Zeng, Griskenas advance to all-around, event finals at Rhythmic Worlds
posted on 08/31/2017

© Tom Theobald

PESARO, Italy, Aug. 31, 2017 – 2016 Olympian Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, advanced to the all-around and event finals today at the 35th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Pesaro, Italy. Competition, which is being held at the Adriatic Arena, continues this evening with the finals for clubs and ribbon. Fans in the United States can watch tonight’s finals at 3 p.m. ET on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel.

After two days of qualifications, Zeng (67.200) and Griskenas (64.350) advanced to the all-around final in sixth and 11th place, respectively. Russia’s Dina Averina topped the standings with a 74.775, recording no score lower than 17.775. The United States has only qualified two athletes to the World all-around finals for rhythmic gymnastics once before – in 2013, when Jazzy Kerber and Rebecca Sereda advanced in Kiev, Ukraine.

At the conclusion of the seven qualifying sessions, Zeng advanced to the clubs and ribbon finals. Zeng’s two event final berths today are historic: this is the first time the U.S. has qualified an athlete to all four event finals at a Rhythmic World Championships, and Zeng is the first U.S. rhythmic gymnast to advance to three World event finals. (Mary Sanders qualified to two event finals at the 2003 World Championships.) Griskenas will join Zeng in the ribbon final, her second event final of the Championships, marking the first time two American rhythmic gymnasts have advanced to the same World’s event final.

Individual rhythmic competition wraps up tomorrow with the all-around finals, scheduled for 3:15 p.m. local time/9:15 a.m. ET, which fans can see live on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel.

Griskenas competed last in Group A and began with clubs. Her routine, set to Amazonic, earned a 15.150. She displayed a unique mastery where she rolled the club down her arm and around her back before grasping it again. Griskenas scored a 15.650 for her ribbon routine, giving her a 64.350 total in the all-around. Performing to powerful music, she showed elegance and the utmost control on her back attitude spin.

The two-time U.S. national champion, Zeng competed in Group C and started with clubs. She delivered a 17.000, the second best score for clubs after three subdivisions and seventh after all of the subdivisions. Her routine, performed to music from the television series Game of Thrones, ended with a dramatic trap catch. She also performed an impressive catch in her knee with one club behind her back as she leapt. Zeng’s powerful ribbon routine got the crowd clapping along as she moved to music by Sphongle, performing her signature fouetté turns. She scored a 16.250 and finished her all-around qualification with a 67.200.

Group competition begins Saturday with the all-around competition and event finals qualifications. The U.S. group, which trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, consists of Dasha Baltovick of Highland Park, Ill.; Natalie Bourand of Burr Ridge, Ill.; Connie Du of Deerfield, Ill.; Yelyzaveta Merenzon of Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Nicole Sladkov of Vernon Hills, Ill.; and Kristina Sobolevskaya of Deerfield, Ill. Coverage of the group competition is also available live on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel.