Every four years we see and hear stories about the tough work that goes into the process of making it onto an Olympic team.
Kiana Eide, a seventh-grader in Spring Lake Park who lives in St. Francis, is in the middle of that process as a rhythmic gymnast with hopes to represent the U.S. at the Junior Pan-Am Games in Guatemala.
Eide is part of the five-person team called Combo that trains out of Twin Cities Rhythmic Gymnastics in Fridley. The synchronized team has two routines, one with a ball and another with rope, as apparatus this year. Next year they will move on to ribbons and clubs.
Eide, who has been involved in gymnastics for 10 years, said her favorite apparatus is the ball because of the control and “it’s a lot easier than rope.”
The more well-known version of gymnastics known as artistic, think Mary Lou Rettin or Nastia Lukken, involves flips, spins and strength while rhythmic features more dance and flexibility elements.
It takes a lot of practice and repetition to execute the perfect routine.
To reach lofty goals, Eide switched schools to Spring Lake Park which is a lot closer to the training gym where she spends around eight hours a day.
Last weekend the team ramped up the practice sessions for a 10-hour camp.
Typically the group works on ballet for two hours in the morning, then stretches and follows that with skills and fine tuning parts of the routine. The second half of practices ramp-up in intensity as the gymnasts must perform the routine flawlessly three times.
“The hardest part is repeating the routine if only one person drops,” Eide said.
The approximately two-minute routine, which is set to music, uses dance steps, gymnastics moves and apparatus movements all in unison. “It take a while and it takes up most of our time,” Eide said.
The best part of the day is “getting the third routine done,” she said. “After the second routine, it’s a lot more nerve racking because you have to hit everything right, it’s like competition because you try your hardest to get it right. It usually takes the longest [time] to get the third routine.”
If she qualifies for the F.I.G. sanctioned Junior Pan-Am Games, it would be the first time Eide will have competed outside the U.S.
To get to that point Eide needs to do well at two upcoming qualifiers – a USA Gymnastics Region 3 Championship in Deerfield, Ill., in May and the U.S. Jr. Olympic National Championships in Orlando, Fla., in June. Forty-percent of the final score will come from the Region 3 meet, while 60 percent will come from the Jr. Olympic meet in Orlando.
No matter who makes the team, Combo will also compete at the Visa National Championships in San Jose, Calif., in June. The Visa Championships will serve as the meet to see who will represent the U.S. at the Summer Olympic Games.
Eide said the ultimate goal is to prepare to make a run at representing the U.S. at the 2016 games in Brazil.