A group of young gymnasts has been doing a lot of jumping and dancing around. This time it’s not for one of their performances, but rather because they won a visit from Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles.
Members of the Arlington Gymnastics program were granted the visit today at Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center as a reward for their efforts in selling tickets to the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions, which takes place at the Verizon Center on Thursday.
The Arlington Gymnastics program consists of about 200 girls on the Arlington Aerials team, about 40 boys on the Arlington Tigers team and more than 1,000 weekly gymnastics class participants of all ages. They are all welcome to attend the special meet-and-greet with Biles.
Twenty-five of the young gymnasts also will be a part of the show at the Verizon Center tomorrow, according to Arlington Gymnastics employee and coach Sonja Hird Clark. The children will be a part of the opening act and for a time will share the stage with Olympians, who will be performing on various pieces of equipment.
“The kids work so hard at this sport and it’s so exciting for them to have the chance to see an Olympian,” she says. “They overcome mental blocks and fears when they see a gold medalist walking through that door.”
The Arlington Gymnastics program is subsidized by Arlington County through the parks and recreation department. Hird Clark says it gives members of all socioeconomic statuses a chance to get involved in gymnastics.
“One of the things that excites me about our gym club is it’s all walks of life,” she says. “We have every type of child in our community… and that’s inspiring to me.”
Photo (top) courtesy Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Food Star Not Responding to Pleas to Stay — The Food Star grocery store apparently doesn’t have much interest in staying in Arlington after the store, at the corner of Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive, closes to make way for a redevelopment. Despite resident interest in keeping the Food Star, county officials say their efforts to reach out to the company and help them relocate to another location in Arlington have not yet yielded a “substantive” response. [InsideNova]
LEGO Store Grand Opening — The new LEGO Store in the Pentagon City mall is holding its grand opening celebration starting today. The store will be hosting a LEGO Master Builder who will construct a huge LEGO model for display. The first 400 customers Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive free gifts with qualifying purchases. [LEGO]
Olympic Athletes at Elementary School — A group of Olympic athletes will talk with students at Carlin Springs Elementary this morning. Among the group are shot put gold medalist Michelle Carter, gold medal-winning sprinter Natasha Hastings and long jump gold medalist Jeff Henderson. The athletes will be at the school as part of the Let’s Move! Healthy Schools campaign.
Notable Tree Nominations — It’s that time of the year — if you think you have a truly exceptional tree in your yard that deserves recognition, you can now nominate it for Arlington County’s annual Notable Tree awards. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 15. [Arlington County]
October Is Affordable Housing Month — Tomorrow is Oct. 1 and October is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington, “a month-long celebration of the County’s long-term commitment to preserving and creating housing opportunities that benefit the whole community.” [Arlington County]
On the list of Team USA athletes heading to Rio for this summer’s Olympic Games, there’s only one whose hometown is listed as Arlington, Va.
Denis Kudla, Arlington’s own rising tennis star, will be competing in his first Olympics this year, alongside other major American tennis figures like Madison Keys, the Williams sisters and the Bryan brothers.
Kudla was born in Kiev, Ukraine, moved to the United States with his family on his first birthday, and began playing tennis at the age of 7. The highlight of his career thus far has been reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last summer, the last American man standing at the Grand Slam tournament.
Kudla has ranked as high as 53 on the ATP world men’s tennis rankings.
The opening ceremonies for the Rio games is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 5.
This summer, Arlington resident and former U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Briana Scurry will be going to the 2016 Olympics in Rio — this time, as a commentator.
Scurry played in the 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic games and received two gold medals and one silver medal. She was also a key member of the 1999 World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team.
With her playing career behind her, Scurry has been living in Ballston for the past two years, when she’s not traveling to speaking engagements across the country.
“I love the hustle and bustle of Arlington,” she said.
Scurry, who served as an analyst for ESPN during the 2011 Women’s World Cup, will be traveling to Rio in August to lend her expert commentary to Olympics coverage, including offering pre-game and post-game analysis.
“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an Olympian and I was very lucky to play in three,” she said.
The Olympics is always an exciting time for Scurry, even when she is not playing in it. The U.S. women’s soccer team have the opportunity to win their fourth gold medal in a row this summer, and Scurry thinks the team has a great shot in doing exactly that, despite some pivotal players currently being injured.
“Complete and total dominance would be wonderful,” said Scurry.
Scurry has had such an impact on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s program that early last year, she was selected to be a permanent part of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Title IX exhibit, which will be opening on September 24.
