USA turns in successful performances at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Champions
posted on 04/15/2006

HONOLULU, April 15, 2006 -- Twelve U.S. athletes combined for 16 individual gold medals on the final day of competition at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships held at the Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. In total, the United States won 36 individual event medals today: 20 in artistic gymnastics, four in trampoline and 11 rhythmic medals. In 2004, prior to the addition of trampoline, the U.S. won 30 individual event medals.


Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., won gold medals on floor and vault, giving the U.S. senior women a sweep of the gold medals. The U.S. women won team and all-around earlier in the meet and all four individual event gold medals today.

2006 Pacific Alliance all-around co-champions Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, and Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., won bars and beam, respectively. In addition to leading the USA to the team title, Memmel and Liukin combined for six individual medals, including four golds.

"It gives us a ton of confidence to know that we can hit our routines this early in the season," Memmel said. "They can only improve with time."

The U.S. junior team won four gold medals. Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa, continued to dominate, earning a pair of titles on vault and floor. Tessa Pama of Dana Point, Calif., won junior uneven bars and Philip Onorato of Plano, Texas, won the junior rings competition.

In trampoline, the U.S. athletes won both men’s and women’s titles. Erin Blanchard of Youngsville, La., took gold in junior women’s trampoline, with Steven Gluckstein of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., winning the junior men’s title.

Rachel Marmer of Hollywood, Calif., won three rhythmic gold medals in the junior division: hoop, ribbon, and clubs. In addition to Marmer’s titles, Marlee Shape of Buffalo Grove, Ill., won junior rope. In the senior division, Olga Karmansky of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Brenann Stacker of Lincolnshire, Ill., tied for the clubs title, bringing the U.S. rhythmic gold total to six.

"This year’s Pacific Alliance Championships has been a wonderful testament to the gymnasts from the Pacific region," USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said. "While I am particularly proud of the performance of the U.S. Team, many countries have demonstrated their medal potential heading into the 2008 Beijing Olympics."

Senior artistic gymnastics

The U.S. senior women combined for a total of seven individual event medals, four of them gold, bringing the total women’s medal count to 10.

Bieger stuck a one-and-a-half-twisting Yurchenko for her first vault and had a good landing on a front handspring layout with a half twist to average 14.912 points and the vault title. Liukin scored 15.975 points on uneven bars with a clean routine, including an Ono with an extra half turn, a high Gienger release and a stuck double layout dismount. Shayla Worley of Orlando, Fla., who caught three high release skills, finished second with 15.400 points.

In another close finish, Memmel and Liukin went 1-2 on beam, where Memmel’s difficult routine, including a standing Arabian and a front flip with a half twist, edged by Liukin by just 0.075 points, 15.700 points to 15.625.

"On bars I was really happy with my routine," Liukin said. "On beam I was not as happy because it was a little shaky."

On floor, Bieger slipped by Memmel by one-tenth of a point. Bieger’s routine included a high double layout mount, double pike dismount and energetic dance.

"It feels great to win two golds," Bieger said. "I was really confident coming into this meet and I just told myself to hit and have fun with it, and I definitely did on floor."

Memmel had solid landings on all of her tumbling passes to finish second with 15.400 points, earning her fourth medal of the competition.

"It felt great to be out here under the new scoring system, after my surgery, and with new routines since Worlds," Memmel said. "I’m really happy with how I did."

David Sender of Arlington, Ill., grabbed a bronze on vault, and David Durante of Garfield, N.J., was third on the parallel bars, the only U.S. men’s medals. Sender was also sixth on floor and parallel bars, Durante was sixth on high bar, Brett McClure of Mill Creek, Wash. was sixth on pommel horse, and Guillermo Alvarez of Denver, Colo. was seventh in still rings.

"There was a little pressure to start getting some medals for the USA," Sender said. "Part of the sport is to be able to move on from past mistakes and if anything, it only makes you stronger."

Men’s event winners included 2004 Olympic gold-medalist Kyle Shewfelt of Canada on floor and vault; 2006 Pacific Alliance all-around champion Lu Bo on rings; 2001 world all-around champion Feng Jing on parallel bars and pommel horse; and Canada’s Nathan Gafuik on high bar.

Juniors artistic gymnastics

The U.S. junior men and women combined for a total of 12 individual event medals, four of them gold. Johnson won two gold medals, while Onorato and Pama each earned one. The U.S. junior women combined seven medals total today and the men earned five.

Johnson won two golds and a silver, bring her total medal count to five (including yesterday’s team and all-around golds). She won vault with a 15.175 score for a double-twisting Yurchenko and finished second on beam to China’s Xiao Sha with 15.675 points. Johnson won floor with clean landings on all of her tumbling passes and a 15.375 for her fourth gold medal (team, all-around, vault, floor) of the competition.

"This meet was a lot of fun and a great experience," Johnson said. "It’s been a meet I’ve wanted to go to for a long time and to come and win four gold medals is just awesome."

Pama earned the gold medal on uneven bars and silvers on vault and floor. Her uneven bars routine, with clean handstands and high releases earned 15.550 points to edge past Bianca Flohr of Creston, Ohio, by just one-tenth of a point. On beam, Rebecca Bross of Ann Arbor, Mich., landed a difficult Arabian double front dismount for fifth place.

"I was really glad to make things as big and clean as possible," said Pama, who was born in Kona. "It was just that much better doing it in Hawaii."

On the men’s side, Onorato won the gold medal on rings, sticking a double layout dismount and hitting his strength positions well for 15.200 points, finishing ahead of Timothy Gentry of Plano, Texas, who was second. Onorato also won the silver medal on vault behind Mexico’s Daniel Corral. Gentry won his fourth silver medal on high bar. Ryan Lieberman of Lake Forest, Ill., earned bronze on parallel bars.

"I had a couple of mistakes but overall I did pretty well," Lieberman said. "I’m glad I earned a medal. It’s a great experience to compete with all of these countries."

Japan claimed four event titles. Koji Yamamuro won pommel horse and high bar; Kohei Uchimura won floor; and Ryotaka Deguchi took the parallel bars gold. Gentry was fourth on pommel horse and floor, and Thomas Kelley of Libertyville, Ill., was fourth on vault.

Trampoline

The U.S. junior trampoline team won four medals today, with Blanchard and Gluckstein winning titles.

Blanchard and Nani Vercruyssen of Honolulu went 1-2 in the junior women’s division. Blanchard’s winning routine included 20 flips, 23 twists, and 10 bounces.


"I am really exited to win," Blanchard said. "I’ve only been back a few months, and this is my second international event. I wanted some time off and I’