Category Archives: Preview

Pan Ams 2015: Introducing the U.S. Team

Earlier today, USA Gymnastics announced the women’s artistic team delegation that they would be sending to the 2015 Pan American Games; held next month in Toronto, Canada (official press release). The competition will serve as a key event during the Women’s Artistic elite season for USA Gymnastics and the team will look to defend their title that they garnered back in 2011.

Here is a quick fact file on each of the team members;

Nia Dennis

16 years old • Westerville, Oh. • Buckeye • UCLA Bruins

About Nia

In her first year as a senior, Nia is yet to make her senior international debut. Dennis had a very accompolished junior elite career; qualifying to Nationals every year since 2011. Last year, she received two international assingments to the Pacific Rim Championships and the City of Jesolo Trophy and contributed to the team’s successes at both competitions. The Westerville, Ohio native, who committed to the UCLA Bruins team earlier in the year, is strong on all events but particularly on Bars and Vault. Look out for her on those pieces!

Madison Desch

17 years old • Lenexa, Kan. • GAGE • Alabama Crimson Tide

About Madison

Training under elusive coach, Al Fong, Maddie brings extensive experience to this team and is the oldest member of the team, aged 17! A National team member since 2011, Desch has proved herself at Nationals many times and found herself as the reserve for the 2014 U.S. Worlds team last year. Additionally, Maddie has been to various international competitions, also. Bars and Beam are her specialisms but she could contribute on the other two pieces, if needed.

Rachel Gowey

17 years old • Urbandale, Ia. • Chow’s • Florida Gators

About Rachel

Coming off an unfortunate ankle fracture at last year’s Nationals, Gowey looks poised for success this year. Training under world renowned coach, Liang Chow, Gowey transitioned to elite in 2013, as a Senior. A back injury sidelined her from competition that year and in 2014, her ankle fracture ended chances of making the Worlds team. As one of the team’s oldest members, Gowey will provide depth as an all-arounder.

Felicia Hano

16 years old • San Gabriel, Calif. • Gym-Max • UCLA Bruins

About Felicia

This super lovely California gal, hailing out of San Gabriel, has become one of the U.S.’s most consistent elites, in recent years. In 2013, Felicia made her elite debut as a Junior. A year later, she accepted a full-ride scholarship to the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team, and was later added to the 2014-15 U.S. Senior National team. Hano has improved so much in recent years and can definitely help the U.S. on Beam and Floor, for sure.

Amelia Hundley

17 years old • Hamilton, Oh. • Cincinnati • Florida Gators

About Amelia

Amelia, or “Meels” as she’s referred to as, has been on the scene for absolutely ages. Appearing first at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup, a meet which is televised, Hundley soon moved up to the Junior International Elite ranks. In 2012, she was part of the U.S. Pacific Rims team, which won the event. Last year, she made her elite debut and competed at the Pan Am Championships in Mississauga. The future Florida Gator, trained by world renowned coach, Mary Lee Tracy, can contribute on Bars and Beam and Floor, most likely.

Lauren Navarro

15 years old • La Verne, Calif. • Gliders • Uncommitted

About Lauren

The youngest member of the team, Navarro is likely to be an unfamiliar face to the international world. Training at Charter Oak Gliders, Lauren moved up to the elite level in 2013 and has placed well ever since. As a Senior, I am not sure what she can bring to the table but she is exceptional on beam; and was capable of hitting 14.800 last year, if she hit. Whether or not she has upgraded since then, look out for her on that event!

Emily Schild

16 years old • Huntersville, N.C. • Everest • Georgia Gym Dogs

About Emily

Schild has done exceptionally well in her first year as a senior, already! Brief history behind her, she moved up to Elite in 2013 but didn’t do very well that year. Last year, Schild sat out the entire year nursing an injury and was fit enough to return this year. An addition to the National team prior to the City of Jesolo Trophy competition, she made that team and finished 16th. She is very strong on Vault and Bars!

Megan Skaggs

16 years old • Marietta, Ga. • GAA • Florida Gators

About Megan

Skaggs is another gymnast who has been very prominent as a Junior. Since 2012, Megan has been elite and has placed well at Nationals every year. Like Schild, she was added to the National Team this year and competed at the City of Jesolo Trophy; finishing 8th. She is very stylish on beam and floor but could contribute on all pieces!

