Cartwheeling to a recordby Kateri Jochum, Minnesota Public Radio
Large crowds often head to the Minnesota State Capitol with a purpose in mind. But today the hundreds of people who marched out across the Capitol lawn had an unusual end in mind, setting a new world record.
St. Paul, Minn. — There they were, people young and old, all getting ready to make a mark on the world. And just how would they do it?
"Hand, hand, feet, feet - your hands go first and your feet go last," says one young participant.
"You start in a lunge," says another. "A lunge is where you have one of your legs in front of you and the other behind."
"It's basically just a little step and you start falling into a cartwheel," says a third. "You try to hold into a handstand, but usually you just fall down and that's basically a cartwheel."
These gymnasts are here to set the record for the largest number of simultaneous cartwheels. There's no number to beat. It's never been done before.
And so, wearing an array of leotards, t-shirts and shorts, the girls from the North Shore Gymnastics team kicked up their heels to demonstrate their cartwheels. Level of difficulty for this trick?
"EASY!" they scream in unison.
Well, easy is as easy does.
Almost a thousand people came to propel themselves into the Guinness Book of World Records. The event was a promotion for the Visa Gymnastic Championships coming up in St. Paul in a few weeks. That is where the national team members are picked.
Sixteen-year-old Micah Elofson from Minneapolis is one of Minnesota's national hopefuls. He explains how to judge the good from the bad when it comes to cartwheels.
"A good cartwheel would be straight arms, straight legs, making it around to your feet and making a good presentation at the end," he says. "A bad cartwheel would be bent arms, bent legs, and then not making it to your feet. Falling down, or something like that."
But it was quantity, not quality that mattered most on the Capitol lawn in St. Paul. And the cartwheelers came from far and wide to participate.
A smiling young woman smiles from behind her glasses as she introduces herself.
"My name is Bradleigh Miller. I'm from Lakeland Florida. Just here to do cartwheels."
She's wearing a T-shirt that says " Will flip for food". She flew in with her Mom and Dad this morning.
"She's very involved in gymnastics," says her Mom. "We spend 5 nights a week at the gym, so this is just something she wanted to do."
When it came time, the kids and adults spread at arms length across the lawn, some in sparkling matching outfits, some just in everyday threads. They waited for the command from former US Olympic Gymnastics Team coach Bela Karolyi who stood on the stage.
"Stand! Ready! Set! Go! Cartwheel!"
For a split second, thousands of feet were in the air and landed, almost silently, on the thick grass. Then it was over.
The air filled with cheers.
Not everyone on the lawn was a die-hard gymnastic fan. Braden Babcock was here with his day-care group.
"We were just doing it, because this was our field trip," he says. "It was fun being here today, because it was great here."
Braden may not be a gymnast yet.... "I didn't do it the first time," he admits. "Now I did it."
But at the tender age of five, he already holds a World Record.
Not bad at all.
- All Things Considered, 08/03/2006, 5:52 p.m.