FAIRBORN — If you think of baton twirlers as the majorettes of the 1950s and 60s, think again! Today’s top twirlers are dedicated athletes who train like Olympians and perform amazing feats with one, two, three and even four batons, while using dance and gymnastics to add drama and excitement to their programs.
Nearly 900 of the nation’s best baton twirlers will compete in the 61st Anniversary U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships, July 10-13, at Wright State University in Fairborn. The competition, which is sponsored by the United States Twirling Association (USTA), begins at 8 a.m. each day and is free and open to the public.
The athletes competing in the National Championships come from 31 different states, range in age from three to adult and include 26 male athletes and 292 athletes from Ohio. Among the national competitors are the members of Team USA, which will represent the United States in the International Cup and Grand Prix competitions, coming up Aug. 4-11 in Limoges, France.
During the championships, advanced- and elite-level athletes will compete in the Nutter Center Arena for Grand National Champion honors, while beginning- and intermediate-level athletes will compete in McLin Gym in the Festival of the Future, a national competition for up-and-coming champions. The competition schedule is as follows:
• July 10 – U.S. PreTrials: Athletes perform compulsories or short program and freestyle in this demanding event, which prepares them for the prestigious U.S. Trials where athletes are selected to represent the U.S. in the World Baton Twirling Championships.
• July 11 –2-Baton, 3-Baton and Artistic Twirl: Two- and Three-Baton are highly difficult events using multiple batons, which must be kept moving at all times. Artistic Twirl is a beautiful, but demanding, event combining twirling with dance and gymnastics.
• July 12 –Strut and Solo: Strut is a beautiful event that requires precise timing in addition to twirling, dance and gymnastics. Solo is the premier event in the sport of baton twirling; an exciting event using one baton, which is rolled, flipped and tossed around the body and through the air at great speed.
• July 13 – Group Events: The crowd will be on its feet as groups of twirlers perform synchronized twirling and challenging exchanges.
The top advanced and elite individual competitors will be featured in the National Championships Finals Show at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Friday, July 12.
The nation’s top college twirlers will compete in the National Collegiate Championship at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. Both events are free and open to the public.
“Twirling is an aerobic sport that combines athleticism with artistry,” said USTA President Karen Cammer. “A top twirler must develop many of the same skills as athletes in other sports, such as the speed of a sprinter, the hand-eye coordination of a hockey player, the technique of a ballet dancer and the flexibility and power of a gymnast. The National Championships will feature the nation’s best baton twirlers and I know Fairborn sports fans will enjoy seeing them in action.”
For more information about the sport of baton twirling and the United States Twirling Association, visit www.ustwirling.com.