How I love it when the national UK press features cheerleading – believe me, it is a rare occurrence.
This weekend, my eye was caught by a double page photo spread no less in the Spectrum section of The Sunday Times Magazine, featuring the image above. Albeit that the image is not exactly recent – Ladefoged’s shot was originally taken for a New York Times feature on the Kentucky athletes in September of 2005– but it does showcase the colourful, fun vibrancy of the sport and, of course, the immense athletic prowess required to perfect the partner stunt (for cheer ignorami amongst you, the image above features 5 simultaneous partner stunts in mid-flight).
Interesting facts were included in the ST Mag caption too:
Members of the University of Kentucky team practise their high-flying routine before the national cheerleading championships. Although 97% of competitors are female, the physical demands of stunts mean that men are often recruited. Surprisingly, cheerleading began as an all-male pursuit, with the first females participating in the 1920s. The University of Kentucky team is seen as the best in the US, having won the championships 14 times in the past 17 years.
For those who aren’t regular readers of the ST Magazine, Spectrum is a section dedicated to the week’s news photographic highlights – so I was pretty proud to see the US Nationals (from April 5) selected to feature as one.