Sixteen-year-old Mattie Larson just returned from the World Cup in Montreal where she won two gold medals on balance beam and floor exercise. Larson trains at All Olympia in Los Angeles, Calif. and is coached by Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan. Larson was also a member of the 2008 Olympic Team Training Squad.
USA Gymnastics caught up with Mattie to ask her a few questions!
USA Gymnastics: How did it feel to win two gold medals at a World Cup?
Mattie: This is my first time winning medals that have the word "World" in the title, so it felt so amazing to actually win two!
USA Gymnastics: Tell me about your gold medal beam routine.
Mattie: Well, I was last up on beam and I didn’t really know how the girls before me had done because I was trying to focus on doing my routine the best I could. I took out a few skills for this routine so I knew that execution would be important because my start value would be a little lower. I just tried to take one skill at a time and not worry about the result.
USA Gymnastics: Tell me about your gold medal floor routine.
Mattie: While I was getting ready to compete on floor the men were on high bar, which is like the coolest event ever so I had to try really hard to stay focused, but once I got into my first pose I was only thinking about my floor routine.
USA Gymnastics: Did you hit everything the way you wanted?
Mattie: There is always room to improve, but I’m definitely happy with the way things went!
USA Gymnastics: How did it feel to stand on the awards podium after winning and receive your medal?
Mattie: When you stand on the awards podium and receive your medal, you feel as if your hard work has paid off. This meet was different though because awards were after each event. After I got down off of the podium I had to remind myself that I actually had to compete some more.
USA Gymnastics: What is next for you?
Mattie: Right now I’m concentrating on upgrading my routines a little bit and fixing small details here and there. I’m just going to keep training and see what happens!
USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite event?
Mattie: When I go through a rough training period, my favorite event is usually the one that gives me the least trouble. But, for the most part, I would say floor.
USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite skill?
Mattie: My favorite skill is a "shoposhnikova" on bars. It used to be my least favorite skill when I was learning it because I was terrified of it, but when I do it right, it’s the closest I feel to flying.
USA Gymnastics: What was the best part of the trip?
Mattie: The best part of the trip for me was to be able to see a live Cirque du Soleil show in the arena right after we competed. It was amazing!
USA Gymnastics: What are your goals for the future?
Mattie: My goal for this year is to be a World Championship team member and as for the long term future, to make the 2012 Olympic Team.
USA Gymnastics: Tell me about school.
Mattie: I am actually in a very interesting program for school. I go to high school two days a week and I do school work at home or where ever I am on the other days. I’ve tried going to school full time and being home schooled full time and I finally found a happy middle. Some semesters I have to take classes at a community college, as well as taking my high school classes, so it can get pretty hectic!
USA Gymnastics: Can you walk me through a typical day?
Mattie: On a typical school day I get up at 7:30 a.m. and get ready for school. I’m very lucky because school doesn’t start until 9:00 a.m. I’m at school for about three hours and then gymnastics practice starts at 1:00 p.m. I train until about 8:00 p.m. with an hour break squeezed in there somewhere. I get home, do homework, go to sleep, and start over in the morning.
USA Gymnastics: Tell me about your coaches.
Mattie: My coaches are definitely passionate about what they do and the sport they are involved in. They really love gymnastics. Of course I would love for them to always be sweet no matter what, but anyone who wants the best for you is going to have to push your buttons a little bit. They definitely know what they are doing so I trust them completely.
USA Gymnastics: What do you like to do when you are not in the gym?
Mattie: When I’m not in the gym I love to hang out with my older sister. I’m so lucky that she goes to USC (University of Southern California), which is close enough to see her when I want to. She is without a doubt the coolest person I know.
USA Gymnastics: Do you have your driver’s license?
Mattie: I have my permit and I have one more driving lesson to complete until I’m able to get my license. I really want to get my license before my (17th) birthday, which is at the end of May.
USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite food?
Mattie: Ice cream! There is always going to be a time when I’m not in the mood for a certain food, but that is never going to happen with ice cream. At least I hope not!
USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite TV show?
Mattie: I think the cheesy "chance at love" shows on MTV and VH1, like I Love Money and The Rock of Love are absolutely hilarious! I also like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. I can also never get enough SpongeBob!
USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite vacation?
Mattie: My favorite vacation is any time I get to go to my mom’s best friend’s house in Palm Beach, Fla. It is literally paradise!