2020 American Cup: preview, start list, how to watch, & more

By Patricia Duffy | March 6, 2020
2020 American Cup: preview
@shanewiskus/Instagram, @morgihurd/Instagram

Cue Nastia and Tim, prep your start lists, refresh your minds of the olympic qualification process, and get ready for not one but two sessions of exhilarating international competition on U.S. soil. Welcome to the 2020 American Cup!

For those of you looking for all of the information on this year’s American edition of the all-around world cup series, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for a competition preview, start lists, how to watch, and more.

The Need-to-Know Information

First, let’s talk about one of the most exciting parts of this year’s AmCup–besides the fact that it’s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin… WOO!

When and How to Watch – Podium Training, Main Event, International, etc.

AmCup will take place on Saturday, March 7, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, and this year, it will be an all-day affair with two sessions: the women at 12 p.m. ET and the men at 4:30 p.m. ET.

This is a departure from the typical one-session format where the men and women compete simultaneously.

If you’re in the U.S…
  • Women’s Broadcast – 12:30-2:30 p.m. ET (NBC – Live)
  • Women’s Live Stream – Click Here
  • Men’s Broadcast – 5:00-7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN – Live)
  • Men’s Live Stream – Click Here

Note: Streams require a cable login and are available in the U.S. only. All routines will be available on the USA Gymnastics YouTube Channel following each session.

If you’re international…

The Italian Gymnastics Federation will be live streaming the meet on YouTube. Hopefully these links work wherever you are!

Will podium training be live streamed? Yes!

The AmCup website states podium training will be live streamed on its site (via USAG YouTube) and links will be available prior to the start of training here.

  • Women’s Podium Training – 11:00 a.m. ET
  • Men’s Podium Training – 2:30 p.m. ET

Start Lists

  • Click here for the latest start lists for both MAG and WAG.

Brazil: Diogo Soares
Canada: Rene Cournoyer
China: Hu Xuwei
Chinese Taipei: Chih-Kai Lee
Germany: Andreas Toba
Great Britain: James Hall
Japan: Daiki Hashimoto
Russia: Nikita Nagornyy Why? Find out here.
Spain: Nestor Abad
Switzerland: Pablo Braegger
Ukraine: Oleg Verniaiev
United States: Sam Mikulak
United States: Shane Wiskus (Wild Card)


Australia: Georgia Godwin
Canada: Elsabeth Black
China: Zhang Jin
France: Lorette Charpy
Germany: Sarah Voss
Great Britain: Jennifer Gadirova
Italy: Giorgia Villa
Japan: Hitomi Hatakeda
Russia: Lilia Akhaimova Why? Find out here.
Spain: Alba Petisco
Ukraine: Diana Varinska
United States: Morgan Hurd
United States: Kayla DiCello (Wild Card)

What is American Cup? Why should I care? Glad you asked.

The American Cup is a one-day, all-around World Cup meet that, since 2011, has been part of the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) World Cup series.

The 2020 edition of AmCup is the first of four all-around meets included in the FIG’s All-Around World Cup series that will serve as part of Olympic qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

At the end of the AAWC series in April, the top three countries (based off points) will earn an additional Olympic berth to assign to an athlete of their choice. This means there are six total Olympic berths up for grabs through this series–three for the men and three for the women.

AmCup started in 1976. Its inaugural champions were the legendary Nadia Comăneci and Bart Conner (now married–aweee). Past champions also include Olympic all-around champions Mary Lou Retton, Vitaly Scherbo, Paul Hamm, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Biles.

The reigning 2019 champions are the United States’ Leanne Wong and Yul Moldauer, but neither will be in attendance this weekend to try to defend their titles. (More about that here.)

Instead, the 2018 American Cup champion (and 2017 World all-around champion) Morgan Hurd will represent the U.S. women. The 2019 U.S. junior all-around champion Kayla DiCello will compete in her senior international debut as Team USA’s wild card.

For the U.S. men, 2014 American Cup champion and 2019 silver medalist Sam Mikulak will look to get his 2020 international campaign off to a strong start. 2019 World team member Shane Wiskus will make his American Cup debut in the wild card slot.

The U.S. has historically dominated the American Cup, winning seven of the last 10 men’s titles and 18 of the last 20 women’s all-around contests.

Nastia Liukin Cup

Held in conjunction with the AmCup since 2010, the Nastia Liukin Cup, named after Nastia Liukin, is an event open exclusively to Level 10 Junior Olympic female athletes. It is typically held the day before AmCup.

  • When: Friday, March 6 – 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Broadcast: Olympic Channel (Live) – 8:00-10:30 p.m. ET
  • Live Stream: NBCSports.com – Click Here
  • Podium Training: Thursday, March 5 – 6:30 p.m. ET – Click Here

Note: Streams require a cable login and are available in the U.S. only. All routines will be available on the USA Gymnastics YouTube Channel following each session.

The Nitty Gritty Preview

Hint: This competition will be fierce.


Credit: USA Gymnastics/YouTube

On the surface, this seems like familiar territory for Morgan Hurd, but this is not the same gymnast we saw win the 2018 AmCup title just months after surprising the world to become the 2017 World all-around champion. No, Hurd is more mature and confident. She stands out as an experienced leader on a crowded national team… but that national team is also loaded to the gills with Olympic-worthy talent. That talent also usurped her in 2019 when she was left off the U.S.’s women’s World team last fall. Hurd needs a statement performance here to get her Olympic campaign started off on the right foot. She’s had a full fall to prepare for this return to international competition, she’ll be premiering her new floor routine, and the potential for a triumphant gold-medal performance is definitely there.

