The Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions is hitting 40 cities in the next two months. It's likely coming to an area near you. Should you go?
- Your kids will love seeing their gymnastics heroes. And there are tons of them. Gabrielle Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross, John Orozco, Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton, Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone, Chellsie Memmel... the list goes on and on. The cast varies a bit from stop to stop (Shawn Johnson will be in the Sept. 16 show; Ross is only doing the California stops).
McKayla Maroney, who suffered an injury in Ontario, Calif. during the show, was not on stop number three (San Diego), and Raisman was only doing dance segments because of bruised knees from a freak fall on the same night. It looks like Raisman will be back soon, though Maroney is unlikely to be doing gymnastics again during the tour. She had surgery on Sept. 13 to repair a fractured tibia.
- The show is entertaining. The lighting and effects are interesting, and the vast majority of the numbers are fun to watch. The gymnasts look like they're having a great time, too, so it's a refreshing change of pace from the intensity of competition. High points of the show include 2012 Olympic trampolinists Savannah Vinsant and Steven Gluckstein, 2010 world champ acrobatic gymnasts Kristin Allen and Michael Rodrigues and the group routines that use multiple members of the cast. It's a unique spin on traditional gymnastics: The men's artistic gymnasts do high bar, sometimes with two on a bar, wearing cape-like costumes, and the women perform on four beams simultaneously with Liukin spinning high overhead on silks (Liukin has a future in Cirque, if she wants it). You definitely won't be bored, with the exception of...
- The comedy acts. There are two of these in which former Olympian John Macready wears a diaper and pretends to be a baby. The first time he appeared dressed as an infant, there were some laughs from the crowd, especially in the under-six set. As it dragged on, however, people in the stands grew restless with this bizarre skit. (At one point, Macready did some serious hip-gyrating, while still in a diaper, saying "Dada." Huh?). When baby Macready appeared again, in the second half of the show, there were audible groans from the audience. Macready is a charismatic emcee and often puts on amusing skits for the crowd during warm-ups in gymnastics competitions. This baby one is unfortunately not one of those times.
- You'll have some trouble identifying the gymnasts. Oddly, besides a quick introduction in the beginning, acts are not introduced, so its tough to know who is doing what. It's a cast of some of the best athletes in the sport, and the audience would appreciate it so much more if they knew it was Liukin spinning above the beam, or Sacramone dancing down on the floor. Or Memmel, swinging giants on the men's high bar (seriously!) at the end. Even the Fierce Five were often hard to pick out. A simple announcement that, "Oh yeah, that's an Olympic champ over there doing that beam set" would make a big difference. Even the names of the "background gymnasts" such as Anna Li or Rebecca Bross will be recognizable to many gymnastics fans.
- If you're hoping to see a gymnastics competition, you might be disappointed. This is much more Cirque than gym meet, and most of the female gymnasts did watered down routines. In San Diego, Douglas did a floor routine that included a double tuck as her most difficult pass. There were some exceptions, though. Memmel did both a double layout and double Arabian during the course of the show and the men, especially Steven Legendre, threw some difficult tumbling passes. Vinsant and Gluckstein were able to put together some exciting trampoline routines, so perhaps the organizers should put a few TumblTraks in the arena and let the artistic gymnasts attempt some trickier tumbling without the worry that they'll get hurt.
Your kids will have a blast (our two-year-old loved every minute of it), and you'll enjoy the show too. Just keep in mind that these are gymnasts, not professional dancers or circus performers. It won't be the London Games part II; but you will be entertained.