GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 20, 2022 – Nearly 200 athletes will take the floor this weekend at the 2022 Elite Qualifier as the rhythmic gymnastics season swings through DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich. Among them are eleven members of the U.S. Junior and Senior National Teams, including Alexandria Kautzman (Simi Valley, Calif./California Rhythms), who collected her first top-10 World Cup all-around finish last month in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Daria Merkulova (Vernon Hills, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center) and Jenna Zhao (Hinsdale, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center), who both finished in the top-10 at the International Tournament Sofia Cup in early April.
National Team members Erica Foster (Chanhassen, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic), the youngest competitor in the 2021 World Championships field, and Nayenne Pollini Ashenaffi (Reseda, Calif./Rhythmic Academy of Los Angeles), the 2021 Junior Pan American Games all-around silver medalist, will also compete as seniors, while two-time World Championships team member Serena Lu (Staten Island, N.Y./Isadora by Matchpoint) is set to make her first competitive appearance since 2017. U.S. National Team athletes Milana Abayeva (Brooklyn, N.Y./Isadora by Matchpoint), Victoria Gonikman (Corcoran, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic), Gemma Gow (Newton, Mass./Rhythmic Stars Gymnastics Academy) and Lauren Kramer (San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics) headline the junior field.
Performances at the Elite Qualifier will help determine the final makeup of the junior and senior elite divisions for next month’s USA Gymnastics Championships, the annual national championship event for rhythmic gymnastics in the U.S. Gymnasts spanning Levels 9 and 10, as well as the elite ranks, will compete this weekend in Grand Rapids hoping to secure a spot in the highest competition tier for 2022’s marquee domestic event, which will take place June 21-25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. A limited number of athletes have already wrapped up elite-division berths based on their performances at the 2022 Rhythmic Challenge in March. All gymnasts who are set to compete internationally at this weekend’s Pamplona World Challenge Cup or next week’s Portimao International Tournament received automatic selection to the elite field.
The top-25 junior and senior finishers who hold U.S. citizenship, accounting for those who have already clinched spots, will qualify to the USA Gymnastics Championships’ elite division. The next 25 gymnasts in the junior and senior standings will advance to the Level 10 competition and will earn a Level 10 designation if they did not already hold one. Group competitors will also be in action with the top-three junior FIG groups set to advance to the elite division at the USA Gymnastics Championships.
The competition will stream live on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics. Visit FlipNow.TV to learn more and subscribe. A schedule summary is outlined below in eastern time. The full competition schedule can be found here. The list of competitors with approximate start times is available here.
- Saturday, May 21: junior and senior groups at 8:45 a.m., 2006 seniors at 9:30 a.m., 2005 seniors at 11:55 a.m., 2004+ seniors at 2 p.m., 2009 juniors and Hopes gymnasts at 2:45 p.m., 2008 juniors at 5:05 p.m., 2007 juniors at 7:40 p.m.
- Sunday, May 22: junior and senior groups at 8:45 a.m., 2005 seniors at 9:30 a.m., 2004+ seniors at 11 a.m., 2006 seniors at 1:10 p.m., 2008 juniors at 3:35 p.m., 2009 juniors and Hopes gymnasts at 5:40 p.m., 2007 juniors at 7:40 p.m.