The annual Nastia Liukin Cup competition, beginning in 2010 has fast become one of the most prestigious level 10 meets in the US and is a goal for every level 10 athlete, along with making it to Regionals and JO Nationals. Running in conjunction with the American Cup, the meet is televised and takes place on the same podium the American Cup competitors compete on, it is the perfect setting for young, up and coming gymnasts to become accustomed to the elite stage. Qualifying meets take place all over the country and in order to qualify, Junior & Senior gymnasts must place 1st AA at one of these qualifying meets. Evidently due to the large number of level 10 competitors competing at these meets, it is an achievement just to qualify to the Nastia Liukin Cup and therefore the cream of the crop advance to the grand finale and many future stars have graced the Nastia Liukin Cup stage since its inaugural event in 2010. Not every future star has won the event, however they have come to compete and prepare for the elite stage, and in many cases achieve things beyond the wildest dreams of many young 13 year old gymnasts.
Take a look at the past Nastia Liukin Cup competitors who, at the time were up and coming level 10 gymnasts and who went on to become gymnastics stars.
The most notable gymnast to have competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup. Following Gabby’s 4th place finish at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup at 14 years old, Gabby went on to make the 2010 Junior National Team, compete at the Junior Pan American Championships in Acapulco, Mexico, winning the gold medal on the UB, compete at the 2011 City of Jesolo Trophy, placing 2nd on FX, 3rd on BB and 4th AA, win a Team gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo Japan, win a gold medal on the UB at the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Washington and of course, become the 2012 Olympic AA Champion at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and also win a gold medal with Team USA, becoming the first American to win both the Team and AA title in one Games. Gabby is now on the comeback trail, vying for a spot in Rio 2016. A comeback that is proving to be very successful, having placed 4th AA at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy, 2nd AA at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland and also receiving a gold medal along with Team USA in the team final. Most recently Gabby cemented herself as an Olympic contender by winning the 2016 American Cup in Newark, New Jersey, competing the day after the 2016 Nastia Liukin Cup, 6 years to the day she competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup in 2010. Full circle moment or what!?
Competing in both the 2010 and 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup, MyKayla, like Gabby did not win, however went on to compete and win on the International stage. MyKayla placed 7th at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup in Worcester, MA and 5th in the 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup in Jacksonville, FL. Following her appearance at the two consecutive Nastia Liukin Cups, MyKayla went on to place highly at various Visa Championships, making the Junior National Team in 2011 and subsequent Senior National Teams, compete at the 2012 City of Jesolo Trophy, placing 4th on FX and 5th on VT, compete at the 2014 City of Jesolo Trophy, placing 1st on VT and FX and 4th AA, compete at the 2014 Pan American Championships in Toronto, Canada, placing 1st on VT, FX and AA. Following this, MyKayla earned her first World Championships berth and competed at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China, earning a gold medal with Team USA, a bronze medal in VT finals and placing 4th in FX finals. Following this MyKayla went on to compete at the 2015 American Cup in Arlington, TX, placing 2nd AA, 5 years after her first Nastia Liukin Cup appearance. MyKayla then went on to be named as a traveling alternate to the 2015 World Championships team in Glasgow, Scotland and most recently triumphed at the 2016 Glasgow World Cup, placing 1st AA and making her case to earn an Olympic berth at this years Olympics in Rio. Additionally MyKayla is also committed to attend the University of Utah on a full athletic scholarship and is expected to attend in Fall 2016.
Like MyKayla, Amelia competed at both the 2010 and 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup. Competing alongside best friend and Cincinnati teammate, Lexie Priessman, Amelia placed 11th at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup, she improved her standing at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup and placed 2nd. Following her introduction to the big stage, Amelia went on to make the 2011 Junior National Team, compete at the 2011 Junior Japan International in Yokohama, Japan and placed 2nd on VT, FX and AA , 3rd on UB and 4th on BB, once again accompanied by best friend, Lexie. Amelia continued her international success by competing at the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, WA placing 2nd on VT and FX, she then competed at the 2012 City of Jesolo Trophy where she placed 3rd on VT, 4TH on UB and 7th AA. Amelia then competed at the 2013 City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy and placed 3rd AA and on BB. Her success continued into her Senior career as she competed at the 2014 Pan American Championships in Toronto, Canada, placing 1st along with Team USA and competing at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, placing 1st along with Team USA, 2nd on FX, 3rd on UB and 4th AA. Alongside her international and national success at the elite level, Amelia has also accepted a scholarship to the University of Florida and is expected to join the Gators in Fall 2016. Evidently, once again the Nastia Liukin Cup was the perfect springboard for this future gymnastics star.
Another future elite competitor who competed at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup, Maggie placed 20th at the 2011 Supergirl Cup. Once again, this future star did not win the Nastia Liukin Cup, however as time would tell she went onto shine on the elite level. Following her Nastia Liukin Cup debut, Maggie went on to compete at the 2012 Visa Championships in the Junior division. In 2013, Maggie made her Senior debut and was added to the National Team before competing at the 2013 City of Jesolo Trophy, where she placed 2nd on FX and 4th AA. She also competed at the USA-GER-ROM tri meet in Chemnitz, Germany and placed 4th AA. Later in 2013, Maggie, competed at the Mexican Open in Acapulco Mexico and placed 2nd AA. After her very successfull 2013, Maggie went onto place 3rd AA at both the 2014 City of Jesolo Trophy, the 2014 Tokyo World Cup and the 2014 Pan American Championships in Toronto, Canada, where she also received a gold medal with Team USA. Her breakout year as a Senior elite gymnast came in 2015 where she competed at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy, placing 1st with the team and 7th AA & competed at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland where she received a gold medal in the team final with Team USA and a bronze medal in the FX final, cementing herself as contender for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. She cemented herself further at the 2016 American Cup in Newark, NJ, where she placed 2nd AA, 5 years after competing in the American Cup stage as a Nastia Liukin Cup competitor. Following a potential Olympic berth, Maggie will also attend the University of Oklahoma on a full athletic scholarship.
