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The American Cup of America for Americans – Live Blog


The elites are here. I hope you’re not ready for it because I’m not either. The season after the Olympics is always a weird one featuring a heterogeneous mix of elite veterans hanging onto a series of broken limbs while they wait for NCAA or the sweet release of retirement who are bumping up against new seniors trying to prove that their talent is more interesting than that of the people we’ve already forgotten.

Four years ago, this is the event where a little pink-adorned Jordyn Wieber brought her Amanar to the world stage and beat Olympic team member Bridget Sloan. USAG was going for a similar dynamic this year by inviting the stick-around Olympian, this time Kyla Ross, to compete against the preordained star of the quad, Katelyn Ohashi. (That is, after Elizabeth Price pulled out.) Ross then also pulled out with a heel injury that did not prevent her from doing podium training, and she has been replaced by a muscle named Simone Biles who sports a Maroneyesque Yurchenko 2.5. Both can contend for the World team this year, but that is a premature conversation until we know who is going to pretend to compete this year and who isn’t even going to bother.

This competition will send a very important message:

Dear Everyone over the Age of 16,

You have been forgotten. You are elderly wrecks. Go sit in a rocking chair or dance with some stars or something. It’s time to meet the new crop.

Because this extravaganza is so well thought out every year, the competition will begin online here at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT with the first two rotations from the men and will switch to NBC at 1:00 ET/10:00 PT for the final three rotations from each gender. I know. I don’t either.
Start list

Our camera is fixed on a blurry image of the intro video being shown on the arena vision. Should we let them know they are already underperforming NCAA broadcasts?

Now the annual parade of the pop songs/flags. Just to make the tone of the competition clear, the US gets two flags and every other nation gets one. 

Seitz, Ferrari, and Teramoto are our veterans for the women. Everyone else is a first or second year senior. I approve of Maegan Chant already because her name is a sentence. Maegan, Chant. Let’s talk about this PA announcer’s pronunciation of “Ferrari” and “Italy.” Yeah, you’re Italian.

Dalton and Leyva get the biggest cheers for being recognizable and excellent.

Shannon and Jon Horton doing the web commentary. It tells you exactly how seriously everyone takes this competition that they couldn’t even wheel out a Daggett for the web stream. “The theme of ‘a new quad.'” That’s not a theme, that’s just a time period.

Rotation 1:
Sasaki opens floor with a double double tuck with a hop, sticks his double front. Very low on his front double pike and may have touched, so this will be a low score. Fall on dismount. Rough, rough routine. They could add some arena music during men’s floor, couldn’t they? It’s so static otherwise. 13.800.

Verniaiev also falls – his coming on a double double layout. Part of the story that rarely gets mentioned during the NBC broadcast each year is that this meet comes at a horrible time of year when people aren’t prepared. That’s part of the reason no one attends/looks very good. 14.333.

Jon mentions that he doesn’t want to talk about himself, then talks about how amazing his 2008 bar routine was. Actually, he hasn’t been bad so far, though.

Thomas from GBR – I love watching tall (not tall, tall for gymnastics) men working on the floor because the line is so excellent – Thomas, Shatilov – a few breaks here and there but his form is stronger than the others so far. He looks farther along and more prepared. 15.400. Execution scores are going high, which surprises all of no one.

Giraldo Lopez opens with a nice floaty double arabians, has a little lack of control on one pass and again on the dismount which will hurt his score, but he hit. 14.133.

Now we get the annual pretending about how prestigious this competition is – vamping during the mid-rotation warmup.

Ishikawa for Japan. I’ve never seen him before either, Jon. Good height on his tumbling, he has a little bit of bow legs which make his leg form look weaker than it is, a few hops on landings, but he has a Japanese level of precision. 14.866.

Danell now on floor, pretty low on his layout double double and OOB, arabian double layout is also very low. Shannon wants people to try Mannas in their living room. As if that’s a thing that people do. The two flat passes will hurt his score, and he just completely balked a pass and ran through. What? Danell, what? Just gets his DLO around. That was rough to watch and bizarre. 12.800.

Nguyen mounts with an excellent double double tuck, totally bounces out of a double full. Jon is more worried about his shorts than his routine. We all were. His routine would have been excellent if the landings had been a bit more secure.

Dalton finishes the rotation – he bounces out of his double arabian piked, but otherwise he had the most precise tumbling in both the landings and the form. Very strong job. I’m glad they can do only one Thomas skill now. 15.700.

Yes Shannon, they should add some music to men’s floor. Just background music. It lacks interest without that. We saw one camera angle during this event. One. I’m so glad they allotted those eleven dollars to the poor people who had to put together this broadcast.

