© OceanCenter.com

INDIANAPOLIS, April 30, 2014 – The U.S. gymnasts are starting the final week of training as they finish preparations to take on the best trampoline and rhythmic gymnasts from North, Central and South America to qualify for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games at the Junior Pan Am Championships May 9-11 at the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Ocean Center.

The eight person U.S. Trampoline Team is led by the 2013 U.S. junior national champions Cody Gesuelli of Middletown, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy, and Maggie Gallagher of Coto de Caza, Calif./World Elite Gymnastics. Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, the reigning U.S. junior rhythmic gymnastics all-around champion, heads the three-woman squad for individual rhythmic gymnastics, along with the U.S. junior rhythmic group.

The Junior Pan Am Championships determine what countries will represent the Americas in the second Youth Olympic Games in individual and group rhythmic gymnastics and men’s and women’s trampoline. The USA is vying for spots for the Youth Olympic Games in men’s and women’s trampoline and individual rhythmic gymnastics. The countries that advance to the Youth Olympic Games will be determined on May 10 with the trampoline finals and the final day of the rhythmic all-around. Competition begins at 4:30 p.m. For rhythmic gymnastics, the athletes must be 15 years old, and trampoline athletes must be 16 or 17 in 2014. The Junior Pan Am Championships is an event of the Pan American Gymnastics Union. The Youth Olympic Games will be held Aug. 16-28 in Nanjing, China.

The athletes representing the USA in the Junior Pan Am Championships are listed below.

    Colin Duda, Atlantic Highlands, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy
    Cody Gesuelli, Middletown, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy
    Jake Jacobson, Fishers, Ind./The Matrix
    Spencer Reed, Tulsa, Okla./Oklahoma Extreme
    Nicole Ahsinger, San Diego, Calif./SoCal TTC
    Maggie Gallagher, Coto de Caza, Calif./World Elite Gymnastics
    Clare Johnson, Huntsville, Ala./The Matrix
    Meghan O’Connell, Middletown, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy

    Rhythmic gymnastics
    Laura Zeng, Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
    Camilla Feeley, Lincolnshire, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
    Nicole Kaloyanov, Woodbridge, Va./Gymnastics World
    Junior Group
    Sophia Popova, Minneapolis, Minn./Twin Cities Rhythmic
    Nicole Sladkov, Vernon Hills, Ill./M & N Rhythmic Academy
    Elina Nikerina, Deerfield, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
    Nicky Wojtana, Plano, Texas/Texas Rhythmic Academy
    Yelyzaveta Merenzon, Buffalo Grove, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
    Emily Rakhnyansky, Brooklyn, N.Y./MatchPoint

The Junior Pan Am Championships competition schedule is:

  • May 9 – Rhythmic gymnastics all-around, hoop and ball (two of four events), at 4:30 and 6:45 p.m., trampoline preliminary round (women at 6 p.m., men at 8:15 p.m.), and group rhythmic gymnastics (hoops) at 9 p.m.
  • May 10 – final day of rhythmic gymnastics all-around (clubs, ribbon) at 4:30 p.m., trampoline finals (women at 6 p.m., men at 8 p.m.), and group rhythmic gymnastics (10 clubs)
  • May 11 – event finals for individual (hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon) and group (five hoops and 10 clubs).

The Stars & Stripes Cup is being held in conjunction with the Junior Pan Am Championships and has competition in both trampoline/tumbling and rhythmic gymnastics. For trampoline and tumbling, it is an international invitational competition for trampoline, synchronized trampoline, double mini-trampoline and tumbling. The rhythmic gymnastics competition, slated for May 8-11, is an open event for U.S. gymnasts competing in Junior Olympic Levels 5 and 6. Between the Junior Pan Am Championships and Stars & Stripes Cup, nearly 1,000 athletes, coaches and officials will come to Daytona Beach.

The Stars & Stripes Cup features international senior and age-group competition (11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18) in trampoline, tumbling, double-mini and synchronized trampoline. The Junior Olympic Levels 5-6 competition in individual rhythmic gymnastics is open to U.S. athletes in those two levels.

Tickets are on sale now. Both an all-session ticket, which includes all four days, and all-day passes are available. The all-session ticket is $45 and the all-day pass is $20. All tickets are general admission and include facility fees. The all-session package and the all-day pass for May 10, the finals for the Junior Pan Am Championships, are available online through Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com or at the Ocean Center Box-office. The daily all-day passes will be available onsite only.

