Mikulak, Smith headline field for 2017 American Cup
NOTE: The Netherlands announced that Tisha Volleman will replace Eythora Thorsdottir
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 11, 2017 – Two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak of Corona del Mar, Calif./U.S. Olympic Training Center, and 2016 Olympic replacement athlete Ragan Smith of Lewisville, Texas/Texas Dreams, along with 2016 Olympic parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine, highlight the field for the 2017 American Cup, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on March 4 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The field includes 10 gymnasts who participated in last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including gold medalists Ryohei Kato of Japan, who is the defending men’s American Cup champion, and Vernaiev. The American Cup is the USA’s most prestigious international invitational and part of the International Gymnastics Federation’s all-around World Cup series.
Representing 10 countries, the gymnasts who have accepted invitations are listed below by country. The USA will have an additional men’s and women’s athlete competing as wildcard entries, which will be announced at a later date. All U.S. athletes are expected to show competitive readiness prior to the event.
China: Sun Wei
Great Britain: Sam Oldham
Germany: Lukas Dauser
Japan: Ryohei Kato
Netherlands: Bart Deurloo
Switerzerland: Eddy Yusof
Ukraine: Oleg Vernaiev
USA: Sam Mikulak, Corona del Mar, Calif./ U.S. Olympic Training Center
USA: Wildcard, to be determined
Canada: Elsabeth Black
China: Xie Yufen
France: Melanie De Jesus dos Santos
Great Britain: Rebecca Tunney
Germany: Kim Bui
Japan: Asuka Teramoto
USA: Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas/Texas Dreams
USA: Wildcard, to be determined
Mikulak is the four-time defending U.S. all-around champion and was a member of both the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Teams. In Rio, Mikulak helped the U.S. men to fifth place, while he finished seventh in the all-around and eighth in the floor exercise final. This will be his fourth appearance at the American Cup, where he won the title in 2014. In her first year as a senior athlete, Smith was named as a replacement athlete to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Earlier in the year, Smith earned second place in the all-around at the Jesolo (Italy) Trophy and took gold medals with the team and on the balance beam at the Pacific Rim Championships. She finished fifth in the all-around and second on beam at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Kato, who won the 2016 American Cup, was a member of Japan’s 2016 Olympic Team, which won the country’s first team gold medal since 2004, and 2012 Olympic Team that won the men’s team silver. He also has four World medals (one gold, two silver and one bronze). 2015 American Cup champion Vernaiev won two medals in Rio – taking the all-around silver by less than a .100 margin and winning the gold medal on the parallel bars. He has two career parallel bars World medals (2014, gold; 2015, silver). Dauser, Derloo, and Yusof also competed at the 2016 Olympics. Oldham, who won a historic Olympic team bronze medal with Team GB in 2012, is participating in his second AT&T American Cup, having finished ninth in 2014. Sun took the bronze medal at last year’s American Cup.
On the women’s side, the four women who competed at the Rio Olympics are Black, Bui, Teramoto and Thorsdottir. Two-time Olympians Black and Teramoto finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in the all-around in Rio. At the 2015 World Championships, Thorsdottir helped the Dutch team qualify a full team to the Olympic Games for the first time and also finished eighth on the balance beam. Murakami competed at last year’s American Cup, finishing sixth in the all-around, and Bui took the bronze medal at the event in 2009. Tunney was a member of the 2012 British Olympic team.
American Cup tickets range in price from $39-$255. The platinum ($255) ticket also includes a reserved seat for the Nastia Liukin Cup and Elite Team Cup. Tickets may be purchased through Prudential Center’s box office, ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, or at all Ticketmaster outlets. For group sales (10+ people) information, please call Prudential Center’s Group Sales department at 973-757-6250. For additional information, please go to attamericancup.com. Tickets for the Nastia Liukin Cup and Elite Team Cup will go on sale next month.
The American Cup is the USA’s most prestigious international invitational, and this is the second straight year the one-day all-around competition will be at Prudential Center. This marks only the second time since 2002 that the American Cup will be held at the same arena in consecutive years. Prudential Center has also hosted both the 2016 and 2012 Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
The impressive list of former American Cup champions includes: Simone Biles, Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, Gabby Douglas, Paul Hamm, Jonathan Horton, Shawn Johnson, Danell Leyva, Nastia Liukin, Sam Mikulak, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson, Mary Lou Retton, Kurt Thomas, Peter Vidmar, Jordyn Wieber and Kim Zmeskal-Burdette. Past sites for the American Cup include: New York, N.Y. (1976-80, 1982-84, 2004, 2008, 2012); Ft. Worth, Texas (1981, 1996-98); Indianapolis, Ind. (1985); Fairfax, Va. (1986-90, 2003); Orlando, Fla. (1991-94, 2000-02); Seattle, Wash. (1995); St. Petersburg, Fla. (1999); Uniondale, N.Y. (2005); Philadelphia, Pa. (2006); Jacksonville, Fla. (2007, 2011); Hoffman Estates, Ill. (2009); Worcester, Mass. (2010, 2013); Greensboro, N.C. (2014); Arlington, Texas (2015); and Newark, N.J. (2016-17).
International Gymnastics Federation. The International Gymnastics Federation is the governing body for Gymnastics worldwide. It is the oldest established international sports federation and has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896. The FIG governs seven disciplines: Gymnastics for All, Men’s Artistic, Women’s Artistic, Rhythmic, Trampoline, Aerobic and Acrobatic Gymnastics. It counts 148 national member federations and boasts a 30-person staff at its international seat in Lausanne (SUI), home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Prudential Center. Prudential Center is a world-class sports and entertainment venue located in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Opened in October 2007, the state-of-the-art arena is the home of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) three-time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall University’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball program, and more than 175 concerts, family shows and special events each year. Ranked in the Top 10 nationally by Pollstar, Billboard and Venues Today, Prudential Center is recognized as one of the premier venues in the United States, and welcomes 1.75 million guests annually. For more information about Prudential Center, visit PruCenter.com and Facebook, and follow @PruCenter on Twitter.
USA Gymnastics. Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and Gymnastics for All (formerly known as group gymnastics). For more complete information, log on to www.usagym.org.