Another future elite to grace the Nastia Liukin Cup stage, Nia Dennis competed at the 2012 Nastia Liukin Cup in Madison Square Garden, New York, placing 5th, a huge stage for a 13 year old, however the perfect way to get Nia accustomed to the big stages of elite competition. Nia had already competed as an elite gymnast prior to her Nastia Cup appearance in 2011, however it was after her Nastia Liukin Cup debut that Nia’s elite career took off. Following her performance in Madison Square Garden, Nia went on to make the 2012/13 Junior National Team, place 2nd AA and on UB at the 2013 City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy and place 4th AA at the 2013 P&G Championships. Nia’s elite career continued to improve with a 2nd place AA finish at the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships in Richmond, Canada. She also placed 2nd on VT and won a gold medal with Team USA. Nia went on to place 2nd AA at the 2014 P&G Championships along with 1st place finishes in VT and FX. Nia made her senior debut in 2015 and placed 9th AA and 4th on BB at the 2015 P&G Championships and made her first Senior National Team. Unfortunately, although thought to be a contender for the 2016 Olympic Games, Nia ruptured her Achilles in early 2016 and it is unlikely she will be back to full strength in time to make a legitimate Olympic bid. However, evidently this talented gymnasts career has been a storied one and there is no doubt more to come once she is back to full health, both in elite and in college with Nia verbally committed to UCLA, where she I s sure to shine, just as she has ever since her Nastia Cup performance.
Unlike many of the other gymnasts, Kayla’s elite success came before her Nastia Liukin Cup appearance in 2011. In 2009, Kayla burst on to the elite scene, having won the AA at that years JO Nationals, Kayla moved up to the elite level that same year and went on to place 1st on VT and FX and 5th AA at the 2009 CoverGirl Classic, place 1st on VT, 4th on FX and 7th AA at the 2009 Visa Championships in Dallas, TX and top off a wonderful year with her first World Championships berth.At her very first World Championships, in London in 2009, Kayla shocked many and became World Vault Champion. Following an impressive year at the elite level, Kayla dropped to level 10 and continued to have success as a level 10 gymnast, placing 4th AA at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Cup In Jacksonville, Florida and place 2nd on FX, 4th AA and 5th on VT at the 2011 JO National Championships. Once her club career was finished, Kayla accepted a scholarship to the University of Alabama, graduating in 2014, having won the 2012 NCAA Championship with her Alabama teammates.
A gymnast that has moved up in the ranks very quickly, Ashton competed at the 2013 Nastia Liukin Cup in Worcester, Massachusetts and placed 7th AA. Just one year later Ashton had a breakout year, competing at the elite level. She competed at the 2014 P&G Championships and placed 1st on UB and 8th on BB. Ashton then went on to compete at the 2014 Pan American Championships and win a gold medal with Team USA and also on the UB. She then earned her first World Championships berth and compete at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China. There she won a gold medal with Team USA in the team final and qualiied to the UB final and placed 4th in the final. Whilst dealing with injuries, Ashton managed to placed 2nd on UB at the 2015 P&G Championships and is certainly in the mix to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games or at least the 2016 Olympic Trials. Afterwards Ashton will attend the University of Florida, where she is committed beginning in the 2016/17 school year.
This is just a taste of the elite gymnasts that graced the Nastia Liukin Cup stage during their careers. There are many more who wore the pink and black leos designed by Nastia herself.
Among the endless list of elite stars that competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup is also 2012 Junior National Champion, 2012 Pacific Rim Vault Champion and 4 time National Team member, Lexie Priessman who won the Nastia Liukin Cup in 2010 and is currently competing for LSU in the NCAA. Other elite stars and past Nastia Cup competitors are National Team member, Felicia Hano who competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup in 2012 and 2013, 2015 Pan American Games gold medalist, Emily Schild who competed in 2013, National Team Member, Emily Gaskins who also competed in 2013, National Team member, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf who also competed in 2013 and past National Team member, Polina Schennikova who competed in 2012.
Aside from elite gymnasts, NCAA stars have also graced the Nastia Cup stage before beginning their college career. These include Ashleigh Gnat, Nina McGee, Mackenzie Brannan, Alex McMurtry, Taylor Rice, Briley Casanova, Alicia Boren, Brianna Brown, McKenna Kelley, Macy Toronjo, Georgia Dabritz and Llomincia Hall.
Current Florida Gator, Alex McMurtry after her 2013 Nastia Cup win
Evidently, the Nastia Liukin Cup is a hub for for the great gymnasts of the US and has become the stepping stone of many to the next level of their gymnastics career. It has become such an essential part of a level 10 gymnasts career, on parr with JO Nationals, it is most certainly now a goal every level 10 gymnasts wants to achieve in their career in order to complete their resume. With past competitors going on to World and Olympic glory, the 2016 Nastia Liukin Cup competitors who graced the stage last weekend, on March 4th in Newark, NJ are most certainly in good company and we can expect them to achieve great things in the future.