LIVE BLOG: Nastia Liukin Cup

The Nastia Liukin Cup is here! This is one of the most prestigious events on the level 10 calendar, second only to L10 nationals, but perhaps the most coveted title due to its limited roster and national television audience. The winners will soon join an exclusive circle—recent winners include such NCAA household names as Haleigh Bryant, Makarri Doggette, Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Andi Li and Leah Smith. But it isn’t just the winner who will be remembered, as there are always star performances that stick out to fans. The gymternet is still talking about Helen Hu’s 2016 floor routine!

We have written an extensive behind the numbers preview article, so be sure to read it to familiarize yourself with this year’s qualifiers. The roster includes 11 five-star recruits, with Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Oregon State, Auburn, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Denver, LSU and Michigan all represented. Last year’s senior co-champion, Alabama signee Jamison Sears, and junior champion Kamila Pawlak are back to try and defend their titles. 

Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on USA Gymnastics’ YouTube Channel.

Welcome to the 2023 Nastia Liukin Cup! The gymnasts are warming up and the competition will begin shortly!

Rotation 1

DiCello, VT: Yurchenko half, a little knee bent in the air and a step on landing. 9.475

Fulcher, BB: front walkover mount; triple wolf turn – solid; Onodi, wobble; beautiful, fluid presentation; BHS + LOSO, small bending of the hips; double twist dismount, nearly stuck. Good job! 9.200

Smith, FX: Titanic music, amazing toe point and artistry; front double twist, stuck; 1.5 twist to punch front, slightly off on the punch but sticks it; Rudi to stag jump. Amazing job! Remember she’s scored a 10.0 on floor before! 9.900

Emerling, VT: Yurchenko full, chest down on landing, step forward. 9.250

Johnson, FX: double layout, a bit of form in the air; front layout to front full twist, slightly overrotated; good leaps and jumps; double tuck, best of the three landings. 9.600

Bruce, UB: Ray; Pak salty, beautiful form; half pirouette rushed; double layout dismount, slightly underrotated, hop forward. 9.475

Sears, FX: full-in; double back, bounce out; double pike, bounce forward. Rather uncontrolled landings. 9.750

Merdes, FX: front double full, slightly off balance, Rudi to LOSO, a bit underrotated in the leap series; double tuck, chest down and step forward. 8.825

Neff, BB: side aerial to BHS, wobble; leap series, not sure she’ll get the connection; side aerial to two feet, solid; leap jump half; stuck 1.5 twist. Hit routine, but not her best. Beam is usually her Achilles heel, so it was important for her to start off strong. She may have opened the door with that routine just a tad. 9.500

Draser, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, nearly stuck. A bit of knees in the air, but excellent job. 9.600

Rodriguez, VT: stuck Yurchenko full. Slightly piked down on landing. 9.600

Winger, UB: Maloney to Pak, good form, good pirouette and handstands; full out, small hop forward. Solid routine. 9.675

Pilgrim, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, hop forward. Great height in the air. 9.800

LaCoursiere, VT: Yurchenko full, hop back. Maybe she’ll go for the 1.5 on her second attempt? No, second Yurchenko full. Hop back. 9.700

Wahl, BB: BHS to LOSO, knees; wobble on a leap; switch leap to back tuck, broken connection; side somi, solid; 1.5 twist dismount, step forward. 9.150

Chio, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, stuck cold, but shoulders slightly back; she takes a step back when she salutes. 9.825

Speck, BB: cat leap to side aerial to leap sequence, super solid; straddle leap half, beautiful; front walkover, broken connection, bent hips; goes again: front walkover to front toss series – interesting! 1.5 twist dismount, college stick. 9.350

Koren, FX: double pike, step back but chest a bit down; a bit short on her leaps; 1.5 twist to front pike, large step forward; double tuck, good landing. Fun fact: her coach is Lexi Priessman, who won the inaugural NLC. 9.100

Crain, BB: beautiful straddle leap; BHS to LOSO; front aerial, fall; wolf turn; solid leap series; side somi, solid; double twist dismount in combination. Amazing job for the youngest gymnast in the competition! 9.000

Ulrich, VT: front handspring front pike half, a bit of form in the air but nearly stuck. 9.750

Childress, FX: double pike, big hop back and OOB; 1.5 twist to front pike, much bette landing; double tuck, beautiful landing and gorgeous choreography. 9.450

Vandevander: straddled Jaeger, bail to handstands, good handstands throughout, full-in dismount. Solid routine. 9.600

AFTER ROTATION 1: Georgia signee Lily Smith is leading the senior competition with a huge 9.900 on floor; Jordyn Johnson and Olivia Vandevander are leading the junior competition with two 9.600. Johnson competed on floor and Vandevander on bars.

