June 7, 2012
Gopher gymnast and junior-to-be Zack Chasewill be in action on one of the sport's biggest stages this weekend when he takes to the floor at the 2012 Visa Championships in St. Louis.
The 2012 VISA Championships will take place at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of St. Louis University, June 7-10. The competition is the first step in the selection of the 2012 US Men's and Women's Olympic teams that will compete later this summer in London.
Both the men's and women's USA Teams have medaled in the past two Olympic Games. The men took home the bronze in 2008 and the silver in 2004, while the women took the silver in 2008 and 2004.
The men's VISA Championships field is composed of 42 of the top gymnasts in the United States. These athletes have qualified via various routes: the 15-man US National Team had an automatic qualification to the VISA's; 20 qualified from the US National Qualifier in Colorado Springs on May 5th; five qualified from the NCAA Championships; and two were petitioned into the competition.
Chase made the cut by virtue of his performance at the National Qualifier and has been preparing for the VISA Championships since.
"It's a real credit to Zack's talent level to be competing here at the VISA Championships." said Minnesota head gymnastics coach Mike Burns, who is in St. Louis attending the championships. "Zack looks ready to go and he has prepared well for this meet."
Chase is known for his high flying ability on the vault. He won the Big Ten vault title as a freshman in 2011 and finished in second place in 2012 behind Illinois' Paul Ruggeri, who is also competing at the VISA Championships.
Chase will also be competing on the Floor Exercise and the Still Rings in an effort to garner enough points from the pre-approved point system to make the US Senior National Team and move to the next step - the Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif., at the end of June.
The National Team Point System awards points to the top-10 placing gymnasts on each of the six events, with 11 points going to the first-place finisher and 1 point given to the 10th-place finisher. Points are totaled over the two-day competition and National Team spots will be determined partially by top point winners in the meet.
"It's a bit of a complicated qualification procedure to make the National Team but it's fair and assures the top gymnasts will advance to the Olympic Trials in San Jose," Burns said.
The top six all-around gymnasts in rank order based on the two-day total will be selected as members of the National Team. The next four members of the team will be selected by virtue of their point totals. The next four will be selected by the Men's Program Committee, an 8-person committee of which Gopher Assistant Coach Russ Fystromis a member. The final National Team member will be selected by US National Team Coordinator Kevin Mazeika, who will also be the head coach of the USA Men's Team in London this summer.
"A lot of people are involved in the selection procedures and the eventual goal is to put the best team on the floor at the Olympic Games in London," said Burns.
NBC Sports and Universal Sports will broadcast and webcast the action from St. Louis. Check your local listing for availability.
The competition schedule for the 2012 Visa Championships is below (all times Central)
Thursday, June 7
1 p.m. - Junior Men Competition - Day 1
6:30 p.m. - Senior Men's Competition - Day 1
Friday, June 8
1 p.m. - Junior Women's Competition - Day 1
6:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition - Day 1
Saturday, June 9
11:30 a.m. - Senior Men's Competition - Final Day
6 p.m. - Junior Men's Competition - Final Day
Sunday, June 10
10 a.m. - Junior Women's Competition - Final Day
2:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition - Final Day
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Gophers Hire Valdez As Assistant Coach
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