2017 AT&T American Cup Recap
The American Cup took place in Newark, New Jersey on 4 March 2017.
The 2017-2020 quad is underway and the least fun annual meet took place on March 4 2017. The American Cup, which always lasts an eternity and is over run with Macready shenanigans, was a rough start to the season for most of the gymnasts competing. The gymnasts had their first taste of competing under the new Code of Points* which excuses some of the mess and the other part that excuses the mess is that it’s March
Olympic alternate for the USA Ragan Smith won her first international all around title, which is the same title her coach won in 1990 and 1992. Ragan started the day on vault and earned the highest score on the event, despite Tatiana Nabieva legs. She then competed on uneven bars, where she competed the same skills as her 2016 routine but adjusted the order for the new Code. Ragan fell on her standing full on beam but had a pretty solid routine otherwise, which was again very similar to her 2016 routine. Ragan also earned the highest score on floor and continues to use her Addams Family floor music, which is fun and really suits her style. Ragan again did not have to make any major adjustments to her floor routine for the new Code of Points. The most significant change comes from a requirement to actually tumble forwards to sideways and Ragan’s double Arabian checks off that requirement.
Asuka Teramoto from Japan earned the silver medal, which is the first American Cup in quite some time that an American has not gone one and two. Are we done calling it Scam now? Anyway. Asuka vaulted a handspring front layout half rather than the front handspring Rudi she competed in 2016. Again, first year of the new quad and still relatively soon after Rio. Watering down is allowed. Asuka performed a sky high beautiful laid out in bar Gienger on bars and a few other nice skills including a piked Jaegar. She crossed her legs during her pirouetting skills but still earned a decent execution score of 8.266 points. Asuka earned the second highest score on beam with a solid routine. She started the routine with a double turn then performed a back handspring back handspring layout step out combination as well as a leap switch leap side aerial combination. Asuka finished the routine with a round off two and a half dismount. On floor Asuka only competed three tumbling passes which resulted in a low difficulty score of 4.8 points. She started with a triple twist, then performed a front handspring front one and a half twist, and dismounted with a double pike. Asuka competed at the 2013 American Cup and placed seventh so her podium finish four years later is noteworthy.
French gymnast and first year senior Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos earned the bronze medal in addition to a very well deserved high score on balance beam. She mounted the beam with a front pike to split jump and then performed an additional front pike. She then competed a pretty cool handstand connected to a back handspring layout with a very high and laid out layout. Melanie also competed a switch leap switch half, front aerial, double stag jump, and a nice round off double tuck dismount. Before beam Melanie competed a good Yurchenko full on vault and a strong uneven bar routine. She opened with a Komova II high to low transition to uprise to Galante release move which she somehow managed to catch despite almost falling over in a handstand immediately before. She capped off a difficult and well executed routing with a full twisting double layout. Melanie also competed a good floor routine, opening with an open full in, followed up with a double pike, front layout front full, and concluding with a double tuck. The new front tumbling rule is already creating some fun front tumbling passes rather than just variations of double tuck passes (YAY).
Two-time German Olympian Kim Bui missed out on the podium with a fourth place finish. She competed a Yurchenko full and earned the highest score on uneven bars. She competed a piked Jaegar immediately to a Pak salto, Maloney to Bhardwaj, Van Leeuwen, Gienger, and stuck her full in dismount. Kim only changed one connection from her 2016 routine and connected her piked Jaegar to Pak. Kim performed a strong balance beam routine with a good round off layout mount, back handspring layout combination, and a gainer layout dismount. Kim finished off a good day of competition with a strong floor routine featuring a double tuck, double pike, double twist, and two and a half to punch front.
