VAIL - The Vail Recreation District welcomed husband-and-wife team Luba and Yuri Aleksejeva as the new elite-level coaches for the Vail Gymnastics Center's competitive boys and girls teams and pre-team programs. The Aleksejevas have been coaching aspiring gymnasts for more than 40 years, with many of their athletes competing at the national, world and Olympic levels, including top finishes during the world-class competitions.
Originally from Latvia, Yuri's international coaching experience includes a job as the head coach of the National Men's Team of Latvia from 1982 to 1992, as well as experience coaching the Latvian National Girls' Team to a sixth place finish at the 2006 European Cup championships.
In 1999, Yuri was invited by USA Gymnastics World in Utah to become head coach for its elite program. Luba joined Yuri in the U.S. in 2004, and the duo coached the level 9 and 10 elite boys' team members at USA Gymnastics World to several regional, state and national championships. This included coaching two-time U.S. National Pommel Horse champion Jacob Dastlub and Level 9 2011 national champion J.J. Lister. In 2007, Yuri was also named Utah's Men's Gymnastics Coach of the Year.
From 2010 to 2011, the pair coached gymnasts in levels 4 through 10 for ARETE Gymnastics in Utah, where they led the level 5, level 6, level 9 and level 10 boys' team members to first place during the 2011 Utah State Championships, as well as second place for the level 6 members at the championships.
Additionally, the Aleksejevas coached Future Stars national champion Dylan King, then 10, to a first-place all-around finish in 2010 at the competition. The Aleksejevas also have worked with 2012 U.S. Figure Skating junior champion Nathan Chen on flexibility, strength and coordination.
According to Luba, the couple are excited for the opportunity to work and live in the Vail Valley and raise the level of offerings at the Vail Gymnastics Center.
She says that children who want to be great gymnasts and athletes should start with and grow with Vail's gymnastics program.
"This is a great opportunity for us to help build Vail's gymnastics program from the ground up and watch the community's children become amazing athletes and competitors," Luba said. "We focus on techniques, innovation, improvements and a unique balance for students of all levels. We believe that gymnastics is great preparation for the many sports that children in Vail and its surrounding communities participate in. Plus, we love the mountains and couldn't imagine a better place to live and work."
Level 10 gymnasts are the highest level of gymnasts and can attempt to qualify for elite competitions, including the Olympics and national-level competitions.
Vail Gymnastics Center Director Heather Gilger, who competed at the elite level 10 from 1993 to 1995, 2000 and 2005, and was also an alternate for the U.S. Junior Olympic team, is thrilled about the new coaching staff.
"As a previous competitive gymnast, I understand how important and fun it can be to work with elite coaches. Yuri and Luba have an appreciation about how to create great gymnasts while making sure those who are in our classes will have fun, learn and grow at their own speeds."
The Vail Gymnastics Center offers nearly 40 classes per week that feature an array of programs for all ages and abilities, including preschool and toddler opportunities, boys and girls' classes, trampoline and tumbling and a competitive team program for girls and boys.
In addition to traditional gymnastics programs, the center also offers a variety of third-party programs that include martial arts, dance and birthday parties.
For more information on the Aleksejevas or gymnastics classes, call Gilger at the Vail Gymnastics Center at 970-479-2287 or reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a detailed listing of programs, go to www.vailrec.com/gymnastics.cfm.