The Russians liked Cedar City.
So did the Americans.Because of the success and good will of the gymnastics exhibition between the two countries in Cedar City in 1987, the southern Utah city has been selected as the national media site for the 1989 USA/U.S.S.R. Friendship Tour, said Rich Wilson, executive director for the Utah Summer Games - the organization involved in the negotiations.
"It's tremendous for Utah. It's tremendous for Cedar City," Wilson said Friday night.
The gymnasts will be in Cedar City from May 1 to May 4, with the competition - expected to be televised by ESPN - taking place May 3 at The Centrum on the Southern Utah State College campus.
Two other U.S. cities will be selected as part of the tour but they will host the athletes just for the day of the exhibitions, Wilson said.
The Russians, of course, dominated the gymnastics competition in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. How many of their medal winners will be in Cedar City?
"They have committed to us that most if not all of their Olympic medal winners (still active) will be there," Wilson said.
The U.S. team will be led by bronze medalist Phoebe Mills. There will be a significant change from the exhibition team that was in Cedar City in 1987 since many of the 1988 Olympians for men and women retired after the Games.
Friday's announcement ended five months of negotiations, Wilson said. The hospitality shown the gymnasts in 1987 "was the key to the whole thing."
An official for the United States Gymnastics Federation agreed:
"We're looking forward to a return engagement in Cedar City as a part of the 1989 USA/U.S.S.R. friendship tour," said Allison Melangton, director of special events for the USGF.
"Cedar City represents the heart of American culture and bringing some of the best U.S. and U.S.S.R. athletes together in this setting is a unique opportunity for both nations."
Tickets will go on sale about March 1 for all events - like the Western Royale - associated with the exhibition, Wilson said.