Rotation 2:
Jon and Shannon are talking about babies. It’s good that Jon is identifying these skills for us. American fans so rarely get skill identification because of NBC. Verniaiev starts well with one little break early on horse. 15.033.

Thomas has a big break on a travel and a few leg breaks overall but he gets through it. Jon talking about how people did a good job on pommels is a little funny because getting through the routine upright is a good job for Jon. He’s proud of everyone who finishes. 14.033.

Giraldo Lopez has good contained form, had to muscle up a few things and had a leg break on a forward travel, but it was fine.

Danell has the flu, is the update we have received. Jon refers to “some junk still in his system.” I’m really missing our NBC trio because Jon and Shannon are just sort of there and unremarkable. They’re not saying preposterously hyperbolic and eye roll inducing. It’s a real shame for all of us who have come to expect that level of excellence. Ishikawa has excellent form throughout his horse routine. Extremely clean. 14.533. Not a ton of difficulty.

Something is happening with Macready and the Harlem Shake. This is everything I hate about everyone’s behavior. Stop wobbling. Is this fun? Is this what fun is? The worst. I don’t want to think about it anymore because of all the trauma.

Leyva working rather sluggishly again on horse, several leg breaks on his circles, pushes up the dismount, but he gets through it. 14.566.

Nguyen was going well until the dismount when he fell over and didn’t really finish the dismount and stepped. That’s a shame. He had a little bit of hip form in most places as well, so he will get hit on execution.13.033 – looks like they didn’t give him a dismount, perhaps? Dalton follows by Horton-ing through his sloppy routine.

We’ve finished the first two rotations for the men, and now the women will arrive to warm up on vault while the men move to rings. After two rotations, Thomas leads but barely. It should be an interesting final few rotations, especially since Leyva and Nguyen have fallen behind after early messes.

Rotation 3:
Seitz opens with a perfectly acceptable DTY, low landing with some staggered legs. Are they going to completely alternate routines, because this is going to take rather forever?

 Thomas sticks his full twisting DLO off rings, which should help him stay toward the front. Ohashi to vault now,pretty good DTY for her on a vault she has struggled with. Shannon expects her to upgrade to a 2.5. You do? She got good distance and landed with a fair bit of control. 14.900 for Ohashi. Really clean routine for Giraldo Lopez follows on rings with another stuck landing.

When Jon Horton calls someone tiny, you know she’s tiny. Is he over five feet? How much over? Teramoto does a Y1.5 with some tucking right away on the block. OK vault.14.000. Everyone’s execution on vault is in the high 8s or low 9s. Little separation so far. Sorry, my NCAA narrative is spilling over into elite.

Cool to see the v sits from Ishikawa on rings, wibbly wobbly burgers on his handstands and some big stepping on the dismount. That will be a lower score.

Excited to see Biles on vault now, Jon mentions her training a triple, great form on her 2.5, but she has been more contained on the landing before, big hop forward. Still gets a 9.433 execution score. I’m not yet used to the 2.5 being 6.3 difficulty instead of 6.5, but it is a good change. The problem is that the code also lowered the value of the top handspring and roundoff half vaults, which reduces the point. 15.733 for Biles.

Leyva gets through his rings, not quite as secure in the holds and handstands as he can be, and a step on the dismount. He’s getting through it after the bizarreness on floor.

Chant to go on vault now for Canada, this is NCAA recruiting catnip right now. Handspring layout half, which is unusual for a Canadian, a little piked but they’ll probably give her credit for the vault. A little stiff on landing. Fine vault. Good line, though, that’s already obvious. 14.133.

Nguyen begins with excellent, secure, contained work, good swings, like many of them so far he has a bit of wobbling and wonkiness in his holds, but strong routine.

Ferrari still rocking the lack of shoulders, if we can call that rocking, which I don’t. Y1.5 with some bent knees and a hop forward. Has her style changed throughout the years, Shannon? Dalton shows excellent strength on rings, I wasn’t super happy with the length of some of his holds, but otherwise it was good.

Moors to vault now, did anyone else lose the broadcast? Oh well. Missed that one.14.900 for her DTY. Same as Ohashi. We’ll finish vault with Jupp of GBR, who is a new one. Yfull with little distance and a hop in place. I would say British vaulting but her yurchenko form wasn’t terrible. Who was the last British woman to do a strong Yurchenko vault?

Verniaev doesn’t have the strength of some of the other competitors, which shows in some of the hold positions, rough dismount with a very low landing and possibly a knee brushing.

Switching to NBC now. Do we dare hope for more than one camera having to zoom across the arean to see the events?

Rotation 4:
Simone Biles with a hefty lead after the first event, which is as it should be. Bars has never been the strength, but she has upped the difficulty and worked on the execution there, so this performance will be telling. Also watch for Ohashi’s form in her Lgrip pirouetting, which will largely dictate her score.

