level because she rarely missed it. The deduction that the judges can take for not being "up to the level" is supposed to be "defined by the basic requirements detailed on each event" in the code of points. However, there is always a lot of chatter about how that routine will score in championship season without the more difficult skills like an opening "E" tumbling pass on floor. The judges aren't "supposed" to deduct if an athlete meets all of the requirements, but then how do you determine a great routine from a SUPER great routine? The way to encourage higher-level skills is to change the rules by which we are judged. I am not in favor of making the rules harder because I firmly believe we need to continue to encourage parity. If we can do that while keeping our higher-level athletes motivated and our sport fun and exciting to watch, then we've got our Win-Win situation.
Karen (Irvine): I noticed Sydney is already out of her sling, & that seems really fast for shoulder labrum repair. I love her gymnastics! Will she compete this season?
Valorie Kondos Field: Once the doctors operated on Syd, they saw that the labrum just needed trimming rather than repairing, so the six-month recovery time turned into six weeks. She is much leaner, stronger and better conditioned than she was at this time last year. She is doing everything right from a physical and mental level to be able to come back as soon as possible.
Lea (Ohio): First of all, the Bruins look great this season, and the free webcasts make it easy to follow the team. My question is: in 2010 and 2011, consistency, specifically on beam and to a lesser extent on floor, seemed to be an issue for the Bruins in the first half of the season. (Yet, in both seasons, the beam and floor lineups looked great come the postseason.) In 2012 so far, I have been impressed with the early season consistency and polish of the beam and floor lineups, specifically in the San Jose State meet. To what do you attribute the improved consistency so far this season? Thanks so much! I have enjoyed reading this column for years, so keep the answers coming!
Valorie Kondos Field: Thank you for your message. The reason that we are more confident on beam and floor early on this year is because of the athletes that are competing on those events. For the most part, those athletes are "seasoned" collegiate competitors. Our last two weekends were perfect examples of what can happen when a team feels a "Team confidence" and when it doesn't. What we need to work on is how to bring the "Team confidence" back when things start going awry.
Don (Pasadena): The enthusiastic young man on the sidelines (Cory I think) what a hard worker and energy - how did he come to the team?
Valorie Kondos Field: Cory Tomlinson is the son of Jerry Tomlinson, who was our head coach from 1980-1990. Cory joined our team this season as a team manager. Not only is he a great person with consistent positive energy, but he really gets what our program is all about. Plus, I love the fact he's carrying on his father's tradition.
Melissa (Alpharetta, GA): Mattie, how did you come up with the idea of a puppet floor routine? I think you perform it fantastic!
Mattie Larson: Thanks so much! It was all Miss Val's idea to create the idea of a marionette routine. She's an amazing choreographer and so passionate about making each of our routines.