Nastia: “I'm Just Getting the Butterflies Out”

All Nastia Liukin had to do for a standing ovation at the American Airlines Center was show up. Luckily for her fans, she also competed on the balance beam.

The Olympic gold medalist's routine on the beam at the Visa Championships on Thursday night looked a little shaky. It was filled with graceful lines, delicate leaps and beautiful pirouettes, but also had a couple wobbles that kept it from being Olympic-type stuff.

She earned a 14.450 from the judges -- more than a point off her average, and a score that didn't even put her in the top three for the event.

But Liukin said it just felt good to get the butterflies out of her stomach and compete.

"To have the local community behind me -- they've supported me for so many years now -- and to be able to come back here after everything that I've accomplished over the years and compete for them, I put more pressure on myself because I wanted to do well," she told reporters after her competition.

Liukin took a year off after winning all-around Olympic gold and is only a few months back into full-time training. She said she hopes she will be "more calm and under control" when she competes Saturday.

Most people in the crowd expected to see her on both the balance beam and uneven bars. But Liukin said she's not quite back into Olympic shape, so she decided Thursday morning to not do her routine on the bars.

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Liukin said she'll wait to get back into shape before she performs her long uneven bars routine.

But she said she's working on the routine.

With Liukin out of the mix for the all-around and defending national champion Shawn Johnson taking a break, 2007 junior national champion Rebecca Bross jumped into the lead after the first day, with 58.55 points, 0.35 points ahead of Ivana Hong. Bridget Sloan is in third.

Bross and Hong train with Liukin at World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in North Texas, which also produced 2004 Olympic champion Carly Patterson.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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