AARHUS, Denmark – The U.S. Women’s Team moved into first place in the team competition preliminaries with its total score of 243.325 at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. 2005 all-around world champion Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., has taken the lead in the all-around with a total of 61.350, with Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek, Fla., in third with 60.625. The U.S. Team competed in the fifth of 10 subdivisions, and the women’s preliminary rounds conclude on Oct. 17, when the final rankings of athletes and countries for advancement to the finals will be determined.
The USA’s 243.325 is considerably higher than second-place Australia with 231.700 and third-place Brazil with 230.475. Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari is second in the all-around with 61.100. The top eight countries after the prelims advance to the team finals. For the all-around, the top 24 gymnasts (maximum of two per country) in the prelims advance to the finals. For individual event finals, the top eight from the preliminary rounds (maximum of two per country) advance to the finals. The women’s prelims wrap up on Oct. 17, with the women’s team finals on Oct. 18 and the women’s all-around finals on Oct. 19.
"The U.S. Team had a strong performance throughout, and our expectations for the finals are very optimistic," said Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator.
Each of the team members contributed to the team’s total score. The format for the team competitions is: preliminaries, five gymnasts on each apparatus and top four scores count; and finals, three gymnasts compete and all three scores count.
Memmel posted a 15.825 on the uneven bars, a 15.225 on the balance beam and a 15.350 on the floor exercise, which were among the highest scores posted thus far for each event, and a 14.950 on vault. Bieger was solid on all four events, scoring a 14.750 on vault, 15.500 on bars, 15.125 on beam and 15.250 on floor.
Two of Ashley Priess’ scores, her 14.675 on vault and 15.450 on bars, counted for the team total, and she also scored well in the other two, with a 14.250 on beam and a 14.700 on floor. Natasha Kelley’s 14.450 on beam and 14.975 on floor counted toward the team’s total; she also scored a 14.600 on vault and a 14.950 on bars.
2005 vault bronze-medalist Sacramone’s 15.550 in the vault is the highest so far in the event. For consideration for individual event finals, she did two vaults for an average 15.300. Sacramone, the 2005 floor exercise world champion, also did well on beam, posting a 15.175, and earned a 14.875 on floor. Nastia Liukin, the defending uneven bars world champion, earned the highest bars score thus far with a 16.200. She is only competing in one event because she is recovering from an ankle injury.
Due to the two-athlete-per country rule, neither Priess nor Kelley will be eligible to advance to the all-around finals, despite currently being ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, at this point of the competition.
The 2006 World Championships features men’s and women’s competition in the team, all-around and individual apparatus (men—floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar; women – vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise). The men’s team finals are Oct. 17 and the all-around is on Oct. 19. The individual event finals for both men and women are Oct. 20-21.
For the USA, Guillermo Alvarez of Denver and Alexander Artemev of Morrison, Colo., both qualified for the men’s all-around finals on Oct. 19 , and Artemev also qualified for the individual event finals for pommel horse, scheduled for Oct. 20.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, and acrobatic gymnastics.