© John Cheng

KEARNEY, MO., March 18, 2013 – The nation’s best acrobatic gymnastics competed at this weekend’s Acro Cup in Kearney, Mo. The event featured 45 groups competing at the senior elite, junior elite and age group levels, and Acro Cup performances will help determine the U.S. National Team and international competition assignments.

Acro Explosion’s Mariah Cockshell of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Kennedy Swanson of Blue Springs, Mo.; and Mallory Henthorn of Independence, Mo., won the senior women’s group, scoring a combined 73.080. West Coast Training Center’s Eirian Smith of Livermore, Calif., and Kyle Bloom of San Jose, Calif., posted an 87.470 to win the senior mixed pair title. 2012 World finalists Beth Landeche of New Orleans and Nicole Barrilleaux of Metairie, La., took the top spot in senior women’s pair with an 80.160. The duo trains at Crescent City Gymnastics and will represent the United States at the World Games later this year in Cali, Colombia.

Acrobatic gymnastics combines the beauty of dance with the strength and agility of acrobatics. Routines are choreographed to music and consist of dance, tumbling, and partner skills. At the elite level, each pair or group performs a balance, dynamic and combined routine. Pyramids and partner holds characterize the balance routine, while synchronized tumbling and intricate flight elements define the dynamic exercise. An acrobatic gymnastics pair consists of a base and a top. A women’s group is comprised of a base, middle and top partner, while a men’s group has a base, two middle partners and one top partner.