July 16, 2009 – 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, and 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Samantha Peszek of Indianapolis, Ind., are among 132 women expected to compete in the CoverGirl Classic at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. The CoverGirl Classic is the last opportunity for women to qualify for the 2009 Visa Championships in Dallas, Texas, and its field features a combination of gymnasts vying for spots in the Visa Championships and qualified gymnasts using the event as a tune-up for Dallas. For the first time in event history, fans across the country may watch live coverage of the CoverGirl Classic, July 25 on Universal Sports. The television and Web simulcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
“I know fans across the country will be excited that Nastia and Sam are beginning their return to competitive gymnastics and that they will have the opportunity to see the CoverGirl Classic, either in person, on TV or on the Web,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “We are proud to partner with Universal Sports to make this event available to fans around the country and throughout the world.”
"When a superstar gymnast returns to competition in a post-Olympic year, it's a tremendous boost for gymnastics," said David Michaels, Universal Sports' Executive Producer. "The new emerging stars can gauge their progress against Olympic Medalists in a competitive situation. The Cover Girl Classic is a tune-up for the Visa Championships in August when a new national champion will be crowned. For Universal Sports, the Cover Girl classic is an historic step in original programming."
Liukin, who won a total of five medals during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, is using the CoverGirl Classic as preparation for her return to competitive gymnastics at the 2009 Visa Championships, Aug. 12-15 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Liukin, who trains at WOGA, is expected to perform on the balance beam. The CoverGirl Classic is also the first competition since the 2008 Olympic Games for Peszek, who now trains at Sharp’s Gymnastics.
This will be the first live event produced unilaterally by Universal Sports with its own facilities, talent and production team at a remote site. Previously, live events have been produced in conjunction with NBC and other TV entities. "Bringing our audience fresh, new live gymnastics programming is a major goal for our network," said Michaels, who is also a Senior Producer for NBC Olympics and Director of the Gymnastics coverage. "This event opens new horizons for USA Gymnastics and Universal Sports."
U.S. Olympians Tasha Schwikert and John Roethlisberger will call the action for the Universal Sports simulcast, which will run from 7-9 p.m. CT, and Liukin will join the broadcast team following the first rotation as a correspondent on the floor. Universal Sports is available in 56 million homes nationwide. To find Universal Sports in a specific area, go to http://www.universalsports.com. On the Web, live coverage will be available on both usa-gymnastics.org and universalsports.com.
Formerly known as the U.S. Classic, the CoverGirl Classic has competition for international junior and senior levels, as well as the challenge level. Tickets are now on sale: international junior session (1 p.m. on July 25), $20; international senior session, $25; a daily ticket that includes both international sessions, $35; and an all-session ticket that includes both international and the challenge sessions, $50. Tickets may be purchased at the Wells Fargo Arena Box Office, all Dahl's Foods locations, charge by phone at 1.866.55.DAHLS, or online at www.dahlstickets.com. All tickets are general admission. Visa is the preferred method of payment. For more ticketing information, visit www.usa-gymnastics.org/covergirlclassic.
The 2009 Visa Championships, USA Gymnastics’ national championships, are Aug. 12-15 in Dallas, Texas. The U.S. champions for men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling are determined at the Visa Championships. Artistic gymnastics will be held at American Airlines Center, with rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling at the Dallas Convention Center. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show, held in conjunction with the Visa Championships, will also be at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. For complete information on the Visa Championships, log on to www.usa-gymnastics.org.
About Universal Sports
Universal Sports, a partnership between NBC Sports and InterMedia Partners, serves as the preeminent multiplatform destination for Olympic-related and lifestyle sports programming available on television and online. Universal Sports is available in 56 million television households, and is now available in nine of the top 10 DMAs including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Houston, Seattle and Denver. Major world championship and Olympic qualifying events found on Universal Sports range from track and field, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, marathons and cycling, to volleyball, rowing, triathlon, fencing, speed skating and martial arts. UniversalSports.com delivers an immersive experience via live and on-demand competition coverage, interaction with top athletes through blogs and in-depth access to Olympic sports news and information year round. For more information on the availability of the Universal Sports 24-hour television channel, please visit UniversalSports.tv.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men's and women's artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, and acrobatic gymnastics. For more information, log on to www.usa-gymnastics.org.