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Moldauer, Smith Clinch American Cup Victories
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

NEWARK, N.J.—In her first meet of the year, U.S. Olympic alternate Ragan Smith easily clinched her first American Cup title, which was held at the Prudential Center on March 4. Even a fall from balance beam on a standing tucked full could not stop her, such was the lead she had built up.

Smith defeated Japanese veteran Asuka Teramoto, 56.099-54.899, while Melanie De Jesus dos Santos of France finished third with 53.899.

Americans Yul Moldauer and Ragan Smith captured the American Cup on Saturday in Newark, N.J., the first of three all-around FIG World Cups in 2017.

"It feels amazing," said Smith of her victory, which included event titles on vault (Yurchenko-double twist) and floor exercise (double layout mount; 1.5 twist through to triple twist; Arabian double tuck; double pike). She also has her sights set on the biggest competition of 2017, the Montreal World Championships in October. Asked if she thinks she can win the all-around gold, Smith replied in the affirmative. Confidence is one of her strengths, to be sure.

Teramoto was steady throughout. The 21-year-old vaulted a handspring-layout barani and, on bars, performed a Gienger, piked Jaeger and a clean tucked half-in half-out. Her beam included a double turn, two flip-flops to a layout, an Onodi and a roundoff 2.5 twist dismount.

Olympic alternate De Jesus dos Santos placed first on beam (front pike mount; flip-flop layout; roundoff double tuck dismount, which she stuck). Her bars were also notable: inside Stalder-Shaposhnikova; inside Stalder-Tkatchev; Maloney-half; full-twisting double layout.

Germany's Kim Bui placed fourth and won uneven bars (piked Jaeger; Bhardwaj), while American Riley McCusker had a rough day to finish fifth. In her first meet as a senior, she missed her Stalder-piked Tkatchev on bars (although she nailed her barani-in back-out dismount from elgrip), and she crashed her double back dismount off beam when one foot slipped off the beam on her second flip-flop. She landed hard on her back but was able to perform on floor exercise, where her expressiveness is similar to that of MG Elite teammate Laurie Hernandez.

"Yeah, a little bit," McCusker said if she was more nervous than usual. "And it was my first international competition."

Xie Yufen (China), Tisha Volleman (Netherlands), Emily Whitehead (Australia) and Amy Tinkler (Great Britain; she withdrew from floor) finished sixth through ninth, respectively. Suffice to say that the season is young, and not every gymnast is in peak form yet.

In the men's competition, the last two American Cup men's champions were pitted against each other, but a couple of Americans made it interesting. Olympic gold medalists Ryohei Kato of Japan, the defending champion, and Oleg Vernyayev of Ukraine, who won this meet in 2015, were in the mix until the end. But the star of the day was American Yul Moldauer, who led throughout each rotation and earned the title with six steady routines. Vernyayev, who won three events despite looking a bit rusty (pommels, rings and a tie on p-bars), could not catch Moldauer in the final rotation. Turns out Vernyayev was missing an element group on high bar, which cost him 0.5. He lost to Moldauer, 85.931-85.699.

Still, Vernyayev respected the outcome. "I never discuss scores," he said, later adding the Moldauer had "earned" the win.

Moldauer, who may represent the future of U.S. men's gymnastics, won the first event, floor exercise, with a 14.566 (punch Randi; double Arabian, half-out; double-twisting front, front-full; 2.5 twist-barani; double twist; triple twist). He also said he did not change any of the routines he's been competing for the University of Oklahoma, where he is a sophomore. Afterward, Moldauer was humbled by his win.

"I feel great," he said. "I look up to all the guys here. I watched them in the Olympics, so it's very special to compete with them. Honestly, I thank them for coming to this venue and allowing me to compete with them. I just want to thank everyone who's helped me get here, and helped me in the gym and outside the gym."

Stanford senior Akash Modi grabbed third with 84.398 and tied for first on p-bars (full-out dismount, stuck cold). Asked how it was to compete against Vernyayev, Modi said, "It was not that intimidating, because I've competed against him before, but it was definitely awesome to compete with the Olympic silver medalist."

