Sophomore Luke Stannard
Feb. 27, 2008
Throughout the 2008 season, Illinois gymnasts will walk Illini fans through the entire season, giving in depth looks into the team and the season, while also giving gymnastics enthusiasts a closer look into the six different events that make up a gymnastics meet. Overall, the Illini, who have finished in the top five at NCAA Championships the last five straight years, hope to give Orange and Blue fans an exciting ride through the 2008 season as they vie for the programs 10th national title in 2008.
In the sixth edition of the Illini Weekly Q & A, we talk with sophomore Luke Stannard, who talks his favorite events and why gymnastics is not only a great sport to watch, but is fun to compete in.
What is your favorite event?
"I like floor a lot. When I was younger, I didn't like floor as much because I wasn't as good at it. However, now, I like floor a lot because you feel really powerful and limitless flying through the air during the skills. It would be nicer if the floor were bigger because I'm so tall, but it is so much more challenging for me and limitless and exciting than pommel horse, even though horse is my best event. I don't dislike horse, but I would have to say floor is my favorite event."
Speaking of body types for the different events, you have the long body for horse. Why choose floor as your favorite?
"That's true. It is more of a challenge for me to be good at floor, but I just think floor is more fun. It is a little more dangerous and I guess maybe that makes it more fun for me. I like doing skills that have a little more of a fear factor in them, which is what's fun about floor for me. For horse, I definitely have a better body type because I am long and skinnier. Horse is fun, too, but I'd say being higher up in the air, being more dangerous feeling and more powerful is more what draws me to floor."
Talking about horse, it has to be one of the events that require the most concentration. What do you think about during a pommel horse routine?
"I just get in a zone kind and don't tend to hear very much of what people are saying. I can hear my team cheering for me but I usually don't hear too many specific words. I can just hear the noise of it. I mean, once you do a routine hundreds of times and you get in a zone, it is kind of like your body is on automatic pilot and your muscle memory kicks in and you don't think as much during competition."
You also compete on high bar. I know as an outsider, high bar is probably the scariest event to think about learning or doing. As a gymnast, is that what makes it fun for you to do?
"I definitely like the high bar a lot, too. It's one of my favorites. When I was really little, I actually scratched the event because I was scared of it. I was very tentative when I was young on high bar because it is very scary and you are really high above the ground. I'd say that is what makes it more challenging, as you get older, because it is scarier and you can do big release moves. I actually would like to learn a bigger release move than the one I do because I don't really do anything that crazy. It is definitely a more dangerous event compared to the rest. The best part for me definitely has to be the dismount."
You talked about learning a new release move on high bar. When you learn a new skill, how do you go about that from beginning to end?
"What I've learned from being at U of I is the value of basics when learning new skills. I used to try to learn a new trick and usually failed. If I did manage to learn it, I would learn it kind of sloppily. So definitely basics are what I think about when learning a new skill and progressing from there. Perfecting the basics and then adding one thing at a time and taking it one step at a time is the way to go. I know every trick is different, but that would be probably be the basis of most tricks you would learn. There is always the fear factor you have to get over, but after that, it's all about the basics."