The U.S. delegation for the Stars & Stripes Cup has 200-plus athletes. The trampoline field includes 2012 Olympian Steven Gluckstein and his brother, Jeffrey who is the current U.S. trampoline champion, both of Atlantic Highlands, N.J./ETA; 2012 Olympic alternates Logan Dooley of Lake Forest, Calif./World Elite Gymnastics, and Dakota Earnest of Plains, Texas/Acrospirits. The rhythmic gymnasts competing are Junior Olympic participants for Levels 5 and 6.

The Stars & Stripes Cup competition schedule is as follows, and all times are local.

  • May 8
    9 a.m. Rhythmic gymnastics, Level 5
    1 p.m. Rhythmic gymnastics, Level 5
    3:35 p.m. Rhythmic gymnastics, Level 5
    6: 30 p.m. Rhythmic gymnastics, Level 5
  • May 9
    9 a.m. Trampoline and tumbling (various levels and events)
    10 a.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 5)
    12:45 a.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 6)
    1 p.m. Trampoline and tumbling (various levels and events)
  • May 10
    8:30 a.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 6)
    9 a.m. Trampoline and tumbling, senior double-mini trampoline (plus various levels and events)
    12:45 p.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 6)
    1 p.m. Trampoline and tumbling, senior trampoline (plus various levels and events)
  • May 11
    9 a.m. Trampoline and tumbling, senior tumbling (plus various levels and events)
    9:45 a.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 6)
    1 p.m. Trampoline and tumbling, synchronized trampoline
    1:15 p.m. Rhythmic gymnastics (Level 6)

The local partners for these events include the Central Florida Sports Commission, the Ocean Center, Volusia County and the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, and National Travel Systems is a partner for the World Championships and World Age Group Competition.

Daytona Beach has staged a number of gymnastics events, including the 2010 Senior Pan American Trampoline and Tumbling Championships and 2013 Stars & Stripes Cup (trampoline/tumbling). It also will host the 2015 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, as well as the 2014 World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships and the World Trampoline and Tumbling Age Group Competition in November.

The World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, held annually except in the Olympic year, determines the men’s and women’s World champions in four events: trampoline, synchronized trampoline, tumbling and double mini-trampoline. The World Age Group Competition showcases the world’s best boys and girls in those four events in four age groups: 11-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 years of age. The two events are expected to showcase more than 1,100 athletes.

About the disciplines

  • Rhythmic gymnastics: Rhythmic gymnastics is characterized by grace, beauty and elegance combined with dance and acrobatic elements, while working with ribbons, balls, hoops, ropes and clubs in a choreographed routine to music. The choreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balance of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements. Only four of the apparatus are competed each quad, and the four for 2016 are hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.

    In the group event, five athletes work together as one cohesive unit. Group is judged on the ability of the athletes to demonstrate mastery of body and apparatus skills in a synchronized, harmonious manner. A group exercise must include difficulties from the same body movement categories that apply to individual competition and characteristic movements for the apparatus. In addition, the group athletes must execute elements involving both large and small exchanges of equipment. The more interaction between the gymnasts, the better the exercise is. The apparatus used in group competition is selected by the FIG. One of the routines is performed with five of the same pieces of apparatus, the other routine is choreographed with mixed equipment. This year’s apparatus are five hoops and 10 clubs.

  • Trampoline/tumbling: Trampoline events involve athletes using trampolines that can propel them up to 30 feet in the air, during which they can perform double and triple twisting somersaults. Tumbling utilizes elevated rod-floor runways that enable athletes to jump at heights more than 10 feet and execute a variety of acrobatic maneuvers. For the double-mini competition, the athlete makes a short run, leaps onto a small two-level trampoline, performs an aerial maneuver and dismounts onto a landing mat. Synchronized trampoline demands the same athletic skill as individual trampoline, while adding the element of precision timing. Using two trampolines, two athletes perform identical 10-skill routines at the same time. Trampoline was added to the Olympic Games in 2000, and at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the USA had its first athlete in history advance to the finals.

Background information

  • Central Florida Sports Commission. The Central Florida Sports Commission strategically solicits, creates and supports marquee sports-related events and businesses that enhance our community’s economy. The Sports Commission represents the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia, as well as the City of Orlando. For more information, visit www.centralfloridasports.org.

  • International Gymnastics Federation. 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 135 national member federations and boasts a 27-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne (SUI), host city of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).