Sixteen days to go . . .
There are tickets to sell, volunteers to train, and an arena to prepare, as Baltimore's local organizing committee puts the finishing touches on presenting the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics trials, June 6-13, at the Baltimore Arena.
"We're in wonderful shape," Barbara Bozzuto, executive director of the trials, said yesterday. "We are ready. We know we will deliver."
Preparations for the trials have taken on an added sense of urgency after the U.S. National Gymnastics Championships were completed last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Fourteen women, led by reigning world champion Kim Zmeskal, and 20 men vaulted from the championships to the trials where they will compete for 12 Olympic slots.
In addition, 10 rhythmic gymnasts will compete in Baltimore for two Olympic berths.
The ticket crunch will come during the June 13 finals. The afternoon women's optionals are sold out, and organizers continue to push for a sell-out for the night-time men's final.
"There comes a point where an event like this takes on a life of its own," Bozzuto said. "We reached that point this week. We can see all the planning coming into picture. Everyone is starting to deliver."
Local gymnastics clubs, which will provide a chunk of the 500-member volunteer staff, are eagerly anticipating a membership boost after the trials.
"The Olympics are like Desert Storm, everyone is pulling for the country," said John Walstrum, a coach for the Harford Gym in Bel Air. "People see that this is a nice clean sport, and they want their kids involved."
Caroline Hecht, head coach at Rebounders in Timonium, said, "I think the phone will be ringing around here the day after the trials. But we'll get even more calls after the Olympics. It's the Olympics that reaches the people."
U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials
Where: Baltimore Arena
When: June 6-13
June 6: Rhythmic preliminaries, 2 p.m.
June 7: Rhythmic finals, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $25, $20, $15, $12.50, $10
June 11: Opening ceremonies and women's artistic compulsories, 7 p.m.
June 12: Men's artistic compulsories, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $50, $30, $25, $17.50, $15
June 13: Women's artistic finals, 2:30 p.m.; men's artistic finals, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $50, $30, $25, $20
Individual tickets for the women's artistic finals are sold out. However, ticket packages that include the women's finals are available.