Al’s here. Let the competition really begin. How patriotic are their leotards, Al? Does the floor music represent their international heritage, and is that relevant? I’ve missed you, Trautwig.

Our intro surprises no one by invoking the 2012 team. Their legacy will open every broadcast for the next four years.”The most important annual international event in American gymnastics.” This is what I’ve missed from you, NBC. Nastia is here instead of Elfi, and she has become quite good as a commentator lately.

Biles on bars now, Tim calls a Wieler kip “Jordyn Wieber’s move,” Biles gets through her routine quite well. She has form breaks, a handstand here and there, a leg separation on her Shaposh, but a near stick on the dismount. She hit it. It’s the weakness, but it’s not a Raisman/Maroney weakness. 14.800 with 8.700 execution.

Leyva vaulting with excellent form and just a step back. The execution score should be quite strong, especially because it is men’s vaulting. He breaks 15. It’s not a difficult vault for him, so the execution should be that good. 

Seriously, NBC is continuing with the color-coded shapes system? Didn’t they get enough negative feedback from me about that? It doesn’t make anything easier to understand. Al: “We’ll be trying to figure out what these scores mean.” The title of his autobiography?

Nguyen does the same vault as Leyva, slightly more ragged with a step forward instead of back. A tenth lower on execution than Leyva.

Ferrari on bars, Hits her l pirouettering into a pretty nice jarger, the shoot back to high bar was a little rough, lock legs on landing but just a minor step.

They’re really trying to push the importance of this event once again. It kick starts everything, you know. Moors has a nice shaposh half, hits the jaeger, a little late on her toe full, just a minor hop on her original dismount. Got through it pretty well.  

Dalton vaulting the Tsuk triple, very nice form, small hop forward. Good vault. Sasaki attempts the double front half but wasn’t close to securing that landing and puts his hands down.

Jupp on bars – pretty clean form on this bars routine, nice line, far away on her jaeger but she caught it, missing a few of these handstands and finishing the pirouetting late, but another fine hit. Not a ton of British gymnasts do NCAA, but the coaches should get on people like Jupp and Tunney because they could be excellent.

Verniaiev does the same vault as Sasaki but finishes it much earlier and lands quite well.

Are they still trying to pretend like there was something untoward about having the money for the protest at the Olympics? Those are the rules. You have to pay for the protest. They weren’t bribing anyone, Al.

Of all the people on bars, we’re skipping Seitz? The most interesting one? Thomas couldn’t complete his double front and has a fall as well.

Oh, poor Bross. They’ve just whited her name out of the WOGA narrative. Now it’s Carly, Nastia, Katelyn. Ohashi looked pretty strong until her L pirouetting which was so late and had the leg separations and will get destroyed by any international judging panel. A few breaks otherwise and a hop on the dismount, but she got through it.

Because of the deductions on bars, Ohashi scored under Biles and is well behind right now. Seitz in third just back of Ohashi, and Moors in fourth. Dalton has a minor lead over Verniaiev, but they have a large margin over the rest.

Rotation 5:
The women are on to beam and the men go to Pbars. A retrospective on the sights and sounds of the post Olympic tour. Aly tells us that she and Gabby are best friends. Nastia’s asking her least favorite question, when are you coming back? Normal, fake, post-Olympic answers. Gabby gives a specific date to return training – May, Aly talks about DWTS. Does anyone else think that Dancing with the Stars has always sounded like a euphemism for death? Oh, she’s dancing with the stars now. . .

They held Leyva for quite a while on PB so they could finish the interview. Not the cleanliness in the legs and the handstands and the everything that we have come to expect. I like that he’s doing a double front now, but he barely got that around.

Moors on beam, looking very secure through the punch front and side aerial, not a ton of connections in this rooutine, so she’ll lose a bit on difficulty but very secure through it all. They’re talking about eliminating fake connections as if it is a bad thing. That’s a very good thing. Fine double pike with just a step back. Good job. 14.000.

Nguyen starts nearly as sloppily as Leyva but he pulls it together and gets precise and contained as the routine goes. Dalton follows and has a number of breaks as well in his skills, leg separations and missing handstands, sticks the double pike dismount, but it will be difficult to recover from the beginning. Verniaiev has an opening here. 

Jupp apparently showed quite strong difficulty on beam (6.3) but we did not see the routine. She has the highest beam score so far.

Ohashi to beam now, opens with a strong arabian to split – pretty strong in her layout full series, just a minor wobble and it perhaps looked a little less piked than it has in the past. Wobble on the sheep jump. Am I going to get tired of the walkover walkover series? I love it now, and I don’t want to be sick of it. Step forward on the double pike. Didn’t get all of her connections, but of course she didn’t. 15.333 with a 6.8 D score.