Personally, I cannot wait for this competition! This is a fairly inexperienced U.S. team and the major stars such as Simone BilesKyla Ross and MyKayla Skinner are likely to be resting and finishing preparations for the upcoming elite season. This competition will give the opportunity for the less experienced gymnasts to gain some and understand what it’s like to compete internationally.


An Exclusive with Ariana Berlin

Chatty Gymnast caught up with former UCLA team member and recently turned stunt double, Ariana Berlin, as she prepares for the release of her biopic film, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie. If you’re not aware with Ariana’s story, here it is; Berlin was an elite-level gymnast until 2001, when she and her mother, Susan, were involved in a car accident. Berlin was severly injured and was told that she would never do gymnastics again. After dabbling in street dance, becoming a member of Culture Shock, she then started to perform at SeaWorld San Diego where she met resident summer choreographer and UCLA Head coach, Valorie Kondos Field. Kondos Field admired her determination and philosophy on life and soon offered Berlin a walk-on spot for the UCLA Bruins gymnastics team. After a standout freshman year, in 2006, she was offered a full-ride scholarship and soon became one of the most successful UCLA Bruins gymnasts in history!

She answers some questions we had for her on the release of her film and how her accident has changed her perspective on life, in general.
CG: How do you feel doing gymnastics as a UCLA Bruin helped shape you as a person?

AB: Being a gymnast at UCLA has molded me into the person I am today in many ways.  It taught me that if you really want something, it will require blood, sweat and tears, but it is always worth it.  I’ve learned so much about myself, what makes me tick, how to overcome adversity, how to deal with others in a variety of situations, and how to be a part of something greater than myself.  Being a student-athlete is not easy, but it provides tools that you will use for the rest of your life.

CG:  How has your outlook on life differed since your accident?

AB: I live each day to the absolute fullest; there are no promises for tomorrow.  It helps me put things into perspective when I’m having a bad day and things just aren’t going my way.  I refer back to the accident and know, if I got through that, I can get through anything.

CG: Talking about the film, what can we expect from it?

AB: You can expect an extremely fun, energetic and uplifting inspirational comeback story that is relatable to anyone who has gone through adversity.

CG: Was it emotional for you to watch the filming and to see it all come together?

AB: It was extremely emotional.  I was onset during the entire month of filming and watching the story come to life was surreal.  The most emotional part was when my family visited set.  They were the ones that lived through the accident with my Mom and I and now, almost 14 years later we were reliving that moment in time through the filming process.  Also, at the screening in San Diego, all of my closest friends and family who supported me throughout the accident and recovery were there supporting the film.  That was very emotional.

CG: You did all your own stunts, right. How hard was it to get back into shape and get your skills back?

AB: It was very difficult getting back into shape.  Thankfully I had our assistant UCLA Gymnastics coach, Randy Lane help me with the process.  I trained with him about 3 days a week for a little over month before we began filming.  I was sore for weeks!!!  After the soreness dissipated, the skills came back fairly easily.  It’s all muscle memory.

CG: Was it hard to find the cast? How did you go about the process?

AB: Our Executive Producer, Jeff Deverett worked with a casting director in Toronto to find all of the talent.  I wasn’t able to attend the auditions, but Jeff sent me videos of the acting and dance auditions.  I wasn’t involved too much in the process, but I think they did an excellent job at casting each role.

CG: The majority of filming was shot in Canada, if I am correct. How come you didn’t stay local and film in LA?

AB: The main reason we shot in Canada was because our Executive Producer and Director are Canadian and we received great tax benefits.

CG:  Will the film ever be theatrically released? Have you been to any film festivals?

AB: We are in the distribution process right now.  We do have hopes for a theatrical release, but I do not know the specifics just yet.

CG: Describe, in three words, Full Out: The Ariana Berlin Movie!

AB: Never Give Up (that sounds so corny, but it is the essence of Full Out)

CG: What would your message be to anyone in a similar position to what you were in?

AB: My message is; ‘Life is not always a fairytale story with a fairytale ending.  There are bound to be challenges, but it’s how you choose to handle life’s challenges that defines who you are’.

