Defending champs Levya, Wieber are ready to meet in St. Louis for Visa Championships
posted on 06/05/2012

ST. LOUIS, June 5, 2012 – Defending U.S. champions and 2011 World Championships gold-medalists Jordyn Wieber of DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts' Twistars USA, and Danell Leyva of Miami/Team Hilton HHonors (Universal Gymnastics), are back to defend their titles at the 2012 Visa Championships, scheduled for June 7-10 at Saint Louis University's Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. The event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on June 7 with an opening ceremony outside Chaifetz Arena.

Wieber and Leyva are joined by all of their teammates from the 2011 World Championships, who captured the women's team gold and men's team bronze medals, respectively.

"During the four days of the Visa Championships, fans will have the opportunity not only to see the members of Team USA on their journey to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but also to participate in a wide variety of fun activities," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "The opportunities range from morning fitness to a world record attempt to the Visa Fan Fest."

Performances at the Visa Championships, which serve as USA Gymnastics' national championships, will determine the gymnasts who advance to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials - Gymnastics in San Jose, Calif., June 28-July 1, where the U.S. Olympic Team for gymnastics will be named.

The competition schedule for the 2012 Visa Championships, which includes a change in the start time to senior men's finals, is below. All times are Central.

    Thursday, June 7

    • 1 p.m. - Junior Men's Competition - Day 1
    • 6:30 p.m. - Senior Men's Competition - Day 1

    Friday, June 8

    • 1 p.m. - Junior Women's Competition - Day 1
    • 6:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition - Day 1

    Saturday, June 9

    • 11:30 a.m. - Senior Men's Competition - Final Day (note new time)
    • 6 p.m. - Junior Men's Competition - Final Day

    Sunday, June 10

    • 10 a.m. - Junior Women's Competition - Final Day
    • 2:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition - Final Day

The Visa Championships determine the U.S. champions and the national team for both the junior and senior elite levels for men's and women's gymnastics. NBC Sports and Universal Sports will broadcast and webcast the action live from St. Louis.

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.

Also, it is easier than ever to follow the competition and fan events online with information for both fan and competition activities, including start lists, live scoring and more, at www.usagym.org/visa. In addition, this year's event program will be digitally produced and available for everyone to view and enjoy.

USA Gymnastics is also connecting with fans on social media, delivering enhanced coverage of the event on Facebook with stunning photo galleries from every session and complete coverage of five non-televised sessions on YouTube. Fans can also join in the conversation with gymnastics enthusiasts from around the world on Twitter, using the official hashtag of the event: #VisaChamps.

 

Competition overview

Women's gymnastics

Wieber enters the competition as the reigning U.S., World, AT&T American Cup and Kellogg's Pacific Rim all-around champion.

Joining Wieber, who helped lead Team USA to the team gold medal at last year's Worlds, are 2011 World Championships teammates Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach, Va./Chow's Gymnastics and Dance; McKayla Maroney of Long Beach, Calif./AOGC, who is also the World vault champion; Alexandra Raisman of Needham, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics, floor exercise World bronze medalist; Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics; Sabrina Vega of Carmel, N.Y./Dynamic; and Anna Li of Aurora, Ill./Legacy Elite, alternate.

Three members of the 2008 Olympic team have qualified to compete: 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas/WOGA, who won five medals in Beijing; Sacramone, the 2010 World vault champion; and Bridget Sloan of Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp's Gymnastics, 2009 World all-around champion.

Six-time World Championships medalist Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas/WOGA, the 2010 U.S. champion, returns for her seventh Visa Championships. Brandie Jay of Colorado Springs, Colo./GK Gymnastics, and Grace McLaughlin of Allen, Texas/WOGA, who along with Sloan won the team gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, are expected to compete as well.

The 2012 Visa Championships will showcase first-year seniors Kyla Ross of Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max Gymnastics, junior all-around champion at the 2009-10 Visa Championships; Kennedy Baker of Flower Mound, Texas/Texas Dreams, who finished third in the all-around at the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic; Sarah Finnegan of St. Louis, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express, runner-up at the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic; and Elizabeth Price of Coopersburg, Pa./Parkettes.

In the junior division, reigning U.S. junior all-around champion Katelyn Ohashi of Plano, Texas/WOGA, returns to defend her title. Ohashi is joined by fellow 2012 Kellogg's Pacific Rim Championships team gold medalists Amelia Hundley of Hamilton, Ohio, and Lexie Priessman of Cincinnati, Ohio, both of whom train at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. 2012 Secret U.S. Classic junior all-around champion Simone Biles of Spring, Texas/Bannon's Gymnastix, and U.S. junior national team members Madison Desch of Lenexa, Kan./Great American Gymnastics Express, and Bailie Key of Coppell, Texas/Texas Dreams, are also expected to participate.

Men's gymnastics

Leyva arrives in St. Louis as the defending champion and the reigning World parallel bars gold medalist. He began his 2012 campaign by taking the top spot in the all-around at the AT&T American Cup.

In addition to Leyva, the entire 2011 World Championships team, which won the team bronze medal, is expected to compete: Jake Dalton of Reno, Nev./University of Oklahoma; Jonathan Horton of Houston/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Gymnastics); Steven Legendre of Port Jefferson, N.Y./Team Hilton HHonors (University of Oklahoma); Alex Naddour of Gilbert, Ariz./Team Hilton HHonors (USA Youth Fitness Center); John Orozco of the Bronx, N.Y./Team Hilton HHonors (U.S. Olympic Training Center); and Chris Brooks of Houston/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Gymnastics), alternate.

