Chiacchia of ArtSports takes 5th in Worlds double-mini

       Competing in the World Age Group championships last week in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sam Chiacchia (pronounced KEY-yah, KEY-yah) took fifth place and was the top-scoring American in the boys age 13-14 double mini trampoline.

Sam Chiacchia qualified for the World Age Group championships by winning the trampoline and double-mini events at Nationals.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The 13-year-old athlete, who trains at Holland Park's ArtSports gym, was the only one of four ArtSports athletes who had qualified for the competition to make the finals in any event.
       “It was really crazy and so surreal,” said Chiacchia, after his return this week. “The competition was really tough. Just making it there was a big honor.”
       The Eagleview Middle School student had won both the trampoline and double-mini in his age group at the national championships in San Diego, Calif., in September. But he fell near the start of his trampoline routine at Worlds. “It was my first event,” Chiacchia said. “My nerves got to me. Once I got over it, I just went out there to do my best and have fun.”
       In the double-mini, he joined seven others in the finals by taking sixth place in the qualifying round against 30 competitors in all, then moved up a spot in the finals. Finishing ahead of him were three Russians, with a Spaniard in fourth.
       “It was a huge learning experience,” Chiacchia said. A major discovery was that the medal-winning athletes were doing triple-jumps, which have a higher degree of difficulty (and thus a higher scoring potential) than the doubles he has mastered. Will he try doing triples himself? “I'm working on it,” he said. “But it's a whole different world. You miss your feet one more time [than with doubles], and it's really scary.”
       It was the first international competition for Chiacchia, and he's hungry for more. As national champion, he's likely to be invited to the Panamanian Games and the Canada Cup in 2010, and he says he'd like to go to both.
       The other qualifiers for Worlds were Kristen Bowman (girls age 15-16 double-mini) and Philip Gifford and Cameron Heimerdinger (boys age 17-18 synchronized trampoline).

Westside Pioneer article