Winning gymnast performs for St. Francis classmates

417sfe-gymnast-3_thumb.jpgAs the music filled the gym, Kiana Eide twisted, stretched and leapt across the floor.

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by Tammy Sakry
Staff writer

As the music filled the gym, Kiana Eide twisted, stretched and leapt across the floor.

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St. Francis Elementary School fourth-grader Kiana Eide won first place in ball and club rhythmic gymnastics at the March 21-22 Minnesota State Championship. To celebrate she performed her routine April 9 for her fellow classmates. (Photo by Tammy Sakry)

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All to the jaw-dropping amazement of her fellow fourth-grade classmates at St. Francis Elementary School, Eide was preformed her rhythmic gymnastic routine that earned her first place March 22 at the Minnesota State Championship.

Eide placed first place in ball and club routines during the competition in Level 7, for girls 9-11.

Rhythmic gymnastic is a combination of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance and circus and can include apparatuses, like hoops, ribbons, balls and clubs, said Margarita Mamzina, Eide’s coach and owner of Twin Cities Rhythmic, Fridley.

The sport, started by the Russians in 1950s, was added to the Olympics in 1984, said Troy Eide, Kiana’s father.

There are six different competitive levels, from 5-10, he said.

Kiana is at Level 7 and is doing very difficult routines, said Mamzina.

Eide greatest talent is her flexibility, she said.

When Eide started with her six years ago, the then-four-year-old was already as “flexible as a circus girl,” said the Russian-born coach.

“Kiana gets the judges with her smile and her flexibility,” Mamzina said.

While she makes it look easy, Kiana practices four hours a day, three days a week.

During the summer, Kiana attends a week-long campus where they practice eight hours a day, he said.

Although Troy and wife Lolietta Eide had not been familiar with the sport, a friend had been talking about the sport and her Russian coach.

They decided to look into it, said Lolietta Eide.

Both Kiana and her older sister Celine liked rhythmic gymnastic because it is very different the regular artistic gymnastics, said Troy Eide.

The two girls liked the sport so much, the family was traveling from St. Francis to Plymouth three times a week until Mamzina left the gym to open her own gym.

Celine decided to retire at 12, Troy Eide said.

Under Mamzina’s tutelage, Kiana has earned three state championships and three regional competitions. She has also competed twice in the Junior Olympics.

Each year the family spends about $3,000 to $4,000 for training and traveling to competitions.

Kiana travels throughout the county competing,  most recently in Colorado, said Troy Eide.

Troy and Lolietta Eide take turns traveling with Kiana and running their restaurant, Hong Kong Delight.

Juggling the two can be challenging but it is worth it, said Troy Eide.

Although Kiana does miss some school to attend competitions, she remains on the principal’s honor roll.

“It’s fun,” said Kiana.

Every year she likes learning new routines, “I like getting new routines… because they are harder and challenging,” she said.

Her favorite routines involve the hoop.

“It’s like a ball, only not 3-D. I get to do lots of cool stuff with it,” Kiana said.

Although Mamzina encourages her students to focus on their short-term goals, Kiana has plans in four years – to compete in the 2014 Summer Olympics.

“I want to compete in the Olympics on TV,” Kiana said.

But she has to wait until she is old enough, she said.

When she grows up, she wants to be a dentist or a lawyer or a gymnastic coach, Kiana said.

Kiana’s next competition will be in Donner’s Grove, Ill., in May.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com.

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