2016 USA Junior National Champion Riley McCusker had a rough senior and international debut. She started on vault where she competed an upgraded double twisting Yurchenko but landed with her chest low and took a step. Next on uneven bars Riley competed another new routine in which she connected many of the skills she previously competed separately. For example, Riley connected a Stalder full to Maloney to immediate Tkatchev. Riley missed the bar on her new Downie, Stalder to piked Tkatchev, but hopped back onto the bar and performed a nice Ricna to Pak salto. Riley should not have a problem hitting this routine later in the season with more practice and repetitions. For some reason Riley’s new balance beam routine includes not one but two wolf turns in rapid succession. We all know how I (and most of the gymternet) feel about wolf turns. She performed a solid routine including a back handspring layout step out layout step out front aerial to split jump to straddle jump and ended up with a 5.5 difficulty score. Riley missed her foot on her dismount and had a pretty scary landing. She fortunately was not injured and finished out the meet on floor where she debuted a new floor routine with mostly the same tumbling passes as she competed in 2016 with the addition of a punch front after her Rudi. The new CoP states that one cannot randomly throw a side aerial to fulfill the front tumbling requirement but one must actually front tumble in a tumbling pass to fulfill the requirement. Riley also added a wolf turn because ugh. Riley finished the meet in fifth place.
China’s Yufen Xie opened the competition on vault with a full twisting Yurchenko with a hop and then moved onto bars, where she tied Kim Bui for the highest difficulty score. The 6.0 difficulty routine included a Maloney to immediate Pak salto, Van Leeuwen, some Healy’s/Ono’s (maybe someday GymMapStics will learn which is which), and a double layout dismount. Despite the difficult skills, Xie did not have the best form during the routine and did not cast all the way into each handstand. Xie performed a strong routine on beam and stayed on the beam which is worth mentioning at this mess of a competition. She competed a lot of skills individually rather than in combination which is how a gymnast earned the big D score. She received 4.7 points for difficulty and a 8.0 in execution for a total of 12.700 points. Xie struggled through her last two tumbling passes on floor and hopefully she will be able to build up her stamina in the time before the full competition season gets underway.
Tisha Volleman from the Netherlands finished in seventh place mainly due to low difficulty across the events. She competed a full twisting Yurchenko on vault, which is now worth only 4.6 points. Tisha then came off the bars on a bail but finished the routine well. Tisha competed a good balance beam routine with some interesting skills. She mounts the beam with a punch front, throws a front handspring to front toss combination, and finishes with a full twisting gainer layout off the end of the beam. Tisha performed a theatrical floor routine that the gymnasts from the Netherlands have become known for over the past few years and Tisha’s routine is what would happen if Sia’s choreographer worked on a music video for Game of Thrones. The Dutch gymnast performs an L turn in front attitude which we here at GymMapstics simply do not get. Just straighten your leg, Tisha! It looks so much better that way!! She also performed a double tuck but fell on a two and a half twist.
Emily Whitehead from Australia competed a full twisting Yurchenko, which was unsurprisingly the most popular vault of the meet, and a good but low difficulty uneven bar routine. Emily also competed a low difficulty balance beam routine and did not get enough rotation off of her round off into double pike and fell forward onto her face slash hands. The Aussie struggled on floor and had a mistake such as hands down or a very low landing on almost all of her tumbling passes.
British Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler (yay that is fun to type) scratched the event she earned a medal on in Rio in the last rotation putting her last place. She competed a Yurchenko full vault, which is watered down compared to the double twisting Yurchenko she competed previously, but maintained excellent form throughout the skill and earned the highest execution score on the event. Amy had a few form breaks on bars, almost went over on a couple handstands, and performed a Shelgunova sheep Pak but remained on the bars and finished with a good full twisting double back dismount. Amy fell on standing full on beam but has a pretty good routine aside from the fall. She mounted with a switch leap and then performed a gainer layout step out layout step out combination. She also did a front aerial split jump back handspring and a round off triple twist dismount. Amy earned the highest difficulty score on balance beam with 6.0 points but the fall gave her the sixth highest score on the event. Shortly after the Rio Olympic Games, Amy switched coaches and gyms and seems to have adjusted well seeing as she is competing again relatively “soon” after the Games.
*Gymnastics does something that most sport don’t do which is change the rules every four years. Fans love it, casual viewers love it, it’s a hit all around! Basketball should change the dribble clock every four years! Baseball should change the number of strikes before you’re out! Running and swimming distances should change every few years! The 100 meter sprint is now the 103 meter sprint! WHY DOES GYMNASTICS DO THIS? The Code should be adjusted to encourage innovation and safety but recreating the points system too frequently hurts the sport. Perhaps it should be adjusted every second quad to allow some of the dust to settle before everything goes up in flame again. #endrant