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Rising Raisman Readies for New Year, New Skills
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U.S. world team member Alexandra Raisman, fourth on floor exercise at October's worlds, is busy strengthening her routines as 2010 draws to a close.

IG Online continues its yearly holiday series, bringing you the scoop on what the world's best gymnasts will be up to in the coming month!

As 2010 draws to a close, world floor exercise finalist Alexandra Raisman (U.S.) is busy perfecting her skills for next year's competition.

"Training has been going really good," the 16 year old told IG. "I feel really confident."

Raisman, who trains with Romanian-born coaches Mihai and Silvia Brestyan in Massachusetts, is looking to impress at the January national team camp. Some notable skills she's working to improve include a piked Arabian double front on floor exercise and Yurchenko 2 1/2 on vault.

"I'm just trying to perfect all the things I'm working on and learn a few new skills," shre said. "The main area I'm focusing on is getting the 2 1/2 on vault, since it will bump my Start Value up [seven] tenths."

At the U.S. championships in August, Raisman finished third all-around behind Rebecca Bross and Mattie Larson. At the world championships in October, she was a member of the U.S. team that finished second to Russia, and placed a close fourth on floor exercise. She qualified to the individual all-around final in third place, but several big breaks on uneven bars left her in 13th.

Raisman said her training schedule means she is unable to share in a traditional family dinner each night to celebrate Hanukkah. Thursday is the eighth and final night of the Jewish holiday.

Raisman said she has been sticking to her own healthy meal after evening practice, forgoing any traditional holiday food like potato latkes.

"But we do presents every night," she said. "They light the candles and they have dinner together."

Raisman's large family includes brother Brett, 14, sister Chloe, 10, and sister Madison, 8. Alexandra, who goes by Aly, is the only gymnast in the family, though Madison does diving.

"My mom used to do high school gymnastics, and decided to put me in a Mommy & Me class," she said of her beginnings.

Raisman competed through Level 6 for Exxcel Gymnastics in Newton before moving to Brestyan's in Burlington, where she is training once again alongside veteran Alicia Sacramone. Sacramone took time off following the 2008 Olympics, but made a comeback in 2010 to win her first world title on vault.

Raisman said Sacramone, who turned 23 on Friday, has been an inspiration during training and competition.

"Alicia's a really good role model, and she's been working really hard," Raisman said. "She's been to the Olympics and world championships so she knows what it takes to get there, and knows how to handle certain situations. She just tells me to relax and tells me the little corrections that she knows have helped her."

Raisman said she plans to spend New Year's Eve with friends, and will get a break from training on New Year's Day.

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