Mykayla Skinner’s future with Utah gymnastics is murky following Olympics postponement, but she still wants to return
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) MyKayla Skinner competes on the uneven bars, in PAC-12 Gymnastics action between the Utes and The California Golden Bears, in the Jon M. Huntsman Center, in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.
MyKayla Skinner had prepared herself for the likely announcement that the 2020 Olympics would be postponed. She and her coach had even tweaked her workouts in anticipation.
But now that the Games’ postponement to 2021 is official, she is still coming to terms with what it means for not only her Olympic future but her future with the Utes.
Skinner’s original plan was to hopefully be selected for the Olympic team then return to the Utes next season.
Now the 23-year-old is uncertain what she will do. She still wants to do both, but the question is whether her body will hold up. For now her heart hurts for a dream postponed.
“Now that it’s real, I still haven’t really had much time to process it all,” she said. “I am just taking it one day at a time, but I am still training every day for now and preparing to compete in the Olympics, whenever it ends up happening. My heart goes out to all those affected by the outbreak. I know it hasn’t been easy.”
Lisa Spini, Skinner’s coach, said they have reduced the number of routines that Skinner is doing and are adding in new skills she didn’t have time to get into her routines.
Spini still hopes some of the crucial meets, such as the U.S. Classic and USA Championships, can be held later in the summer.
Closer to home, Utah coach Tom Farden said there would be some “roster management” needed to be done to make sure the Utes have a scholarship for Skinner, but he is hopeful she can return if she wants to do so.
He has been in contact with NCAA officials and believes she would receive a waiver to maintain her eligibility since she would be outside the usual 5-year window of athletic eligibility to use a scholarship.
“This is an extremely unusual situation we are in,” he said.
Gymnastics is notorious for burning out its athletes early, but Skinner has had a remarkable injury-free career. Granted, she isn’t envisioning a gymnastics career like Oksana Chusovitina, who represented Uzbekistan in the 2016 Olympics at the age of 41, but she thinks she can sustain her health and gymnastics to return to the Utes.
But for now, adjusting to the new norm of another year of training is her first priority.
“It seems like forever away,” she said. “But I’m going to work on new things.”