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Written by Admin    Monday, 26 November 2007 14:41    PDF Print
Test Event a Dry Run for Durante, U.S. Men
The U.S. men hope to put pressure on the Chinese team, starting with the Olympic test event that begins Wednesday in Beijing, U.S. national champion Dave Durante told IG.
David Durante

Thirteenth at the world championships in 2006 and fourth in 2007, the U.S. men are hoping to move up another few spots — possibly even three — at the Olympics next summer.

Beating the eight-time world champion Chinese men's team is a difficult — but not an impossible—feat, U.S. national champion Dave Durante told IG.

"We want to not only medal at the Olympics, but we are going in to try and win — which of course will be very difficult, but it is not out of the realm of possibility," he said.

The U.S. men hope to start challenging China at the "Good Luck Beijing" Olympic test event that begins Wednesday. Joining Durante on the U.S. team in Beijing are Sean Golden, Sho Nakamori, David Sender, Clay Strother and Todd Thornton.

"We are training to put pressure on China," said Durante, 27.

The Chinese are fielding a team of newcomers — none of the six gymnasts on the roster for this week's competition were at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart. Japan, second in Stuttgart, is also sending a less experienced team. Germany, which eclipsed the U.S. by 1.35 points to take the bronze in Stuttgart, is sending its top team.

"I don't know where we will finish, but we will be competing hard and doing what we can to represent the U.S. well," Durante said.

Belarus, Canada, France, Korea, Romania, Russia and Spain are also sending full men's teams. Of the 12 countries that qualified men's teams to the 2008 Olympics, Italy is the only one not to send a full team to the test event.

The artistic gymnastics competition will feature men's team, women's all-around, and men's and women's individual event finals.

Despite a slight shoulder injury a few weeks ago, Durante plans to compete increased difficulty on floor exercise and rings.

"I am looking forward to get a sense of what Beijing is like and to get a feel for the arena," Durante said. "I think this will help me out for next summer."

The competition is one of a series of test events to prepare the city for next summer's Olympic Games, the first in China. A record 740 journalists have received credentials for the gymnastics events, which also includes rhythmic and trampoline competition.

"I have heard lots of great things about what they are doing for the Olympics and I am excited to see everything," Durante said.

Written by Admin    Friday, 23 November 2007 14:36    PDF Print
Memmel Thankful to be Back After Injuries
Like many Americans, 2005 world champion Chellsie Memmel spent a traditional Thanksgiving with her family.

Unlike most, Memmel's Thanksgiving dinner came only after a workout at the gym. The 19-year-old spent the morning training with father and coach, Andrew, at the family's club, M&M Gymnastics in New Berlin, Wisc.

All five members of the Memmel family are gymnasts. Andrew and her mother, Jeanelle, both competed in college, her sister Mara, 16, competed through Level 9 and now coaches at M&M, and her youngest sister Skyler, 10, is a Level 8.

Memmel leaves Saturday on her first trip to China, where she will compete at the "Good Luck Beijing" pre-Olympic test event, Nov. 28-Dec. 3 in Beijing.

In Beijing Memmel plans to compete all four events for the first time in more than a year, when she's dealt with shoulder and ankle injuries.

"I want to go out there and try to best that I can," she told IG. "It's the first all-around I've done since Worlds in 2006, so it's really just trying to get out and compete again."

Memmel said most of her routines aren't at full content yet, and she hasn't added any new skills except for a Tkatchev on uneven bars.

"My routines are still watered back from where I was," she said. "We're working on getting my old routines back and then we'll start working some new stuff."

Memmel will be joined in Beijing by Bridget Sloan, alternate to the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart. The competition will feature men's team, women's all-around, and men's and women's individual event finals.

Memmel made her world debut at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim. Originally an alternate, she helped the U.S. win its first world team title and tied teammate Hollie Vise for a share of the uneven bars title. A broken foot in the spring of 2004 hindered her hopes for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and she ended up in Greece as an alternate.

She said the "Good Luck Beijing" event isn't just another meet, but part of her plan to compete there next summer.

"It's definitely a step toward next year," she said. "The farther I am along now, it will be all the better for me next year. It's better to see the arena and be a little familiar with everything."

The Chinese women are sending four of their top stars to the "Good Luck" tournament, including three-time world vault champion Cheng Fei.

"They're all really great gymnasts and I have nothing but respect for them and what they do," Memmel said of the host team. "It will be interesting to see how the Chinese crowds react to us, because we're one of their biggest competitors."

