Stockton Hosts 550 Athletes For U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships, 7/7
If you think of baton twirlers as the majorettes of the 1950s and 60s, think again! Today's top twirlers are dedicated athletes who train like Olympians and perform amazing feats with one, two, three and even four batons, while using dance and gymnastics to add drama and excitement to their programs.
More than 500 of the nation's best baton twirlers will compete in the 56th Annual U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships, July 7-12, at the Stockton Arena in Stockton. The competition, which is sponsored by the United States Twirling Association (USTA) and Visit Stockton, runs from 8 a.m. to approximately 5 p.m. each day and is free and open to the public.
"Twirling is an aerobic sport that combines athleticism with artistry," said USTA President John Chamberlain. "A top twirler must develop many of the same skills as athletes in other sports, such as the speed of a sprinter, the hand-eye coordination of a hockey player, the technique of a ballet dancer and the flexibility and power of a gymnast. The National Championships will feature the nation's top sport baton twirlers and I know Stockton sports fans will enjoy seeing them in action."
During the championships, athletes will compete for national honors in individual and group events, including:
- Solo - an exciting event using one baton which is rolled, flipped and tossed around the body and through the air at great speed
- 2 Baton and 3 Baton - highly difficult events using two or three batons which must be kept moving at all times
- Strut and Dance Twirl - beautiful but demanding events combining twirling with dance and gymnastics
- Teams - the crowd will be on its feet as groups of twirlers perform synchronized twirling and challenging exchanges
The top national competitors will be featured in the National Championships Finals Show on Wednesday, July 9, at the Stockton Arena. The show is also free and open to the public.
The competitors include 185 athletes from California, including Alessandra Stone of Fresno, one of the members of Team USA, which will represent the United States in the World Baton Twirling Championships in Nottingham, England in August. At that competition, the best baton twirlers in the world will compete for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the twirling equivalent of the Olympic Games.
"Baton twirling is a popular sport in the U.S. and other countries around the world," said Sandi Wiemers, president of the World Baton Twirling Federation (WBTF). "It has gained new prominence in recent years through exposure in shows like Cirque du Soleil and America's Got Talent, as well as when U.S. twirler Karrissa Wimberley was named a top five finalist for the AAU's Sullivan Award, which honors the nation's top amateur athlete."
Twirling experts say the sport helps promote physical fitness and flexibility and helps fight childhood obesity. It also helps young people develop positive self-esteem and valuable life skills, such as goal-setting, self-discipline and time management.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be the host sponsor for the National Championships," said Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton. "This caliber of national event not only brings positive attention to Stockton, but the event attendees will fill hotel rooms, restaurants and our shopping areas. We expect this event will have an economic impact to Stockton of nearly a half a million dollars which is good news for our community."
The 56th Annual U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships mark the first time the National Championships have been held in Stockton, and the first time they have been held in California since 1996, when they were held in Oakland.
"We are excited to return to the West Coast and hold our National Championships in Stockton," said USTA President John Chamberlain. "Stockton is a beautiful, welcoming city that offers our athletes and their families a quality competition venue surrounded by family-friendly attractions and amenities."
For more information about Stockton, go to http://www.visitstockton.org. For more information about the sport of baton twirling and the United States Twirling Association, visit http://www.ustwirling.com.