“You don’t want lack of emotion,” U.S. women’s High-Performance Team Coordinator Tom Forster said about Hurd. “You either want great joy or enthusiasm or you want anger. Either one can stimulate great performance. Oddly, anger seems to work better. There’s something about the human spirit that rises to that. Really good athletes do. Bad athletes, they cave in. They are crushed by it. And that is not Morgan Hurd.”

“Bad athletes, they cave in… And that is not Morgan Hurd.”

Tom Forster, U.s. women’s high-performance team coordinator

The field beyond Hurd is nothing to skimp over either.

Canadian stronghold Ellie Black will make her return to international competition after recovering from an ankle injury, and subsequent surgery, suffered at the 2019 World Championships. She competed bars and beam at Elite Canada a few weeks back and looked strong. The 2019 World all-around fourth-place finisher will look to build on that momentum in Milwaukee. It’s still relatively early post-surgery for Black to make a huge statement here, but expect her to do what has made her Canada’s go-to the past two quads: be consistent and get the job done.

The 2019 junior World vault champion, Kayla DiCello is on the cusp of what should be an extremely successful senior career. She’s packing a slew of potential upgrades and is an easy podium pick here as long as nerves don’t get the best of her. Most importantly, though, is the experience. This is her first senior international meet. Entering the senior ranks in an Olympic year is no easy feat, but DiCello could be the Laurie Hernandez of this quad if she stays calm under pressure.

Other potential podium picks include Germany’s Sarah Voss, who placed tenth overall at Stuttgart Worlds in 2019, and Italy’s Giorgia Villa, who placed sixteenth.

Ukraine’s Diana Varinska has already had international success in 2020, placing first on uneven bars with her smooth set at the Melbourne World Cup. She also finished just off the podium in fourth place on beam. Don’t doubt Varinska’s potential to podium.

Australia’s Georgia Godwin has already qualified as an individual to Tokyo and is coming off a great meet at the Melbourne World Cup, where she won silver on uneven bars in front of her home crowd.

Jennifer Gadirova (GBR) is also making her senior debut and is just one of a handful of first-year Brits who could mix up that team for Tokyo. Zhang Jin (CHN) has team bronze from 2018 Worlds and the potential to put up a big score on beam.


Credit: USA Gymnastics/YouTube

Even without reigning World all-around champion Nikita Nagornyy, this is still an exciting field. There’s a great mix of experienced athletes and young stars that could surprise everyone, including their older counterparts.

The leading story here is Sam Mikulak. Team USA’s golden boy and go-to for the past two quads. Mikulak looks better than ever, and that isn’t an exaggeration. He can hang with Nagornyy and the best of them, as he proved at 2018 Worlds when he qualified third and finished fifth in the final. That year, Mikulak made five (yes, 5) individual finals and [finally] earned his first individual World medal: a bronze on horizontal bar, alongside legends Epke Zonderland and Kohei Uchimura. But one of his career highlights also pinpoints his biggest pitfall: himself. Five individual finals and only one medal? As cheesy as it may sound, Mikulak is his own worst enemy. He starts strong and would, in a perfect world, have plenty of World and Olympic hardware, but he tends to make mistakes at the most inopportune times. The 27-year-old has the skills and the routines to win here. He should begin the march to his third Olympics with a confidence booster (and some Olympic qualifying points for his country) under his belt. He’s just got to make it happen.

Shane Wiskus’ presence in Milwaukee is a bittersweet American Cup debut, plagued by dramatic events involving USAG and the original athlete who seemed to be assigned to this meet: three-time AmCup champ Yul Moldauer.

Moldauer is now focused on the Stuttgart World Cup and 2019 World team member Wiskus has a shiny opportunity to establish himself as another solid all-arounder for the U.S. here.

2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist and parallel bars gold medalist Oleg Verniaiev is no stranger to this meet. He won the AmCup title in 2015 and has two silver medals under his belt as well, with the most recent coming in 2017. When the 2019 World all-around bronze medalist is at full strength, everyone should be on notice.

As far as experienced guys go, you also have James Hall (GBR), Pablo Braegger (SUI), Andreas Toba (GER), Rene Cournoyer (CAN), and Nestor Abad (ESP).

Chih-Kai Lee has been busy for the past couple of years, scooping up pommel horse wins at a handful of individual apparatus World Cups, but he also qualified seventh in the all-around at 2019 Worlds, ultimately finishing twelfth.

Then come the young stars: Daiki Hashimoto (JPN) and Diogo Soares (BRA). Hashimoto is a budding star for Japan and could definitely play spoiler in Milwaukee. The 18-year-old contributed to Japan’s team bronze at 2019 Worlds. Individually, he finished fourth on high bar. Soares won silver on still rings at the 2019 Junior World Championships.

Hu Xuwei (CHN) hasn’t made many international appearances. When he has, its only been on high bar, so he’s an off-the-radar athlete to keep your eyes on. Most recently, he finished fifth on high bar at the 2019 Cottbus World Cup.

Who are your 2020 American Cup podium picks for the men and women?