Feb. 11, 2004
Q: How did you get started in gymnastics? Emily (hehehe)
A: Ha ha, hey Em!!! Well since you already know the story, I'll answer this for anyone else who wants to know! I started gymnastics when I was 3. I think I was in ballet beforehand for a tiny bit, and then my friend Emily (!) invited me to her "bring-a-friend day" at her gym class and I loved it! I switched from ballet and have been in the gym ever since, and Emily and I are still really good friends!!!
Q: Hi. I've been following your gymnastics career for quite a while and was very happy to hear you are trying for the Olympics again. I was wondering if Yvonne (Tousek) has been a role model for you. Congratulations! (Cory, Vancouver, BC)
A: Yvonne has definitely been a huge role model for me throughout my career. She was one of my idols when I was younger, and she competed in the 1996 Olympics, so it was an honor for me to get to compete with her on the Canadian Team in '99 and 2000, and I feel so lucky to get to compete with her still! Yvi's awesome! She is an incredible gymnast for one, but I have also learned so much from her, through her work ethic and focus in and out of the gym. I'll always be thankful to her for that.
Q: We enjoyed seeing you compete against the University of Minnesota - your floor routine is so fun! Thanks for staying and signing autographs! What's been the biggest challenge for you training for both college and the Olympics at the same time? (Susan, Rochester, MN)
A: Thanks! I have fun competing it! The biggest challenge so far has been getting myself to keep training my elite routines as hard as I was before now that season has started. Competing every weekend just takes so much out of you that it's been hard to be able to push myself as hard as I need to. But Chris and Miss Val have been amazing at keeping me motivated every day in between meets, and now that I'm getting more into the rhythm of competing all the time, it's getting easier.
Q: What do you miss the most from not living in Canada? What's the best thing about living in California? (Claire, Montreal)
A: As my teammates will tell you, I have an excessive amount of Canadian pride, so I do miss being in Canada, but I'm loving living here too! Obviously I miss my family and friends in Canada a lot, but besides that, one of the biggest things I miss is actually having seasons! Here there's just hot weather, and then there's cooler weather, which is really nice, but I miss having snow and cold weather in the winter, and believe it or not I actually miss all the rain we get in Vancouver!! I love being in California because there's always so much to do! The best part of being here though is being a part of UCLA Athletics. It's such an honor to be a part of something that's so prestigious and to get to be a part of its history. Plus it's a lot of fun!!
Q: Kate, can you give us any insight on what your elite routines are going to be? Will you do your front aerial-front aerial-Korbut combo again? Also, will you be keeping your floor routine from this season ... it's a great routine! (Jackie, Ann Arbor)
A: Right now, the aerial-aerial-Korbut is not in my elite beam routine. We've put the front aerial in a new combination with some leaps. That combination is the only thing that's new on beam; the rest of it is all skills and combinations that I've competed before. On vault, I need to upgrade my Yurchenko, and on bars I've learned a couple new skills and am hoping to put them in combination. I really want to keep my new floor routine. I love performing it, and I just need to put in some more leaps and a harder second pass.
Q: Katie, Congratulations on your successes so far! I was wondering how competing as a sophomore is different than when you were competing as a freshman? Is there more or less stress? Do you still get nervous about competing? (Opal, Astoria, OR)
A: There is different stress this year as a sophomore than there was as a freshman. Last year, I was a lot more nervous competing because everything was new to me, and I was learning what it was all about the whole year. This year I know what to expect and what's expected from me, so I have a lot more confidence going into meets. Of course I still get nervous because I want to do my job well, but I like that. It's always excited nervousness instead of fear. I feel like there's a different kind of pressure on me this year too, because I'm in more of a leadership role, which I'm not entirely comfortable with yet, but I'm working on it and enjoying being in this position.