“When they called and asked if I would be willing to be in the museum, I couldn’t even begin to describe my humility. I couldn’t believe it because that meant my passion and body of work as a soccer player was good enough to be considered as something that was helping my race. It is really humbling to know that,” said Scurry.
Before moving to Ballston, Scurry lived in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, where she was starting her concussion recovery. In 2010, Scurry retired from her professional soccer career due to a season-ending concussion. (She currently serves as honorary captain of the Washington Spirit soccer team.)
Now an advocate for concussion awareness, Scurry will be testifying before Congress about traumatic brain injuries next week.
“It took me three years to finally find the right doctor,” said Scurry. “Now I’m an advocate because if I can go through this much trouble, as an Olympic gold medalist and athlete and I was misdiagnosed and shuffled around, I can only imagine” what others are going through.
Cherry Trees Planted at Library — As part of its Neighborhood Tree Planting Program, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japan-America Society of Washington planted three cherry trees in front of Arlington Central Library yesterday. The program “is an effort to celebrate and share the gift of cherry blossom trees throughout the DC-metro region… and helps create new National Cherry Blossom Festival traditions beyond the Tidal Basin,” festival organizers said in a statement. [Facebook]
Whole Foods Deli, Chicken Counter Stay Closed — The main grocery store and much of the prepared foods sections at the Clarendon Whole Foods (2700 Wilson Blvd) are open following Tuesday’s fire, but county officials say the market deli and chicken counter will stay closed until the health inspector approves its reopening.
County to Consider Privatizing Volunteer Agency — Changes may be coming to Volunteer Arlington, the county’s volunteer agency. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is establishing a new advisory task force “to look into whether Arlington’s volunteer office is the right business model to meet community needs.” The task force will consider whether outsourcing Volunteer Arlington “would enhance volunteer activity in the community.” [Arlington County]
Restaurant Exceeds Kickstarter Goal — SER, the winner of Ballston’s Restaurant Challenge, has exceeded its $15,000 Kickstarter goal. The Spanish comfort food restaurant, coming to 1110 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, has so far raised $17,145. It also received a $245,000 interest-free loan as the prize for winning the Restaurant Challenge. [Kickstarter]
Arlington GOP Blasts Olympic Bid — Arlington Republicans do not share Democratic officials’ enthusiasm for the regional bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. “It’s not a great idea,” said local GOP chairman Matt Wavro, citing costs and security concerns. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Arlington’s support of the bid appears based largely around its currently-stalled plans to build an Olympic-quality aquatics facility at Long Bridge Park, which Arlington expects to be a candidate for the location of the swimming and diving events if D.C. is chosen as the host city.
“Back in June, when we suspended construction plans for Phase 2 of Long Bridge Park, which will include the Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, we noted that we expected the park to be part of the plan for bringing the Olympics to the Washington Region,” Fisette said in a press release. “That is still our hope. We believe that Long Bridge could be a great venue for Olympic swimming events.”
The group that will be leading D.C.’s bid to host the Olympics was also announced this morning. The group, called Washington 2024 will be led by Chairman and CEO Russ Ramsey, an investment banker and former board chairman of George Washington. The board includes Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who will serve as vice chairman, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, chef José Andrés, former National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.
“This is about bringing the world to Washington and bringing Washington to the world,” Leonsis said in a press release. “The idea of fostering unity could leave, for the whole of mankind, the greatest Olympics legacy ever. Only Washington could do this.”
D.C. is under consideration by the United States Olympic Committee to be its chosen city for the International Olympics Committee. D.C. is one of four American finalist cities, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. The United States has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 games in Atlanta. The 2016 games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2020 games will be held in Tokyo.
“I speak for the County Board when I say that the Olympics could be a great thing for this region and for Arlington,” Fisette said. “We agree with Washington 2024 that this is an historic opportunity for our region to be part of the Olympic Movement.”
U.S. Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner paid a visit to the children and faculty of Arlington Science Focus Elementary School this afternoon to campaign against underage drinking.
Wagner, sporting the bronze medal she won this year as part of the U.S. figure skating team, told the hundreds who gathered in the school’s gymnasium that after she started training to become a figure skater when she was 5 years old, she vowed to do whatever it took to get to the Olympics.
“When you’re an athlete, your body is a machine,” she said. “You want the ultimate machine, so you want to take care of it. So I made a lot of important decisions. I ate my fruits and veggies, I drank a lot of water and, when the time came, I said no to underage drinking.”
After the crowd of kids answered questions on the basic facts of underage drinking, they got a chance to ask questions of their own. One student asked how old the 22-year-old is –“someone should teach you not to ask a lady that,” she gamely replied before answering question — and another asked how much her medal weighed, which led to Wagner giving the little boy her medal to hold.
