© John Cheng

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 17, 2012 – With qualification competition complete at the 2012 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, which is being held at the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports located at the Walt Disney World Resort, Team USA has earned a place in the finals for all three of the disciplines in which it entered – women’s group, women’s pair and mixed pairs. With their qualification to the finals, they also earned berths to the 2013 World Games, which will be held in Cali, Colombia.

The World Championships conclude tomorrow afternoon with the finals for all five disciplines, beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The competition will be shown live on ESPN3.com.

Russia captured the team gold medal, scoring 64 points, followed by a tie for second between Great Britain and Belarus, each with 59 points. The United States finished seventh with 49 points.

Team USA started with competition in women’s pair from Beth Landeche of New Orleans, La./Crescent City Gymnastics, and Nicole Barrilleaux of Metairie, La./Crescent City Gymnastics. The pair’s routine included a back flip where Landeche took off and landed on Barrilleaux’s shoulders, earning a score of 27.552. In the combined routine, the pair executed a solid toe-pitch double tuck and were steady on their balance holds, earning 27.211 for a total score of 82.181 and fifth place.

"We feel really good, we are excited," Barrilleaux said of her second Worlds experience so far, "We did our best – and that’s all we can ask."

Topping the standings with 84.041 was Ukraine’s Anastasiya Melnychenko and Kateryna Sytnikova, followed by Belarus’ Yana Yanusik and Sviatlana Mikhnevich (83.628) and Great Britain’s Poppy Spalding and Alanna Baker (83.157).

In their first World Championships, Kelianne Stankus of Riverside, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, and Dylan Maurer of Colton, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, who make up Team USA’s mixed pair, began their combined routine with several variations of a one-handed handstand before executing a toe-pitch double back flip. Their combined routine was good for 27.305, earning a total score of 81.175 and a place in the finals.

"It feels amazing. I’ve never had a feeling quite like this," Maurer said, "It’s the greatest."

Nicolas Vleeshouwers and Laure de Pryck of Belgium lead the standings after qualification with 85.447. Russia’s Tatiana Okulova and Revaz Gurgenidize (85.409) and China’s Shen Yunyun and Liu Qi (83.248) are currently second and third, respectively.

The women’s group from the United States of Sienna Colbert of Riverside, Calif., Holli Morris of Beaumont, Calif., and Crystal Johnston of Riverside, Calif., who train at Empire Gymnastics, opened with a toe-pitch double layout before moving into a balance with Colbert performing a reverse planche on the foot of Morris, who was in a one hundred and eighty degree split. The trio earned 27.403 to complete their 81.795 total score.

"This is what we’ve worked for," Morris said, "We’ve been together a year now, and it’s been a hard, hard year."

Russia’s Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova, and Ekaterina Loginova posted the top qualification score with a 85.516 total, followed by Belgium’s Sanne van Overberghe, Lara Schollier and Camille van Betsbrugge, 84.461, and a second group from Russia, which consists of Natalia Solodinina, Victoria Sukhareva and Maria Golovina, who earned 83.549. Due to a one per country rule in finals, Solodinina, Sukhareva and Golovina will not advance to the finals.

In the men’s group competition, Great Britain’s Dorian Walker, Jesse Heskett, Matthew Evison and Richard Hurst leads the way with 83.649. While Russia’s Konstantin Pilipchuk and Alexey Dudchenko posted the highest score, 85.316, in the men’s pair competition.

Tickets for the event are available by visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Box Office. Tickets for Wednesday’s finals competition are available for $35.

Local organizations assisting with the event include the Central Florida Sports Commission, Cirque du Soleil/La Nouba and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

This is the first time the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships has been held outside of Europe since its inception in 1974. The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, since they came under the FIG umbrella in 1999, have been held in Ghent, Belgium (1999); Wroclaw, Poland (2000, 2010); Riesa, Germany (2002); Lievin, France (2004); Coimbra, Portugal (2006); and Glasgow, Scotland (2008).

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.


Background information

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 350 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 250-acre facility features the ESPN Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology Group to develop ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom, as well as development of its new 3-D television channel. In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 hand-held and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex. The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art HD and 3-D Broadcast Center that features eight edit bays and links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.wdwnews.com for press releases, photos and videos. Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports.

  • International Gymnastics Federation (FIG): The International Gymnastics Federation is the governing body for gymnastics worldwide. It is the oldest established international sports federation and has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896. The FIG governs seven disciplines: gymnastics for all, men’s artistic, women’s artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, aerobic and acrobatic. It counts 130 national affiliated federations and boasts a 25-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne, Switzerland, host city of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).