© John Cheng

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 17, 2012 – The qualification competition for the finals at the 2012 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, which is being held at the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports located at the Walt Disney World Resort, has reached its midway point. After the first day of competition, Team USA finds itself in good position to earn berths to Wednesday’s finals in all three of the disciplines in which it has entered.

Competition continues today with competition in men’s group (balance, combined); women’s pair (dynamic, combined); men’s pair (balance, combined); mixed pair (combined); and women’s group (combined).

The United States’ top placement came from Beth Landeche of New Orleans, La./Crescent City Gymnastics, and Nicole Barrilleaux, Metairie, La./Crescent City Gymnastics, who earned 27.418 for provisional fourth place in the women’s pair standings. Great Britain’s Poppy Spalding and Alanna Baker lead the standings with 28.257 points.

In women’s group, the team from the U.S., which consists of Sienna Colbert of Riverside, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, Holli Morris of Beaumont, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, and Crystal Johnston of Riverside, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, currently is in sixth place. They began their competition at the Worlds by earning 27.190 for their balance routine.

Then, in session four, Colbert, Morris and Johnston performed their dynamic routine to the music of "Malaguena," opening their routine with a toe-pitch double layout to the delight of the home crowd fans. Their score, 27.202, put them sixth after the first day with a total of 54.392. Russia’s Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova lead the women’s group standings with 56.813.

In mixed pairs, Kelianne Stankus of Riverside, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, and Dylan Maurer of Colton, Calif./Empire Gymnastics, are ninth after the balance and dynamic competitions. Their dynamic routine, which included a throw to double back, earned 26.940 points. Their powerful and compelling balance routine showed intricate variations of a one-armed handstand, earning the duo 26.930 for a two-routine total of 53.870. Belgium’s Nicolas Vleeshouwers and Laure de Pryck are currently in first place with 56.950 points.

In the men’s group competition, Russia’s Artur Avakian, Konstantin Stetsenko, Grigory Sergienko and Yuriy Gerasimov earned 27.818 in their dynamic exercise for the top spot. Meanwhile, in the men’s pairs competition, Russia’s Konstantin Pilipchuk and Alexey Dudchenko posted 28.000 to lead after the dynamic competition.

Six teams advance to Wednesday’s finals for women’s pair, men’s pair and men’s group, while eight teams advance in women’s group and mixed pair.

The schedule is as follows (all times Eastern):

    April 17
    Session 5: 10 a.m. (Women’s Pair Dynamic, Men’s Group Balance)
    Session 6: 11:30 a.m. (Men’s Pair Balance)
    Session 7: 2 p.m. (Women’s Group Combined, Mixed Pair Combined)
    Session 8: 4:45 p.m. (Women’s Pair Combined, Men’s Group Combined)
    Session 9: 7 p.m. (Men’s Pair Combined)

    Finals – April 18
    Session 10: 4 p.m. Women’s, Men’s and Mixed Pairs, and Men’s and Women’s Group

Tickets for the event are available by visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Box Office. Qualification tickets are available for $20, with tickets to the finals priced at $35. An all-session (qualification and finals) package is available for $50.

Local organizations assisting with the event include the Central Florida Sports Commission, Cirque du Soleil/La Nouba and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

This is the first time the World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships has been held outside of Europe since its inception in 1974. The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, since they came under the FIG umbrella in 1999, have been held in Ghent, Belgium (1999); Wroclaw, Poland (2000, 2010); Riesa, Germany (2002); Lievin, France (2004); Coimbra, Portugal (2006); and Glasgow, Scotland (2008).

Acrobatic gymnastics combines the beauty of dance with the strength and agility of acrobatics. Routines are choreographed to music and consist of dance, tumbling, and partner skills. At the elite level, each pair or group performs a balance, dynamic and combined routine. Pyramids and partner holds characterize the balance routine, while synchronized tumbling and intricate flight elements define the dynamic exercise. An acrobatic gymnastics pair consists of a base and a top. A women’s group is comprised of a base, middle and top partner, while a men’s group has a base, two middle partners and one top partner.

Background information

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 350 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 250-acre facility features the ESPN Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology Group to develop ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom, as well as development of its new 3-D television channel. In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 hand-held and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex. The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art HD and 3-D Broadcast Center that features eight edit bays and links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.wdwnews.com for press releases, photos and videos. Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports.

  • International Gymnastics Federation (FIG): The International Gymnastics Federation is the governing body for gymnastics worldwide. It is the oldest established international sports federation and has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896. The FIG governs seven disciplines: gymnastics for all, men’s artistic, women’s artistic, rhythmic, trampoline, aerobic and acrobatic. It counts 130 national affiliated federations and boasts a 25-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne, Switzerland, host city of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).