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Wishing for health, happiness and perfect bars routines
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gymnasts are taught that no matter what happens, even if you fall on your head off the beam or miss a release move off the bars, resulting in a spectacular face plant, always get up and smile at the judge as if the routine you competed was your best ever.

But at least one gymnast isn't faking her excitement in competitions this year: Utah sophomore Rachel Tidd.

Even if her release moves are a bit off-center or her landings have a small hop, Tidd can deal with those miscues with an honest smile. She just doesn't want to sit out of the lineup.

Tidd has had her share of setbacks too, starting with a series of injuries that forced her to give up her goal of making the 2004 Olympic team.

Last year, she had a great rookie season. She won eight events, including the region vault title. She would have been a favorite in several events at nationals, but she was diagnosed with mononucleosis and couldn't participate.

"I felt it before regionals, my legs just felt like they were going to collapse," Tidd said. "I finally had to tell [Utah coach] Greg [Marsden] that I couldn't do it, I couldn't even get through the routines. It was frustrating, I just wanted to compete and help the team."

This year, her training was exceptional, to the point where Marsden was wondering how many events she would win on a nightly basis. But just before Christmas, Tidd's back started having spasms, once again sidelining her for practices.

"It happened for no apparent reason, that is what made it really frustrating," Marsden said.

Tidd recovered enough to perform on the vault and uneven bars in the first meet, scoring 9.95s on both, but the back spasms flared up again, and she sat out the Utah State meet.

"It has been one injury after another for her," teammate Gritt Hofmann said. "She has done an amazing job and not let herself get down, but we all feel bad for her."

More rest and four steroid shots later, Tidd hopes she is finally on the road to recuperation.

Tidd competed at Oregon State, earning a 9.825 on the vault and a 9.95 on the bars, and is expected to compete on the same events Friday when the Utes take on No. 3 Michigan.

"I just want to compete," Tidd said. "Coming out of nationals, where I wasn't able to compete, and then starting this year not being able to has been frustrating. I just want to contribute to the team, especially at the end of the year."

Luckily for Tidd and the Utes, their depth is such that Tidd is under no pressure to start competing on the floor and balance beam, allowing her the time she needs to recover.

"It's really up to her body how fast she comes back," Marsden said. "But it's much more important for us to have her at the last half of the season than now."

As good as Utah's lineups are now, Tidd will make them even stronger. She showed her gymnastics skills early, earning scoldings from her mother for doing handstands in the house on a ledge that was narrower than a balance beam.

Soon she was translating those skills into competitions, and placed eighth on the balance beam at the 2001 World Championships and fourth in the all-around at the 2001 USA Championships.

"We'd like to have her in the lineups. She is an elite gymnast," Marsden said. "Right now our lineups are deep, especially on beam. When Rachel does get back, it's going to be hard to decide who competes, but that is a good problem to have."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Rachel Tidd File

* Ranked No. 1 nationally on the uneven bars

* Placed eighth on beam at 2001 World Championships

* One of 10 children scoring 9.95s on both, but the back spasms flared up again, and she sat out the Utah State meet.

"It has been one injury after another for her," teammate Gritt Hofmann said. "She has done an amazing job and not let herself get down, but we all feel bad for her."

More rest and four steroid shots later, Tidd hopes she is finally on the road to recuperation.

Tidd competed at Oregon State, earning a 9.825 on the vault and a 9.95 on the bars, and is expected to compete on the same events Friday when the Utes take on No. 3 Michigan.

"I just want to compete," Tidd said. "Coming out of nationals, where I wasn't able to compete, and then starting this year not being able to has been frustrating. I just want to contribute to the team, especially at the end of the year."

Luckily for Tidd and the Utes, their depth is such that Tidd is under no pressure to start competing on the floor and balance beam, allowing her the time she needs to recover.

"It's really up to her body how fast she comes back," Marsden said. "But it's much more important for us to have her at the last half of the season than now."

As good as Utah's lineups are now, Tidd will make them even stronger. She showed her gymnastics skills early, earning scoldings from her mother for doing handstands in the house on a ledge that was narrower than a balance beam.

Soon she was translating those skills into competitions, and placed eighth on the balance beam at the 2001 World Championships and fourth in the all-around at the 2001 USA Championships.

"We'd like to have her in the lineups. She is an elite gymnast," Marsden said. "Right now our lineups are deep, especially on beam. When Rachel does get back, it's going to be hard to decide who competes, but that is a good problem to have."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Rachel Tidd File

* Ranked No. 1 nationally on the uneven bars

* Placed eighth on beam at 2001 World Championships

* One of 10 children

Rachel Tidd just wants to put injuries, illnesses behind her
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