I know that this is late in coming but I haven’t been all that excited about the most recent installment of the American Cup. My husband got home just as the last 5 minutes were rolling and asked excitedly, “So, how was it?!” And I just kind of shrugged and said “eh.” While there were a few highlights, I did not find the competition terribly stimulating. It felt like an exhibition with 4 American Women and The Paul Hamm Show on the side. That being said, here are a few of my (admittedly unenthusiastic) thoughts…

Nastia Liukin, USA

  • Nastia’s new Beam routine is beautiful. I liked everything about it. She changed her leap combos and removed the wolf jump, which I’ve blogged about before. She took out the whip back at the end of her bhs layout step out combo, which allows her form and amplitude on the layout to be more fully appreciated. I dig her new move – it’s basically a Portocarrero to a stand position, ending in a scale. It’s original and looks cool. Her switch ring leap is the best in the business. She actually lands it without the deep bent knee that we see from most other women on this skill. Well done.
  • Like many others out there, I was definitely impressed with Sam Peszek. She rocked her Beam set and was solid elsewhere. I didn’t expect to see her perform so well.
  • Shawn Johnson looked great, as usual. Some have said that she seemed to lack her usual spunk but I didn’t think so. She fell on her Amanar. No big deal. And like Dwight Normile points out in his most recent Stretching Out section on International Gymnast website, maybe her second place finish was a blessing in disguise. It probably did take some pressure off of her. She’ll be back, no doubt.
  • Speaking of Shawn Johnson, she still does not lift her head on any of her Beam choreography. That bothers me. And I really wish she would get a new Floor routine. One of the most exciting parts of the Olympic year is to see the new floor routines that everyone debuts for the big year. Seems like the reigning World All Around Champion should have something new. There’s still time, I suppose. I’m hoping she’ll unveil something new at Nationals. We’ll see.
  • Speaking of Floor routines, I think Nastia should go back to using her 2005 music if she’s not going to be getting a new floor routine either. She is an unbelievably beautiful dancer and her tumbling looked pretty strong in New York. But her current music kind of drags. I feel like it makes her look tired out there. Let’s compare the two. Tell me which one you prefer.

2005 World Championships Event Finals


2008 American Cup


  • I was disappointed to see Shayla Worley struggle at the Garden. I wanted to see her challenge Liukin and Johnson. Everyone has an off day. She’ll be back stronger than ever.
  • On the Men’s side of things, I was hoping Raj Bhavsar would end up closer to the top.
  • Paul Hamm looked good. Does anyone else think it should at least be a little bit harder for the guy to come back to competition after a 2+ year hiatus? Seems too easy. I hope somebody can give him a run for his money at Nationals.

And that’s about it. I really can’t say much about the international competitors since we didn’t get to see them, except on Floor for the Women and a few random sightings for the Men. The American Cup seems to be hyped more and more every year* but ends up disappointing me more and more every year. What did you all think about the competition?

*How many times can we hear about how prestigious the event is and how this is the first step to the Olympics?

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