SAN DIEGO, September 20, 2012 – The Fierce Five gymnasts are taking a victory lap around the United States over the next few months after their success at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross are the stars of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
The tour also features members of the USA men’s Olympic gymnastics team, several past Olympians, and gymnastic champions in other disciplines such as rhythmic gymnastics and the trampoline.
Figure skaters have gone on tour throughout the U.S and Canada for years, but gymnasts only followed suit starting after the 2004 Athens games. The challenge for gymnasts is that they don’t prepare exhibition routines and perform them regularly in the way figure skaters do; they only have the extremely difficult competitive routines they’ve worked on all year.
The popular Cirque du Soleil provides an obvious model for the current tour. Gymnasts perform routines in beautiful costumes using rings, curtains and ropes with stage lighting, popular music, and comedy sketches to break up the program.
You get to see the entire cast get their Party Rock Anthem on, dressed up in their neon t-shirts and animal print pants with big black glasses a la LMFAO. It’s admittedly fun to see the gymnasts cutting loose like normal teens, and this routine is one of the most successful in the show.
The gymnasts also perform limited routines on all of the apparatus: the uneven bars and balance beam for the women, high bar, rings and parallel bars for men, floor exercise for both. No vault or pommel horse in this show. It’s enjoyable to watch the men all performing on parallel bars in a choreographed routine together, though only Jonathan Horton, John Orozco, and Jake Dalton from the 2012 Olympic men’s team are on tour. The women perform individual skills on the balance beam as part of a routine that also involves dance and sheer curtains setting off their silhouettes.
Nastia Liukin, 2008 Beijing Olympic all-around champion surprisingly emerges as the star of the show. She performs Cirque type routines both on a floor exercise mat with ribbons and rings, as well as suspended above the arena in the style of an aerial artist. She wears a nothing-to-the-imagination outfit, which appears to be nothing more than glitter. She’s more mature than the younger girls at all of 22 years old, graceful and stunning to watch.
Tandem trampoline team members Steven Gluckstein and Savannah Vinsant, the four-time U.S. trampoline champions and 2012 Olympic competitors, are able to perform much of their competitive routines. They were spectacular, flying and spinning with impressive speed and precision.
But who are we fooling? The overwhelming majority of the audience is made up of girls ages five to 16 who dream of their own Olympic glory someday, brought to the show by their moms and coaches. They don’t care if they don’t get to see any Olympic routines. They get the thrill of seeing the Fierce Five in person, up close, along with other famous athletes they know.
At the end of the show, many of the performers circulate around the edge of the arena, graciously signing autographs and posing for photos. You know when one is approaching a new group of fans by the piercing shrieks of joy. My sister accompanied me to the show. At one point she turned to me and said, “You’d think we were at a Justin Bieber concert!”
It’s inspiring for young athletes to see these admirable role models taking the stage, encouraging them to work toward their own dreams of glory. Take a daughter, son, niece, nephew, neighbor, or another young man or young woman in your life to the show. If you’re an adult hoping to see the kind of athletic excellence seen at the highest levels of competition, this show may disappoint you. But if you’re willing to get your Party Rock on with Gabby and the girls, you will enjoy it too.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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