2023 Winter Cup: Who to watch in the junior and senior women’s divisions

By Karyssa D'Agostino | February 24, 2023
World Champions' Tiana Sumanasekera during the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
World Champions' Tiana Sumanasekera during the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships. (© Amy Sanderson)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A new U.S. elite season is upon us! The 2023 Winter Cup will begin Friday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 26. The women’s field is stacked with junior and senior talent, so let’s breakdown who to watch and what to know ahead of the competition.

2022 world team members Blakely, Zeiss headline senior field

Skye Blakely is a Florida commit, 2022 world champion, five time U.S. National Team member, and WOGA gymnast who finished second in the all-around and on floor exercise, as well as third on beam, at the 2022 Winter Cup. In 2021, she won the Winter Cup beam title in her senior debut.

Blakely made waves last weekend at the WOGA Classic with a fabulous uneven bars routine that scored a 14.700. With her track record at this event and recent training videos, Blakely is the clear favorite to bring home hardware in Louisville.

Originally tweeted by Chalk Warrior (@chalkwarrior) on February 19, 2023.

Lexi Zeiss, the 17-year-old gymnast from Twin City Twisters, was an alternate for the 2022 U.S. women’s team that won gold in Liverpool, England. She is a two-time National Team member with a large amount of elite experience under her belt.

Zeiss won silver in the all-around and team event, in addition to bronze on beam, at the 2022 Pan American Championships. Zeiss placed 7th overall at the 2022 U.S. Championships.

Slew of senior debuts expected in Louisville

There are 16 gymnasts making their senior elite debut at this years Winter Cup in Louisville, Kentucky. (See the full field here.) Two names you should be on the lookout for of these first year seniors are Kaliya Lincoln and Tiana Sumanasekera.

Let’s start with 16-year-old WOGA gymnast Kaliya Lincoln – a five-star recruit who is already committed to LSU.

Lincoln is a three-time U.S. National Team member and has proven to be a formidable elite competitor in her junior career. She earned first place on floor and third place in the all-around at the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

Lincoln has been posting videos in the gym showing off impressive skills and excellent technique. She also competed at the 2023 Vegas Cup, a U.S. women’s elite qualifier, where she earned a 52.900 all around score, with a huge 14.100 on floor and a 13.55 on vault. These scores put her at the top of the competition and qualified her for Elite once again. This already accomplished gymnast is one to watch for sure as she makes her senior debut.

Now, let’s talk about Tiana Sumanasekera. The 15-year-old World Champions Center gymnast will also make her senior debut at the 2023 Winter Cup. Sumanasekera is a U.S. National team member who made the move to WCC in 2022. She is believed to be the first gymnast of Sri Lankan decent to represent the U.S. in international competition. Sumanasekera has accolades including three gold medals on vault, beam, and floor at the Junior Pan American Championships, as well as earning first place on vault and floor at the 2022 Winter Cup in the junior division.

Finally, you’re going to want to keep an eye out for Alicia Zhou. The 15-year-old gymnast from Love Gymnastics will also be making her senior debut. Zhou is a U.S. National Team member who is stellar on uneven bars. She earned first place on the event and third place all-around in the junior division during her first U.S. Gymnastics Championships appearance in 2022. She earned second place on bars at the 2022 Winter Cup, and in 2021 she won the junior title at the Nastia Liukin Cup. Zhou also took home first place on bars and as part of the U.S. team at the 2022 Junior Pan American Championships.

Ella Kate Parker eyeing third-straight Winter Cup title in junior women’s division

Ella Kate Parker competes on floor during the junior women's competition at the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
Ella Kate Parker competes on floor during the junior women’s competition at the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships. (© Amy Sanderson)

Two-time defending Winter Cup champion Ella Kate Parker is eyeing her third-straight title in the junior women’s division before ascending to the senior ranks in 2024.

After moving to WOGA last summer, Parker is back at Cincinnati Gymnastics, training under Mary Lee Tracy, according to her USA Gymnastics bio. The 15-year-old has proven dominate at this event the past two years, but she has some competition on the road to a three-peat.

Names to watch include 2022 U.S. Classic champion Jayla Hang, her Pacific Reign teammate Simone Rose, Zoey Molomo (Metroplex), Audrey Snyder (First State), and the stacked WOGA contingent that includes Sage Bradford, Claire Pease, and Hezly Rivera.