Twelve-year-old Jacqueline Kranitz hasn’t made a Christmas wish list this year.
“I’ve already got everything I want,” she said.
She stands on one leg to ponder the question, her other leg elevated and bent at the knee, foot pressed sole-side down against her thigh – a pose the Lone Tree gymnast takes often and without conscious thought.
“I want to have a really fun season,” she finally said. “And not be as nervous.”
Kranitz’s upcoming gymnastics season, which includes 13 meets across the country, starts with a bang. She learned Dec. 3 that she’ll take part in the four-day, invitation-only Elite Development Camp in Huntsville, Texas. Marta Karolyi, a national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics who has trained dozens of Olympic, world, European and U.S. champions, runs the camp.
Kranitz, daughter of Michael and Abby Kranitz, was chosen from among dozens of young gymnasts nationally who submit videos annually in hope of being selected. Only 36 make the cut.
Because weeks had passed since the video was submitted, Kranitz said the news came as a shock.
“I had kind of forgotten about it,” she said. “My coach pulled me up in front of everybody and told me. I was really surprised.”
The camp is not a guarantee of eventual Olympic competition.
“It’s a small step,” Kranitz said. “Out of those girls, I think there are 10 that go to the national team. But I know I have to take it one step at a time.”
Athletes are assessed for the camp based on their strength, flexibility and promise. From age 2, Kranitz clearly had the promise. While other toddlers clung to their parents’ hand the first time across a balance beam, Abby Kranitz said her daughter was slapping her mother’s hand away.
The 4’6” Kranitz trains about 30 hours a week at Aerial Gymnastics in Colorado Springs, where other Olympic-level athletes train. The rigorous training schedule means Kranitz can’t easily adhere to a traditional school schedule, so last year she left Lone Tree Elementary and is enrolled in Colorado Connections Academy online school.
Kranitz admits she sometimes misses school and isn’t always excited about practice.
“There’s points where the last thing I want to do is be there,” she said. “But when I do it, I have a feeling of accomplishment. I know it eventually makes me better.”
The pressure to perform well doesn’t come from her parents. Kranitz said she’s a perfectionist in most aspects of her life who believes she was meant to do gymnastics.
“Some parents at the meets are way too intense,” she said. “I like how (my parents) aren’t.”
She also likes hanging out with them. While the Kranitzes have two older sons, they are in college, so the three are tightly bonded.
“It’s always fun to come home and be a normal person,” Kranitz said.
Normal for Kranitz sometimes involves walking backwards around the family’s large house on her hands, occasionally chasing her father while in that upside-down position.
Deep as her love of gymnastics is, Kranitz already is considering careers.
“Gymnastics can’t go on forever,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in science. The human genome project … I think it’d be fun to be part of that.”