American Cup 2016 Preview

The first leg of the FIG World Cup Series which includes the American Cup, the Stuttgart World Cup and the Glasgow World Cup gets underway this weekend. March 5th will see the worlds best gymnasts descend upon Newark, New Jersey, USA for the AT&T American Cup. In a change of usual events, the event will take place in the Prudential Centre in Newark, NJ, rather than Madison Square Garden in New York as is usual practice for the Olympic Year.

This historic event has seen numerous World and Olympic champions and medalists grace it’s stage including the legendary, Nadia Comaneci, Larisa Iordache, Rebecca Bross, Elena Zamolodchikova, Kim Zmeskal, Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Aly Raisman, Aliya Mustafina, Simone Biles, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and Jordyn Wieber who won the American Cup title three times during her career, to name but a few.

This years line up continues to impress with list of names that includes 2012 Olympic All-Around Champion, Gabby Douglas of USA, 2015 World bronze medalist, Amy Tinkler of Great Britain and 2015 World gold medalist, Maggie Nichols of USA.

Of course, whilst being part of the World Cup circuit and being an extremely prestigious event, this years competition has a special significance because it’s an Olympic year. Notably, the last three Olympic AA Champions, before going onto Olympic glory have triumphed at the American Cup in the Olympic year, Carly Patterson in 2004, Nastia Liukin in 2008, and whilst not officially competing but actually out scoring official winner, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas in 2012.

So there’s a lot on the line if you believe that it’s fate that the American Cup Champion of a given Olympic year will go on to Olympic glory later that year. Even if you dont, there certainly is still a lot on the line and this years competition will carve out for us who’s who as we get even closer to Rio.

Most notably, the competition to see which American triumphs is crucial. At the 2015 World Championships, there was much debate about who should’ve taken the second spot in the AA final after Maggie Nichols was taken out of contention when she wasn’t selected to compete AA in qualifications. So with the two gymnasts at the centre of the debate competing head to head, it will be interesting to see which triumphs. With regards to difficulty they’re both pretty even on balance beam. Maggie has a slight two tenth edge on floor when they both hit their routines and perform their full difficulty. On vault Maggie once again has the edge of five tenths with an Amanar, however Gabby has a three tenth edge on bars. So, when performing to full potential, Maggie has more difficulty, however Gabby has stated that will upgrade in 2016 and we know she can do the Amanar, as she performed it during training at last years World Championships (it’s scary but it’s there), and she obviously has performed it in the past, in 2012. So really it’s a tough one to call, it may come down to execution, however with both girls getting the exact same FX execution score at last years World Championships in qualifications, its hard to know what will happen.

Whilst this will be an interesting battle, notably missing is 3 time World Champion, Simone Biles, an absolute favourite to take the Olympic AA title this Summer in Rio. Simone is not injured and could absolutely compete however, it seems that this is a move from USA Gymnastics either to protect Simone from too much international exposure before the Summer, to see how Nichols and Douglas match up, to perhaps break the ritual of the future Olympic champion winning the American Cup or to simply rest Simone ahead of a busy year. There’s no definite answer but it is strange that she won’t compete but the field is exciting nonetheless and who knows Gabby could be the future Olympic champion and win back to back titles..or Nichols, who knows!?

The WAG roster is as follows:

  1. Ellie Black (CAN)
  2. Amy Tinkler (GBR)
  3. Mai Murakami (JPN)
  4. Carlotta Ferlito (ITA)
  5. Tabea Alt (GER)
  6. Lorrane Oliveira (BRA)
  7. Tisha Volleman (NED)
  8. Gabby Douglas (USA)
  9. Maggie Nichols (USA)

Medal contenders include:

Gabby Douglas (USA):

Age: 20

DOB: 31st December 1995

Club: Buckeye Gymnastics 

2012 Olympic AA & Team Champion

2011 World Team Champion

2015 World Team Champion & AA Silver medalist 

Maggie Nichols (USA):

Age: 18

DOB: 12th September 1997

Club: Twin City Twisters

2015 World Team Champion & Floor Exercise bronze medalist

2015 P&G Championships AA silver medalist (beating Gabby Douglas)

2014 Pan American Championships AA bronze medalist & Team Champion

Ellie Black (CAN):

Age: 20

DOB: 8th September 1995

Club: Halifax Alta Gymnastics 

2015 Pan American Games AA, BB & FX Champion, Team silver medalist & VT bronze maedalist

2012 Olympian, when Canada had its best performance to date, placing 5th in team finals & individually Ellie placed 8th in VT finals

2014 Commonwealth Games BB Champion, VT silver medalist & FX bronze medalist

9th AA at the 2015 World Championships

Other possible contenders include Carlotta Ferlito of Italy, Amy Tinkler of Great Britain and Mai Mirakami of Japan.

Carlotta Ferlito

Training will begin on Thursday, March 3rd. The Nastia Liukin Cup, a domestic competition for Level 10 athletes which runs in conjunction with the American Cup and which saw 2016 American Cup competitors, Maggie Nichols compete in 2011 at age 13 and Gabby Douglas, compete in 2010 at age 14 will be held on Friday 4th and the American Cup will then take place on Saturday 5th at 11.30 am EST.

The event will be broadcast on NBC Live Extra and will see former American Cup competitor and the namesake of the Nastia Liukin Cup, Nastia Liukin commentate along with Tim Daggett and Al Trautwig.

Both MAG and WAG gymnasts will compete alongside each other on Saturday.

Tickets available from Ticketmaster:

LiveStream available from the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel for International viewers excluding France, Switzerland, Belgium , Belarus, Romania, Taiwan and Brazil:

Live scoring also available on the ‘myusagym’ app, available from the AppStore for iOS.

More information available here:


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