Shane Wiskus wins five medals at 2021 Winter Cup

By Patricia Duffy | March 1, 2021
Shane Wiskus, Asher Hong lead pack at final day of 2021 Winter Cup
Minnesota's Shane Wiskus celebrates at the end of his high bar routine on Sunday, Feb. 28 in Indianapolis. (© Lloyd Smith)

What can an elite athlete expect from their first (real) competition back in over a year, since the start of the pandemic? If you’re Shane Wiskus, apparently a fourth-place all-around finish, a spot on the U.S. men’s national team for the fourth-straight year, and four individual event medals.

“My whole mentality for this weekend was just to get back out there competing and kind of get my footing into this quad,” Wiskus said after day two of the 2021 Winter Cup on Sunday, Feb. 28 in Indianapolis. “It was just important for me to be here, is what I’m saying, and I think going through all-around two days in a row [was] definitely a good decision, and I feel much more confident going into future competitions.”

While day one of competition for the senior men was centered around the all-around final, day two was all about the individual events, with apparatus winners being determined by two-day combined totals instead of single day scores.

Wiskus competed all six events once again, topping off his top 6 day one finish – which put him back on the national team – with a win on floor exercise (28.550: 14.000/14.550), silver on parallel bars (27.750: 14.050/13.700) and high bar (27.100: 13.000/14.100), and bronze on vault (28.400: 13.700/14.700) and still rings (28.000: 14.000/14.000).

The Minnesota senior’s silver medal on high bar was certainly a highlight of the weekend, seeing as he pulled off an Epke Zonderland-esque (or Shane Wiskus-esque, if we throw it back to 2019) save on the apparatus when he caught his Cassina one-handed on day one, setting up a redemption moment for himself on Sunday night and, ultimately, only missing out on the gold by 0.150.

Night one, high bar was Wiskus’ final event, as he rotated in Olympic order that day. On Sunday, it was the third of six, instead.

“I felt a lot more juiced, and I just followed through on my tap a little better and was able to get that second hand on no problem,” Wiskus said about correcting his mistake. “Definitely a fluke, but I’m really glad I stayed on because if I didn’t I probably wouldn’t have medaled on the event.”

While it’s been a crazy year for everyone since the pandemic began, Wiskus has had arguably one of the more wild rides when it comes to trying to keep himself in shape and on track to make the Olympic team this summer.

After participating in the first-ever FIG Friendship and Solidarity friendly meet in Tokyo, Japan, in November, Wiskus and his girlfriend moved out to the United States Olympic Paralympic Training Center (U.S.O.P.T.C.) in Colorado after Thanksgiving. After sitting out the start of the 2021 NCAA season – the final one for Minnesota’s men’s team – due to strict quarantine policies, Wiskus will finally rejoin his team this week.

“I’m leaving from [Indianapolis] to go back to Minneapolis,” Wiskus said when asked about his schedule for the coming weeks. “I’m getting a COVID test on Monday, and I’ll be back in the gym on Tuesday. Then, I’ll be training for the Penn State meet this coming weekend – it’s also my senior night – and I’ll go to that competition, and then after that, I’ll come back to Colorado Springs, quarantine for four days, get a covid test, and return to practice, hopefully, later that week.”

Wiskus will continue to split his time between Minnesota and Colorado until the end of NCAA season, saying, “I’ll hopefully be going to Big Tens and NCAAs, and for that time period, I think it’s about three or four weeks I’ll be in Minnesota.”

After the 2021 NCAA Championship, which Minnesota will host, Wiskus will return to the United States Olympic Paralympic Training Center and focus 100% on training for the Tokyo Games. He told us Thursday, ahead of Winter Cup, that he is in his final semester of classes at Minnesota and is taking all online courses to wrap up his degree.

Asher Hong dominates junior event finals

Cypress Academy’s Asher Hong continued his dominating weekend performance on Sunday.

After handily winning the junior all-around title and leading Region 3 to its sixth-straight Elite Team Cup win, Hong turned around less than 24 hours later and took home event wins on floor (13.450), pommel horse (14.150), still rings (13.600), and parallel bars (13.450).

