Gymnastics: Utes' hot shot
Shutterbug » U. gymnast Baskett has found a passion outside her sport
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For the last three seasons, Kristina Baskett has thrived under the scope of media attention as one of Utah's top gymnasts.

Now the senior is discovering she has talents behind the camera too.

Baskett, who leads the No. 3 Utes against No. 25 Washington tonight at the Huntsman Center, is an aspiring photographer whose work is getting her noticed on a national level.

Baskett was one of 12 finalists out of more than 100 entrants to have two of her photos on display at the Gaylord National in Washington, D.C., during the recent NCAA Convention. They can also be seen online at NCAAChampionMagazine.org.

Her interest in photography was piqued in high school when she took a photography class. Since taking another photography class as a freshman at Utah, her interest has zoomed into a self-described obsession.

"I love any type of landscape shots and taking pictures of people because I think people are interesting," she said. "I like portraits because they're easy for me. With gymnastics, I know how to do those."

Gymnastics and photography wouldn't seem to be related, but the two passions of Baskett's life are intertwined, she said.

She knows what poses work best and what angles are friendly to the camera from being a subject of countless photographs. In addition, the same drive that helped her become one of the top gymnasts in the country keeps her going when her photos don't turn out the way she wants them to do so.

"One thing I learned in gymnastics is if you're going for something, you have to work hard and it's not just going to happen," she said. "I have to work hard at it and push it to reach my goals."

Baskett, who is majoring in communication, is considering a career in broadcasting or photography. If she chooses the latter, she has the talent to succeed according to her mentor Christopher Krause at Pictureline in Salt Lake City.

"I've helped her with the technicalities of photography, but you still have to have that eye and she has a great eye," he said. "Look at her gymnastics. If she wants to succeed, it's not a matter of 'if', but 'when.'"

Just as her experience in gymnastics has helped her photography, the confidence she has grown through the hobby is making her a better gymnast, those around her say.

"She is, like a woman," teammate Nina Kim said. "She is more confident and she is stronger in the things she values and believes in and knows herself more. Kris is always fun and exciting, but she knows what she wants now and she is going for that. I am so excited for her. I can't wait to see what she does after this year."

For now, most are content to see what she does this season. She has been one of Utah's best so far. She had a fall on the floor in Utah's first meet, but has scored 9.8 or higher for her seven other routines. Most importantly she has stepped forward as a vocal leader on the team, something the Utes needed from Baskett and Kim as seniors.

"She has matured and grown in different ways," assistant coach Megan Marsden said. "She is figuring things out what she wants to do beyond gymnastics and I've always thought from day one she was someone special."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Baskett file

» 5-foot-1, senior » Normandy Park, Wash.

Utah highlights

2008 » First-team All-American in the all-around (3rd), vault (2nd), bars (6th) and floor (DNF/injured ankle); hit 58-of-60 routines

2007 » First-team All-American on bars (4th); won Utah's Dahl Award for academic and athletic success

2006 » NCAA uneven bars co-champion and first-team All-American; won collegiate all-around debut vs. Nebraska with a 39.325

Prior to Utah » All-around, vault and floor champion at the 2005 USA Junior Olympic Championships. … Placed 18th in the all-around at the 2002 USA Championships.

Career highs

All-Around » 39.7 vs. Utah St., Feb. 9, 2007

Vault » 9.975 vs. BYU, Feb. 24, 2006; vs. Arizona St., March 23, 2007; vs. Utah St./SUU Feb. 22, 2008

Bars » 9.975 vs. BYU, March 28, 2008

Beam » 9.9 vs. UCLA Jan. 12, 2007

Floor » 9.925 vs. Oregon St., March 10, 2006; vs. Utah St., Feb. 9, 2007; vs. UCLA, Feb 24, 2008

No. 25 Washington at No. 3 Utah

Huntsman Center

When » Today, 7 p.m.

TV » Delayed on CW30, Sun., 11 a.m.

Records » Utah 1-1; UW 3-1

About the Utes » Tonight's meet is dubbed the Power of Pink to raise awareness for breast cancer. Anyone wearing pink will receive a free general admission ticket. … Annie DiLuzio has won floor in both meets.

About the Huskies » Have lost 10 straight to the Utes since a tie in Seattle in 2001. … Season high is a 194.25.