The 2017 American Cup will take place in the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, USA on March 4th 2017.
This meet will kickstart the 2017 World Cup All Around series that will include the American Cup, the Stuttgart World Cup and the Glasgow World Cup.
The event will be streamed live on YouTube by USA Gymnastics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDoXCP_k6rQ
More information on the event can be found on the official website: http://www.americancup.com/
Some tickets still available here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/2017-american-cup-gymnastics-newark-new-jersey-03-04-2017/event/02005181E80A7EA3?artistid=2313950&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=206#efeat4211
The post Olympic year is always a funny one and lineups for events are always a strange mix of new senior talent, some Olympians that have continued training and some seniors that may have just missed out on an Olympic spot the year previous. This lineup is certainly that precise mixture of new senior talent who hope to make their mark and position themselves as ones to watch for the upcoming quad, Olympic medalists who are back on the competition floor, hoping for more success and some seniors who are hungry after missing out on adding the title of Olympian to their resume last year.
Of course, the US women are the ones to watch and are likely to come out of this meet victorious and continue the legacy of USA Gymnastics, now under the watchful eye of Valeri Liukin after Martha Karolyi stepped down following the 2016 Olympic Games.
Given it is a US event, the United States will send two gymnasts to the competition. The first of which is Ragan Smith. Smith, who became a senior gymnast in 2016 started her 2016 season with a bang, taking 2nd AA, on BB and FX at the Jesolo Trophy and taking 1st on BB at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships. Ragan really emerged as an Olympic team contender in her first year as a senior gymnast after finishing her junior career with a 3rd place finish at the 2015 P&G Championships.Whilst she finished 8th AA and 5th on BB at the 2016 P&G Championships and 2nd on BB and 5th AA at the 2016 Olympic Team Trials, Ragan just missed out on an Olympic spot, being selected as on of the three alternates for the U.S. Olympic team. She travelled to Rio and trained throughout the Summer there in case the U.S. team needed her and following the Games did a select few Kelloggs Tour stops but went almost immediately straight back to training upon her return from Rio, making her an obvious leader of the U.S. team coming into the post Olympic year where alot of the seasoned veterans for the U.S. are either taking a break from gymnastics or are at college.
A strong and consistent competitor, she did show some nerves in the Olympic leadup last year but overall was strong and consistent. She is keeping her charming FX routine from 2016, complete with strong tumbling. She still has great difficulty on BB and her UB routine, whilst not her best event is capable of posting a decent score. From training videos, her leaps seem to have gotten a little better whilst some of her technique is still questionable at times. Nevertheless, Ragan is certainly the favourite to take the American Cup title in Newark.
Whilst Ragan is of course the front runner, the USA’s wildcard, 15 year old Riley McCusker must not be underestimated. Riley is a first year senior and very new to the elite scene, having only qualified elite last year. She had an impressive first elite season last year as a junior, finishing 2nd AA, on BB, UB and FX at 2016 P&G Championships and being added to the US Junior National Team. Entering the senior ranks is a big deal for any gymnast but Riley seems ready to take on the challenge even though she is so new and has had no international experience as a junior. She of course hails from the New Jersey gym which produced 2016 Olympic Champion and breakout star that accompanied Ragan last year as a fellow first year senior in Olympic contention, Laurie Hernandez. She will compete in front of a home crowd and with beautiful long lines and great flexibility, she is bound to impress. She upgraded quite significantly in 2016 to become successful on the junior stage and she has stated that she has again upgraded since last Summer to be ready to compete on the senior stage. Riley has stated that she has upgraded to a DTY on VT, added 8 to 9 tenths on both UB and BB and has gotten a new FX routine. She took 1st place in verification at the recent National Team Camp so I definitely would watch for Riley, and I have a funny feeling she could take the top spot in Newark and use this as her coming out party, given that this is not just her first senior competition but her very first international competition, ever!
As I said, the post Olympic year is always filled with a great mixture of new talent, Olympians and seniors who may have just missed an Olympic spot the year previous. With Riley and Ragan filling two of those positions, the position of Olympian is filled by Great Britain’s Amy Tinkler. Tinkler, who is taking the place of 2012 Olympian, Rebecca Tunney who was originally slated to compete has long been Great Britain’s next big star and after winning an historical bronze medal with Team GB at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Amy again showed what she was made of on the biggest stage in the world. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Amy, the youngest member of Team GB at the Games, in any sport took a bronze medal in the FX final behind American powerhouses, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. Amy, after a whirlwind 2016 will return to Newark after competing in the same arena at last years American Cup where she took 4th place. Amy took some time off following the Games in order to take advantage of opportunities that arose as a result of being an Olympic medalist. In addition to this, Amy also moved to London from Durham, meaning a gym change to South Essex Gymnastics. Given her time off and gym change, it is hard to know how Amy will compete. She seems to have many of her skills back, including her BHS LOSO LOSO on BB but given the new code, it is hard to predict but I suspect her Olympic medal will give her extra confidence on the competition floor.
Another Olympian on the roster is Germany’s Kim Bui who helped Germany to an historic 6th place finish in the team final of the 2016 Olympic Games. Bui counteracts McCusker’s inexperience with bags of experience, having been a senior gymnast since 2005. Bui was an alternate to Germany’s 2008 Olympic team and a member of both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams. She took the bronze medal at the 2009 American Cup and the bronze medal in the UB final at the 2011 European Championships and will undoubtedly use her plethora of experience at this years American Cup to deliver strong and solid performances.
In addition to Bui and Tinkler, another Olympian with bags of experience on the roster is Japan’s Asuka Teramoto who helped Japan take 4th place in the team final at the 2016 Olympic Games, an historic placement for the Japanese women’s programme. Teramoto has competed at a number of World Championships along with the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and will be hoping to put on a great performance to kickstart the road to the Olympic Games in her own country.
Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos adds more young and upcoming talent to the field and is really a very exciting gymnast for France. She has had some great results in the competition season following the Olympic Games. She is a second year senior but has not had much international experience as a senior so it will be interesting to see how this young lady takes to the big stage.
The Chinese gymnast, Xie Yufen is also one to watch for and shines on UB. Although she has been a senior since 2014, she has had very little international experience, competing mainly on the World Challenge Cup circuit, she is really a specialist but is capable of a good AA score, if she hits her routines.
The full WAG roster is as follows:
- Ragan Smith (USA)
- Riley McCusker (USA)
- Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos (FRA)
- Xie Yufen (CHN)
- Amy Tinkler (GBR)
- Emily Whitehead (AUS)
- Tisha Volleman (NED)
- Asuka Teramoto (JPN)
- Kim Bui (GER)