The quadrennial summer Olympic Games brings millions of new athletes to gymnastics, and after the U.S. team’s dramatic finish in the 2008 Beijing games, one of those was then-elementary school student Erica Bortfeldt.
Bortfeldt’s affinity for the sport has endured, and now, more than a decade later, the Niwot High senior competes for a club team based at Airborne Gymnastics in Longmont. On April 20, she captured the All-Around title in her division at the 2019 NCAA Youth Gymnastics Challenge, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Bortfeldt was the high scorer in two of the meet’s four events, for a final score of 37.10. Afterwards, she and the other division winners were honored before the crowd at the 2019 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, which was held in a nearby venue.
“The whole place was so fun and energetic,” she said of the experience.
As an AA competitor, Bortfeldt is strong on each of the apparatus, but her highest scores tend to come on beam or bars, the two events she currently considers her favorites. However, that might not be the case in a few weeks.
“It changes,” she said, when asked about her competition preferences. “Right now it’s bars or beam, because those tend to involve less impact. I really enjoy the floor, but I do it less now. I don’t really like the vault, because I get injured on the vault.”
Bortfeldt admits that, while she may love gymnastics, it hasn’t always loved her back. Like many competitive gymnasts, she has battled her share of injuries over the years, and even has a rebuilt ankle to show for it. That has kept her off the Niwot High team gymnastics team for the past few years, though she did compete for the Cougars as a freshman.
When she’s not mastering new skills in the gym, Bortfeldt enjoys singing, a passion she didn’t discover until she joined Niwot choir as a freshman. Inspired by her time there, but with no prior singing experience, she spent the next two years teaching herself outside the classroom, and was later tapped to join Even Star, the school’s elite vocal choir. Bortfeldt was especially moved by the group’s recent performance of the gospel song “Total Praise.”
Bortfeldt is taking AP classes at Niwot, after an initial foray into the IB diploma programme convinced her that a demanding academic workload might not be the best fit for someone with so many other pursuits.
Bortfeldt plans to head to CU in the fall to study biomedical engineering. She also hopes to try out for the CU Women’s Gymnastics team.