Ticket to Rio (via Pittsburgh)

Gymnastics fans can get their fix before the 2016 Summer Olympics at the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships, to be held in Pittsburgh for the first time.




Photo by John Cheng

 

Some of the best gymnasts in the country are bound for Pittsburgh. The 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships, a four-day competition that puts athletes on the road to the world championships and eventually the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, will be held here for the first time from Aug. 21-24 at the Consol Energy Center.

“The road to Rio began the minute that flame was extinguished in Sochi,” says Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “All of these athletes, even some at the junior level, are looking at the games in Rio as their goal — so [the championship competition] is a true preview of what you’re going to see rolling out in the next couple of years.

“This is the showcase of our sport. This is the Super Bowl of gymnastics.”

Big names, including Simone Biles, Kyla Ross and Sam Mikulak, are expected to compete at the event, and their veteran counterparts will be present as well. Mary Lou Retton and Paul Hamm will be honored as part of a celebration of the 1984 and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams, and Shannon Miller will be an announcer for the event’s webcast. Other former Olympians will serve as coaches and judges.

“You might see a couple of people from [the 2012 Games in London], but it’s really going to be the up-and-comers you’re going to see at the next Olympics,” says Sharon Sullivan, marketing manager of AES/Consol Energy Center.

Sullivan says she and others from Consol attended the 2013 championships in Connecticut and began trying to “woo” the competition organizers more than a year ago.

“They looked at everything,” she says. “They looked at what the city has to offer in terms of venues, demographics, population, potential corporate partners, [the] surrounding gymnastic community . . . They just want the event to be as successful as it can possibly be.”

Penny adds the city “fit like a glove . . . We finally were able to get over there and really see what the city had to offer and what the Consol Energy Center had to offer, and we were completely impressed,” he says. “We’ve been very impressed by the reception we’ve gotten, by the interest that’s been shown, the combination of the convention center and venue and hotels . . . all the hospitality the town can offer we find very appealing.”

Pittsburgh also is very “reachable” for many of the sport’s U.S. fans, Penny says, noting that a high concentration of gymnastics clubs are based in the northeast.

The championships will feature eight sessions, with two occurring each day. They are scheduled in this order: junior women’s, senior women’s, junior men’s, senior men’s, junior women’s final, senior women’s final, senior men’s final and junior men’s final.

To be considered a senior competitor, men must be 18 or older and women must be 16 or older. Athletes will compete for the national title and are vying for a spot on the national team. Their performances in Pittsburgh also will give the first glimpse of 2016’s Olympic hopefuls.

“Everyone loves the girls; they’re the darlings of the Olympics. But watching the guys — they’re amazing,” says Sullivan. “They’re so strong and such athletes; it’s pretty amazing when you see it [in] real life. I think people here are going to love it. It’s not just an exhibition — it’s legitimate. They’re competing for the national title.”

A celebration of the 30th anniversary of the ’84 Los Angeles Olympics will be a highlight of this year’s event. U.S. gymnastics vaulted into the world spotlight that year, when Retton, a native of nearby Fairmont, W.Va., took home the country’s first gold medal in the sport after winning the all-around competition. Also that year, the men clinched the first-ever team gold and the women’s team claimed silver.

“We just really want to keep some attention on that group,” says Penny. “It was such a breakthrough moment for our sport — and Mary Lou Retton’s smile, and the men’s gold medal and everything that happened during that year for our sport. We do try to make sure we’re connected to what their achievements are.”

The festivities will encompass downtown during the four-day event. Restaurants will take part in a “Taste Of” event: Some will offer discounts to ticket holders, and some will take part in a gymnastics-themed cooking competition, “Steel City’s Taste of the Championship.”

“We’ve done it in other cities, and it really does help to promote the dining options and help to connect our fan base to the city and to the restaurants in town,” says Penny.

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center will be the site of the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show. Market Square will host fitness events Thursday and Friday mornings and exhibitions throughout the days. “It’s really like a four-day festival,” says Sullivan.

Tickets for the championship have been selling quickly. Fans can purchase tickets for the entire competition, individual events or multiple events in a package.

“We expect this to be one of our best ever,” based on ticket sales and hotel bookings, says Penny. “We’re bringing some of the best athletes in the world to compete in Pittsburgh, and all of these athletes have Rio in their sights in 2016.”

Consol Energy Center, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown; Aug. 21-24; 2 sessions daily; ticketmaster.com; pgchamps.com

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

Most people crawl deeper under the covers during a nighttime thunderstorm, photographer Dave DiCello does just the opposite.
Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

According to a financial advising site, Pittsburgh is both affordable and a good place to find a job for those fresh out of college.
Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.
What to Watch Out For in This Year’s Pittsburgh Marathon

What to Watch Out For in This Year’s Pittsburgh Marathon

Marathon weekend can be a challenge for both runners, who are trying to finish the grueling race, and spectators who are simply trying to get around. We've got the info you need, whether you're running or watching from the sidelines.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
The Eaglets Have Landed

The Eaglets Have Landed

The bald eagles nesting in Hays once again have given birth to a new generation. We take you into the nest to see how quickly the two chicks are growing.
Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Severino's follow-up to Cure is already winning national accolades.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

Most people crawl deeper under the covers during a nighttime thunderstorm, photographer Dave DiCello does just the opposite.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

You don’t always need blue skies and sunshine to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. One couple shares their advice on making the most of a rainy wedding day and what to do when the forecast is less than ideal.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation hosts a one-of-a-kind house tour on May 7.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments