Senior podium

LAKE PLACID, N.Y., Feb. 13, 2020 – Five-time U.S. all-around champion (2015-19) Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Veronica Portnov of Feasterville, Pa./Iliana Rhythmic, won the senior and junior elite all-around titles, respectively, at the 2020 Rhythmic Challenge at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. The U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Group, which trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and the Vitrychenko Junior Group took top honors for the Senior and Junior Group Challenge, respectively.

In the Senior Challenge, Zeng scored a 83.950 for the all-around title, along with the highest score for clubs (22.750). Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, garnered the silver medal with her 83.050, which included the highest scores for hoop, 21.750; ball, 22.300; and ribbon, 20.100. Lennox Hopkins-Wilkins of Puyallup, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics, rounded out the medal podium in third at 75.350.

Portnov claimed a 65.650 and the junior all-around title, along with the highest score for ribbon (16.150). Alexandria Kautzman of Westlake Village, Calif./Burlo Gymnastics, and Erica Foster of Chanhassen, Minn./Northwest Rhythmic, tied for second place, scoring 65.150. Kautzman had the top scores in rope (17.450) and clubs (17.500). Stella-Luciana Ceo of Los Angeles/LA Ritmica, had the top score in ball (17.800).

In the Group Challenge, the U.S. Senior National Group, which trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, posted the highest two-event score of 51.400, 26.750/5 balls and 24.650/4 clubs 3 hoops. For the juniors, the Vitrychenko Junior Group earned a two-event score of 20.150 (14.100/5 balls and 6.050/5 ribbons).

Rhythmic gymnastics is characterized by grace, beauty and elegance combined with dance and acrobatic elements, while working with the apparatus in a choreographed routine to music. The five apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics are rope, hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon. Rhythmic gymnasts may compete individually or as a group. The choreography must cover the entire floor with intricate apparatus handling, dance combinations, jumps, leaps, rotations, and balance difficulties. 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.

Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. The organization is committed to creating a culture that encourages and supports its athletes and focuses on its highest priority, the safety and well-being of the athletes. USA Gymnastics has taken specific, concrete steps to strengthen its athlete safety policies and procedures, including adopting the updated USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy. Former gymnast and business executive Li Li Leung is the president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics. The organization’s disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and gymnastics for all (formerly known as group gymnastics). For more complete information, visit