GREENSBORO, N.C., Feb. 28, 2014 – In a tight competition before a record crowd of 4,219, both the senior and junior divisions had ties for the all-around titles at the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. The senior co-champions are Mackenzie Brannan of Austin, Texas/Capital Gymnastics, and McKenna Kelley of Houston/Stars, and Rachael Flam of Houston, Texas/Stars Gymnastics, and Lauren Ramirez of Chandler, Ariz./Gold Medal Gymnastics, shared the top junior honors.
In the senior division, Brannan and Kelley both earned a 38.425 total to tie for the title. Kari Lee of Peoria, Ariz./Flames Gymnastics, was third at 38.275.
Flam and Ramirez tallied a 38.100 to take the junior title. Third place went to Rachael Lukacs of Hillsborough, N.J./North Stars, who earned a total of 38.050.
In the first rotation, Brannan posted a 9.750 for a Yurchenko one-and-a-half. On the bars, she dismounted with a double layout for a 9.700, the highest score for the event. Brannan finished her competition with a 9.500 on the balance beam and a 9.475 on the floor, where she performed an Arabian double front mount.
"This is awesome, and I am so excited," said Brannan. "My goal coming in was to go four for four and stay consistent, and I did that. I am really happy with the outcome."
Kelley started on the balance beam where she posted a 9.650, performing a back handspring to layout stepout and double back dismount. She earned the night’s highest floor exercise mark, a 9.675, with her routine that included a double layout first pass. On the vault, her Yurchenko full-twist was good for a 9.750. In the final rotation, Kelley dismounted the uneven bars with a double layout and posted a 9.350.
"It was one of my top goals to qualify (for the Nastia Liukin Cup), and to come in and win, I was not expecting that," said Kelly, the daughter of 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton. "Winning was not on my mind. I just wanted to have a good meet. And, if I was going to tie, I wouldn’t want it to be with anyone other than Mackenzie. She’s a top competitor, and I am happy for her too."
Flam began her competition on the beam with a 9.550. She tumbled a double Arabian and a one-and-a-half to front layout for a 9.250. In rotation three, Flam stuck a Yurchenko with a one-and-a-half twist for a 9.750. Closing out the meet on the uneven bars, she scored a 9.550, the top score for that event, for a share of the junior title.
"It was so amazing, coming in here and winning the Nastia Liukin Cup," said Flam. "I came in just hoping to do my best, and this is the best thing that could have happened. It’s just the best."
On the uneven bars, Ramirez dismounted with a giant full to double back for a 9.425 to get her competition underway. She scored 9.500 and 9.550 on the beam and floor exercise, respectively. In the final rotation, she posted her highest score of the day, a 9.625, on the vault for her Yurchenko full.
"It’s just the greatest feeling ever (to win the Nastia Liukin Cup)," said Ramirez. "It feels like the biggest accomplishment, and I am so surprised. I didn’t come in here wanting to win, just to do my best. It’s unreal."
Gymnasts who competed in the Nastia Liukin Cup received a Nastia Liukin-designed leotard and a warm-up from GK Elite; two tickets to the AT&T American Cup and recognition during the event; and the opportunity to meet Liukin and participate in a team photo.
A portion of the proceeds from the Nastia Liukin Cup benefits the Nastia Liukin Fund, a charitable fund in partnership with the National Gymnastics Foundation (www.usagym.org/foundation).
Nastia Liukin. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Liukin’s total of five medals tied the U.S. gymnastics record for most medals in one Olympic Games, held by Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Shannon Miller (1992). Liukin’s Olympic medals are: gold – all-around; silver – team, balance beam and uneven bars; and bronze – floor exercise. Liukin was the third of four U.S. women to win the Olympic all-around crown. She also won nine World medals in her career. Liukin has graced many magazine covers and appeared on various shows, including "Gossip Girl," "Make It or Break it," and the feature film, "Stick It." She was also chosen as one of 2009’s most influential women by MSN Lifestyle. Liukin is now attending New York University in New York City, studying sports management. Also, Liukin currently serves as a gymnastics analyst for NBC Sports and was a special contributor during NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. In 2012, she was a member of the creative team and a cast member for the Kellogg’s Tour of Olympic Champions, a national, 40-city tour that followed the 2012 Olympic Games. Liukin was coached by her father, Valeri, who has four Olympic medals from 1988 including two gold.
AT&T American Cup. The 2014 AT&T American Cup is one of the most prestigious international invitational events and features an all-around format. The list of former champions comprises some of the sport’s best-known names, including Jordyn Wieber, Nastia Liukin, Jonathan Horton, Bart Conner, Paul Hamm, Shawn Johnson, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson, Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar. For more information, go to www.attamericancup.com.