Evolution!

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On August 27th, 2011 International Gymnastics Camp put on the debut of Evolution – Professional Gymnastics Like Never Before – a dream turned reality of Brent Klaus. Evolution was a skill-based competition where the nation’s top men and women gymnasts went head-to-head to vie for the first ever title and bragging rights…not to mention prize money ;) Read the rest of this entry »

Visa Champs

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Visa Championships

Whew…what a long and somewhat tiring week that was, and it flew by. Quick summary: the seniors had 7 practices and 2 competitions in 5 days, so you could say they kept us pretty busy. The practices generally alternated between the auxiliary gym and on the competition podium. The auxiliary gym gave us another place to practice when the men were on podium, and vice-versa; though it had brand new equipment on brand new (so quite stiff) mats on concrete, so that tended to be the lighter practices for most girls.

One of the auxiliary practices was really frustrating for me. I was having a hard time maintaining my focus on beam and as a result was all over the place. It didn’t take me long to figure out what my deal was, and the next practice on podium was much better so I felt more confident going into the meet.

An interesting thing about the Covergirl Classic and Visa Championship competitions is that because they are broadcasted live, they want to showcase the superstars, so they have event personnel with ear pieces standing behind the judges to give them the go-ahead to raise the flag for the gymnast. If this happens, that gymnast may be the only one competing at that time. This way they can decide who the cameras and audience are focusing on. It’s a pretty cool thing, although it could add pressure if you allow it, knowing everyone’s eyes are on you. The competition also takes longer this way, so if you’re last on an event, you could be waiting around for a while, which happened to me… Read the rest of this entry »

Austin and Officially Qualifying

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The Austin Life

I cannot claim being a Texan because I will always remain an Oregonian at heart, but I wouldn’t mind saying I’m almost an Austinite. Having yet to take advantage of the “Live Music Capital of the World” aspect of this fabulous city, I have already fallen in love. The food is amazing (seriously, everywhere I go), the people are eclectic and friendly, and the gym I’m training at couldn’t be more perfect for the goals I’m trying to reach.

The community here is all about being healthy and active. With as many natural and organic grocery stores and restaurants as not, eating healthy here is made easy. Many restaurants have a “Gluten-free” menu upon request – side note: I’m not allergic to gluten but it’s great that the option is made available to the growing population that is – which I think is pretty cool. A couple of my favorites so far are Torchy’s Tacos – aaamazing tacos with fresh grilled meat, veggies, and a variety of homemade salsas, and Bouldin Creek Café with a delicious tofu scrambler or 2 eggs over medium on toast or a bagel – I’ve heard their omelets are tasty as well.

The daily dose of vitamin D the sun provides offers a great excuse to go outside and exercise. The beautiful and lush Green Belt is a seemingly endless nature preserve encompassed by running/hiking trails with tree-cover to shade from the blazing sun, a creek perfectly placed for a quick dip when even in the shade the 100+ temperatures become unbearable, and natural rock walls for the avid climber or interested passerby. It is a super bicycle- and running-friendly city – most main roads have bike lanes and paths are easy to come by with popular picks like Shoal Creek and the Town Lake loop. And running stores like Rogue Equipment make joining a running and core program a fun activity to look forward to each day rather than the common “ugh, do I have to go work out today?” attitude.

Capital Gymnastics and Officially Qualifying

Training with Barry Hyder at Capital has been amazing. His knowledge of the sport and easy-going demeanor are exactly what I need at this stage of my sport. Sharon Bunch is one of the upper level coaches and often works with us on beam and floor. Well educated and very helpful, she has a great sense of humor but makes sure you get your work done. Jason Jarrett, son of Jim and Cheryl who founded Capital Gymnastics runs the gym. I coach with him in the afternoons and his passion for the program and helping young girls reach their potential in the sport they love is evident every day.

I’m progressively getting stronger and building up endurance I lost in the transition of finishing the Arkansas season as the volunteer coach, graduating, moving down to Austin, and adjusting to a different training regimen. I have only myself to blame for the valley I slipped in to slightly, but you can’t have peaks without valleys, right?

