Photos by Grace Chiu

Kara’s beam really flows and it’s different than anything else out there. Talk about how that all comes together.

First of all, we’re so excited. She did an awesome job. I don’t agree with the score but we’ll make it better. (Note: An inquiry was submitted for Kara Eaker’s beam and the WTC lowered it by 0.4 to take her out of beam finals. Her original score of 13.866 (5.8, 8.066) had qualified her.) She has great qualities, natural abilities. So, I try to use that to show off a difference between her and everybody else—something new, refreshing, and different. Utilizing what artistic gymnastics should be alongside the creative connections and combinations. We’re really proud of how she did it today. There’s just a lot of work between the both of us, countless hours at home preparing for this.

Not just with Kara but with all your gymnasts, year after year, how do you get that style and presentation?

A lot of what I do…the first thing is my passion. I love to do good gymnastics to represent the USA. That’s the reason we become elite. That’s the first drive to get on this stage and once you get on this stage what sets you apart is you have to be unique and different in your own way because you’re going against 145 different countries. It starts from that big dream and then you go down to the little steps from the beginning—paying attention to every detail month after month from a young age and finding out the things each athlete is great at and really putting that time and effort on details and choreography. Just something that catches your eye.

There are so many scores bunched in together with no differentiation between E-scores…

Sometimes it’s hard to see. Like you say, you want creativity, you want artistry, you want continuation…And then when you’re doing stock routines and everything has a stop, and when you don’t continue they say there was an arm circle here or there. So it doesn’t work. A year ago it was a stop, now it’s an arm circle. It gets very challenging. I think it would probably be okay if it was even keel for everybody, but we’re just going to do our job and do the best we can do.

You always have great music that tells a story. How do you select the music?

I pick for specific gymnasts. I create my own music. I cut it myself and then at the end, I take it to a professional because that’s not my job. I do it all from scratch and kind of design in my brain where the tumbling is going to go and where the dance is going to be. And with the material I’m working with, the athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, then I just to let the routine grow with the athlete. I’m not very fond of changing routines every year. It’s not about that. I think it’s about growing and being comfortable with it so your movements become natural. You movements are an extension of you.

A lot of gyms push skills over progression. You have always been about mastering the basics. Talk about that.

Basics, I think, are important in anything, whatever you want to be great at. It could be sport, it could be a singer or dancer. Whatever it is, the basics are everything. To have that basic foundation to build something for whatever you want to do and how high you want to reach. I think what we do in our gym is create a fun atmosphere. The first thing we try to teach them is to love the sport because if you love the sport then you’re not getting bored doing the same thing over and over. You kind of become creative as a coach how you do those basics, but in a fun environment that they don’t even know they’re doing it, but you are doing it. I think we try to teach them, ‘Don’t hurry up and try to be the champion right now. It’s important what you do in four years.’ We try to work in four-year increments and where we want to be at the end of the cycle.