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Idahoan makes U.S. tumbling team

Mitch Worthington Post Register

POCATELLO, Idaho – Three years ago, Yuliya Hall was just one of thousands of former gymnasts in the United States in her late 20s – more than a few years past her prime as far as gymnastics is concerned.

Hall had built a nice career coaching gymnasts in Idaho Falls. Now, three months shy of her 30th birthday, Hall is about to embark on a four-month trip around the world competing for the United States Tumbling Team. Hall, of Idaho Falls, qualified to represent the United States at the Winter Classic in Fort Smith, Ark.

Competing against the top Senior Elite level tumblers from the U.S. and Canada, Hall won the event and a spot on the national team in the process.

Her competition schedule begins with trips to Bulgaria and France in early June for the World Cup.

Events in Phoenix, Houston, Germany, and Belgium take place throughout the summer, and she’ll also compete at the World Championships, held in late September in the Netherlands. That’s quite the itinerary for someone who wasn’t even competing three years ago.

Hall started out competing for the Soviet Union’s junior team in the 80s.

Back then, the Soviet Union was to international gymnastics as the U.S. was to men’s basketball – everyone else was competing for second place.

She switched from all-around competition to tumbling when she turned 15, and came to the United States in 1992 to perform a few exhibitions.

When she was 19, her coach went back to Russia, and without a coach or a place to train, Hall turned to coaching. She landed in Idaho Falls, at the I.F. Gymnastics Training Center. During her five years, she coached the first Elite gymnast in Idaho, Sadie Hansen from Rigby.

Three years ago she changed jobs and began working for Elite Performance in Pocatello.

Shortly after the switch, someone suggested she get back into competing. She decided to try, especially since she never really wanted to give it up.

“I had to quit when I was 19 because I couldn’t find anyone to train me,” Hall said. “I wasn’t happy. I always felt like I didn’t finish what I started.”

The first six months were painful.

Hall said she was so sore some mornings, she would slide out of her bed and into the bathroom, and sit for half an hour. Nowadays, though, it’s easier.

She lifts weights and does cardiovascular work at Apple Athletic Club twice a day, trains for two hours at Elite Performance, and teaches four hours a day at EP. “Now it’s easy, and I love it,” Hall said. “It was hard to come back, but it really paid off.”

Hall has competed at 16 meets since she started back, and she performs the most difficult routines in the world. Her level of difficulty at the upcoming World Cup will be a 19.2; the second-ranked woman in the U.S. has a 12.8.

“This year, I have new tricks that no one has ever done,” Hall said. “I’m going to throw them at the first international meet, and we’ll see.”

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