I’d have to admit that I’ve already had a couple peaks since moving… finally passing the compulsories officially made me a senior international elite, having retroactively qualified optionally for the Classics. Then last weekend at the American Classic I got the 3-event score necessary to qualify for USA Visa Championships! I qualified on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. I still have one more chance at the U.S. Covergirl Classic in Chicago to get the all-around score to be able to compete uneven bars as well, but without the pressure of still needing to qualify at all, I just plan to compete as best as I can, make improvements from last weekend, and have fun! Isn’t that why I’m still doing this crazy sport anyway? :)

For those of you unfamiliar with the scores necessary to qualify to USAs, I will try to clarify. The all-around score (which I’ll be trying to get) is a 54.0 – this averages to a 13.5 on each of the four events. If you wanted to qualify on any three events, the score is a 41.25 or 13.75 average. The two-event score is a 28.0, so an average of 14.0 on two events is needed. Basically, the fewer events you do, the better you should be at them. My scores last weekend were:

Uneven bars: 11.6 – not good at all, lost 1.0 for falling, and the rest of my routine was totally thrown off

Balance beam: 14.6 – good, now I just need to reach that 15.0+

Floor exercise: 13.25 – definitely needs improvement; need to clean up some landings and increase my difficulty

Vault: 14.0 – good score for a full-twisting yurchenko, but I need to get a 1.5 twist which is worth more and can only be landed if the pre-flight (or entry onto the vaulting table) is improved

All-around: 53.45 – only 0.55 away from the all-around score I needed even with a terrible bar routine. Three-event score for vault, beam, and floor: 41.85

All I can say is I am SO extremely excited about qualifying for USA Visa Championships -- the best showcase of the nation’s top elite gymnasts…and I get to compete with them! They are being held in St. Paul/Minneapolis August 17-20th. The men compete on Wednesday and Friday and the women compete on Thursday and Saturday. Very exciting!

Thank EVERYONE for the amazing support you have given me in this journey I have undertaken. I honestly can’t begin to explain how much it helps keep me going when I’m having a rough day or wondering if my goals are too lofty. But you all make it worth it, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I want to give a special thanks to Robby Edwards who wrote this article and all the people at the U of A who helped put it together, it really meant a lot to me! Arkansas Razorback Gymnastics

I also want to thank Anne from gymnastike for featuring my beam after winning the event at the American Classic last weekend. You’re amazing Anne! I sincerely appreciate it! Gymnastike Feature

P.S…I’ve been told they are looking for a few more senior elites to be considered for the U.S. Team to compete at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October so I’m going to put my pedal to the metal and work as hard as I can to impress the National Team staff these next two meets and who knows what’ll happen?! It’s a fun and motivating thought anyway ;)

Karolyi Qualifier

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Patiently Awaiting Competition

Well I am in Hunstville, TX and ready to go! Drove down to Plano on Thursday, stayed the night there and finished the drive here yesterday morning – 4.5 hours from Fayetteville, Ark to Plano, TX, and another 3 hours from Plano to Hunstville. I missed my biochemistry class yesterday morning but I wanted to make the practice session at the training center to get a feel for the equipment before competition today. I am staying at a little motel in Hunstville, so I don’t have any information on the cabins/sheltering available at the ranch (which is about 35 minutes outside of town).

Open stretch for session #3 (junior/senior optionals) starts at 5p central time. Tomorrow morning is the compulsory competition. Tomorrow afternoon I will try to post an update with results! I hope everyone is enjoying their 4th of July weekend!

Optional Competition 7/3

Well, I felt I did better last night in comparison to the Florida qualifier but I still did not get my qualifying score to Classics…unfortunately. I’m definitely bummed and a little disappointed. I had really hoped I would get my qualifying score, and then pass compulsories today so I could compete at Classics to get out there, get the experience, and lock in the compulsories so I never had to worry about them again. But alas, this was not the case. So it goes.

Beam score: 13.65 – difficulty 5.1 (missed my 0.1 connection value bonus for my aerial into my switch leap tourjete). Big wobble on my series, and, um…got stuck on my backspin? Really? That’s never happened…EVER. Ugh, sheesh, what is going on?! Wobble on side somi but saved it. Fine dismount.

Floor score: 13.4 – low landing on full in, out of bounds for 0.1 (on dance before my third pass…I thought I had more space to the corner than I apparenty did, oops!), decent back 2 1/2 twist to punch front, not great landing on back whip-half to rudi (front 1 1/2 twist or 520°), and an okay last pass. I had only had about 2 and a half weeks to train my new routine with four passes, so I had some jello legs by the end but managed to stay on my feet.

