2019 ICU World Cheerleading Championships: everything you need to know
Cheerleading is coming back to Florida for the 11th Annual International Cheer Union (ICU) World Cheerleading Championships from Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th April 2019.
An estimated 3000 athletes from 75 nations will compete across 26 disciplines.
Here's everything you need to know, including how you can watch some of the action - streaming live here on OlympicChannel.com
What is cheerleading?
The sport of cheer has become a global phenomenon.
While traditional cheerleading involves chanting and entertaining spectators at sports events, competitive cheerleading developed where teams perform against each other at cheer competitions to earn points.
The sport is a combination of athleticism and entertainment, where jumps, dance, and chanting is performed to gain a response from the crowd.
Since the International Cheer Union (ICU) was founded in 2004, the governing body has amassed over 3.5 million athletes in 116 member countries.
In 2016, the ICU was provisionally recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Score sheet
At the World Cheerleading Championships teams are judged on criteria specific to their discipline.
The fundamental criteria includes technique, choreography, stunts, tosses, tumbling (where athletes perform continuous forward flips!), and dance.
The competitors are also judged on their routine execution, crowd appeal, and overall presentation.
Safety is paramount and spotters are on hand to break an athlete's fall (if required) during rehearsals and competitions.
Podcast: Cheerleading, England, and the chemotherapy nurse
Podcast: Cheerleading, England, and the chemotherapy nurseAs Alexandra Banfield prepares to represent England at the World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida, the Solihull-based athlete explains how she balances an emotional job with the rigours of training for a major competition as a chemotherapy nurse. Plus, we sent influencer Gina Scarangella to London to see how the sport has grown in the country.
Disciplines and who to watch
There are 26 divisions that will be contested over three days of competition.
Core categories are Coed Cheer, All Girl Cheer, Doubles, Pom, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Para Cheer.
The most prestigious are the Coed and All Girl Premier competitions.
Given the sport originates from America, it's no surprise the World Cheerleading Championships hosts are also the most dominant nation. Last year they took home six golds, five silvers, and one bronze medal.
USA Coed Premier are going for their fourth-consecutive title in 2019, but are sure to face some stiff competition from last year's runner-up, Chinese Taipei.
The Taiwanese team shocked the Americans in 2015 to win gold, and will be eager to snap USA's winning streak once again.
In 2018 the Nordic teams made their mark on the sport, for example when Finland defeated the U.S. in the All Girl Premier competition.
"We've been working towards this moment for many years. Last year it looked for the first time like we might be in the running, and this year we did it. Two great routines were enough," said Finland's head coach Maria Wahlroos to a Finnish Cheerleading Federation bulletin.
Also keep an eye out for the Latin American teams, where cheerleading is also experiencing a boom in popularity.
The World Cheerleading Championships and Junior World Champs will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports venue in Orlando, Florida.
(All dates and times in Orlando local time, UTC/GMT -4 hours)
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (Ages 12-16)
Wednesday 24 April / 10:00 -15:30
- Team Freestyle Pom (11.00-13:11)
- Team Hip Hop (11.04-12:57)
- Coed Advanced (14:15-15:00)
- All Girl Advanced (14:19-16:34)
- Coed Elite (15:10:16:02)
- All Girl Elite (16:10-16:48)
Medal Ceremonies (17:00-18:00)
18:30 ICU Opening Ceremonies and Cultural Exchange
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMIS (Ages 14+)
Thursday 25 April / 09:00 -18:00
- Pom Doubles (9:00-11:32)
- Hip Hop Doubles (9:03-11:08)
- Adaptive Abilities Divisions
- Special Abilities Divisions (ages 12+)
- Special Olympics Divisions (ages 12+)
- Team Jazz (12:00-14:14)
- Team Freestyle Pom (15:30-18:31)
- Team Hip Hop (15:34-18:20)
Adaptive abilities, Special Abilities and Special Olympic Medal Ceremony
Team Finalists announced
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMIS
Thursday 25 April / 09:00 -18:00
- Adaptive Abilities Divisions (Ages 14+)
- Special Abilities Divisions (Ages 12+)
- Special Olympics Divisions (Ages 12+)
- All Girl Elite (Ages 14+) (10:36-14:26)
- Coed Elite (Ages 14+) (10:30-14:37)
- All Girl Premier (Ages 15+) (15:21-17:33)
- Coed Premier (Ages 15+) (17:15-19:52)
Team finalists Announced
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FINALS (Teams advancing from Semi Finals)
Friday 26 April / 08:30 -18:30
- Pom Doubles (9:00-10:11)
- Hip Hop Doubles (9:03-10:07)
Hip Hop and Pom Doubles Medal Ceremonies
- Team Jazz (10:30-11:20)
- Team Freestyle Pom (12:15-13:46)
- Team Hip Hop (12:19-13:50)
Hip Hop, Jazz and Pom Medal Ceremonies
- Coed Elite (15:00-16:59)
- All Girl Elite (15:06-17:05)
- Coed Premier (17:30-19:34)
- All Girl Premier (17:36-18:40)
Elite and Premier Medal Ceremonies
20:45 ICU Closing Ceremonies
You can watch the final day of action on Olympic Channel.