Experience US Nationals Day 1

11:57 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

The picture is from My Crazy World of Graphics. Pretty sure she also runs The Magnificent "USA, Russia & Romania".

Today was Day 1 of the P&G Gymnastics Championships. It proved to be an exciting day although no blanket statements can be made as we wait for the finals on Saturday. I am lucky enough to be in Hartford and have tickets for the Junior and Senior WAG Finals on Saturday and the Senior MAG Finals on Sunday.

Today, I went to the XL Center to get a feel of what was going on. Yes, I wanted autographs but I also wanted to see where I could park, how bad the lines were, etc. It's a pretty cool place! I saw that podium with Rebecca Bross on it and there's one with Gabby Douglas closer to the entrance.

After I parked my car, I started walking towards the XL Center. I heard this guy and immediately turned. He turned to look at me and then I shyly asked for his autograph. It was Yin Alverez and he actually signs "Yeessoooo!" I had a chance to ask him about Jessica Gil of Colombia who trains at his gym and his wife is usually the coach on the floor with her. Gil qualified to the 2009 floor finals but had a scary fall. Since then, I haven't really been able to find anything about her. I asked Yin if I could ask him a question and he said of course. I asked if Jessica was still training at his gym. He looked at me and said, "You know Jessica?" His look was kind of quizzical. He was probably expecting 50 million questions about Dannell but, nope, I asked about Jessica. I mean, I'll see Danell tomorrow! I feel like I haven't seen Jessica in years!

This was a very long and drawn out way of saying that Yin answered. Jessica is recovering from knee surgery and is slowly getting back into things.

Of course, I have no idea what that means, so I'll try to find out more. Knee surgery? ACL? Meniscus? Knee cap? She's still in rehab? She's tumbling? She's going to Worlds? I need more info, Yin!

Then, I went inside. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe a sea of juniors for me to run to for autographs. Instead, I didn't see anyone. Actually, that's a lie because I ran into Annia Hatch. It's a funny thing asking people for their autographs. They know what you're about to ask so it makes you feel just a little more welcome. A little. It's still pretty awkward. When Annia signed with the Olympic rings, I think it hit me that I was actually in a very amazing place.

I walked on. And now I was expecting my sea of juniors. I kept reading people's t-shirts trying to figure out who was from what gym but I had no real leads. I saw some Stanford boys walk by but none were Josh Dixon. I went to the side area - that might be the US Congress? They had a ton of gymnastics equipment and had people trying things out. It was cool. There were the little square trampolines, some beams, a few stability balls and other things. Seemed like fun and a good workout. They actually had you try out the different pieces of equipment and corrected your technique and such.

On my way out, I saw Nica Hults. Nica is extremely sweet and her face lit up when I asked for her autograph. She was with a friend that had an "Air Maroney" t-shirt on. She was super nice and signed all 3 of the photos I had. As I walked away I heard her friend ask, "Do you think a lot more people are recognizing you this year?"

Photo Belongs to Polina Shchennikova

I walked out of that area and went back to the main lobby and was just staring at the lines figuring out what I need to do on Saturday. I saw a lady pass me by with the Paw-lina shirt and I thought that must be Polina Shchennikova's mom. "You can't go around assuming every lady with a Paw-lina shirt is Polina's mom!" So, I just moved on. I saw some of the WOGA juniors but I didn't recognize them so I left them alone. Maybe I'll regret that in a few years. Either way, I turned around and saw Nica talking to Laurie Hernandez, Ariana Agrapides, Polina Shchennikova, and their parents/coaches were around. I saw Nica's mom and wanted to say something but what do you say? "Hi, I love your daughter. And your 2 little ones are super adorable too!" Turns out I should've because I want to interview Nica and her mom.

So, I got autographs from the other girls in that circle. As I was doing that, Lexie Priessman came over and the girls got so excited! It was cute to see. Laurie wanted a picture with her and that's why Laurie only signed 2 and Lexie could only sign one. Both Lexie and Laurie have beautiful eyes. I have no idea what color they are but you know when people's eyes are really light and kinda transparent? It's like that. (I know eyes can't be transparent but think of like hazel-green eyes or something.) I told Lexie about the interview we did a while ago and she said that was neat. She was definitely in a different mind frame though. I just realized I didn't look down at her feet. She's not in crutches or anything but beyond that, I couldn't tell you.

Ariana agreed to sign the other ones while Laurie and Lexie took the picture and Polina was just hanging out and I was thinking, "Oh no no no, Polina! I want your autograph too!" So she was the last one to sign. The parents/coaches (I think that was Maggie from MG Elite) were pushing the girls along to get back in the arena. Polina stayed to sign and I was forever grateful since her mom in the Paw-lina shirt (I was right!) and her dad were waiting for her. In my head, I was thinking, "You'll have to get used to this when your daughter becomes Olympic Champion!" So after she signed I said thank you and good luck to both her and her coach parents!

I tweeted you guys how I couldn't do much since I forgot my ID so I couldn't even pick up my tickets. So, I left. Overall, it was fun. I would love to go with a friend sometime or meet up beforehand. I'm in 102 for the Jr women and Sr men and 113 for Sr women. I'll keep you guys posted!

One autograph is going to the owner of the edit.  One or two of the others will be raffled off for you guys (I have 2 of the bottom ones)! Stay posted. I hope to get some MAG as well.