Rotation 2

Frechette, UB: half pirouette on the high bar, slight leg separation; straddled Jaeger, fall; bail to handstand, short; better final handstand; double layout, underrotated, second fall. Plenty of potential! 8.000

Johnson, VT: Yurchenko full, flared but slightly slow in the air, small step forward and to the side. She was trying to stick too hard, but fantastic height and flare! 9.550

Sears, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, great height, hop back. 9.725

Wenner, FX: beautifully high double pike, hop back; front full twist to front layout – second skill slightly low; double tuck, beautiful in the air, but she trips on the mat and falls. So unfortunate!!! 9.075

Bruce, BB: BHS to LOSO, beautiful; switch leap to leap jump, back leg slightly low; side aerial to leap jump; jump on the side of the beam, shy of 180 degrees; side aerial to full twist dismount; she’ll have to upgrade that for college. 9.450

Neff, FX: front double twist to half twist to double stag jump, good landing; good leaps; 2.5 twist, solid landing; double tuck, good; Rudi to LOSO. She looks solid, polished and experienced. 9.875

White, BB: She boasts a career high 9.900 on this event. Onodi, good landing, a bit of form; front aerial, wobble and knee issues; good leap series, slightly shy; BHS to LOSO, solid; leap jump half on the side of the beam, good; 1.5 twist dismount in combination, step forward. 9.375

DeVries, FX: Triple twist, underrotated; front full twist to front layout, better landing; Rudi, large step back. 9.650

Pilgrim, UB: Maloney to Pak, form on the Pak; good handstands; almost stuck full-in dismount. 9.625

Winger, BB: very short on her switch leap half, BHS to LOSO, solid, good front toss; leap jump half on the side of the beam, good; stuck 1.5 twist. 9.600

Rodriguez, UB: good Tkatchev, solid bail to handstands, stuck double layout. Great routine! 9.750

Oliver, BB: BHS to LOSO, wobble; good leap series; side aerial, chest down and wobble to the side; good leap jump half on the side of the beam; 1.5 twist dismount, underrotated, step back. She didn’t seem to push enough on her skills, perhaps the result of nerves. Lots of potential, though. 8.850

Keller, FX: double tuck, good landing, slightly cowboyed; front layout to front full twist, a bit of form; Rudi, chest slightly down. 9.575

LaCoursiere, UB: Maloney to Pak, Maloney half, stuck full, gorgeous handstands. Amazing, as expected. Just WOW! 9.950

Scheible, VT: front handspring front pike half, plenty of height, small hop on landing. 9.900

Chio, UB: straddled Maloney to Pak, Maloney to Gienger, full-in dismount, college stick. 9.800

Koren, VT: Yurchenko layout, piked, small hop back. 9.050

Speck, FX: Front double twist, weird step slightly to the side; 1.5 twist to front full twist. WOW! This is probably the best floor routine of the competition in terms of artistry. Apparently she choreographs her routines herself, truly impressive! 9.650

Ulrich, UB: Maloney to Pak, beautiful form; great form in double layout, small hop back. GORGEOUS handstands. 9.875

DiCello, UB: Maloney to bail, form breaks throughout; full pirouette to double tuck, hop back. She still needs to work on her form, but good job. 9.300

Smith, VT: tucked Yurchenko, not what she was looking for… Second attempt, Yurchenko full, a bit piked and a step back. 9.425

Fulcher, FX: double tuck, hop back, too much juice; front double twist, good landing; 2.5 twist, good landing. 9.475

Fine, BB: switch leap to LOSO, solid; BHS to LOSO, slightly short of rotation but she holds on; good leap series; sorry, I missed the end. 9.025

Vandevander, BB: BHS to LOSO, solid; good side aerial; solid leap series and side somi; 1.5 twist dismount, big step forward. 9.325

Wahl, FX: full-in, good landing; slight underrotation on double turn; double tuck, another solid landing; a bit shy on her leaps; 1.5 twist to front layout, good elevation on the second salto. 9.550

AFTER ROTATION 2: LaCoursiere leads the senior competition and Johnson continues to lead the junior meet.

Rotation 3

Neff, VT: stuck Yurchenko 1.5, BEAUTIFUL! Second attempt, Yurchenko double twist, WOW!!! First time ever! Step back, but wow!!! 9.875

Bruce, FX: double layout, slightly arched but excellent landing; front full twist to front pike, another solid landing; double tuck, chest a bit down. 9.675

Rodriguez, BB: good leap series; BHS to BHS to LOSO, super solid; beautiful front toss; side somi, beautiful; stuck 1.5 twist dismount. Fantastic routine! 9.675

DeVries, VT: Yurchenko full, very low. 8.925

Scheible, UB: fall on her Jaeger, unfortunate; good bail to handstand; full-in, step back. She said she didn’t see the bar, probably the lights. 8.950

Winger, FX: front double twist, a bit underrotated, step back; 1.5 twist to front full twist, much better landing; 2.5 twist dismount, again slightly underrotated. 9.700

LaCoursiere, BB: BHS to LOSO, solid; front aerial, wobbles on both sides of the beam, how did she say on?! 1.5 twist dismount. 8.750

