AARHUS, Denmark – The U.S. Women’s Team is poised to defend its 2003 world team title at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. 2005 all-around world champion Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., and 2005 uneven bars world champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, are also in a position to go for their second straight world titles. In all, the USA will compete in seven final events at the 2006 World Gymnastics Championships. The U.S. women will compete in the finals for team, all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, with the U.S. men competing in the all-around and pommel horse finals.
Going into the team finals on Oct. 18, the U.S. squad finished first in the preliminary round with 243.325 points, ahead of China (239.525) and the Ukraine (235.025). Leading into the all-around finals on Oct. 19, Memmel and 2005 world teammate Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., ranked first and third, respectively, in the all-around preliminaries. The U.S. women competing in the individual event finals are: vault– Alicia Sacramone of Winchester, Mass., who in 2005 won the USA’s first vault medal since 1989, Oct. 20; uneven bars—Liukin and Memmel, Oct. 20; and floor exercise—Memmel and Bieger, Oct. 21. Scores from the preliminary rounds do not carry over to the finals.
The U.S. Women’s Team also includes Natasha Kelley of Katy, Texas; Ashley Priess of Hamilton, Ohio; and Jacquelyn Johnson of West Chester, Ohio, alternate. In the team finals, three women will compete on each apparatus and all three scores count for the team score.
For the men, Guillermo Alvarez of Denver and Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo., both qualified for the men’s all-around finals on Oct. 19. Artemev also qualified for the individual event finals for pommel horse on Oct. 20. Alvarez and Artemev, who was an alternate in 2003, are competing in their first World Championships.
The United States won its first women’s world team title in 2003. Because the 2005 World Championships featured only individual events, this is the USA’s opportunity to repeat.
At the 2005 World Championships, Memmel became the first U.S. all-around world champion since Shannon Miller in 1994. Memmel, who had the highest all-around score in the prelims, has the opportunity to become just the second U.S. gymnast to win back-to-back all-around world titles. Miller was the first in 1993-94.
Liukin, who is unable to defend her balance beam world title due to her ankle injury, had the highest score on the uneven bars in the prelims at 16.200. In 2005, Liukin and Memmel went one-two in the uneven bars.
In 2005, Sacramone’s bronze was the USA’s first world vault medal since Brandy Johnson claimed the silver medal in 1989. Sacramone had the second highest average vault score in the prelims.
Bieger competed at the 2005 World Championships and would have advanced to the bars finals if the event did not have the maximum two athletes per country rule. After the preliminary round, she is third in the all-around and fourth on floor.
2006 World Championships schedule
Women’s team finals (USA – women competing)
Men’s all-around finals (USA – Alvarez, Artemev)
Women’s all-around finals (USA – Memmel, Bieger)
Individual event finals
Men – floor exercise, pommel horse (USA – Artemev) and still rings
Women – vault (USA – Sacramone) and uneven bars (USA – Liukin, Memmel)
Individual event finals
Men – vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar
Women – balance beam and floor exercise (USA – Memmel, Bieger)