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Ashley Kupets in La Reve

After putting in years and years of gymnastics training, many gymnasts wonder what they will do with their lives. Former UGA gymnast and USA National Team Member, Ashley Kupets is done with her competitive gymnastics career, but has found a way to take all her training and skills to a new level as a member of the cast of La Reve at the Wynn Theater in Las Vegas.

Ashley, the older sister of the newly crowned 2009 NCAA All Around Gymnastics champion Courtney Kupets, wasn’t sure what to do job-wise when she graduated from UGA. Even with a degree in graphic design, she just felt the need to act or perform – something she had been doing since she was a little girl in the gymnastics arena.

According to the Online Athens story,

When Kupets told Suzanne Yoculan her aspirations, the Georgia gymnastics coach put her former athlete in contact with a casting director, who had e-mailed her the day before.

Two weeks later, Kupets was on a plane to Las Vegas for her first audition.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said.

Kupets was put through a series of tests – strength, choreography, improvisational dance, tumbling and trapeze work. But the most grueling part was the swimming portion.

She had to swim 250 meters without stopping, swim 65 feet underwater without coming up for air, drop 30 feet from a trapeze into the water and tread water for 10 minutes.

“It was just crazy stuff that I’ve never done before,” Kupets said. “It was exhausting, but it was so much fun.”

A week later, the 24-year-old was told she had the job. She picked up and moved to Las Vegas in November to begin training for the show.

“It’s not a place where I would have thought I would ever move,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t know where I was going to live. It was really scary. But I felt like it would be a really good time for me to grow and become the person who I’m going to be for the rest of my life. It’s an incredible experience to be on your own so far away from home and not know anyone.”

Kupets’ sudden move surprised her former coach.

“I’m very proud of her because she’s very introverted. She’s very shy,” Yoculan said. “For her to just break out and go out there, it’s not something that you would have expected Ashley Kupets to do.”

After two months of training, including scuba diving certification, Kupets performed in her first show in late January. She dances, does aerial acrobatics, tumbles and swims in at least two major acts in back-to-back shows five nights a week.

Its neat to see the different career paths collegiate athletes take, and this one seems to be such a natural fit for Ashley while still challenging her in many ways. I can only wonder if little sister Courtney will follow again in her footsteps, return to Elite competition or forge a completely different path all together.

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Oh to have been in Nebraska last night! The energy in the arena for the NCAA Gymnastics team final – aka the Super Six – must have been amazing. Reigning champs, University of Georgia, were going for their 5th consecutive title, and 10th title overall. While the performances from their competitors were fantastic, it just wasn’t enough to overtake the Gymdogs.

Super Six (team) finals results
1.  University of Georgia, 197.825
2.  University of Alabama, 197.575
3.  University of Utah, 197.425
4.  University of Florida, 196.725
5.  University of Arkansas, 196.475
6.  Louisiana State University, 196.375

Event finals start tonight at 6 CST and will feature some of the best gymnastics ever. These girls are good! Complete list of event finalists and competition order.

For more coverage and photos of the event, check out UGA Gymdogs, NCAA Championships page, and Gymnastike (great interviews, video and more).

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Courtney Kupets (Georgia) NCAA Women's AA Champion Former Olympian and now 3 time NCAA All Around Champion Courtney Kupets from University of Georgia is just amazing. Thursday Kupets scored her 5th perfect 10 of the season (on beam) to secure her third NCAA All Around title. Kupets’ All Around score of 39.80 ties the NCAA record set in 1995 by Jenny Hansen of Kentucky who also won 3 NCAA All Around titles. She also qualified for event finals in all 4 events. WOW.

As Courtney Kupets comes to the end of her NCAA career one only wonders if she is done with gymnastics or will she return to her former club Hills and decide to go Elite again. If anyone can do it, it is Courtney. I have had the pleasure of following the careers of both Courtney and her older sister Ashley (also a very successful UGA gymnast) since they were little kids. I distinctly remember them at early meets (when they were 7 & 8 ish) – there was something about them that left an impression on me then. Courtney has gone on to fight back from multiple injuries both as an Elite gymnast and as a collegiate gymnast (an Achilles injury kept her from last year’s NCAA) and every time she comes back she just looks stronger than before.

Individual results from the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships:

All-around finals (top 10 only)
1.  Courtney Kupets, University of Georgia, 39.800
2.  Kristina Baskett, University of Utah, 39.600
3.  Vanessa Zamarripa, University of California – Los Angeles, 39.575
4.  Michelle Stout, University of Arkansas, 39.525
4.  Ariana Berlin, University of California – Los Angeles, 39.525
6.  Tiffany Tolnay, University of Georgia, 39.500
7.  Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, University of California – Los Angeles, 39.475
8.  Ricki Lebegern, University of Alabama, 39.450
8.  Ashley Priess, University of Alabama, 39.450
8.  Maranda Smith, University of Florida, 39.450

The top four individuals, plus ties, on each event in each prelim session qualified for the individual event finals which will be held on Sunday. (Complete results from preliminaries)

In the team competition, five of the six teams advancing to Saturday’s Super 6 are from the strong SEC conference. The teams include:

Alabama
Arkansas
Florida
Georgia
LSU
Utah

While Utah barely squeaked in winning a tie-breaker with UCLA, Utah is considered to be the only team with a chance at dethroning the mighty UGA team. Georgia is banking on winning their 5th straight NCAA team title in their coach, Suzanne Yoculan’s final season. Yoculan is retiring at the end of this season.

Thursday’s competition is just the beginning of an exciting weekend of college gymnastics (both the mens and the womens titles are on the line this weekend.) You can actually watch coverage of the meet online – here is the viewing schedule. Or watch the Women’s NCAA National Gymnastics Championships May 9 on CBS at 12 PM ET.

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