Monday, February 4, 2013

20 routines I want to see at the 2013 Winter Cup: Part 1

Don't know what the Winter Cup is? Please go hang yourself by your toenails and whip yourself with a wet noodle.


Unless you are a hardcore U.S. men's gymnastics fan or had nothing else to watch on TV in the early 90s,

you probably have no clue what the Winter Cup is, and that's okay. Simply put: it's the meet that officially kicks off the elite gymnastics season for the U.S. men. For me, this year is extra special because I have the honor of being in attendance. Provided that the siren song of the Las Vegas Chippendale dancers is not too tempting, I'll be watching the following 10 routines. For sure.


1. Eddie Penev, Stanford
When Eddie started competing at Stanford, he was competing for Bulgaria, and his floor routine opened with a double-twisting double layout. My, oh my, have things changed! Now, he's competing for the U.S. and his floor routine opens with a skill named after him (i.e. his first pass in this video). Anyone who has a skill named after him is pretty badass in my book and certainly deserves my attention.

2. Stacey Ervin, Michigan
Just watch the video, and you'll understand why I want to see this routine.

Umm, yeah... a front full into a double pike--that's one of those combinations that I couldn't do even in my dreams.

3. Jake Dalton, Oklahoma
There are a few guys who can out-tumble Jake, but difficulty is not the real reason gymnastics fans love Jake. Besides his good looks (duh), his clean execution is a notch above the rest. Seriously, I don't know if anyone can beat his toe point. (Maybe Sasha Artemev back in the day.)

Anyway, just imagine what the world would be like if Jake Dalton's feet and Viktoria Komova's feet somehow had offspring. Can you imagine the perfection of those feet? It would be one of the Seven Wonders of the Gymnastics World.

4. Steve Legendre, Oklahoma

Back in the 90s, "She knows how to throw every trick in the book" was a hackneyed line on NBC. Well, I think it's time to resurrect that tag line because it might be the best way to describe Steve Legendre on floor. I look forward to sitting back and seeing what combinations he will throw. I might throw an adult temper tantrum if he doesn't throw, like, an Hypólito into a triple-twisting front layout.

5. Bobby Baker, Aerial
(It's too early in the morning. It took me about 5 tries to spell his name correctly. I kept typing Booby Baker.)

In the fall, Gymnastike posted this video of Bobby training full-twisting double fronts. If you're a teenager training skills that aren't even in the Code of Points, you have my attention. Unfortunately, I have a hunch that we will not be seeing the "Baker," as I'm tentatively calling it, this weekend. At Nationals in 2012, he threw a lot of Arabian skills. So, I'm expecting to see more of those, but then again, who knows? Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised, and I'll see my first full-twisting double front.

Pommel Horse

6. Glen Ishino, Cal

On pommel horse, Glen isn't quite at Berki status, but for an American, he has impressive extension. Frankly, there aren't too many American gymnasts who can challenge Glen on pommel horse--if he is having a good day. If he's struggling, though, I'd say that Mr. Vise (aka Alex Naddour) has a good shot of posting the high score on pommel horse. Speaking of which...

7. Alex Naddour, USA Youth Fitness Center

Like Glen, Alex is not quite at Berki status when it comes to his extension. That said, he is one of the better pommel horse workers in the United States. At times, though, Alex can be a little inconsistent, so I'm eager to see how he handles his first outing since tour.

8. Ty Echard, Ohio State
Long and lanky, Ty just looks like the horse type. Unfortunately, unless you're a hardcore NCAA fan, you probably have never heard of him, but he's definitely someone to watch on horse. Though he can be a tad bit pikey when his feet are behind him, his extension in front is probably the best in America right now.

Honorable Mention: Craig Hernandez of Penn State


9. Brandon Wynn, Ohio State
Let's cut the crap. At this present moment, the U.S. men are not renowned for their work on the rings. That said, there are a few diamonds in the rough. For example: Brandon Wynn. What I like about his 2012 routine is that he included a variety of strength positions. At Nationals, he opened with a Maltese (also called a swallow), then an iron cross, and then an inverted cross; and he later on did a planche. Few Americans have such a large repertoire.

10. Donnell Whittenburg, Paragon

Donnell is one of the up-and-comers in the U.S. men's program. If you watched him at the Mexican Open, you saw him struggle a bit on rings. Nevertheless, it's undeniable that the boy is, like, really strong and has a lot of potential on this event. Personally, I'm going to be looking at his consistency and his form, especially on his swinging elements, which can become a bit pucky (mixture of tuck and pike).

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!


  1. I'm not sure Echard will even show. That start list includes people who I know are not going. F'rinstance - Alex Buscaglia. I know you would watch his HB routine if he was there, 'cause he's really good at it :).

    Horton and Mikulak are not going.

    Keep an eye on Trevor Howard on SR. He's gotten some good scores in the NCAA and he's not just a one event gymnast. Also Jesse Silverstein can score close to 16 AND he can sort of do PH. Sort of.

  2. Re: whether Bobby Baker's full-twisting double front will make an appearance -- For what it's worth, NGJA just released its first interpretations doc of the season (almost certainly in preparation for Winter Cup), and they evaluated a full-twisting double front as an E (as expected). See

    (The rest of the update is either skill evaluations or rule updates that FIG made and distributed at the FIG courses but have not been updated in the written Code yet. Expect an updated Code late Feb. / March.)

    Unless you know someone else who would have submitted this skill for evaluation the same week as Winter Cup, I think there's a decent chance we'll see Baker throw it(especially since it's now worth more than most of the Arabian skills Baker was throwing at Nationals 2012).

  3. You're aware that the Hypólito is downgraded, right? One tenth lower than its arabian double counterpart. I'm afraid that we won't be seeing the skill for a long while.

  4. sean golden did a full twisting double front in 2008 I believe. I know he competed it at least once.

    1. Yeah. I remember seeing him compete it at HNI (the Houston National Invitational) (though I don't remember which year). If I recall, he did handspring bounder full-twisting double front as his opening pass.

  5. Jake Dalton doesn't have a good toe-point, he sickles his feet so they arch. A good toe-point is parallel with your ankle. Not only does it look horrible, but it's very damaging because you're over-using the muscles around your ankle and foot. A good toe-point is natural and in line with your leg. Oleg Verniaiev has a good toe-point. Imagine someone doing a handstand on the parallel bars... everything is perfectly straight until their feet "with a good toe-point" start arching. They should be straight up. Most judges don't notice so they don't deduct.