January marks the beginning of the 2010 gymnastics season
posted on 01/15/2010

The start of the New Year marks the beginning of the competitive gymnastics season, including all levels of gymnastics – from Junior Olympics to collegiate to elite. Thousands of gymnasts across the nation are competing in invitationals and other events that serve as the first steps in the championships journey.

“In January, the gymnastics competitive season kicks into high gear,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Gymnastics clubs are competing in events every weekend from now through July; collegiate gymnastics is in full swing and culminates with the championships in April; and our elite gymnasts begin competing in a variety of domestic and international events. We sanction about 3,500 events annually, and many of these will be held in the coming months.”

Gymnastics includes competition in men’s, women’s, rhythmic, acrobatic and group gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling. Because the complete calendar is extensive, here are some of the key events scheduled for the coming months. For a complete schedule of member club invitationals, collegiate meets and USA Gymnastics championship events, go to usa-gymnastics.org/events.

Junior Olympics

  • Nastia Liukin Cup and Series. The Nastia Liukin Cup is a competitive opportunity for 36 up-and-coming female gymnasts who are chosen through 15 invitationals in the Nastia Liukin Cup Series. Scheduled for March 5 in Worcester, Mass., the Nastia Liukin Cup is the night before the Tyson American Cup. Proceeds from the Nastia Liukin Cup will go into the Nastia Liukin Fund, a charitable fund within the National Gymnastics Foundation. During January and February, top gymnasts from each of the invitationals in the Nastia Liukin Cup Series are selected for the Nastia Liukin Cup. For the names and dates of the 15 invitationals in the Nastia Liukin Cup Series and/or more information on the Nastia Liukin Cup, go to nastialiukincup.com.

  • Junior Olympic National Championships. The majority of gymnasts compete in Junior Olympic competitions, and the first part of the year is busy with invitationals and competing in the state and regional qualifiers, with the ultimate goal of advancing to the national championships. The schedule for this year’s Junior Olympic National Championships is: men, May 4-9 in Knoxville, Tenn.; women, May 6-9 in Dallas, Texas; rhythmic, June 23-27 in Chicago; trampoline and tumbling, June 27-July 2 in Virginia Beach, Va.; and acrobatic, July 25-28 in Kissimmee, Fla. The women’s Junior Olympic program also includes the East/West Level 9 Championships, eight regionals to advance to the National Junior Olympic Championships and the National Invitational Tournament, May 9, in Dallas, Texas.

Collegiate gymnastics.

  • The collegiate gymnastics season is underway. The schedule for the men’s and women’s national championships is: NCAA National Championships – men, April 15-17 in West Point, N.Y., and women, April 22-24 in Gainesville, Fla.; USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships – men, March 26-27 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and women, April 15-17 in Denton, Texas; NCGA National Gymnastics Championships – March 26-27, Springfield, Mass.; and NAIGC Nationals – April 8-10 in San Marcos, Texas. The women’s NCAA regionals are April 10. For more information on the collegiate schedule, click here.

Elite gymnastics

  • Winter Cup Challenge. Although there are many local and regional events, the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, Nev., signifies the start of the men’s elite season. Scheduled for Feb. 4-6, the Winter Cup features more than 100 of the country’s top male gymnasts and determines the men’s senior national team for the next six months.

  • Rhythmic Challenge. Similar to the Winter Cup, the Rhythmic Challenge in Colorado Springs, Colo., brings together the top junior and senior rhythmic gymnasts, along with rising stars. The event is Feb. 13-14.

  • Tyson American Cup, March 6, Worcester, Mass. The Tyson American Cup is one of the most prestigious international invitationals. The U.S. gymnasts who have already accepted invitations are 2009 world all-around silver-medalist Rebecca Bross of Plano, Texas; 2008 Olympic horizontal bar silver-medalist and two-time Tyson American Cup champion Jonathan Horton of Houston; and 2009 U.S. all-around silver-medalist Tim McNeill of Falls Church, Va., who finished fifth in the all-around at the 2009 World Championships. The international field and remaining U.S. woman will be named in the coming weeks. For more information, go to tysonamericancup.com.

  • Pacific Rim Championships, April 29-May 2, Melbourne, Australia. Held every two years, the competition features gymnasts from Pacific Rim countries.

  • U.S. Elite Qualifier. Virginia Beach, Va., is hosting trampoline and tumbling’s U.S. Elite Qualifier on June 24-27, which provides junior and senior elites the opportunity to qualify for the Visa Championships in Hartford, Conn. The event is held in conjunction with the Junior Olympic Championships.

  • National Elite Qualifier. For acrobatic gymnastics, the National Elite Qualifier is July 23-25 in Kissimmee, Fla., provides an opportunity for junior and senior pair-groups to advance to the Visa Championships and is held in conjunction with the Junior Olympic nationals.

  • CoverGirl Classic. Held July 23-25, the CoverGirl Classic serves two purposes for women’s gymnastics: it is the last opportunity for gymnasts to qualify for the Visa Championships, and many athletes who have qualified use the annual event as a warm-up for the national championships.

  • Visa Championships, Aug. 10-14, Hartford, Conn. The Visa Championships is the national championships for USA Gymnastics and performances determine the U.S. champions and national teams for each discipline. The five-day event features competition in all five disciplines: men, women, rhythmic, acrobatic gymnastics; trampoline and tumbling.

  • World Championships. Each of the five disciplines has a World Championships in 2010: acrobatic, July 16-18, Wroclaw, Poland; rhythmic, Sept. 19-26, Moscow, Russia; men and women, Oct. 17-24, Rotterdam, Netherlands; trampoline and tumbling, November 11-13, Metz, France.