Ute junior Nina Kim wanted to major in art, but everyone told her not to because she couldn't make a living at it. She decided to do it anyway, and she's been happier ever since.
"She loves it," said University of Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden. "That's her other passion. I think that's helped. She just kind of lost focus last year, and I think lost her love for the sport for a while, and I think she's recaptured that."
He told Kim that many artists take jobs in other fields and do their artwork on the side.
Tonight at 7 at the Huntsman Center, the coach of the opposing team, Minnesota's Jim Stephenson, is a perfect example.
The former Ute assistant "coaches gymnastics, yet his passion is art, and he continues to do that and make some money on the side doing sculpture," said Marsden.
The Kim rejuvenation could well see her going all-around tonight for the first time since she was a freshman.
Marsden will leave that up to her, so the actual go-ahead might wait until floor warmups tonight. But on Thursday, Kim said she feels ready, and Marsden had penciled her in for all four events tonight.
"I think I've shown I'm ready," she said. "I had to build my confidence, and I think I have that now. Just to perform it, I think that would give me even more confidence."
She can't recall the last time she did all-around her career-best is 39.50 against BYU in March 2006, when she also scored a career-high 9.925 on floor but she's in the best place ever. "I've prepared better than I ever have in my whole career," she said.
The second-ranked Utes may make a number of other moves tonight as Marsden tries to juggle and hone a deep team.
He could start off the bars lineup with 4-foot-11 1/2 Katie Kivisto poster child for tonight's "Short People Appreciation Night," for which anyone shorter than the Kivisto cardboard poster at entrances gets in free but he was planning to use freshman Kyndal Robarts instead.
Beth Rizzo did well in a floor exhibition last week, so Marsden planned to return her to that lineup, while Robarts and Daria Bijak will do floor exhibitions.
Senior Ashley Postell and sophomore Annie DiLuzio completed their double Arabians well in practices this week, and those could be done on floor tonight.
"Maybe," said Postell. "I'm going to warm up my double Arabian and see how it goes. I'm not sure yet."
Marsden said the upgrades will depend upon warmups and even how well the first upgrade is done. Utah won't do all available upgrades in one night.
Ute junior Kristina Baskett said her sore ribs that made her take it easy recently are much better. She realized it was probably her full-twisting Shushanova that injured them because she landed on her stomach, sometimes hit crookedly. She'd done it several times in practice the day before the ribs hurt her enough that she couldn't practice and had to miss two events two weeks ago.
"It did give me bonus, and it looks really cool," she said, but now she'll do an untwisted Shushanova. "I just added it for some 'flava.' I'm sad because I really like the skill, but I'm not going to take the risk."
Utah is 3-0. Minnesota, ranked No. 32, is 3-2, with a high score of 193.775. Utah's high was last week at ASU, 196.70. The Utes are at BYU next Friday.