© James Glader

MIE, Japan, Sept. 7, 2009 – The 2009 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships began today at the Sun Arena in Mie, Japan, with rope and hoop individual qualification rounds. Representing the United States are 2009 U.S. all-around champion Ava Gehringer of Evanston, Ill., and Julie Zetlin of Bethesda, Md.

The USA competed in hoop the first day. Gehringer earned a 23.600, currently ranked in 14th place after the first half of competition. Zetlin scored a 22.850 and sits in 25th at this time. Each will compete with rope tomorrow. The current leader in rope is Melitina Staniouta of Belarus with a 27.050. Russia’s Evgenia Kanaeva leads hoop with 28.775, and Russia is first in the team rankings. Competition in rope and hoop concludes on Sept. 8, when the individual champions for each will be determined.

The remaining competition schedule is as follows: Sept. 8, rope and hoop continues, with individual event champions determined on Sept. 8; Sept. 9-10, competition in ball and ribbon, with individual event champions determined for both on Sept. 10; Sept. 11, individual all-around; Sept. 12, general group competition; and Sept. 13, group finals (hoop, ribbon/rope). The individual event champions are determined after the completion of the second day of competition. The individual event competition on Sept.7-10 determines the team rankings and the top 24 gymnasts who advance to the individual all-around.

Gehringer, who trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, won the gold medal in the all-around, rope, hoop, ball and ribbon at the 2009 Visa Championships. Zetlin, who trains at Rhythmflex, was third in the all-around, rope, ball and ribbon. North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center won the 2008 U.S. national group title. After this first day and the first half of the rope and hoop competition completed, the current standings are as follows.

Rope intermediate results
1. Melitina Staniouta, Belarus, 27.050
2. Anna Bessonova, Ukraine, 27.000
3. Silviya Miteva, Bulgaria, 26.875

Hoop intermediate results
1. Evgenia Kanaeva, Russia, 28.775
2. Daria Kondakova, Russia, 28.250
3. Olga Kapranova, Russia, 27.925

Team intermediate results
1. Russia, 84.950
2. Belarus, 78.575
3. Ukraine, 77.350