Ariana’s story is the epitome of determination and hardwork and the film is going to be beautiful! It will capture the essence of what it means to be a gymnast and what it means to overcome anything and follow your dreams. And as is depicted in the movie, ‘sometimes you have to fall before you can fly’.

You can watch the trailer below;

An article by James Greaves, editor-in-chief

2015 Flanders International Team Challenge: Info & Preview

On May 30-31, 2015, the 1st ever Flanders International Team Challenge will be held. Following the success of the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, held in Antwerp, the Belgian Gymnastics Federation have decided that it’s time for a brand new Belgian event!

Thus, the Flanders International Team Challenge was born! This inaugural event will be held at the Flanders Sports Arena, in Ghent, which played host to the 2001 World Artistic Championships and has also held the Ghent FIG World Challenger Cup events.

Competition Schedule

Timings are only of the start times, Session lengths TBA

Saturday, May 30, 2015

09:00 CEST (08:00 GMT, 03:00 EST) – Juniors Qualification 

15:30 CEST (14:30 GMT, 09:30 EST) – Seniors Qualification

Sunday, May 31, 2015

10:00 CEST (09:00 GMT, 04:00 EST) – Youth Competition

15:00 CEST (14:00 GMT, 09:00 EST) – Finals Juniors/Seniors


There has been no official release of a nominative roster yet but we do know the countries that are participating and it’s very exciting! This star-studded line-up will feature countries from EuropeAsia and Oceania!

Senior Competition

  1. Australia
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Belgium
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Great-Britain
  7. Ireland
  8. Jordan
  9. Netherlands
  10. New Zealand
  11. Norway
  12. Austria
  13. Spain
  14. Sweden

Junior Competition

  1. Australia
  2. Belgium
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Great-Britain
  6. Ireland
  7. Italy
  8. Jordan
  9. Netherlands
  10. Norway
  11. Spain
  12. Sweden

Announced teams

Belgium’s senior delegation has already been announced. It consists of; Laura Waem, Julie Croket, Gaelle Mys, Cindy Vandenhole, Lisa Verschueren, Dorien Motten and Rune Hermans

Ireland’s delegations have also been released. It’s comprised of: Ellis O’Reilly, Nicole Mawhinney, Tara Donnelly, Denise Moloney and Taylor Coyle.

What should we expect?

Well, this is a relatively small scale competition so I doubt we’ll see HUGE gymnastics but it will certain be a tough competition and will feature some great gymnasts. This competition clashes with a quad meet against Italy-Russia-Romania-Colombia, held in Turin, as well as the Russian Youth Nationals and Canadian Nationals. Italy are sending a junior team because they have a lot of talented juniors that will want this experience but obviously decided against a senior team! Russia are absent because they will be at the quad meet and they’re hosting the Youth Nationals. I’m not sure if Canada would’ve sent a delegation to this event had they not had their Nationals at this time but either way, they will not be attending.

For the countries that are actually attending, Great Britain will most likely headline. They have a lot of depth in both age divisions and will be likely to medal. The Netherlands will be close to home and they have a growing squad of talented gymnasts, don’t count them out! Belgium will have a home advantage and have veterans such as Gaelle Mys and Lisa Verschueren to give them the edge on others. France have a very dynamic program and did so well at their home Europeans a few weeks back. They will certainly be hungry! I anticipate a very strong performance from the German team also. They had no medals from Euros and will have the drive to get a medal here. The Germans have a very deep junior team so we could see anyone on the starting roster for them. Sweden’s roster has a huge gap after the injury to Jonna Adlerteg at Euros but they have Marcela Torres, who really had a breakthrough at Euros! Their junior side will no doubt feature the Haavisto twinsEmmy and Ellen, who are certainly being groomed for Rio 2016 next year. Spain doesn’t have the depth that they’ve had in years gone by but individually, they have Ana Perez Campos in the senior division. Australia have looked limited also. Their program isn’t massive and they don’t have the luxury of being selective with their lineups. New Zealand are looking poised and sharp, especially on vault and floor. One of their seasoned seniors, Courtney McGregor, will certainly challenge.

How to follow the event

There has been no announcement of a live stream feed, as of yet. Should a feed link be publicised, we shall update you!

An article by James Greaves, editor-in-chief

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