INDIANAPOLIS (February 16, 2023) – Many of the top U.S. rhythmic and trampoline gymnasts will be in action this weekend as the elite rhythmic season kicks off in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the International Gymnastics Federation’s T&T World Cup Series gets underway in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Rhythmic Challenge to influence early 2023 international assignments
The Rhythmic Challenge will lead off USA Gymnastics’ national competition slate for 2023 February 18-19 at the Lake Placid Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. Olympians Evita Griskenas (Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center), Lili Mizuno (Northbrook, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center) and Izzy Connor (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center) headline the elite lineup, while an invitational competition spanning multiple Developmental Program Level 9 and 10 divisions will run concurrently. Performances will help determine spring and winter international assignments, including who will represent the U.S. at upcoming International Gymnastics Federation World Cups, World Challenge Cups and international tournaments.
Griskenas and Mizuno are coming off a season that saw them both collect medals on the World Challenge Cup circuit. The pair also advanced to the all-around final at September’s World Championships where Griskenas finished 10th and Mizuno was 12th. Eleven of the twelve members of the Rhythmic Senior National Team are set to compete in Lake Placid, including Alexandria Kautzman (Simi Valley, Calif./California Rhythms), who claimed a top-10 all-around finish at the Tashkent World Cup last season, and fellow 2022 Pan American Championships team gold medalist Erica Foster (Chanhassen, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic).
Reigning U.S. junior all-around champion Jaelyn Chin (Aventura, Fla./Bessonova’s School) is one of six Junior National Team members set to make their senior debuts. In their absence, Megan Chu (San Diego, Calif./Pacific Stars Rhythmic Academy) and Rin Keys (Porter Ranch, Calif./Burlo Gymnastics), who each pocketed multiple medals in international competition last season, will look to establish themselves atop the junior division field. Natalie de la Rosa (Woodland Hills, Calif./Burlo Gymnastics), the 2022 U.S. Hopes division all-around champion, will vie for the junior title alongside them.
In addition to the elite individual competition, five junior groups and four senior groups are slated to compete. Current Senior National Group members will be joined by gymnasts selected through the program’s open call process – Connor, who sat out the 2022 season, and Daria Merkulova (Vernon Hills, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center), who previously competed as an individual on the National Team, among them – and will perform in two groups: USA Red and USA Blue.
Baku World Cup provides U.S. trampolinists early taste of international competition
World team all-around silver medalists Zachary Ramacci (St. John, Ind./Element Tumbling and Trampoline) and Jessica Stevens (Ellicott City, Md./Fairland Gymnastics) and reigning U.S. men’s individual trampoline champion Ryan Maccagnan (Colorado Springs, Colo./Stars Gymnastics) will lead the charge as the 2023 international trampoline season gets underway in Baku, Azerbaijan. Eight trampolinists will represent Team USA this weekend on the World Cup stage where they will face off against competitors from 14 countries.
Peyton Brown (Round Rock, Texas/Tumble Tech), Ava Hernando (Holmdel, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy) and Trinity Van Natta (Huntsville, Ala./Merino Trampoline Gymnastics Academy) will join 2022 World Championships finalist Stevens in the women’s individual trampoline division, while Maccagnan, Ramacci, Elijah Vogel (Longmont, Colo./Xtreme Altitude Gymnastics) and Jace Williams (Cave Creek, Ariz./North Valley Gymnastics) will take on the men’s field. Brown and Hernando will also link up for the women’s synchronized trampoline competition, as will Stevens and Van Natta. On the men’s side, Maccagnan and Williams will pair up alongside Ramacci and Vogel.
First-round qualifications will take place Saturday. Due to the number of registrants in the men’s trampoline category, a second round of men’s qualifications will lead off Sunday’s competition slate with finals across all divisions to follow.
The Baku World Cup is the first of five competitions that comprise the 2023 FIG World Cup Series. Based on their performances, participating athletes may accumulate points that count toward the series’ championship. Last season, the synchronized trampoline duo of Nicole Ahsinger (Lafayette, La./Trampoline and Tumbling Express) and Sarah Webster (Lafayette, La./Trampoline and Tumbling Express) captured the series’ women’s synchronized trampoline title, marking only the third time U.S. athletes have topped the series standings in any event. For more information, click here. For live scoring, click here.