Georgia Dabritz’s father refers to his daughter’s hands as “gorilla hands,” because they have so many callouses on them.
Perhaps more gymnasts should have such marks of honor, for almost no one has been able to match Dabritz’s superiority on the uneven bars this year.
Dabritz will be going for her fifth uneven bars title in a row when the Utes host No. 13 Arizona on Friday.
The junior, who is ranked second nationally on the event with a 9.931 average, could match the feat teammate Tory Wilson accomplished last year when she became the first Utah gymnast to go undefeated on an event.
Wilson won all 10 regular-season vault titles, then won the regional championship and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships.
Dabritz, who was second on the bars at the 2013 NCAAs, said she doesn’t dwell on the streak. If anything, she is trying to do the opposite.
“I am using the same approach Tory did last year on vault and just forget my last performances,” she said. “I just want to focus on the routine I’m about to do.”
What makes Dabritz’s run interesting is she not only is dominating the event, but is doing so without using grips.
Gymnasts typically use grips on the bars to protect their hands and improve their hold. But Dabritz, who is just 5-foot-1, couldn’t fit her hands into the grips when she was first learning her gymnastics skills.
She tried them again a few years ago and it was a disaster.
“I peeled right off the bar,” she said. “After that, I wasn’t dying to try and use them again. I didn’t want to have to relearn all my skills.”
Instead, she took the unconventional route and built up callouses on her hands through hours of practicing. There have been plenty of rips and tears through skin, but neither she nor her coaches would have it any other way.
“I don’t know of anyone else who does it,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said. “It works for her, so we aren’t going to mess with a good thing.”
He doesn’t want to mess with Dabritz’s current win streak either, which is why the Utes aren’t creating much fanfare about her uneven bars performances.
“Last year with Tory, we learned the longer it goes on, the harder it is to focus,” he said. “We just want them to think about what is working for them, not get wrapped up in the streak.”
Dabritz hasn’t changed anything in her uneven bars routine from a year ago, so the familiarity with the routine works to her benefit.
The trickiest part of the routine is when she performs the “Comaneci,” a move named after Olympian Nadia Comaneci, who was the first to perform it.
Dabritz performs a cast to straddle front flip, which in layman’s terms is basically a partial handstand that leads into the flip.
The move is difficult because Dabritz doesn’t have much time to make any necessary adjustments.
“You don’t have much time to see the bar,” she said. “It’s just right there.”
Luckily, Dabritz has been right there too, catching the bar perfectly every time. Credit those “gorilla hands” of hers.
No. 13 Arizona at No. 4 Utah
O At the Huntsman Center
Start • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network. Live scores • www.utahutes.com
Records • Utah 6-0 (3-0); Arizona 3-2 (1-1)
Series • Utah leads 53-0
Last meeting • Utah, 197.075-195.525 (March 23, 2013)
About the Utes • Utah is off to its best start since 2008, when it started the season 10-0. … Tory Wilson is the only gymnast competing in the all-around this year. She has won three of her four competitions.
About the Wildcats • Season-high was a 196.925 in a home loss to then-No. 1 Oklahoma (197.575) on Jan. 25.
Uneven bars • National individual rankings
Athlete School Avg
1. Lindsey Cheek Georgia 9.933
2. Georgia Dabritz Utah 9.931
3. Chelsea Davis Georgia 9.908
4. Sarie Morrison LUS 9.9
4. Jennifer Lauer Nebraska 9.9