ST. LOUIS, Mo., June 8, 2012 – Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts’ Twistars USA, and Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance, posted matching 60.650 scores in the all-around to share the lead after the first night of the Visa Championships inside Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. Alexandra Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, rounded out the top three with a 60.200.
Competition continues tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. CT with the final day of senior men’s competition, followed by the conclusion of the junior men’s competition at 6 p.m.
"It felt really good to come out on top tonight," Wieber said, "It definitely gives me a little motivation for Sunday to improve on vault and beam."
Wieber, the defending champion and reigning World all-around champion, started on the vault with a 15.650 for her two-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko, called an Amanar. In the second rotation, Wieber was solid on the uneven bars and earned a 15.050.
The third rotation moved Wieber to the balance beam where she performed a front handspring to standing full combination (14.700). In the final rotation, Wieber brought the house down nearly sticking her double-double mount to earn a 15.250 and a share of the lead.
Douglas began on her signature event, the uneven bars where she soared in the air on her piked and straddled Tkatchev release moves before sticking her double layout dismount. She earned a 15.450 on the event. On the balance beam, Douglas displayed a standing full and two back handsprings to double pike dismount for a 14.800.
In rotation three, she moved to the floor exercise, performing an energetic routine, which earned a 15.050. Finishing on the vault, Douglas performed an Amanar and scored a 15.350.
"I feel really awesome right now," Douglas said. "All of my hard work has paid off. I have to keep focusing on my training and the final day of competition."
Raisman, who finished fourth in the all-around at last year’s World Championships, began on the floor exercise where she earned a 15.450. Her routine, set to Hava Nagila, included an impressive one-and-a-half to Arabian double punch layout and a piked Arabian double to split leap. On the vault, Raisman performed another Amanar, scoring 15.450. On the uneven bars, she posted a 14.100 before moving to the balance beam where her steadiness earned her a 15.200.
World vault champion McKayla Maroney of Long Beach, Calif./AOGC, posted the top score on vault. Her first vault, an Amanar, seemed to hang in the air and earned her a 16.150. Performing a Yurchenko-half on, front layout full off second vault, she earned a 15.700 and a 15.925 average.
2008 Olympian Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, returned to competition for her 10th Visa Championships, and posted the second highest vault average of the night, a 15.025. Sacramone performed a front handspring Rudi and Yurchenko full twist.
Kyla Ross of Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max, executed a toe-on Shaposhnikova to Pak salto and a stuck double layout to earn the highest score of the day on the uneven bars, 15.500. Douglas was second on bars and Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas/WOGA, was third with a 15.200.
Sarah Finnegan of St. Louis, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express, took the top score of the night on the balance beam with a 15.350. Finnegan was precise and solid throughout her routine, which included a double squat turn and a standing Arabian to back handspring swing down. Sacramone and Raisman tied for second on the event with matching 15.200 scores.
Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas/WOGA, the 2008 Olympic all-around champion, earned a 15.100 on the balance beam to tie for fourth place with Ross.
On the floor exercise, Raisman leads the standings with a 15.450. Wieber and Douglas finished second and third.
In her first all-around competition since 2009, Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp’s Gymnastics, a member of the silver medal-winning 2008 Olympic team, earned her top score on the uneven bars, a 15.100, which was good for fifth place on the event. She is currently 10th in the all-around with a 56.250.
The final day of the women’s competition is Sunday, June 10 with junior competition getting underway at 10 a.m., and seniors at 2:30 p.m. Central.
The 2012 Visa Championships, USA Gymnastics’ national championships, features the country’s best gymnasts vying for national titles and spots on the U.S. National Team in men’s and women’s gymnastics.
Single-session tickets for the Visa Championships range in price from $20 to $99.50, including facility fees. Ticket prices vary according to seat location and session. In addition, the multi-session tickets (men’s package that features both days of competition; all-day women’s package that features both junior and senior sessions for day one; and a women’s finals package that features the final day of competition for both junior and senior women) and all-session ticket packages are still available. Multi-session ticket packages for men’s and women’s gymnastics range from $60 to $125, and all-session ticket packages go from $105 to $325.
