Feb. 16, 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.
Alexis (San Jose): Miss Val, I think a lot of UCLA fans like myself are curious to know how Vanessa is progressing in training on floor. I know you guys are understandably being careful about not rushing her back too fast, but we cannot wait to have her back in the all-around! What tumbling passes do you think she will compete this year? And how soon do you think she'll be back in the floor lineup? Thanks and go Bruins!!!
Valorie Kondos Field: Well, just when she starts making progress on floor she gets a tweak in her ankle. She is training front double full, rudi immediate layout stepout, and double tuck. She's very frustrated that she's not back on floor yet. She could come in and score around a 9.7 now, but with her ankle bugging her, we can't risk losing her on the other events if she's not feeling 100%.
Ria (Perth, Australia): Are there any changes in the NCAA code this year? What did you think of vault finals, were changes suggested at the coaches meeting?
Randy Lane: Ria, thanks for the question. There are always changes that go on with our college "code of points", but this season there were not too many that will be noticed by the fans in the stands or on the other side of the world. Every two years, the collegiate coaches look at proposals for reevaluating the value of skills. This past summer was the time to take on that task. There were very few changes, but the ones that stand out most are beam dismounts. To encourage a variety of dismounts to be used, the coaches voted to increase the value of the following dismounts:
2 ½ back twist from "D" to "E"
Gainer 2/1 or 2 ½ twist off the side from a "D" to "E"
Rudi (1 ½ twist) off of two feet from a "C" to "D"
Gainer rudi off the side from a "C" to "D"
The other change that will be noticed will be on floor exercise. Miss Val brought the discussion of this topic up at our coaches convention, so she is responsible for this change. On floor, a connection bonus will be awarded for an Acro/Dance/Acro direct connection combination. We like to think of this as the "Niki Tom" rule. The combination has to have two components: 1. One of the acro elements must be a minimum of a "C" value, 2. The dance element must be at least an "A" value part followed immediately by an "A" salto element. This proposal was not to benefit UCLA, but it was to encourage more creativity when combining dance and acro elements together and to get rewarded for that creativity.
Lauren (Chicago, IL): Thank you for coming to Chicago! My question is about Kaelie's BB dismount. 2x now she has had scary falls. How do you decide to let her compete or to pull her or change her dismount?
Valorie Kondos Field: The reason she is doing that dismount is because it is better than any other dismount she's done, and in the gym she performs it with impeccable form. When the series was not in the dismount, she would get form deductions on her knees. It's frustrating because 90% of the time in training, this dismount is huge and gorgeous. I allow her to compete it in spite of the scary falls she's had because this is her last year, and if she can figure this out she will score really well for us. When Aisha first did this dismount, it took her a full season to get comfortable enough with it to let it fly. As Kaelie says, "I don't have a full season to get this down, it needs to be great now."
Anne (Huntington Beach): I always love the leo designs you pick out for your team! Do the student-athletes have a say in the leos? Will we be seeing some new designs this year? Do you have an all time favorite? Thanks! :)
Valorie Kondos Field: Thank you. Candy Dengrove of Rebecca's Mom Leotards and I design our leos. Our student-athletes try on the samples to let us know how they fit, but they really don't have a say in the design. I tried giving them a say when I first started out, and, of course, there was never a consensus from them so I started vetoing their input. ;) I really don't have an all-time favorite. Please don't think I've lost my mind at our next home meet. We wanted to have fun with a "Throwback Meet" to represent being back in the Wooden Center this year, so I asked one of our alumnae, Lena Degteva, who is starting her own leotard company, to make us a throwback leotard. They look like they are straight out of the 1980's. Not the prettiest, but fun. If you'd like to join in the fun, come dressed as your favorite 1980's icon.
Romeo (West Hollywood, CA): To Miss Val and all the student athletes - this isn't so much of a question but more of a token of appreciation. Thank you for giving my fiancee Thomas the most enjoyable time on his birthday at the home meet vs. San Jose State. The whole car ride home he spoke of how sweet the gymnasts were and how this was the best birthday he's celebrated yet. I know you all were busy with post-meet interviews and greeting family members and friends, however I just wanted to show my gratitude to you ladies and how you clearly are class of the field.
Valorie Kondos Field: Thank you, Romeo (Is that your real name? Very cool ...). Meeting you and Thomas was great fun for me. His genuine enthusiasm to meet all of us made us feel like rock stars. Can't wait to see your get-up for our Throwback meet next weekend!