Going for gold
Olympic gymnastic hopefuls' path to Paris 2024 flips through Frisco for Winter Cup
One of the most important gymnastics meets in the country is coming to Frisco this weekend — a competition of elite athletes hungry to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The USA Gymnastics 2022 Winter Cup will run February 25-27 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco and will feature both men’s and women’s events for juniors and seniors.
The Winter Cup — as viewers of the hit Peacock docu-series Golden know — is considered the first elite gymnastics competition of the year and one in which athletes can separate themselves from the pack. According to a release, the U.S. men will name a new Senior National Team following the competition, and Winter Cup performances will help determine international selection for several upcoming events.
Winter Cup is also a qualifying event for the 2022 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, which serve as the annual national championships for artistic gymnastics in the United States (they were held in Fort Worth last year and will be contested in Tampa, Florida this year).
Simone Biles — last year's record-setting U.S. national champion, Olympian, and now newly engaged woman — will not be competing in Winter Cup. Neither will her Olympic medal-winning teammates Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee, Jade Carey, and Grace McCallum (all of whom are successfully competing on the NCAA collegiate level now).
But some of the top names expected to compete in Frisco include Senior National Team members Skye Blakely (Frisco, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics), Konnor McClain (Cross Lanes, W.Va./WOGA Gymnastics), Ciena Alipio (San Jose, Calif./Midwest Gymnastics Center), Addison Fatta (Wrightsville, Pa./Prestige Gymnastics), eMjae Frazier (Erial, N.J./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center), and Zoe Miller (Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre).
For the men, the headliner is Yul Moldauer, part of Team USA's Tokyo Olympics squad. He'll be joined by fellow World team members Alex Diab (Glen Ellyn, Ill./United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, 2021), Colin Van Wicklen (Spring, Texas/University of Oklahoma, 2018), Vitaliy Guimaraes (Arvada, Colo./University of Oklahoma), Ian Gunther (Houston, Texas/Stanford University), Paul Juda (Deerfield, Ill./University of Michigan), Riley Loos (El Dorado Hills, Calif./Stanford University) and more Olympic 2024 hopefuls.
An updated list of competitors is here.
The Winter Cup will be accompanied by the annual Elite Team Cup and Nastia Liukin Cup, which feature top emerging talent in the country.
Senior men will kick off the competition at 6:30 pm Friday with the men’s senior all-around title at stake. Apparatus champions (based on two-day scores) will be crowned at 5:30 pm Sunday.
"The top Elite Team Cup performers from Saturday’s competition will join their senior counterparts for the men’s Day 2 session on Sunday, as junior individual event titles will also be up for grabs," the release says. "The top-five senior all-around finishers on Day 1 of competition will earn automatic selection to the U.S. Men’s National Team. The full team will be announced in the days following Winter Cup."
The women’s senior competition, which will determine all-around and event champions, will kick off at 12 pm Saturday, February 26. Juniors will compete Sunday at 12 pm with all-around and apparatus titles on the line.
"The top-three all-around finishers in each division will automatically qualify to represent the U.S. at the 2022 DTB Pokol Mixed Cup and Team Challenge March 18-20 in Stuttgart, Germany," the release says. "Winter Cup performances will also help determine the remaining team members for the event."
According to Inside Gymnastics, Tokyo Olympians and gymnastics fan-favorites Sam Mikulak and MyKayla Skinner will serve as in-venue hosts for the events.
"As co-hosts, Mikulak and Skinner will help amplify the spectator experience by engaging with fans during warmups and competition breaks throughout the three-day event," the site says.
For those who want to attend in person, tickets ($19-$85) are available through SeatGeek.
Live coverage will be broadcast on the NBC family of networks, as follows:
- The Nastia Liukin Cup, 1:30-4 pm Friday on Peacock
- Men’s Day 1 competition, 6:30-9 pm Friday on Peacock, re-airing 3-5 pm Saturday on CNBC
- Women’s senior competition, 12-2 pm Saturday on NBC
- The Elite Team Cup, 6:30-9 pm ET Saturday livestreamed on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics
- Both Winter Cup sessions on Sunday livestreamed on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics
Podium training for each Winter Cup division, as well as the Nastia Liukin Cup and Elite Team Cup, will be livestreamed free on USA Gymnastics’ YouTube channel.
“After the success of last year’s Winter Cup — the first to feature both men’s and women’s competitions — we can’t wait to bring this event to Texas,” said Stefanie Korepin, USA Gymnastics’ Chief Programs Officer, in a statement. “This is an exciting time to be a gymnastics fan with so much up-and-coming talent. Fans will have the opportunity to cheer on some of their favorite athletes while getting to know a whole new generation of gymnasts who have their eyes set on Paris in 2024 and beyond.”