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The American Cup, the USA’s most distinguished international gymnastics competition, will make its inaugural visit to Milwaukee on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Fiserv Forum. The 2020 American Cup is the first of the four all-around events included in the International Gymnastics Federation’s World Cup Series, which is part of the Olympic qualification for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
With the world's top elite men's and women’s artistic gymnasts competing, there's a lot of talent to watch. Here’s a glimpse of eight gymnasts to keep an eye on during the event.
The American Cup will be live-streamed for viewers in Canada right here on FloGymnastics.
Fresh off Elite Canada, Ellie Black, the 2017 World Championships all-around silver medalist, made a partial return last month, competing in bars and beam. After an ankle injury at last year’s Worlds, Black had surgery to repair her ligaments, and Elite Canada was her first meet since the injury. The Halifax native is most known for her powerful vault, dynamic tumbling, and deliberate consistency.
Her dynamic floor routine is performed to the PRIDE Fighting Championships theme song, perfectly suiting her upbeat, positive, and vibrant personality. Here’s Black during the floor qualifying round.
In 2019, her third time competing at the American Cup, Black won the bronze. Black also won the all-around at the Pan American Games last July.
René Cournoyer (Canada)
Having been to four World Championships, Cournoyer has been a member of the Canadian senior national team since 2015. Comfortable with elite competition, Cournoyer took third in the all-around with an 81.900 at the 2019 Pan American Games.
While he has had some injuries and has needed some time to heal and work to full strength, he’s a veteran competitor, showing consistency in all his routines.
At the 2019 Canadian Men’s World Team Qualifications, Cournoyer swung with clean lines and precision in his high bar routine.
If you want an impressive show of strength and skill, look no further than Cournoyer on the floor exercise, also from 2019 World’s Qualification.
Cournoyer again demonstrates lovely form and clean execution on his first tumbling pass, a double-double. With the stuck landing during the first floor pass, it’s clear Cournoyer isn’t retiring any time soon.
Every gymnastic fan has their favorite gymnast, and social media can sometimes make gymnastics divisive — but not when it comes to Morgan Hurd. Hurd is a gymnast who unifies the fan base because everyone agrees on her beautiful execution, stuck dismounts, and endearing personality.
The 2017 world champion is known for pacing herself so she can peak at the right time. Despite the immense pressure from it being an Olympic year, Hurd is known for consistency and superb pacing, hitting her routines when it counts. Check out Hurd’s uneven bars routine from the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, where she received a 14.60.
Six-time national champion Sam Mikulak is the most decorated male gymnast of this generation. Although he won a bronze medal during the 2018 World Championships Event Final, Mikulak is well aware of the hole in his resume regarding an Olympic podium finish.
Watch his parallel bar routine from last month’s Winter Cup Challenge, where he received a massive score of 15.35!
Perhaps his upgraded routines and a renewed sense of confidence will propel him onto the podium for the third time at the American Cup. A win here can give him the momentum he needs for Olympic team qualification and, ultimately, a Tokyo medal.
Wild Card Spots
During last year's inaugural Junior World Championships, Kayla DiCello was part of the U.S. team that took bronze. Individually, DiCello finished fourth in the all-around and was the only competitor that qualified for all four event finals.
Last August, DiCello competed at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. After two days of competition, she came away winning the all-around for the Juniors, with a total combined score of 112.700 — a score that would have placed her third all-around in the senior competition. At Nationals, the native of Boyd’s, Maryland, increased her floor difficulty by debuting a full-twisting double layout.
Many passionate gymnastic fans believe DiCello is a dark horse candidate for the final Olympic spot. A podium finish at the American Cup can set this prediction into motion.
Following a team selection camp last September, Shane Wiskus was made part of the U.S.A.’s Men’s Worlds Gymnastic team. It was Wiskus' near-flawless execution and mental strength during the world’s qualification that has given him respect and name recognition in the gymnastics world and beyond.
Thanks to upgraded routines and often picture-perfect form, the University of Minnesota junior finished second in the all-around at the Winter Cup Challenge two weekends ago, maintaining his place on the U.S. men’s gymnastics national team.
During the all-around, Wiskus compiled a score of 84.550, behind only all-around champion Sam Mikulak. Wiskus came in fourth in parallel bars and floor exercise. He tied for fourth in high bar and finished third in rings and first in vault with a massive 14.450. Look at the height he gets in this vault!
Because his coaches have been pacing him, he will bring his high-flying A game and will not disappoint this weekend. If the American Cup goes like his previous meets this year, he better start looking for his passport!
The most experienced member of Italy’s Core Four, a member of Italy’s World Championships bronze-winning team, Giorgia Villa is an international fan favorite. Villa excels all around, with her vault and uneven bars standing out. What she may lack in difficulty on the other apparatuses she makes up in her charismatic presence and captivating choreography on the beam and floor.
Before she takes the floor or beam, she can often be seen winking to the audience. Her impish charm and unique elements are reminiscent of Olga Korbut and the early Soviet gymnastics presence.
Villa’s routines frequently pay homage to popular elements from the seventies. Her beam includes a back-extension roll, and her floor includes a dive roll (at 1:33 in the video).
Villa’s tenacity and high-level routines should never be counted out, and there's a good chance she will be winking to the audience from the podium.
Oleg Verniaiev is the 2019 World Championships all-around bronze medalist, hailing from Ukraine. If that win is not enough to give you an idea of how great he is, watch the men's all-around competition from the 2016 Olympics. In what many believe was the best all-around duel in men’s gymnastics history ever, Verniaiev won silver with Kōhei Uchimura winning gold by only 0.099. In an era of gymnasts winning meets by entire points, this all-around remains a classic.
Verniaiev had double ankle surgery in January 2019, bringing him considerable pain in his routines, which made his bronze-medal win at the 2019 World Championships even more remarkable.
The 2016 Olympic parallel bars champion and individual all-around silver medalist will likely bring the same grit and high-flying gymnastics to the competition at the American Cup, along with a sense of humor. Winning on the parallel bars in 2014, Verniaiev stood on the podium listening to the wrong anthem being played (the Uzbekistan anthem instead of Ukraine’s anthem). Other than some eyebrow furrowing, the Ukraine took the wrong song in stride.
With Verniaiev being a heavy favorite to reach the top of the podium, let’s hope the audio team can find the right music.