A preview of the field at the 2018 American Cup.
By Gina Pongetti Angeletti
- Morgan Hurd. The 2017 World All-Around Champion and balance beam silver medalist, Hurd is ready to show the world that she can handle the pressure and is no longer just the one that snuck in on top. She is ready to stay, with upgrades and a greater poise. Always a fan favorite with her live feed from National Team camp and hilarious Tweets about everything from gymnastics to her obsession with Harry Potter. The smiles and giggles of Morgan Hurd will be showcased today. She has also added a double layout to her packed floor routine!
- Yul Moldauer. Sneaking in a pommel horse gold in 2014 at the U.S. Championships, Moldauer started his career just like he likes it—slow and steady. There has never been controversy or doubt with Moldauer, only consistency, dedication and success. He finished on top the following year in 2015 (18-year-old division) and popped on to the NCAA scene with an all-around title for Oklahoma. Because of Sam Mikulak’s Achilles injury at the 2017 Winter Cup, Moldauer was one of the United States’ two representatives at last year’s American Cup, along with Akash Modi. Moldauer won his first international meet there, and his teammate Modi rounded out in third. Six months later, Moldauer earned a bronze at the 2017 World Championships and a solid seventh place finish in the difficult all-around division.
- Maile O’Keefe. Having just turned 16 this past Monday, smiling Maile is ready to show the senior division that she can hang with the best of them. She successfully won the junior division at U.S. National Championships for the past two years, and as Inside Gymnastics noted in 2017, the juniors would have given the seniors a run for the money if age divisions were null and void. Maile proved then that she could hang with the big kids with a solid combination of stacked D-scores and E-scores that proved consistency and versatility.
- Allan Bower. Using his time at the University of Oklahoma as a calculated growing period. Bower was a part of four years of team podium finishes and rounded out his last competitive year as an all-around bronze medalist and earned silver medals on all events but rings and high bar. He has fared well on pommel horse, and his versatility and calm demeanor make him a viable option for using consistency to make himself a name.
Who is missing from the meet?
- The energy of Simone Biles, who is currently training and regaining skills. She is hoping to make her post-Olympic break meet return at the U.S. Classic in July. As USA Gymnastics transitions leadership and works toward finding a new home for training camps, Biles’ home gym, World Champions Centre in Texas, will be host to the April National Team Training Camp. This is the second location—with the first being in February at LSU—since closing the training center at the Karolyi’s Ranch in Texas.
- A national team coordinator. On the ever-so-present side panel to the raised podium-style meets sits some leadership with familiar faces and some empty chairs as well. Valeri Liukin held this position since September of 2016, the month following the 2016 Olympics Games which was Marta Karolyi’s last official job before retirement. In February of this year, Liukin resigned due to the trickle-down stress from the Larry Nassar situation as well as the never-ending outside pressure on the program.
- Ragan Smith. Texas Dreams athlete and protégé of Olympian and coach Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and husband Chris Burdette, was the 2017 American Cup Champion. Smith was injured before competition at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal and has since been recovering and ramping up, focusing on her elite season, starting in Italy with the City of Jesolo Trophy meet. This American Cup meet is another meet in a series of starting lineups that are missing some top contenders.
- Sam Mikulak. In 2015, the four-time U.S. National Champion finished fourth at the American Cup, repeating the same place again in 2016. He was the favorite, along with Smith, for the 2017 meet, but an Achilles injury at Winter Cup would sideline him.
An International Welcome
- The Kenzo Show. Japanese gymnast Kenzo Shirai is here and looking great. Coming off of a phenomenal 2016 Rio Olympics and an incredible Montreal Worlds, Kenzo could definitely win here in Chicago.
- Elizabeth Seitz. A two-time German Olympian, Seitz has her eyes set on earning a major uneven bars medal and rising in the all-around. A fourth-place 2016 Rio Olympics finish on bars, and fifth place at the 2017 World Championships, were not what she had in mind for her career. In the past three years, from Worlds to the Olympics and back to Worlds, she has finished in tenth, 17th, and ninth in the all-around, respectively. At the age of 24, nearly eight years Hurd’s senior, she is out to prove that she can still hang with the new kids and not get lost just off podium.
- O, Canada. Brooklyn Moors brought artistry back to the spotlight as the shoo-in for the Longines Prize for Excellence at the 2017 World Championships in her home country. The current Elite Canada AA Champion is ready to put it all together internationally here in the U.S. Having individual top-eight finishes in all four events in the last year, Moors demonstrates that she can be on the edge of podium for each event and tie it all together for all-around success. Watch her artistry, not just through the eyes of choreography on floor.
The meet begins at 10:30 CST on March 3! You can follow us through Inside Gymnastics on social media, with live tweets and other postings, as well as interviews, quotes, and more from the athletes. You can watch the American Cup on the Olympic Channel and live on NBC starting at 12:00pm CST. Livestreaming is also available, via NBC Live Extra, which is available online at NBCSports.com/live
If you can’t tune in today, relive the excitement on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel.