INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The 2006 U.S. Classic, which features the country’s top female gymnasts, will be held July 29 at the Business and Technology Exhibit Hall at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Mo. Hosted locally by Dragon Gymnastics/Great American Gymnastics Express, the U.S. Classic is the main qualifying event for women for the 2006 Visa Championships, Aug. 16-19 in St. Paul, Minn., where the national champions for both juniors and seniors will be determined. On July 28 and 30, the U.S. Challenge will showcase rising young gymnasts.
In 2005, Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, won the all-around title at U.S. Classic and went on to win the all-around title at the Visa Championships and two world gold medals (balance beam and uneven bars) later that year. Ashley Priess of Hamilton, Ohio, won junior all-around title at the 2005 U.S. Classic.
“The U.S. Classic is an excellent opportunity for gymnastics fans in Kansas City to see first-hand some of the athletes who will be contending for spots of the 2006 World Championships team and the 2008 Olympic Team,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The field will include gymnasts trying to qualify for the Visa Championships, as well as those who want a final tune-up for the Visa Championships.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for us to showcase the courage, commitment, leadership, integrity and teamwork needed to excel in the sport of gymnastics,v said Dragon Gymnastics President and Head Coach Al Fong. “It enables our Dragon team and their supporters to welcome some of the finest athletes in the world.”
On July 29, the junior competition starts at 1 p.m., with the seniors competing at 7 p.m. The U.S. Challenge portion of the event includes the compulsory competition on July 28 at 5:30 p.m. and the optional competition on July 30 at 1 p.m. Athlete warm-up sessions begin two hours prior to the start of the event. The field for the U.S. Classic will be finalized two weeks prior to the event.
Tickets are available at the Dragon Gymnastics Box Office by calling (816) 229-7775, or online at For more information and a detailed schedule, contact Dragon Gymnastics at (816) 229-7775, or log on to
The Visa Championships feature the United States’ best gymnasts vying for national titles in men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics, as well as qualifying for the respective U.S. national teams. Acrobatic gymnastics is holding its national team trials. Competition is held on both the junior and senior levels. The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul is playing host to the 2006 Visa Championships, Aug. 16-19. For more information, visit the 2006 Visa Championships Web site.
Fong, along with his wife and partner Armine Barutyan-Fong, are the head coaches of Dragon Gymnastics. Based in Blue Springs, Mo., they own and operate the Great American Gymnastic Express, which opened 27 years ago. Dragon Gymnastics’ athletes include U.S. Senior National Team member Sarah Shire, U.S. Junior National Team members Ivana Hong and Sarah DeMeo, as well as 2004 Olympic silver-medalists Terin Humphrey and Courtney McCool.