Q: I really love the floor routines you get b/c they are so unique. I was wondering if you've always been a little funky or if Miss Val just decided to try it on you and it worked? (Sarah, Orem, UT)
A: Thank you! The last routine I had before coming to UCLA was pretty different. I guess you could say it was funky, but before that I always had, you know, classical, gymnastics dance. I was always pretty hesitant to do anything different because it always takes me a while to learn it and be able to do it, and I never showed it off that well. But Miss Val is an incredible choreographer and can always bring out the best in everyone's dance capabilities. I LOVE my floor routine this year, I especially love performing it because I can tell that people like watching it! It's amazing working on a floor routine with her because she comes up with all these funky ideas that when you see it you're just like, "what?? I can't pull that off!!", and then you do it and it looks so cool!! She kept calling me a freak because all the crazy things she came up with in my routine worked on me!!!
Q: First off I want to thank you for being so kind and friendly to me when I was at the meet on Feb. 1. How do you balance your Olympic training with your team training? (Eric, New Rochelle, NY)
A: It hasn't been that hard to balance the two because they complement each other. I come in to practice early or stay late to get in some extra conditioning and time on the events, but everything else I do with the team. All my teammates and coaches have been great with encouraging me to train both, and that's been so helpful. All the extra conditioning and skills that I've been training for elite, though, have made my NCAA routines so much easier for me, so it's been easy to maintain my college routines while I'm working on my elite ones. Also, competing so much in the NCAA makes you mentally "buff" (as we like to call it!) and it's definitely changed my mentality in meets and made me a lot more confident, so that will help a lot this summer when I compete my elite routines.
That's one of the things I'm most excited about, actually - seeing how my college mentality will change competing in elite. But anyways, back to your question, I've really liked balancing the two; it's been a new challenge for me that I've enjoyed taking on.
Q: Hi Kate, I've read that you're a big Harry Potter fan. Who's your favorite character and why? Good luck this season! (James, Westwood)
A: I love Harry Potter!! I've read all the books at least twice (except for the fifth one, that one was too long!!). My favorite character is Ron because he always cracks me up, and Dumbledore because he's so wise.
Q: Kate, Congratulations on having such an amazing season so far. You must be thrilled. I was wondering how you chose to come to UCLA and what you like about being a student here outside of gymnastics. Karen (Los Angeles)
A: Thanks! I chose UCLA because I loved the program. I loved their gymnastics, of course, and I loved the character the team has; they're such cool people, and they're so much fun to be around. But I also loved the approach that Miss Val has, that everything is not about gymnastics. She really strives to make you a better person before you leave here, and not just to get a National Championship. So I knew that it would be a really fun place to be, and it would be the best place for me to be to develop as a person as well. My favorite thing about being here besides gymnastics is that you really get the whole college experience. There's such a cool atmosphere around campus, and there are so many opportunities for you to try different things and meet different people. You can really figure out what you like and don't like and what you want to do in the future.
Q: What made you decide to try for a second Olympics and what is your ultimate goal for that competition? Betsy Chow (Vancouver)
A: I was debating whether to try and go to the 2003 Worlds all of last year, but since I didn't want to do it 100%, I decided not to. I had a lot of adjusting to do last year and wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with elite gymnastics, so I think it was best not to train for elite last year. I wouldn't have given it everything I had because I didn't really want to, so it wouldn't have been a good experience. But I went and watched Worlds, and not competing put everything in perspective for me. I realized that I really missed it and really wanted to be there still, so since my body was holding up and I could still train for it, I figured why not try. It has already been a very rewarding experience because I made all the decisions on my own, and I've kept myself motivated, so whatever happens, I'll be so happy that I decided to do it. My goal is, first, obviously, to make the team, and then our team goal is to make the top 8 team final. My individual goal is to make all-around finals, and to hit all my routines. I've never really hit a huge meet like that, so I want to do that and see where I end up.
Q: How are you handling your school work, UCLA gymnastics and training for the Olympics? April (Los Angeles)
A: Well, training for the Olympics and training for UCLA go hand in hand, like I said before. Handling school and gymnastics at the same time takes a little bit of adjustment, but we get a lot of help in making it. We get a lot of help and advice from upper classmen, coaches and counselors, and all the student-athletes get tutoring for our classes too. We already know how to time-manage because we've handled training and school for most of our lives, so once we learn how to handle college classes, it's not bad at all.