Kristie Phillips

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Kristie Phillips
Medal record
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place Indianapolis 1987 Team
Gold medal – first place Indianapolis 1987 Floor exercise
Silver medal – second place Indianapolis 1987 All-around
Bronze medal – third place Indianapolis 1987 Vault

Kristie Phillips-Bannister (born March 23, 1972), formerly known as Kristie Phillips, is a retired American elite gymnast. The 1987 senior U.S. National Champion and one of the American team's strongest and most visible competitors in the mid-1980s, Phillips was considered to be one of the front-runners for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team. By the Olympic Trials in 1988, however, she had endured several coaching changes and a growth spurt, and was only named second alternate to the team. She went on to participate in competitive cheerleading in college and has since enjoyed successful careers as an actress, stunt woman, coach and gymnastics club owner.

Early life[edit]

Phillips was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She began gymnastics in her home state at the age of 4. At 10, she was the children's all-around gold medalist at the Louisiana State Championships. As she excelled in the sport, she moved to the Atlanta School of Gymnastics, and to Houston, Texas to train with Béla Károlyi.[1][2] She also trained at Parkettes in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Junior career[edit]

As a junior, Phillips was one of the United States' top-ranking athletes in both national and international competition. From 1985 to 1987, she placed first in the all-around in every single American competition she entered, including the 1986 American Classic, the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival and the 1987 U.S. Classic. At her first U.S. National Championships in 1985, Phillips won the all-around title in the junior division; she repeated her success the following year, despite competing with a broken wrist.[1][2]

Phillips made her debut in international competition at the age of 12, at the 1984 Canada Classic, where she won a silver medal on the floor exercise, a bronze on the uneven bars and placed seventh in the all-around. She continued to do well in international meets over the next three years, placing sixth at the prestigious 1986 City of Popes, winning a vault silver medal at the 1986 World Sports Fair and earning the all-around gold at the 1986 American Cup.[1]

By 1986, Phillips was considered to be one of the United States' best hopes for a medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, and was the subject of a considerable amount of media attention. At the age of fourteen, she was featured on the cover of the September 1, 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, which touted her as "The New Mary Lou" (in reference to Mary Lou Retton).[3][4] She was also interviewed for the 1987 ABC-TV documentary Olga, Nadia and Mary Lou.

Senior career[edit]

As Phillips moved into the senior ranks in 1987, she appeared to be on track for the Seoul Olympics. At that year's national championships, she won her only senior all-around title. She earned an all-around silver medal at the 1987 Pan Am Games, placed first all-around at the USA vs. USSR dual meet, and won her second American Cup. Phillips was also nominated for the 1987 James E. Sullivan Award.[5][6][7]

However, a growth spurt, the onset of puberty and conflicts with her coaches derailed Phillips' Olympic ambitions in 1987. She briefly switched to SCATS in California to train with former Olympian Don Peters, however, she was unable to maintain her previous level of gymnastics.[2][8]

Phillips was able to earn a berth on the American team for the 1987 World Championships, but only placed 45th in the all-around at the meet.[2][4][8] She did, however, successfully submit an original balance beam mount, described as a "Press to side handstand, front walkover to side stand on both legs." The skill is now referred to as "the Phillips" in the Code of Points and currently has a 'D' difficulty rating.[9] Another balance beam skill associated with Phillips was a reverse planche, in which the gymnast arches her back from a handstand until her buttocks touch the top of her head.

In 1988, Phillips returned to the Karolyis.[10] She placed 9th at the U.S. Nationals that spring. At the Olympic Trials, she moved up one place to 8th and was named as the second alternate to the U.S. Olympic team. She trained with the squad in America, but did not travel with them to Seoul.[2][3]

After gymnastics[edit]

Phillips attended Louisiana State University from 1990 to 1992, where she was a competitive cheerleader and a Delta Gamma sister. After college, she moved to New York City where she coached gymnastics and performed in various film and television projects, including 1994's Spitfire (a straight-to-video 007-spoof).[2][6][11]

Throughout the mid-1990s, Phillips participated in the Reese's Cup, a televised elite gymnastics exhibition, where she continued to wow audiences with her unique brand of artistry. In 1999, she returned to the world of elite competitive gymnastics, placing 23rd at that year's U.S. National Championships. That year, Kristie was also named USA Gymnastics Sportswoman of the Year. She competed at the US Nationals again in 2000, placing 24th, before retiring.[6]

Phillips lives in Troutman, North Carolina with her husband recording artist Horatio Bannister and three children: Sebastian, Isabella and Eberlie. She owns a gymnastics facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, and is certified as an International Brevet judge. She was Athlete Representative for USA Gymnastics, and served in the same capacity for the 2008 U.S Olympic gymnastics team selection committee.[12][13] She has spoken about her experiences in gymnastics on several occasions, most recently in the 2003 CNN documentary Achieving The Perfect 10.[4] She was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2006.[14]

Eponymous Skills[edit]

Apparatus Name Description Difficulty
Balance Beam Phillips Jump/Press to side handstand walkover to both feet; mount D


  1. ^ a b c "Gymn Forum: Kristie Phillips Biography". Gymn Forum. 2005-06-19. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ryan, Joan (1995). Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-47790-2. OCLC 31608501. 
  3. ^ a b Smolowe, Jill (1988-09-19). "Sprite Fight". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  4. ^ a b c "Achieving the Perfect 10" Transcript of CNN documentary, 2003
  5. ^ Janofsky, Michael (1987-08-21). "Not a One-Woman Team". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  6. ^ a b c "USA Gymnastics Official Biography: Kristie Phillips". USA Gymnastics Online. USA Gymnastics. 2000-06-28. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  7. ^ Janofsky, Michael (1987-06-21). "Gymnastics; Phillips on Schedule for Olympic Gold". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  8. ^ a b Beech, Maek (1998-11-16). "Kristie Phillips, Champion Gymnast". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  9. ^ "Gymnastics Glossary & Elements Named for U.S. Gymnasts". USA Gymnastics Online. USA Gymnastics. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (1988-05-24). "Phillips and Karolyi Mend Their Ways". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  11. ^ Kristie Phillips at the IMDB
  12. ^ "Q&A with the 1988 Olympic team" USA Gymnastics, June 2008
  13. ^
  14. ^ "2006 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame class of seven inductees boasts 5 Olympians" (Press release). USA Gymnastics. 2006-07-25. Retrieved 2008-04-05.