Though she didn't get the day off, Memmel reflected on what Thanksgiving meant to her this year.

"I'm thankful to be able to be doing gymnastics again," she said. "It was a rough year coming back from both injuries. I'm thankful to be back in the gym and training."

Written by Admin    Wednesday, 21 November 2007 14:32    PDF Print
Cirque Aerialist Still in Critical Condition
A world and Olympic medalist in rhythmic gymnastics remains in critical condition at a Las Vegas hospital, eight days after an on-stage accident during a Cirque du Soleil show.
Tabakova at the 1996 Olympics

On Nov. 13, former Bulgarian group member Maia Tabakova fell while performing an aerial routine in the 7:30 p.m. showing of "Zumanity" at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. She reportedly slipped during the "Aerial Silks" act and fell from as high as 35 feet to the stage below.

Tabakova was taken to University Medical Center (UMC), where she remains in critical condition as of Wednesday evening.

Tabakova, 29, was a member of the Bulgarian group that won the gold medal at the 1996 Worlds in Budapest, the silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the bronze medal at the 1994 Worlds in Paris.

Tabakova's partner in the act, Brazilian Alan Silva, also fell and was injured, but was released from the hospital that night. He reportedly fell from a lower height.

It was the ninth time Tabakova and Silva had performed together, Cirque du Soleil spokesman Renée-Claude Ménard told IG.

The "Aerial Silks" act was suspended from the show following the accident. Ménard said Cirque ordered a "complete evaluation" of the incident, and will rely on videotape and artist feedback to determine whether the act will return.

"We need to have a better understanding of what happened in order to assess if safety is an issue or not," said Ménard, senior director of public relations for Cirque du Soleil.

Immediately following the accident, audience members were reportedly asked to remain seated, though some walked out as the minutes went by and the injured performers were still in view on the stage.

Ménard said criticism from audience members that the show did not end quickly enough may have stemmed from onlookers' feelings of helplessness.

"It is completely natural for audience members to be uncomfortable, and more importantly, they feel like they cannot do anything to help," he said. "So what takes seconds to accomplish, in order to ensure proper emergency and safety procedures, seems like an eternity for the audience."

If a serious injury occurs during a Cirque du Soleil performance, the procedure is to stop the show until the artist has been safely moved offstage, Ménard said.

"The time required to achieve this crucial stage may differ depending where the incident happens," he said. "Some of our shows have 'props' or 'curtains' that can be activated so the audience does not see what happens on stage, but... first and foremost is the artists’ safety."

"Zumanity" spokesman John McCoy said all emergency procedures were followed on Nov. 13.

"The artists were treated in the most efficient manner possible," he said.

Cirque du Soleil currently has 15 shows around the world, featuring dozens of former world-class gymnasts. Serious accidents during performances are rare; the Nov. 13 accident during "Zumanity" made international headlines and television news.

Ménard said there is a health professional, as well as staff members with paramedic training, on site during all pratices and performances.

"What is [ironic] is that many of the injuries happen on mats or falling into nets," he said.

McCoy said members of the "Zumanity" medical staff continue to go to UMC to visit Tabakova, whose specific injuries were not disclosed.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with our artists for a speedy recovery," he said.

Written by Admin    Tuesday, 20 November 2007 14:29    PDF Print
Bilozertchev Ready to Make Own Mark
A week after signing a letter of intent to compete at Ohio State, U.S. junior champion Alexy Bilozertchev hopes to make his mark at the Junior Pan Am Championships, which begin this week in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Alexy Bilozertchev

"Honestly, for this meet I really just want to hit everything and make a good impression internationally," said Bilozertchev, 17.

Bilozertchev is coached by his legendary father Dmitry, the 1983 and 1987 world all-around champion and a triple gold medalist at the 1988 Olympics.

Though Dmitry is now an assistant coach at Ohio State, Alexy went on recruiting trips to other universities before finally deciding to stay in Columbus.

"I'm excited for next year, and I'm glad this whole process is over," Bilozertchev said. "Now all my attention can go to Pan Ams."

At the 2007 VISA (U.S.) Championships in San Jose, Calif., Bilozertchev won the junior men's all-around title in the 16-18 age group.

In Guatemala City, the U.S. men will compete against teams from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.

The other members of the American men's squad are Glen Ishino, Steven Legendre and Danell Leyva.

"I want to help the USA to a first-place finish," Bilozertchev said.

