Utes Utes gymnastics: Freshman Nansy Damianova flying under the radar
SALT LAKE CITY—It's not often someone who hits 21 of their first 21 collegiate gymnastics routines flies under the radar, but this has been the case with Ute freshman Nansy Damianova. Most of the attention has been centered around all-arounder Corrie Lothrop and local standout Mary Beth Lofgren. But Damianova has been as equally impressive as her fellow freshmen in her debut season.
"I'm not really sure why she is not getting as much attention. Her gymnastics is very pretty and she's got a very appealing style," said Utah coach Greg Marsden. "I do think her time is coming."
Damianova has been impressive to date, competing in three events in all seven meets this season. She's hit a career-best score on vault of 9.85 four times, including Friday night as No. 3 Utah defeated No. 8 Michigan. She's also knocked out a 9.825 three times on the bars and set a new career-best of 9.875 on the floor Friday.
"She upped her difficulty on bars and tonight was as good as she's done it," said Marsden. "Vault was also good."
Damianova is adjusting to the collegiate gymnastics setup, and admitted she's still learning how the NCAA works. This is because college was on the back burner after she competed in the 2008 Olympics for Canada.
"I've had a couple of peaks in my career before getting here," said Damianova. "A little bit before my injury and then at the Olympics I peaked.
Then I kind of went down and I didn't want to do gymnastics as much. When I came to Utah for a visit, I just loved the girls and the gym so it made me want to come back. I was also really excited to go to college because I like learning."
"She did go through a very difficult period after the Olympics," said Marsden. "Initially the intention was to stay and not go to college and do the next Olympics, but I think she was burned out and lost her motivation. I think that has been rekindled here because she loves to perform."
The freshman echoed her coach's words saying she loves performing. She also said she loves the new experiences that have come with school and competing at the college level.
"When I'm training, bars is my favorite event; but in competition, it's the floor. I really enjoy it and am comfortable here," said Damianova, who feeds off the energy from the fans clapping to her floor routine music.
"She's a character," said Marsden. "She's quiet until you get to know her, but she has a mind of her own and will tell you what she thinks. She does it in a respectful way, and we laugh about it all of the time because she makes things fun."
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