Gymnasts garner the spotlight | ParkRecord.com

Gymnasts garner the spotlight

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

It’s not everyday that an Olympic gold medal gymnast like Amanda Borden graces the Basin Recreation Field House. But then again, the Black Diamond Winter Classic gymnastic meet isn’t an average meet.

The annual regional event hosted by the Park City-based Black Diamond Gymnastics and Sports Center has been around for six years now and continues to grow each year. This time around, the meet hosted Borden’s Gold Medal Gymnastics from Tempe, Ariz. as well as the nationally renowned Desert Devils program, which is also based in Arizona – and this isn’t the first time these teams have attended the event.

Black Diamond owner Katy Heddens said that the ability to attract the higher level gymnastics programs from around the country says a lot about the respect the event has garnered over the years. She explains that generally teams rotate to different regional meets around the country, so to see top teams come year in and year out is a compliment.

"We’re getting the reputation as one of the better programs," Heddens said. "Repeat business is a result that it’s well-run."

She says that each year about 80-100 new athletes sign up even though she does not advertise.

"It’s a testament to Charity Christensen, our meet director, our many volunteers and the town of Park City," Heddens said. "This meet has a reputation as a high-quality, high-end event."

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According to Heddens, the event welcomed 27 gymnastics team, nearly 500 athletes and about 2,500 spectators over the past weekend.

Still, the Black Diamond competitors were able to hold their own. Heddens said their team travels to so many competitions during the year that seeing big-name teams doesn’t really faze them anymore. The Level 4 gymnasts took third place and Level 6 took second place.

"Considering the talent they saw, they did a great job," Heddens said. "Anywhere in the top 50-percent is pretty amazing."

In the optional competition, Levels 7-9, the Black Diamond girls also fared well and were also able to tune up for the last two remaining competitions of their regular season and the state championships, which are coming soon. Level 8 finished near the top with fourth place.

"They were impressive considering they were up against some of the best gymnasts at their respective levels," Heddens said.

Underlining the high level of talent was the number of older gymnasts competing that Heddens said will likely compete in Division I college gymnastics programs next year. She said she even saw three college scouts at the meet checking out different athletes.

"They don’t just show up to any meet," she said.

One of the best performances of the weekend came from two women from the Broadway Gymnstics program in Los Angeles, Calif. who turned in 9.8 and 9.9 (out of 10.0 possible points) on the balance beam.

"At this level, that’s unheard of," Heddens said. "It was absolutely beautiful."

Senior athlete Kallie Herbert performed well for Black Diamond. The Winter Classic marked her last home meet. The South Summit High School senior started in gymnastics at Black Diamond at the age of nine and has been participating the program ever since.

"She had a great night and did it before her home crowd," Heddens said.

Herbert will attend Southern Utah University next year on an academic scholarship and may decide to compete on the Thunderbirds gymnastics team.

Heddens attributed the large numbers of fans in the bleachers to the quality of the competition. Although some may have come for just one athlete, many stayed for numerous events.

"It’s very entertaining," Heddens said. "Regardless of the level, if you come to watch, you can’t help but appreciate the talent of these gymnasts."

The Black Diamond program is headed to Milwaukee Wisc. this weekend for the Harley Davidson Invitational, another regional meet.

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