Monday, December 14, 2009

Chellsie Memmel

At 22, world-renowned American gymnastics star Chellsie Marie Memmel is a legend in her time. Having won the coveted title of World All-Around Champion in 2005, she is only the third American female to reach that zenith.

With an impressive total of seven Olympic and World medals to her credit, Ms. Memmel has tied Shawn Johnson’ for the No.5 spot as most-decorated US female gymnast in history. Gymnast superstar predecessors for this honor include Shannon Miller (16 medals), Nastia Liukin (14 medals), Alicia Sacramone (10 medals), and Dominique Dawes (8 medals).

Special Skills and Techniques

There are two gymnastic skills that bear Chellsie’s name:  a double turn with the leg fully extended in a “Y” on the floor, and a piked Barani on beam.

In addition, Chellsie is only the third woman worldwide to complete a gymnastic maneuver called a Dos Santos. This is an Arabian double front in the piked position, and is named for the Brazilian gymnast Daiane Dos Santos.

Signature Skills

By June 2008, Ms. Memmel had exhibited extraordinary skill on several gymnastics apparatuses.

•    Uneven Bars: Hindorff to Pak transition, Stalder Shaposhnikova, Tkachev, Luo to a double front dismount;

•    Floor Exercise: The previously-mentioned Dos Santos double layout; two and a half twist to front layout; double twist; double pike; and, the Memmel turn. Chellsie has expressed the desire to upgrade the double twist to a tucked double Arabian.

•    Balance Beam: Piked Barani, standing Arabian, Illusion turn, and double pike dismount.

Coaching History

Gymnastics is apparently in Chellsie’s blood. Both her mother and father are former gymnasts and gymnastics coaches. They are joint owners of M & M Gymnastics, a training facility in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Her parents were also her first gymnastics teachers, although she was ultimately coached by Jim Chudy of the prestigious Salto Gymnastics. True to the adage that “blood is thicker than water,” Chellsie asked her Dad to resume his former role as her coach. He agreed, and he and Laurie Glazer now jointly coach Chellsie at M&M Gymnastics.

Early Career

Chellsie started her gymnastics career as a toddler as soon as she began to walk. As gymnastics coaches, both her parents encouraged her childhood play in the gym. They taught her fundamental gymnastics early on. Her special talent was recognized when she was only 8 years of age. Accordingly, Mr. and Mrs. Memmel decided to transfer her tutelage to Jim Chudy, and she started elite competition in 2000.


In the 2003 season, Chellsie started gymnastics competition as a Senior International Elite gymnast. That year, she won third-place at the American Classic and National Podium Meet. This accomplishment led to an invitation to the Pacific Challenge—a trinational event with Australia and Canada. She won the All-Around at that event.

When the 2003 US Nationals occurred, Chellsie was recovering from a hamstring injury that had severely reduced her pre-event training time. Consequently, she committed some errors in her floor routine and obtained only the No. 10 all-around spot.

Several weeks later, she was chosen for the Pan-American Games team, but passed over for the World championships. Undaunted, Chellsie went on to win the all-around and uneven bars at the Pan American Games—claiming a total of five medals.   Several World Championship team members were suffering from various illnesses and injuries during the World Championships. As the No.3 alternate, Chellsie flew from the Pan American event directly to the World Championships.

She went on to lead the American team, and finished second-place worldwide on her individual merit. Memmel also qualified for first-place among all the Americans in the all-around competition. The US team made history at this event by winning its first-ever World Championships gold medal. This is especially remarkable, considering that their team was short one member; having been comprised of only five gymnasts (rather than the customary six).


Chellsie won third place at the American Cup in 2004. In April of that year, she sustained a broken metatarsal during a training session. Although her injury prevented her from doing her best at the Olympics Selection Camp, she was nominated as an alternate to the US Olympic team. Chellsie subsequently won the uneven bars World Cup Final competition.


In 2005, Chellsie commenced the season at the American Cup. Although no All-Around competition was held, she won the uneven bars event. Chellsie also claimed third place on beam, and fourth place in the US Classic All-Around. In the US Championships, she won a silver medal in the All-Around. Once again, she was nominated for the Pan American Games, and went on to earn the All-Around title, and gold medals on the beam and uneven bars.

Later that year, Memmel competed in the World Championships, ultimately winning the All-Around in that arena. She also picked up silver medals for the uneven bars and balance beam. These victories cinched her decision to turn professional.


Chellsie began the 2006 season with a bang, tying with Nastia Liukim for the All-Around title at the Pacific Alliance Championships. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury precluded her competition in the 2006 US Classic. Nevertheless, she placed fourth in the US Championships All-Around, and was nominated for the 2006 World Championships team.


In August 2007, while still recovering from her shoulder injury, Memmel competed on the opening day of the US Championships.  She went on to win the gold medal in the Toyota Cup for floor exercise, and the silver medal on balance beam.

Shortly after, Chellsie publicly declared her partial gymnastic comeback, by attesting that she had competed at “about 80%” in the routines that she did, and “at 90[%]” in the gym.


In May of 2008, Memmel participated in an international competition for gymnasts who desired to demonstrate sufficient competence for the Olympics. The next month, she placed third in the US National Championships All-Around. Two weeks later, she received a standing ovation for a floor exercise routine in the US Olympic Trials. She was subsequently chosen for the 2008 Olympic team

In August, USA gymnastics officials revealed that Chellsie had sustained an ankle injury while training in Beijing. It was later discovered that she had a broken bone. Nonetheless, the determined young woman went on to compete in the uneven bars event, but fell while performing.

Private Life

In 2008, Memmel purchased her first home. It is a comfortable three-bedroom ranch-style dwelling located in West Allis, Wisconsin. She has appeared in a Johnson & Johnson product endorsement.  Chellsie was also featured in a Vogue Magazine pictorial, alongside fellow gymnasts Annie Leibovitz, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and Alicia Sacramone.

Undoubtedly, Chellsie Marie Memmel is “one to watch” for gymnastics fans worldwide.