2023 Winter Cup: Yul Moldauer wins third title, with Fred Richard, Asher Hong rounding out top 3

By Alex Wittenberg | February 24, 2023
5280's Yul Moldauer competes on rings during Day 1 of the 2023 Winter Cup on Feb. 24.
5280's Yul Moldauer competes on rings during Day 1 of the 2023 Winter Cup on Feb. 24. (© Amy Sanderson)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Yul Moldauer took the top spot among five National Team qualifiers at Day 1 of the 2023 Winter Cup, all of whom are current or former NCAA gymnasts. 

Michigan freshman Fred Richard rode excellent high bar and floor routines to a second place finish, while Stanford first-year Asher Hong rounded out the podium in third. Hong’s teammate Ian Lasic-Ellis finished fourth, and former Minnesota gymnast and Olympian Shane Wiskus was fifth.

The top 5 all-arounders at the 2023 Winter Cup from left to right: Ian Lasic-Ellis, Fred Richard, Yul Moldauer, Asher Hong, and Shane Wiskus.
The top 5 all-arounders at the 2023 Winter Cup from left to right: Ian Lasic-Ellis, Fred Richard, Yul Moldauer, Asher Hong, and Shane Wiskus. (© Amy Sanderson)

Each of the top five finishers earned a place on the 2023 U.S. National Team. Additional team members will be named following Day 2 of competition on Sunday. 

Moldauer started out his gold-medal day on high bar, a typically weaker event for him, with a strong hit that set the foundation for a six-for-six performance. He then posted the second-best score of the meet on floor (14.4) after sticking his triple-full dismount and performed a clean set on horse that earned him a 13.957. 

The former Oklahoma gymnast notched scores above 14 on both rings and vault before closing his competition with the second-best score of the meet on parallel bars (15.121) with a 6.5 difficulty score. On that event, Moldauer performed a peach handstand, peach half, giant to Makutz, Makutz, and a stuck double front half-out dismount. He finished the competition with an all-around total of 85.342. 

Moldauer said in a post-meet interview with Gymnastics Now that he expected more of himself on Day 1 despite his first-place finish. He decided against doing an upgraded floor routine with a layout double-double because of ankle soreness, and he noted his performances on pommel horse, vault, and rings could have been stronger. But he added that he had wanted to show he was prepared to compete well in a qualification-style competition and believed he did so.  

“I’m putting myself in the position that I’m at a World Championships right now having to qualify,” Moldauer said. “That was my whole mindset.” 

Richard opened his competition by putting up the best score of the day on floor (14.483), performing a 2.5-twisting double back opening pass, air flares, and a full-twisting double tuck dismount. The Michigan gymnast had some difficulty on his Russian dismount on horse but battled through to record a hit. 

Richard then turned in hits on rings and vault. On parallel bars, he scored a 14.45 after gliding through a straddle front one-and-a-quarter, Bhavsar, Tippelt, healy, and double front dismount. Richard’s best routine of the day was his last, on high bar, where he posted the top score of the competition (14.962) by more than a point, catching a Cassina and Kolman, connecting layout and straddle Tkatchevs, and sticking his layout double-double dismount. Richard finished with an 84.602 all-around. 

Hong had trouble early on pommel horse, his first event, fighting through mistakes on a flop element and a flared Magyar to stay on the apparatus. He rebounded over the next four events, tallying the second-best vault score of the meet (14.755) with his Ri Se Gwang and the third-best score on high bar (13.65). Hong ended his competition on floor and fell on a front full to double front, his third pass, finishing with an all-around total of 81.948.

The 2022 world team member also had an uncharacteristic stumble on his dismount on rings, although he didn’t fall, attributing the mistake to a cramp that he battled the rest of the competition.

“Right as I jumped up to the rings, my left calf cramped, and I was stuck in the pointed toe position the whole routine. So when I flexed to land, I wasn’t ready… stumbled backwards a little bit.”

Stanford’s Lasic-Ellis started his day with a nice horse set that featured a fluid Busnari and E-value handstand dismount. He landed his Roche on vault then put up a 14.5 on parallel bars, moving through a freehip mount, whip it, peach handstand, Makutz, straddle front one-and-a-quarter, and sticking his double front half-out dismount. The Stanford sophomore hit his high bar set and finished the meet with a strong floor routine, sticking his Randi opening pass and finding a clean landing on his front full to double front. Lasic-Ellis ended the meet with an 81.905.

2023 Winter Cup senior men's all-around champion Yul Moldauer (5280).
2023 Winter Cup senior men’s all-around champion Yul Moldauer (5280). (© Amy Sanderson)

Former Gopher and 2020 Olympian Wiskus started on rings and tallied a 14.25 after sticking his double-double dismount for the second-best score on the event. He landed his Kas 1.5 on vault and hit his parallel bars set — fighting through a couple handstand errors — but missed the catch of his layout Tkatchev on high bar. Wiskus recovered on floor, saving a low landing on his back 2.5 to front full, and hit his horse set to close out his competition. Wiskus finished with an 81.2. 

Rounding out the top 10 were Riley Loos of Stanford, Joshua Karnes of Penn State, Ian Gunther of Stanford, Mike Fletcher of Illinois, and Cameron Bock, a Michigan alumnus. 

Day 1 of the Winter Cup also saw an intense battle on horse, with former Nittany Lion Stephen Nedoroscik edging out Air Force’s Patrick Hoopes and Illinois’ Ian Skirkey for the top spot. Nedoroscik’s 6.4-difficulty routine included a Mikulak, F flop, Sohn, full Stockli, E flop, Wu, and E dismount. Notably, Nedoroscik competed sans Rec-Specs. 

Hoopes and Skirkey were second and third on horse with respective scores of 14.992 and 14.972. OU’s Ignacio Yockers had the fourth-best score of 14.942, and West Coast Olympic Gymnastics Academy’s Brandon Dang was fifth with a 14.466. 

Those five pommel workers will battle again for the event title on Sunday. 

Other highlights from Day 1 included Stanford gymnast Curran Phillips’ parallel bars routine, which netted him a huge 15.997. Phillips performed a number of difficult elements from a front uprise and garnered bonus for his 6.8 difficult score.

Former Illinois gymnast Alex Diab won rings by a comfortable margin with a score of 14.698, competing a number of different strength elements and a full-twisting double layout dismount.

Stanford’s Khoi Young had the best vault score of the day with his front handspring randi, which scored 14.802. 

The senior men take the floor once again on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET. A live stream will be available here, and GN will be live-blogging from the arena here.