Also expected are five members of the 2011 Pan American Games bronze medal team: Donothan Bailey of Lake Forest, Calif./University of California - Berkeley; C.J. Maestas of Corrales, N.M./University of Illinois; Sho Nakamori of Albany, Calif./Team Hilton HHonors (Champions Academy); Paul Ruggeri of Manlius, N.Y/University of Illinois; and Brandon Wynn of Voorhees, N.J./Team Hilton HHonors (Ohio State University).

Defending U.S. junior champions Sean Melton of Orlando, Fla./U.S. Olympic Training Center, 14-15, and Adrian de los Angeles of Long Beach, Calif./University of Michigan, 16-18, now a member of the senior national team, are expected in St. Louis.

Junior national team members joining Melton and de los Angeles are: Allan Bower of Chandler, Ariz./Xtreme Gymnastics; Jonathan Deaton of Longmeadow, Mass./Tim Daggett Gold Medal Gymnastics; Daniel DiBenedetto of Vernon, Conn./Tim Daggett Gold Medal Gymnastics; Hunter Justus of Cypress, Texas/Cypress Gymnastics; Marvin Kimble of Milwaukee, Wis./Swiss Turners Gymnastics; Max Mayr of Miami/Universal Gymnastics; Akash Modi of Morganville, N.J./Monmouth Gymnastics Academy; Joseph Peters of Orefield, Pa./Parkettes; and Timothy Wang of Riverside, Calif./South Coast Gymnastics, who will compete as juniors. Junior national team members Jesse Glenn of Northridge, Calif./SCATS Gymnastics; Trevor Howard of Columbus, Ohio/Hocking Valley Gymnastics, and Jake Martin of Oviedo, Fla./U.S. Olympic Training Center, are first-year seniors.

 

Fan activities

For four days, Laclede Avenue outside Chaifetz Arena will become the place for fan activities during the 2012 Visa Championships and play host to a variety of fun, including gymnastics demonstrations, Painting at Chaifetz and the Visa Fan Fest.

The following is a quick overview of the fan activities available during the Visa Championships.

  • Opening Ceremony/World Record Attempt. Gymnastics enthusiasts and the general public are invited to the opening ceremony on Thursday, June 7, at 11:30 a.m. outside Chaifetz Arena. Included in the opening ceremony is setting a world record for the longest balance beam.

  • Morning fitness. Downtown workers and fans can start the day off right from Thursday, June 7, through Saturday, June 9, with a 60-minute workout at the Arch. Each day will have a different workout: June 7 - yoga at 6:30 a.m. led by Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller; June 8 - Zumba at 7:30 a.m.; and June 9 - boot camp at 8:30 a.m. led by National Champion David Durante.

  • Painting at Chaifetz. Fans can help create an original painting that will become a part of the history of the 2012 Visa Championships. Interested individuals will have the opportunity to dip their hands and/or feet into paint and do handstands, cartwheels or walk across the canvas, developing a communal piece of art. Painting at Chaifetz will be available during the Visa Fan Fest. Those expected to participate include gymnasts competing in the event, local and gymnastics celebrities and dignitaries, gymnastics fans, aspiring gymnasts and residents of St. Louis. The finished canvas will be featured during the final session of the Visa Championships, and pieces of the canvas will be presented as special gifts to selected organizations and individuals affiliated with the event. Painting at Chaifetz is presented by Art of the Olympians, founded by Cathy Oerter and her late husband, Al, who was a four-time Olympic discus champion. Works of Al Oerter provide the background in the signage and visual imagery for the 2012 Visa Championships.

  • USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone. Kids can have fun and gain knowledge about the importance of fitness through the interactive USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone. The zone features activities in building strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise. The Fitness Zone will be featured on the concourse at the Chaifetz Arena and the Visa Fan Fest.

  • Visa Fan Fest. Fans can gather for fun between the gymnastics sessions on June 8-10 and post-competition on June 10. The Visa Fan Fest is a great place to mingle and enjoy music, autographs, food, Painting at Chaifetz , the USA Gymnastics Fitness Zone and other fun activities, as well as buy merchandise.

  • The Road to London Piece by Piece. Fans can be part of piecing together the Road to London during the Visa Championships. Decorate a 1x2 (or smaller) piece of wood and bring it to the opening ceremony on Thursday, June 7, at 11:30 a.m. Ian Mackenzie, an artist from Fine Art Ltd in St. Louis, will create a gymnast sculpture using the pieces of wood during the Championships.

  • WGYM. Two-time Olympic gold-medalist Shannon Miller and 2007 U.S. all-around champion David Durante will host WGYM, the in-house radio broadcast for men's and women's gymnastics. WGYM provides running commentary on the competition, as well as fun facts about the sport and the competitors. Radios will be available at Chaifetz.

  • Merchandise. Fans can purchase everything gymnastics from event-specific tees to the newest adidas leotards at both Chaifetz and the Visa Fan Fest. USA Gymnastics is proud to accept only Visa, along with cash.

Television, webcast and YouTube coverage

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.

Background information

  • 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.


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