by Cassie Mangan
More than 700 gymnasts are ready to show off their skills on March 9 to 11 as Gleason's School of Gymnastics continues its tradition of excellence by hosting the 31st annual Niagara Cup.
The Koessler Athletic Center, located on the campus of Canisius College, will provide the venue for this premier event, which will feature local gymnasts, as well as athletes from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The three-day event kicks off on Friday morning and will include competition on vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam, and floor exercise for levels four through 10. For athletes levels four to six, the routines are compulsory. Athletes in level seven to 10 will complete original routines, which showcase their individual strengths in addition to the required elements.
The highlight of the weekend will be the finals extravaganza on Saturday evening. Modeled after the Olympic event finals, this separate competition will feature the top 10 finishers on each event from levels nine and 10. The Niagara Cup is the only competition in New York state to offer this format, which allows the finalists to compete individually under the spotlight.
"Finals is a fantastic showcase for top gymnasts," explained Anita Williams, head coach at Gleason's School of Gymnastics. "It's a great time to come out and view some amazing gymnastics." Many competitors from past Cups have gone on to find success at the elite and Division I collegiate level.
The event is expected to draw more than 500 spectators over three days. This competition is a good lead up to the Summer Olympic Games in London for those who enjoy televised elite gymnastics. Admission into the preliminaries will cost $12 for adults and $6 for children. Adults will be charged $15 at the finals; children will be $7. A complete schedule of Niagara Cup events can be located at http://www.gleasonsgymnastics.com/niagaracup.