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'It Was Electric': Inside The U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials With STLPR’s Eric Schmid

Thousands of gymnastics enthusiasts from near and far gathered in downtown St. Louis this past week for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

In 1996 it was the Magnificent Seven, and in 2012, the Fierce Five. Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team went on to bring home the United States’ third-ever team gold medal in the 2016 Olympics, proving once more just what a powerhouse the country’s field of elite gymnasts had become.

Will the pandemic-delayed 2020 games this summer further cement that reputation, with a fabulous four of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum topping the team podium in Tokyo? If the athletic performances and overall energy in downtown St. Louis this past weekend are indicators, the answer might be yes.

Eric Schmid / St. Louis Public Radio
This panoramic view from the floor of the Dome at America’s Center gives a sense of the huge scope of the event.

Thousands of people from near and far got a preview of Team USA’s strength as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for both men’s and women’s gymnastics took place at the Dome at America’s Center.

“In one word, it was electric,” St. Louis Public Radio’s Eric Schmid said Monday on St. Louis on the Air of the atmosphere. “The people who were in the stands were cheering so loud for every gymnast. And every single time there was a landing, every single time there was a routine finish, the crowd erupted. They were very, very into it.”

Analysis: How Simone Biles — And St. Louis — Performed During Last Week's Gymnastics Spectacle
Listen as St. Louis Public Radio reporter Eric Schmid talks with host Sarah Fenske.

A big part of the draw, of course, was the explosively talented and driven Biles.

“They were just excited to see arguably the greatest gymnast who has ever touched the competition floor,” Schmid said.

He covered the spectacle throughout the weekend and joined host Sarah Fenske with the latest on the heels of Sunday evening’s women’s competition. In addition to discussing the highlights and the finalized Olympic squads, Schmid touched on what the spectacle meant for St. Louis.

He also noted how quickly the St. Louis Sports Commission, and other entities that were involved, brought the major event to fruition as COVID-19 regulations shifted.

“They had about two months to pull this together, which is a very, very, very, very short amount of time to do that, and in many ways they executed it quite flawlessly,” Schmid said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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