The "It" gymnast of 2013? You can make a good case for Elizabeth Price. After finishing fourth all-around at the 2012 Olympic Trials in San Jose and being selected as an Olympic replacement athlete, Price made her mark late in the season, winning the back-to-back Stuttgart and Glasgow World Cups -- by a lot. (She won the title in Glasgow by more than four points. When's the last time we saw that happen in elite gymnastics?)
The 16-year-old Parkettes gymnast, who goes by "Ebee," recently took the time to answer a few questions on her remarkable 2012 and plans for 2013. (A few spoilers: 2012 was a year where she had "nothing to lose," and her goals for 2013 include being selected to compete at the American Cup, for the World team, and maybe, just maybe, testing out a triple-twisting Yurchenko vault.) Read on:
You've had an extraordinary year in 2012. Can you sum it up in one word?
Out of the many words that come to mind when thinking of this past year, the one I’d use to sum it all up would be awesome. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have such great support from my friends and family throughout the year. I couldn’t have asked for better coaches to push me to do my best at competitions, and I definitely couldn’t have expected any more drive or perseverance from myself, and to be able to look back a say all that, is awesome.
Shawn Johnson once described the Olympic Trials as the most stressful meet of her life. Did you feel the same way?
No. Going into Trials I had a lot of confidence and honestly, I had nothing to lose. I hadn’t been to any major international competitions before. I hadn’t won Worlds, or the American Cup, or Championships; so I was considered somewhat new, and no one expected me to finish very high in the standings at Trials. And when I’d get nervous, I’d think of these facts and it helped me eliminate some of pressure and stress from my mind going into the meet. To me, it just felt like another Championships.
You also had two terrific meets in Stuttgart and Glasgow this past month. What was it like to compete there? Was it hard to keep training full steam following the Olympics?
Competing in Europe was a great experience for me. I think it was a great way for me to learn how adapt to the different competition settings and schedules, and winning gold at both competitions, really gave me a confidence boost. After Trials, I took somewhat of a break by taking a couple days off and working less numbers to help my body recover from the vigorous training and competing during the summer. Close to October, I found out about the World Cup meets and then started to get back into routine shape. And considering it hadn’t been that long since I’d last done routines, I didn’t have to hard of a time adjusting to training routines.
Did you grow close to your fellow U.S. replacement athletes, Sarah Finnegan and Anna Li, when you trained together in Birmingham, U.K., this summer?
After Trials, Anna, Sarah and I spent about two straight weeks together. And although we grew to be good friends after competing together throughout the summer, we became even closer by the time we got to England. Sarah and I being so close in age became like sisters in an instant, and Anna being more experienced with these kinds of trips really looked out for us and really helped us understand the full meaning of being a part of such an important team.
What was it like for you to sit in the stands in London and watch the U.S. women win gold? What emotions went through your mind?
The first thing I felt after watching the team win gold was an over abundance of joy. I was so proud of the girls and so happy for all of them, but then again I never had any doubt against them winning. After it was all over, I did have the thoughts of how I could’ve been down there on the floor receiving an Olympic gold medal that day, but then I always have to go back and tell myself that everything happens for a reason, and for one, I wouldn’t have won two World Cup medals.
Besides the Americans' impressive performance, what impressed you about gymnastics at the Olympics? Did you get to see any of the men's events?
I only got to watch the women’s team competitions, and what impressed me the most was seeing some of the girls competing very difficult skills and executing them with excellent form and what looked like little effort. I expected to see high difficulty routines from everyone considering the Olympics is such an important competition, but I didn’t expect the skills to look as well trained as they were.
What was the most awe-inspiring moment of 2012 for you?
The most awe-inspiring moment of 2012 for me, was breaking the 10,000 mark for the number of followers I have on Twitter. That was like a huge goal of mine for the longest time and I finally reached it after my World Cup meets.
What are your goals for 2013? Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
My main goals for this year are to earn a spot to compete at the American Cup, qualify for the national team again, and be selected to compete at World Championships. And my New Year’s resolution is to go all year without any major injuries or setbacks.
Maybe it's a little early to ask this question, but...do you want to train for Rio?
I haven’t put much thought into the next Olympics. I’d like to go to the Olympics in Rio, but I have a lot more things I’d like to do before that time comes, like competing at Worlds, so I’ve put all my thoughts on Rio on hold.
Are there any skills you're working on that you haven't debuted yet that you might be doing soon? Is there any one skill you especially want to master?
With the new code just being released, I’ve just recently started working upgrades to my routines, and right now I’m not certain of what I’ll be adding next. But a couple skills I’d like to master in the next few months would be a full twisting double layout on floor, a back handspring back layout full on beam, and a full twisting back handspring on beam.
You have a fantastic Amanar vault. There's a lot of discussion about who the first woman to perform a Yurchenko triple twist might be. Is that something that's on your mind? Do you ever train it?
I think it would be very exciting to do a triple twist on vault, and I did train it a little a while back, before I started working the Amanar, but right now my thoughts are more towards working a second vault so that later in the year I’d be eligible for vault finals at meets.
What are your college plans? Are there any schools in particular that appeal to you?
I’m really looking forward to going to college and getting the experience of competing in collegiate competitions, and I have been recruited by quite a few schools, but I haven’t yet decided which of the schools I’d like to attend come fall of 2014.
Finally, if you could change one thing about the sport of gymnastics, what would you change?
I think the one thing I would change about the sport of gymnastics, is the amount of requirements expected by the judges. I understand that higher levels require more difficulty, but to me it seems like the routines become less and less optional. And I feel this way because there are only so many skills or movements you can do to fill the requirements and everyone’s routines start to look similar. And to me, that takes away the variety and individuality of the sport, which ultimately lowers the excitement and wow factor of gymnastics.
Follow Elizabeth Price on Twitter at @elizabeth_ebee.