Shepard, FX: double tuck, very good landing; front layout to Rudi, a bit of form in the air; front double twist, good landing. 9.700

Chio, BB: BHS mount; BHS to LOSO to LOSO, beautiful; switch leap to switch leap half, solid; front aerial to leap series, amazing; good full turn; front toss, significant wobble; double twist dismount in combination, hop back. 9.500

Vandevander, FX: big double pike, good landing; a bit short of rotation in her leaps; front full twist to front pike; Rudi, hop back. 9.550

Pilgrim, BB: BHS to LOSO, slight knee bend; full turn, small wobble; pretty leap series; front somersault, hop forward; aerial to full twist dismount. 9.375

Wahl, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, big step forward. 9.425

Crain, VT: beautiful Yurchenko full, small hop back. Second attempt, stuck. 9.675

Pawlak, UB: Maloney to bail to handstand, beautiful handstands, full-in dismount, stuck. Victory flip after her routine, haha. 9.725

Mustari, FX: front double twist, beautiful landing; 1.5 twist to front layout, beautiful form and great landing; 2.5 twist, slightly overrotated. 9.650

Smith, UB: Maloney to bail to handstand, stunning form; amazing handstands; double layout dismount, she releases the bar early, step forward. 9.850

Fine, FX: full-in, stuck, wow! 1.5 twist to front pike; double pike, overrotated. 9.575

Johnson, UB: Maloney; bail to handstand, good; a bit short on a couple of handstands; double tuck dismount. 9.350

Frechette, BB: BHS to LOSO, off; good full turn; solid beam series; front aerial, second fall; back tuck to leap jump, solid; double twist dismount, hop back. 8.250

Sears, UB: Chow to Pak, half pirouette, slightly short, full-in dismount, hop forward. 9.750

Wenner, VT: beautiful Yurchenko full, flared, small step back. 9.775

Emerling, BB: BHS to LOSO, solid; front aerial, slightly short of rotation but she pushes through, beautiful leaps; back tuck, solid; 1.5 twist dismount in combination, step forward. A very good beamer! 9.700

Stewart, VT: Huge Yurchenko 1.5, insane height and distance from the table, WOW! Another gymnast who holds her leotard in her mouth while running. 9.800

AFTER ROTATION 3: Neff leads the senior competition and Maddie Stewart overtakes Johnson for first place in the junior competition.

Rotation 4

Winger, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, a bit deep on landing, hop back. Second attempt: better position on the table, but fall. 9.450

Wahl, UB: Maloney to Pak, form breaks; half pirouette, a bit late; double layout, step forward. 9.625

LaCoursiere, FX: front layout to front double twist, overrotated, probably OOB; 2.5 twist, slightly underrotated. 9.450

Vandevander, VT: Yurchenko full, big hop back. 9.400

Chio, FX: full-out, beautiful; 1.5 twist to half twist to straddle jump, solid landing; double pike, another solid landing. 9.950

Crain, UB: lots of handstands on the high bar; Pak salto, lovely; beautiful double layout dismount. She doesn’t have the difficulty yet, but great lines. 9.200

Mustari, VT: Yurchenko full, pike down. 9.250

Ulrich, FX: double layout, chest slightly down; 1.5 twist to front layout, solid landing; double pike, chest forward, a bit of a bounce back. 9.650

Pawlak, BB: switch leap to leap jump, solid; BHS to LOSO, solid, some knees; leap on the side of the beam, shy of 180 degrees; cat leap to side aerial, wobble; 1.5 twist dismount, stuck. 9.450

Smith, BB: front aerial, wobble; BHS to LOSO, solid; switch leap to leap jump, nice extension; front toss, small wobble; gainer full off the side of the beam, stuck.

Fine, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, fall. Second attempt, stuck! Awesome!

Stewart, UB: Maloney to bail, short and form; double layout, fall. A bit scary.

Johnson, BB: BHS to LOSO, slightly off but she holds on; good leaps; strong front toss; fending off nerves, good job; double tuck dismount, slightly underrotated.

Duke, VT: Yurchenko full, good height.

Wenner, UB: Maloney, beautiful; bail to handstand, a bit short; double layout, a bit arched and step forward.

Sears, BB: BH to layout to two feet, wobble; front somersault, solid; switch leap to switch leap half; double tuck dismount in combination, very overrotated, lots of steps back.

Neff, UB: Gienger to bail, solid; Tkatchev; full-twisting double layout, small hop back. I’m not sure it’s enough to overtake Chio, but excellent routine.

DeVries: Maloney to Pak, leg separation; full-twisting double layout, step forward.

Rodriguez: front double full, a bit of knees; double tuck, solid landing; Rudi to stag jump, lovely.

FINAL: Avery Neff and Kailin Chio tie for the senior title, Ulrich takes bronze. Addy Fulcher wins the junior title, with Vandevander and White tying for silver.

READ THIS NEXT: Judge’s Inquiry: Illustrating the Differences Between Level 10 and NCAA Judging

Article by Talitha Ilacqua

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