Coincidentally, Oklahoma competes at Stanford tonight, and both teams will be without their top all-arounders. Modi was hopeful that his team could pull out a win. "I think it should be pretty even," he said. Then, in jest, "Obviously, I know Stanford's going to come out on top." Moldauer declined to make any predictions.

Bart Deurloo of the Netherlands began with falls on floor and pommel horse but rallied the rest of the way to place fourth (80.165), which included an event title on high bar (Cassina; piked Kovacs; Kovacs; Kolman).

Eddy Yusof of Switzerland placed fifth (80.164) and won vault with an excellent piked double Tsukahara.

Kato was in the top four prior to high bar, where he fell hard on a Cassina. He ended up sixth (80.065).

Sun Wei (China), Sam Oldham (Great Britain) and Lukas Dauser (Germany) placed seventh through ninth, respectively, with each struggling on various events.

The American Cup was the first of three all-around competitions of the FIG's World Cup season. The second  is the DTB Cup, to be held March 18-19 in Stuttgart, Germany, followed by the London World Cup, scheduled for April 8 at the O2 Arena, site of the gymnastics competition at the 2012 Olympic Games. Gymnasts earn points based on their finish at each event, ranging from 60 points to first to 25 points for eighth.

External Link: Official Website

2017 AT&T American Cup/FIG World Cup
March 4, Newark, N.J.

Women's All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1. Ragan Smith 5.4 14.433 5.6 14.400 5.8 13.266 5.6 14.000 56.099
2. Asuka Teramoto 5.0 13.766 5.5 13.766 5.5 13.633 4.8 13.066 54.231
3. Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos 4.6 13.466 5.6 13.300 5.7 14.233 4.7 12.900 53.899
4. Kim Bui 4.6 13.500 6.0 14.533 4.7 12.466 4.9 13.133 53.632
5. Riley McCusker 5.4 13.766 5.9 13.100 5.5 12.600 5.1 13.500 52.966
6. Xie Yufen 4.6 13.100 6.0 13.833 4.7 12.700 4.7 11.966 51.599
7. Tisha Volleman 4.6 13.600 4.5 11.866 4.3 12.200 4.5 11.600 49.266
8. Emily Whitehead 4.6 13.433 5.0 13.066 4.8 11.300 4.7 10.600 48.399
9. Amy Tinkler 4.6 13.700 5.5 13.300 6.0 12.566 39.566

Men's All-AroundFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1. Yul Moldauer 5.6 14.566 5.3 14.000 5.7 14.300 5.2 14.466 5.9 14.866 5.3 13.733 85.931
2. Oleg Vernyayev 5.8 13.300 6.5 14.700 6.1 14.633 5.6 14.433 6.7 15.033 5.4 13.600 85.699
3. Akash Modi 5.7 13.833 5.9 13.466 5.8 14.066 5.2 14.200 6.1 15.033 6.0 13.800 84.398
4. Bart Deurloo 5.2 12.500 6.1 11.666 5.3 13.633 5.2 14.433 5.7 13.400 6.4 14.533 80.165
5. Eddy Yusof 5.5 12.466 5.4 13.300 5.5 13.966 5.6 14.700 5.7 13.566 5.0 12.166 80.164
6. Ryohei Kato 5.9 13.600 6.0 14.066 5.6 14.100 5.2 14.500 5.4 12.733 4.9 11.066 80.065
7. Sun Wei 5.4 13.000 5.6 12.900 5.6 13.133 5.6 13.500 5.0 13.633 5.8 13.866 80.032
8. Sam Oldham 5.5 12.633 5.6 13.100 4.9 13.500 5.2 14.133 5.7 14.333 5.4 11.700 79.399
9. Lukas Dauser 5.3 13.000 4.8 11.400 4.6 12.133 5.2 13.100 6.0 13.300 5.2 13.066 75.999
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