Princeton Times

Sports

May 10, 2013

Local gymnasts bounce to national competition

PRINCETON — Ninety seconds.

Natalia and Kristiana Sklioutovskaya-Lopez have 1 1/2 minutes to show how hard they’ve worked since 2005 to become level-nine senior rhythmic gymnasts. Rhythmic gymnastics combine the ballet and gymnastics with the use of an apparatus like ball or a hoop in individual, 90-second routines.

Level nine, Natalia explained, is one level below the top developmental level for rhythmic gymnastics. It’s from level 10 or above that the U.S. National Team is selected. If the girls perform well during their 90-second rountine at this weekend’s U.S. Rhythmic National Competition qualifier in Chicago and both girls could get to level 10.

“It’s an honor,” Natalia said Wednesday afternoon. “If we place in the top 20 of competition, we can move up to level 10.”

Their mom and coach, Kristina, tried to explain how hard both girls have worked to get to this point. Both spend four hours per day for six days each week inside the Princeton Gymnastics and Dance Academy building behind Dairy Queen on Oakvale Road. Kristina has watched as girls concerned with schoolwork and other diversions have given up rhythmic gymnastics before they could get to level nine.

To qualify for the National Competition qualifier, both girls competed at the regional level. Only the top four girls advance from the regional competition to the national level of competition. Both have qualified before according to Kristina but not to a level that guaranteed a place at the national competition.

That changed when the girls competed this year. The Sklioutovskaya-Lopezes are the top two gymnasts in their region of seven states. They will be competing with girls from around the country on Saturday in Chicago.

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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