The 51 members of the USA/USSR Gymnastic Friendship tour were greeted by more than 1,500 townspeople Tuesday evening on their arrival at Cedar City's Holiday Inn.
The American and Soviet gymnasts will participate in an Olympic-style exhibition on Friday evening at the SUSC Centrum, the second time the teams from the two countries have visited Cedar City. Three of the l9 gymnasts performed here in l987 as part of the previous friendship tour.The delegation had departed from Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday at 3 a.m. MST, and traveled from Las Vegas to Cedar City by bus, enjoying a lunch stop at Zion National Park en route.
"The Russians especially asked to visit the park again because they found it so magnificent," said Rich Wilson, director of the Utah Summer Games.
Dimitri Vorobiev, a 5-foot-7, 139-pound Russian gymnast making his second trip to the United States, said the welcome by the people of the area was very exciting. "We are happy to visit the West and take part in the activities planned here," he said. "Zion National Park was exceptionally beautiful and none of us wanted to leave, but the welcome here was great," he added.
Friday's exhibition will feature the gymnasts performing the events they know best. Olympic all-around champion Vladimir Artemov is one of the gymnasts who will be performing at the exhibition.
The welcome to Cedar City included roping by Monte Montana, as well as Western music and the presentation of gifts to the Russian visitors against a background highlighted by the American and Russian flags flying behind the outdoor stage.
The visitors will be treated to a Western Royale featuring exhibits of all kinds portraying life in the "old West" the way it was and sometimes still is. A rodeo will be presented Thursday afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium following a Western parade that includes the U.S. Marshals Posse, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this week.
Wednesday afternoon the gymnasts performed for young people from throughout southwestern Utah in a program titled "The USA/USSR Drug Free World Through Excellence in Gymnastics."
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce the youth of the area to young American and Soviet role models who will demonstrate what can be achieved by commitment and dedication," said Wilson.
The public was invited to an open pit barbecue Wednesday night. Country singer Lee Greenwood will entertain the group on Thursday evening.