In a dramatic turn of events, American Jordyn Wieber captured her second American Cup Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. After world all-around champion Aliya Mustafina coughed up her substantial lead with a fall on floor exercise in the final rotation, Wieber, who had replaced the injured Nicole Hibbert (Great Britain), hit a solid floor routine to defeat the talented Russian, 59.899-59.831.
Needing only to avoid a major break to win, Mustafina was encouraged to water down her floor by coach Alexander Alexandrov. But the stubborn will that carried her Russian team -- and herself -- to gold medals at the 2010 Rotterdam worlds backfired. Mustafina opened floor with an excellent 3.5 twist and followed with a tucked double Arabian. Then, in a moment reminiscent of the fall by American Rebecca Bross at the 2009 worlds, Mustafina under-rotated a 2.5 twist and punched a barani to her hands and feet.
Wieber, the 2009 American Cup champion, mounted floor with a tucked double-twisting double back (step out of bounds) and needed a large step to save the landing on a 1.5 twist through to triple twist. After a clean 2.5 twist to front layout, Wieber stuck a double pike to get the win. She also placed first on vault, beam and floor, while Mustafina topped the bars standings.
"It felt great to win my second American Cup title," Wieber said. "It's such an honor."
Said Mustafina: "I was competing a new floor routine, and it is early in the season. So I'm not upset to finish second in the all-around."
Wieber, who turns 16 on July 12, had a fall of her own when she slipped off the uneven bars on a Tkatchev, but a clean Amanar vault and an impeccable balance beam set kept her in the mix. Her victory also made for a double win for her Twistars USA coaches John and Kathryn Geddert. On Friday night Wieber's clubmate Grace Williams won the second annual Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup in the same venue.
Lacking the difficulty on vault and bars to challenge for the title, American Alexandra Raisman was steady for third place (58.565).
"I'm really happy with my performance today, especially floor, because that is the highest score I've received on that event," said Raisman, a floor finalist at the 2010 worlds.
In the men's competition, American Jonathan Horton edged Nikolai Kuksenkov of Ukraine, 90.198-90.032, for his third American Cup title. Horton also won rings and tied for first on high bar with Kuksenkov, who also won pommel horse. The Ukrainian was the only gymnast in the field to have 6.0 of D-score on all six events.
"It was awesome," Horton said. "I worked as hard as I could to come back, especially after my thumb injury. I'm so happy it went well today."
Winner in 2006 and ’07, Horton, who is coached by Tom Meadows at Cypress Academy, made quite a rebound from a broken thumb he sustained earlier this season. At the Winter Cup in February, he could barely get through his rings routine, the only event he entered. In Jacksonville, Horton admitted he wasn't in top shape but relied on experience to get through the meet.
American Jake Dalton, a late replacement for Russia's Sergei Khorokhordin, relied on strong tumbling (first place on floor) and vaulting to place third (88.497).
Other event winners were Koji Uematsu (Japan) on parallel bars and Philipp Boy (Germany) on vault.