Eberle's movie career gets plot twist

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So what did you do over the summer?" is always a favorite topic when school, no matter what level, resumes in August.

At the University of Utah, it will be hard for anyone to top former gymnast Annabeth Eberle's story.

Eberle is spending her summer in Los Angeles filming a Disney-produced movie called "Stick It." Starring Jeff Bridges, the movie is about a talented gymnast who revolts against the strict regimens that surround the sport. Set to be released in the spring, the movie also stars Missy Peregrym of "Life as We Know It" and Vanessa Lengies of "American Dreams."

The production is using several collegiate gymnasts from around the country, including Eberle. The gymnastics parts she has in the movie, though, might be minimal.

On Monday, Eberle was performing a twist on the floor when the Achilles' tendon in her left leg ripped. She had surgery Friday at UCLA, and it will be at least a month before she can do any kind of exercises on it.

"A lot of times people will say their leg muscle felt tight or sore or there is some pain before it happens," Eberle said. "Mine didn't, it just snapped."

So there she goes, from a totally new and eye-opening experience back to a world every gymnast knows very well - rehab. While no stranger to training rooms and physical therapists, Eberle survived most of her gymnastics career without a serious injury, the worst being a broken ankle she suffered in high school. Leave it to her to be on a fluff movie set and suffer one of the worst.

Despite the painful injury, Eberle has a surprisingly optimistic outlook. Producers are already talking about writing a special part for the injured gymnast (if there is real drama, might as well use it), and she has had so much fun in Hollywood, the impact of the injury is minimized.

"I didn't know what to expect when I came out here in June," Eberle said. "It has been such a fun experience and everyone has been incredibly nice."

Disney is picking up the tab for Eberle's surgery and rehab and will give her worker's compensation until she is fully recovered. In the meantime, they plan to use her for upper body and conditioning scenes.

Out of the studio, Eberle and the rest of the cast have spent time exploring the posh Marina del Rey neighborhood where the studio has rented apartments for them. They've also been to Bridges' family home in Malibu, and of course, being gymnasts, have done a lot of shopping.

So is the Reno girl going to turn into a California surfer? Not just yet; Eberle still plans to return to Utah for another year and complete her degree in exercise and sports science.

"This has been fun, and it's opening a lot of doors for me," Eberle said. "I'll have to see what I want to do with all of this."

Patrick Kinahan is on vacation. Lya Wodraska is a staff writer and can be reached at lwodraska@sltrib.com