With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games roughly 16 months away, U.S. gymnasts Yul Moldauer and Leanne Wong won the American Cup, the annual one-day all-round gathering of international talent in the U.S.
It was a back-and-forth battle between Moldauer and his friend and five-time U.S. all-around champion, Sam Mikulak, but in the end Moldauer got the win by just one-thousandth of a point posting a final score of 85.932 to Mikulak’s 85.931.
Moldauer’s landings and dismounts on the day were some of the stickiest. After Mikulak sidestepped his landing on vault, NBC Sports mics overheard Mikulak say to Moldauer, “I wanted that stick like you!”
Typically dominant on parallel bars, Mikulak made an uncharacteristic error when his hands slipped as he attempted to launch himself the full length of the bars with one skill
It came down to the high bar between Moldauer and Mikulak, with Mikulak holding the edge on paper as the 2018 World bronze medalist in the discipline. But, Mikulak, like on parallel bars, made a costly mistake when he rotated around the bar in the wrong direction midway through his routine.
Moldauer is the first gymnast to win three years in a row since U.S. gymnast Blaine Wilson completed his own hat trick at three-straight American Cup events back in 1999.
“It was just so fun going out there with Sam again,” Moldauer told NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce after his win. “The last time we truly competed together for the U.S. was at Worlds. It was just a great feeling having him out there. I can’t describe how I’m feeling right now.”
Moldauer posted the highest scores of the day in the vault and parallel bars, and finished second in rings and the floor.
In the women’s competition the 15-year-old Wong, making her senior international debut, posted the highest scores of the day on vault and balance beam and had the second best floor routine score, to walk away with the win.
Wong and the U.S.’ Grace McCallum were tied at the halfway point, but Wong’s balance beam routine pushed the rookie ahead of the 2018 World Team Champion. McCallum finished her day in second.
“It’s so incredible and I’m really excited and it was really fun,” Wong said. “I tried to treat it the same as any other meet, and that’s pretty much what it was.
“I was just afraid about the part that each gymnast goes one-by-one, but I think I handled it really well.”
The next major gymnastics event will be a World Cup stop in Stuttgart, Germany from March 16-17, where the U.S.’ reigning world Champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is expected to compete.