“This medal stays in a sock,” she said when asked where she keeps her hardware from Sochi, Russia. “I should probably find a better place for it.”
In addition to students and faculty, attendees at the event included state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibly.
Michael Wardian isn’t the only elite marathon runner in Arlington.
Arlington resident Claire Hallissey, a 29-year-old transplant from the UK, was the top British female finisher in the London Marathon over the weekend. So impressive was her time of 2:27:44 that it landed her the third and final spot on the British women’s marathon team at this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
“The crowd in London on Sunday was fantastic and the Olympics will be even bigger and better,” Hallissey told The Sun newspaper in the UK. “I’m still ecstatic over my run. I’d hoped I could run a time like that and that everything would fit into place on the day.”
Hallissey’s Olympic-caliber run has captured the attention of nearly every major British media outlet, including The Sun, BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent, the Press Association newswire, the Scotsman, and others.
“CLAIRE-PE DIEM,” blared The Sun’s headline. “Claire Hallissey saves her vest for last with Olympic spot.”
Hallissey was born in Watford, outside of London. After attending the University of Cambridge and then earning a doctorate at Bristol University, she moved to Arlington with her husband Matt, who had been offered a job as a transportation planner, according to various outlets.
Hallissey works as a grant writer for a Loudoun County-based nonprofit organization, according to her LinkedIn page. In her spare time she is an avid baker, according to her Twitter page.
Photo via Twitter
The Evening Star Cafe Olympic block party was, as promised, a fun and well-attended affair. Nearly 100 people crowded the tiny parking lot behind the Del Rey restaurant to drink good beer, eat oysters and traditional block party-style food, and — of course — to watch the USA/Canada gold medal hockey game.
The oysters, barbecue pork sandwich and homemade mac ‘n cheese were all delicious, as was the Brooklyn Brown Ale and other beer selections. Unfortunately, the chilly weather and the relatively tiny TVs made for a less-than-satisfactory viewing experience. About half the crowd had cleared out by the third period, although some merely walked a few steps to the Majestic Lounge, Evening Star’s back bar.
Inside the lounge, the roar following Team USA’s last-minute goal was deafening. Perhaps the only comparably loud moments during the game were the sporadic “f*** Sidney Crosby” chants. After Crosby scored Canada’s winning overtime goal, however, the formerly boisterous crowd seemed too deflated by the loss to get another chant started.
Perhaps they could have taken some revelry-in-the-face-of-dejection pointers from the Team USA fans at this Arlington bar.
The Vancouver Olympics are coming to a close on Sunday, which, if you’ve been watching regularly, may feel like an old friend is going on two-year, extended vacation.
But don’t worry, there are still some opportunities to show your Olympic spirit this weekend.
If the U.S. men’s hockey team beats Finland today (on NBC4 at 3:00 p.m.), Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse will screen the gold metal game live on the big screen Sunday afternoon.
Also on Sunday, Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria is hosting on Olympic block party (as seen on our Events page) and oyster roast from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. The gold metal hockey game will also be shown. From the event posting:
“Expect a day’s worth of good food, fine wine, craft beers, good friends and neighbors and plenty of fun. There’s no fee to attend – Oysters, Red Apron Hot Dogs, Beer, Wine, Coffee and much more will all be priced individually anywhere from $3 to $12.”
Rob Yonick is sick and tired of people stealing his Canadian flag from outside his Yorktown home. He doesn’t know who’s doing it, he doesn’t know why they’re doing it, but he wants it to stop.
Despite the thefts, Yonick says l’Unifolié will still be proudly displayed for all to see this weekend, in time for the epic U.S.-Canada Olympic hockey matchup on Sunday.
“I’m going to put a flag in the window,” he said defiantly, adding that “there’s no doubt” Canada, backed by Pittsburgh Penguins star and Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby, will defeat the American team.
Yonick, a stout Canadian Embassy employee, first had his beloved Maple Leaf stolen this past Columbus Day. He chalked it up to misplaced patriotic fervor.
Undeterred, Yonick bought two new flags — a Canadian flag and an American flag — and bolted each flag to a column outside his stately N. Columbus St. house.
Earlier this week, the American flag disappeared, leaving only a bare, mangled flagpole. Then at some point on Thursday, the Canadian flag vanished, flagpole and all, leaving Yonick flummoxed.
“I don’t know if it’s kids playing a prank, or someone who doesn’t like Canada,” he said. After writing about it on Facebook, a friend suggested the Olympics might have something to do with it, a theory Yonick says is possible but unlikely.