Young fans dazzled by Olympic gymnasts in KeyArena show
A crowd of about 6,000 fans came to see Gabby Douglas and many more Olympic gymnasts.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Marley Smith jumped in her seat at the first flick of glitter.
The 10-year-old's eyes widened as KeyArena became sensory overload — with colorful strobe lights, lasers and sparkling gymnasts pouring in from the stadium's tunnels.
Marley is a competitive swimmer, but she couldn't resist the chance to attend Sunday's Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
"I saw it in the newspaper and I really wanted to come here. It's my birthday present," Marley said. Her birthday is in October, but she frowned at the thought of seeing a Justin Bieber concert instead.
Part of a 40-city show, Sunday's performance began with about 50 local gymnasts hyping up the crowd before the Olympians appeared. The crowd of 6,000 seemed able to easily spot their favorites among the cast of 27.
"I like Gabby Douglas," Marley said.
A few minutes later Douglas — dubbed "The Flying Squirrel" — performed part of her 2012 gold-medal winning routine on the bars. Her act was set to Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)."
Some of the crowd pumped their fists with America's darling "Fierce Five" as they hit their marks on difficult tricks. Later the male Olympians took to the floor, performing to the song "Sexy and I Know It."
As the chorus hit for the finale, they unzipped their tops Chippendales' style.
Gymnast Nastia Liukin, an Olympian, seemed to steal the show. She floated above the center floor in an aerial net. Liukin skillfully wrapped her legs around the fabric to arch and spin while doing the splits or flipping.
In a fast-paced number, rhythmic gymnast Mary Sanders clutched cables and did similar moves as neon-clad gymnasts danced below her.
"Because I participate in shows, it's really fun to get out and watch the artists perform," said Vania Bynum, 42, a former engineer turned independent artist from Bellevue. "See the beauty of the artistry. And it's nice to expose her (2-year-old daughter) to all different types of movement and art. Gymnastics is a sport, but it's also an art."
Bynum's daughter, Aliyah, uses speed bumps in their neighborhood as balance beams and tumbles around the house. Bynum hopes to enroll with her daughter in classes.
The cast trained for about two weeks in Ontario, Calif., for the grueling schedule that makes a tour bus home. Alicia Sacramone, a five-time world champion, said the different lifestyle made her appreciate rock stars more.
As fans filtered into KeyArena, some buying memorabilia ranging from $80 for Team USA replica warm-ups to $5 flags, gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Nastia Liukin ran laps on the event-level concourse. Afterward, most of the gymnasts had ice taped to various spots and hustled into the chilly night to board the bus to the next city.
"It's really fun. We had the chance to see all of the Olympians, so it's fantastic," said Simon Powell, 45, of driving in from Bellevue with his two daughters — who sang along to Bieber on the way.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.