LAUSANNE, Switzerland – A top showing in floor exercise and strong performances by Kristin Maloney, Pen Argyl, Pa., gave the United States women’s gymnastics squad the early lead in team competition at the 1997 World Gymnastics Championships at the Malley Sports Center here Monday morning.

Now a waiting game begins for the Americans, much like the first foursome that completes the round of a golf tournament and automatically becomes the “leader in the clubhouse.” The American team will not know whether it is one of the six teams to participate in Thursday evening’s team finals until Tuesday afternoon, when all eight women’s subdivisions have completed competition.
Placed in the first session of the week-long event, the USA opened with first-time World Championships team member Kendall Beck, San Antonio, Texas, and rolled to a team total of 37.199 in floor, its best showing of the morning. That was followed by a 36.898 in vault and a 36.549 in uneven bars for a 110.646. Belarus, also competing in the subdivision, was able to close to less than four-tenths of a point with a score of 110.271. A strong performance of 9.525 by Maloney in the USA’s final event, the balance beam, helped the Americans hold off the Belarussian challenge. The USA finished with a 146.757 to Belarus’ 146.482. Italy rounded out the subdivision with a 137.614.
“I knew it would be really important to win our subdivision,” said USA head coach Mary Lee Tracy, Cincinnati, Ohio. “Belarus is a contender, and I thought we had to stay in front of them to have a chance to finish in the top six and advance to the team finals. Now they (the remaining countries) have to go out and do all four events.
“Everybody had a mistake or two,” Tracy said of the team’s performance. “I really feel okay about the way they did. They’re a little disappointed, because every one of them wanted to hit every routine. I think that the mistakes that were made were pure mistakes – no blame, no nothing. Whether it’s rookie-ism, whether it’s nervousness, I don’t know what, they were just mistakes.”
Maloney played a key role in the USA’s performance, posting the top American scores in floor (9.512) and beam. She also contributed a solid bars routine.
“I wanted to stay calm, stay focused, remember to breathe and try not to worry about the other things going on around me,” said Maloney. “I feel pretty good, knowing I hit my bars. Vault was a little weak, but otherwise it felt pretty good.”
“I was a little nervous, but I was ready for floor and I like to do it,” said Beck, making her international event debut as the first athlete to take the podium. “I just knew that I had to go hard, think ‘height’ and do what I had to do. The nervousness pretty much passed right when I walked out on the floor. I’m just happy to be here, and I’m really happy with what I did.”
National co-champion Kristy Powell, Cincinnati, Ohio, bounced back from a fall on her first vault to lead the USA on bars with a 9.387, then closed out her day with a 9.287 on the beam.
The USA’s lead did not last long, as the four women of Ukraine bested the American total with a 149.382 in the second of Monday’s six sessions. The Ukrainians are without the services of two of their top athletes, both sidelined by injury: Viktoria Karpenko and Lilia Podkopayeva, the defending World and Olympic All-Around Champion.
For updated information and results from the 1997 World Gymnastics Championships, go to USA Gymnastics Online at

USA Results by Event

All-Around (those competing in all four events) – Kristin Maloney, Pen Argyl, Pa., 37.130. Dominique Moceanu, Houston, Texas, 35.899. Kristy Powell, Cincinnati, Ohio, 36.048.

Floor Exercise – Kendall Beck, San Antonio, Texas, 9.275. Maloney, 9.512. Moceanu, 9.075. Powell, 8.825. Jennie Thompson, Wichita Falls, Texas, 9.337.

Vault – Beck, 9.237. Mohini Bhardwaj, Altamonte Springs, Fla., 9.493. Maloney, 8.906. Moceanu, 9.262. Powell, 8.549.

Uneven Bars – Bhardwaj, 9.150. Maloney, 9.187. Moceanu, 8.450. Powell, 9.387. Thompson, 8.825.

Balance Beam – Beck, 8.187. Maloney, 9.525. Moceanu, 9.112. Powell, 9.287. Thompson, 7.937.