(Note: Junior men’s event winners were decided on one-day totals from Sunday.)

Seeing as he scored a 15.000 on vault Saturday – the highest event score of any junior man throughout Winter Cup weekend – Hong likely would have also took the vault title on Sunday, but he couldn’t repeat the same success he had with his first Kas 2.5 and, instead, placed sixth on that event with a 13.500.

Hong’s Cypress and Region 3 teammate Dave Wolma ended up taking the vault gold with a 14.200. Bozhis Gym Nest and Region 7 athlete Caden Spencer rounded out the junior men individual winners with a 12.800 on high bar.

Senior men show depth during Winter Cup event finals

This year’s Winter Cup, as a whole, seemed to feature less of the typical “splat-fest” that the event has been known for in the past and more polished, difficult gymnastics that is notable for it being so early in the season.

The U.S. senior men’s field displayed its depth across the board with no athlete taking home more than one event title.

Wiskus took gold on floor, Alec Yoder won pommel horse (29.500: 14.650/14.850), Alex Diab won still rings (29.800: (14.860/14.950), Eddie Penev won vault (29.150: 14.550/14.600), Yul Moldauer won parallel bars (28.150: 14.300/13.850), and Genki Suzuki won high bar (27.250: 13.650/13.600).

Other notable performances included Moldauer attempting the Kas triple on vault after performing the Kas 2.5 for the past five years. Although he didn’t get the vault around, and therefore had the skill downgraded to a 2.5 for scoring purposes, Moldauer was happy to try something new on the event.

“Yeah, I didn’t land, and I didn’t score well, but you know, I went for it,” Moldauer said after the meet. “I think that was the best part of it. At least I didn’t just do a simple two-and-a-half. I’ve been doing that for years, so for me, it was just important to go for these new skills.”

He scored a 12.900 for the attempt, and after talking with the 2017 World medalist about the upcoming Olympic year a few weeks ago, it’s a pretty sure thing that won’t be the last time we’ll see him go for the triple in competition.

A 2016 Olympic team alternate, Donnell Whittenburg had an impressive showing on floor, posting a 14.500 on the second day of competition – just 0.050 behind Wiskus that day – to tie for fourth overall on the event. The all-arounder and still rings star also finished second on that event with a 28.800 combined two-day total (14.550/14.250).

“My performance overall [was] a little shaky here and there, but I’m a fighter,” Whittenburg responded when asked to evaluate his performance. “I’m just going to keep pushing through as best as I can, just never give up.”

2020 Melbourne World Cup pommel horse gold medalist Stephen Nedoroscik had an outstanding performance Sunday on his specialty event after falling on Friday.

The 2020 Nissen Emery Award winner earned the highest individual event score of the entire weekend – men’s or women’s – with an exceptional 15.600 (6.600/9.000) on horse Sunday, but due to the Friday fall, he placed second behind Yoder with a combined total of 29.050 (13.450/15.600).

Four more athletes added to 2021 U.S. men’s national team

Four more U.S. senior men’s national team spots were claimed during the second day of men’s Winter Cup competition.

Adrian De Los Angeles, Vitaliy Guimaraes, Suzuki, and Isaiah Drake automatically qualified to the team through their two-day total from the men’s 20-point program, joining Cameron Bock, Riley Loos, Moldauer, Wiskus, Allan Bower, and Paul Juda, who all qualified automatically on Friday after finishing in the top 6 during the all-around final.

With 10-of-18 available national team spots allocated, the Men’s Program Committee now has the burden of selecting the final eight team members for this initial 2021 squad.

Athletes almost certain to retain their 2020 spots, like Sam Mikulak, Akash Modi, and Colin Van Wicklen, are expected to petition for the team, making it especially difficult for a long list of talented athletes to make the team.

The full 18-man roster should be announced this week.

Relive the 2021 Winter Cup – Men’s Day 2 competition with Gymnastics Now’s live blog from the meet here. Click here for full senior results. Click here for full junior results.

You can watch all of the routines from the event at