All tickets may be purchased by phone at 314-534-1111 or 800-293-5949; online at www.thechaifetzarena.com; or at the Chaifetz Arena Box Office. Group discounts are available by calling 314-977-5008. In recognition of Visa’s sponsorship of USA Gymnastics, USA Gymnastics is proud to accept only Visa at the 2012 Visa Championships, along with cash.
Universal Sports television will broadcast the women’s senior competition live on June 8 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Then, NBC Sports will broadcast live coverage of the final day of both the men’s competition, June 9 from 1-3:30 p.m. ET, and the women’s competition, June 10 from 4-6 p.m. ET. Competition in the first day of senior women’s competition will be simultaneously webcast on usagym.org courtesy of UniversalSports.com. To find a Universal Sports channel in a specific area, go to UniversalSports.com.
For all four junior men’s and women’s sessions and the first day of senior men’s competition, USA Gymnastics will provide complete coverage of the event on its official YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/usagymnasticsorg. Additionally, USA Gymnastics will post highlight clips from men’s and women’s podium training beginning on June 5.
Online. The 2012 Visa Championships and its ancillary activities are easier than ever to follow online. Schedules and general information for both fan activities and the competition, including the official event program, start lists, live scoring and more are available at www.usagym.org/visa, which is easily viewable on smart phones and other digital devices.
Social Media. USA Gymnastics are connecting with fans on Facebook (facebook.com/USAGymnastics) and Twitter (@USAGym), providing live updates and exclusive content including videos and photos from the Visa Championships. Gymnastics fans can follow the action easily on Twitter by using the official hashtag of the 2012 Visa Championships, #visachamps.
Fan Activities. USA Gymnastics will be hosting a wide-range of fan activities on Laclede Avenue just outside Chaifetz Arena including gymnastics demonstrations and Painting at Chaifetz presented by Art of the Olympians. Fans can also gather for fun prior to competition on June 8, following competition June 9, and both between and after sessions on June 10 right outside Chaifetz Arena for the Visa Fan Fest to enjoy interviews, food, music and celebrate the Visa Championships.
Chaifetz Arena at Saint Louis University. Chaifetz Arena (TheChaifetzArena.com) is a 10,600-seat multipurpose venue on the campus of Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. Chaifetz Arena is the home to the Saint Louis University Billikens Men’s and Women’s Basketball and 150 concerts, family shows and special events per year. The $81-million arena opened in April 2008 and features a 20,000 square foot event floor, 14 suites, two party decks, two multi-purpose rooms, and a 4,700 square foot club on the event floor. Global Spectrum (global-spectrum.com) manages Chaifetz Arena, as well as more than 100 other public assembly facilities around the world. Nearly 20-million people attended more than 11,000 events in Global Spectrum venues last year. Based in Philadelphia, Pa., Global Spectrum is part of Comcast-Spectacor, one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment companies. Comcast-Spectacor also owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage services provider, New Era Tickets, a full-service ticketing and marketing product for public assembly facilities, Paciolan, the leading provider of venue establishment ticketing, fundraising and marketing technology solutions, Front Row Marketing Services, a commercial rights sales company, and Flyers Skate Zone, a series of community ice skating rinks.
St. Louis Sports Commission. The St. Louis Sports Commission is the privately funded nonprofit organization that makes St. Louis a better place to live, visit, work and play through sports. Its efforts focus on attracting, creating and managing major sporting events for the St. Louis region – and contributing to its quality of life. Since its inception in 1989, the organization has produced a diverse lineup of high-profile events that excite area sports fans, generate revenue for the region and garner positive exposure for St. Louis. The Sports Commission hosted the Visa Championships in 2000 and has played integral roles in other recent Olympic events staged in St. Louis. A catalyst for civic benefit, economic development and charitable good, the Sports Commission has been recognized as a leader in its industry and its community.