Dalton ended up getting a higher score than I expect on pbars, American Cup, Verniaiev still has a bit of an opening here but is also incurring breaks on pbars, and has done amazingly well to hang on twice in this routine, but it will be an exceptionally low score. Thomas was rather sluggish in his routine through every skill, but he endured it without the major breaks we have seen from many others. 

Biles to beam – pretty significant wobble on the walkover, secure through the punch front. Was totally short on her bhs to layout series and came off – never had a chance once she landed that layout. That’s a shame. She finishes that tuck full dismount so early, but a hop back.

Ohashi now has a lead of over a point going into the final event while Dalton has extended his lead significantly over Verniaiev. It’s always difficult when a competition becomes the person who hits four events wins. Unfortunately, that is often the case at this event because of the field and timing. It feels like a flat, lackluster event because no one is pushing each other.

Rotation 6:
Did we even see Maegan Chant on the NBC broadcast? They pretended Chant and Teramoto didn’t exist. Leyva on hbar, like many of this events today, he just looked a little off from the beginning. It seemed like he was pushing through and showing his usually impressive gymnastics, comes off on the layout tkathev, competition to forget for him, fall in the dismount. Bad day.

Ohashi, Biles, and Dalton are all in the second group of this rotation, so expect them to get a lot of commercials in during the first group. Routine – commercial – routine – commercial.

Giraldo doesn’t have the difficult of some of the others in this routine, and he is having mistake after mistake until a fall on the dismount. Two rough bar routines to start this rotation.

Jupp on floor now, Tim is talking up her choreography, which seems just sort of regular elite to me. She moves well, though. Good double arabian, short on the tuck full landing and bounces awkwardly, her dance elements are pretty close, good clean routine, and I do appreciate the lack of significant pausing before tumbling. I’d definitely want to see her in NCAA. Someone get on the phone.

Rough day for Thomas today, but I hope he can pull it together on his last event.Wonderful height on his release skills, over on a handstand and takes an extra swing, no one is hitting. American Cup. Very low on the dismount.

“It’s a showdown of the two Americans.” Um yes. It’s American Cup. Isn’t that the whole plan. 

We’ve finally decided that Seitz exists, a little low on the pike full and just stays in bounds, floppy legs in her twisting skills, falls out of the triple turn slightly, bounces back out of the double pike, not quite in form at this point in the year, finishes with a good double back, though.

Al’s not happy with the choreography. Neither am I, but it’s hardly surprising or different than the others we see. Verniaiev has some leg and bent arms early in her bar routine, good straddle position on his releases, but just a few too many breaks with pauses and leg form. Just holds onto the stick on the dismount.

This is a much better orutien for Ohashi than her last one, love combinations that get more difficult on the second pass like a 1.5 to front double. She’s secure in the landing of all this tumbling, just a minor step that will get deducted (after the first instance now), but it’s not major. Hit routine. She’ll be the winner. Fine day and four hit routines, which she needed.

Tim has dediced that Biles is the most powerful gymnast he’s ever seen. Don’t accuse him of overstatement. Biles may very well be on that pro track, but you know Sarah Patterson’s eyes turn houndstooth every time she sees her. They’re right that she is tremendously powerful, but she is incurring major deductions bouncing out of these landings. This is a good choreographic strategy: move exceptionally quickly so that no one notices your movements are all arms. Another huge stumble back, and another bounce out of the 2.5 dismount. The landings are a little Dos Santos in that she will get hugely deducted for all of them in spite of the power.

Dalton to finish now, and really does just have to finish to win, like Ohashi, he has shown breaks but is farther along in his training and more consistent than anyone else on the day. Great routine, once again the cleanest gymnastics of the day.

Biles goes 14.000, so Ohashi will win by a point and a half. Moors still to finish on floor, and I’m eager to see this routine. Great tuck full to start, she has very confident landings and nice twisting form, and those two things don’t often go together. Great routine, love it. Go to UCLA.

Last routine of the competition is Nguyen on bar, once again not the cleanliness we’ve come to expect from him, but he hits and that’s our American Cup.

Final Scores – Women:
1. Ohashi – 59.199
2. Biles – 57.666
3. Moors – 57.066
4. Seitz – 56.698
5. Ferrari – 56.098
6. Jupp – 55.665
7. Teramoto – 54.266
8. Chant – 51.399

Ohashi is getting more comfortable in these interviews. We’ve seen much more nerves from usual first-year seniors. Good for her.

Final Scores – Men: 
1. Dalton – 89.398
2. Verniaiev – 87.298
3. Nguyen – 87.031
4. Ishikawa – 86.531
5. Thomas – 85.831
6. Leyva – 85.265
7. Sasaki – 83.232
8. Giraldo Lopez – 82.298

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