Twelve countries sent female gymnasts: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela.

The U.S. women sent Olivia Courtney, Chelsea Davis, Mattie Larson and Jordyn Wieber.

The Junior Pan Am event is the first international competition for Bilozertchev, who was born in Moscow and moved to the U.S. as a toddler.

"I think Guatemala is going to be an awesome experience," he said.

Written by Admin    Sunday, 18 November 2007 14:28    PDF Print
Olympic Candidates Set for Beijing Test Event
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
Many of the leading contenders for next summer's Olympics are scheduled to compete at the "Good Luck Beijing" test competition, Nov. 28-Dec. 3 in Beijing.

The artistic gymnastics competition will feature men's team, women's all-around, and men's and women's individual event finals.

The Chinese roster includes four of the host country's best females — Cheng Fei (pictured), Jiang Yuyuan, Pang Panpan and Zhou Zhuoru — but its big stars in men's gymnastics are absent. None of the six male gymnasts entered were members of China's gold medal-winning team at the 2007 World Championships in September.

Qualification rounds will take place on Nov. 28, followed by the men's team final and women's all-around final on Nov.29.

The event finals will be divided among three days, as they will be in the 2008 Olympics: men's floor exercise and pommel horse and women's floor exercise and vault on Dec. 1; men's rings and vault and women's uneven bars on Dec. 2; and men's parallel bars and high bar and women's balance beam on Dec. 3.

The "Good Luck Beijing" competition is among a series of sports competitions being conducted by BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee), to test the logistics, facilities and state of preparedness for next summer's Olympic Games.

The current roster of "Good Luck Beijing" competitors includes:


Dasha Joura
Lauren Mitchell

Anastasia Marachkovskaya

Kristina Vaculik

Cheng Fei
Jiang Yuyuan
Pang Panpan
Zhou Zhuoru

Czech Republic
Jana Sikulova

Laetitia Dugain
Cassy Vericel

Great Britain
Hannah Clowes
Marissa King

Anja Brinker
Marie-Sophie Hindermann

Stefani Bisbikou

Francesca Benolli
Federica Macri

Keiki Mukumoto
Miki Uemura

The Netherlands
Verona van de Leur

North Korea
Hong Su Jong

Gabriela Dragoi
Alina Stanculescu

Ksenia Afanasyeva
Daria Yelizarova

Ariella K&aauml;slin

Olga Scherbatykh
Daria Zgoba

United States
Chellsie Memmel
Bridget Sloan


Dmitry Kasperovich
Igor Kozlov
Denis Savenkov
Dmitry Savitsky
Alexander Tsarevich
Vladimir Yermakov

Grant Golding
Nathan Gafuik
Jayd Lukenchuk
Brandon O'Neill
Alexander Rayment
Hugh Smith

Feng Zhe
Guo Mingsheng
Lu Bin
Lu Bo
Liang Mingsheng
Yan Mingyong

Pierre-Yves Beny
Gael Da Silva
Danny Rodrigues
Hamilton Sabot
Raphael Wignanitz
Arnaud Willig

Philipp Boy
Fabian Hambüchen
Robert Juckel
Marcel Nguyen
Eugen Spiridonov
Robert Weber

Great Britain
Ross Brewer

Vlasios Maras

Enzo Bernardoni
Paolo Ottavi

Yosuke Hoshi
Kenya Kobayashi
Makoto Okiguchi
Kazuhito Tanaka
Kohei Uchimura
Kazuya Ueda

Kim Dae Eun
Kim Ji Hoon
Kim Soo Myun
Yang Tae Seok
Yang Tae Young
Yoo Won Chul

Puerto Rico
Luis Vargas

Alin Jivan
Flavius Koczi
Cosmin Malita
Ilie Popescu
Dorin Selariu
Robert Stanescu

Dmitry Barkalov
Dmitry Gogotov
Sergei Khorokhordin
Kostantin Pluzhnikov
Anatoly Vasilyev
Yevgeny Vasilyev

Christian Bazan
Isaac Botella
Jose Fernandez
Arkaitz Garcia
Christian Guillem
Sergio Munoz

Claudio Capelli

Vadim Kuvakin

United States
David Durante
Sean Golden
Sho Nakamori
David Sender
Clay Strother
Todd Thornton

IG will be on hand in Beijing for the "Good Luck Beijing" competition, so look for updates on IG Online and in IG Magazine.

External Link: Good Luck Beijing Gymnastics Tournament


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