–Little side note about the floor – was not a fan. It was a European made floor, aka NO SPRINGS! Hardest, least-helpful floor I’ve ever tumbled on. Either you had the proper technique and landed your passes upright, or…you forced it and landed short and stressed your ankles and leg muscles (also the same case with the vaulting table and landing). I will say, though, that I was at the National Team Training Center, so of course they must have equipment they will face if they go on international assignments. I just was not expecting this. My legs are the sorest they’ve been in quite a long time.–

Vault score: 13.7, short landing and a slight hop forward and off-center. Not my best.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. But! I strongly believe that whatever happened was the best possible situation that could have happened for me at this current time, and I am so glad that I went for this and gave it everything I had. I am pleased with the improvements I’ve made since I started training elite and how I performed given the recent training circumstances I’ve been working with – we just finished our summer camp at the University on Wednesday, I started a new summer class on Monday, and took my final to finish my other class on Tuesday. Now I’ve never been one to get stressed, but I think everything kind of hit me all of a sudden, and had a little mini vent session. I was frustrated at practice on Tuesday because I was worn out and didn’t feel totally prepared for the qualifier that was only four days away. Luckily, a former teammate and great friend Sam Cortez calmed me down, and told me I was focusing too much on the negatives and not enough on the positives. I felt a lot better after our talk, so despite everything I have had going on as of late, I am glad of my decision to go for it, and am content with how it turned out. Because I didn’t qualify for optionals, there was no reason to compete in the compulsory session this morning. I will have to attempt compulsories again next year, so might as well save my body (and mind) from the stress it causes.

Looking ahead, I plan to give myself a much needed, past due break. The one I didn’t have time for after NCAA Nationals. Then I will re-evaluate my goals and keep everyone posted on what my plans are! …Though I will say that I am quite positive I will keep after this elite thing and go until I can’t go any more. I know I can still improve, and if I’ve made strides in the last month and a half, I feel confident that I can make huge improvements in the next year!

Also, Anne from gymnastike.org was there and video taped a lot of the routines. I believe she recorded my beam and floor. She also interviewed me after the meet. The videos are posted and you can find them on her website, which is in my links on the right hand-side of my page.

Florida Qualifier and What’s To Come

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This will be a much more brief synopsis than my Tempe qualifier blog.

So in Florida, I thought some of my routines were about the same as those that I did in Arizona, but some of them were maybe not quite as good. I’m in the process of finishing a YouTube page so I’ll try to get a few of the videos up soon.

My optional scores were: Floor: 13.15, Vault: 13.65, and Beam: 14.0 = 40.8, still 1.2 shy from the 42 I need for 3 events.

My compulsory scores were: Beam: 8.3, Floor: 8.75, Vault: 9.475, Bars: 6.2 = 32.725…much farther off of the 35.0 I need to pass. The bars are still killing me, even though this routine was definitely better than the one I did in Arizona. And I reviewed my floor from Arizona back to back with the one I did in Florida, and they were just about identical. So…personally I felt as though the judging was quite a bit more strict than the previous week.

I was definitely frustrated that the scores I received didn’t completely reflect how I felt I had performed. You would think after 16 years in the sport I would be used to subjective judging. But moping around or getting upset is not helpful. So I had to move on and look forward to the Training Center qualifier.

The qualifier that is being held at the National Team training center is the last one of the year and is being held on the 3rd and 4th of July. I really need to do well and have solid routines so I can qualify to Classics because I don’t want to wait around an entire year to try again. I also, of course, want to make a good first impression on the entire National Team coaching staff who will be watching.

I’m slightly intimidated, but I feel much more comfortable after having two elite-type meets under my belt. The atmosphere in elite competitions is much different…a lot more serious. It just takes some getting used to, so the more experience I have the better I will feel. I’ll post the results as soon as I can.

Tempe Qualifier

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The trip started out with a drive to the Tulsa airport. Flights are cheaper out of there than the tiny Northwest Arkansas airport (XNA), so the two-hour drive there and back is worth it. The drive went smoothly, relatively empty roads most of the way. [Side note: this is a very similar situation as back at home…XNA is slightly smaller than the Eugene airport, and Portland is generally cheaper and about a 2 hour drive, so this is something I am used to doing].

This trip feels different than any I’ve had over the last four years, though. I know I am heading to a competition, so traveling by myself, without my team or a planned itinerary feels unusual. I have flown by myself before, no big deal, but even before college I always went to meets with my teammates, even if my family wouldn’t be making the trip. Tom Farden, one of my coaches, will be at the meet with me but we have different flight schedules.

I am excited though, looking forward to what’s to come. I am ready to embrace the challenges that are presented by the pursuit of competing gymnastics at the international elite level. And the first hurdle is Read the rest of this entry »

Arkansas Gymbacks