© John Cheng
This weekend, the Atlanta Crown Invitational in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 10-12, kicks off the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup Series, the first of 20 invitationals in the Series that determine the athletes who qualify to the Nastia Liukin Cup. In its fifth year, the Nastia Liukin Cup is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C., in conjunction with the AT&T American Cup.
On the eve of the beginning of the Nastia Liukin Cup Series, 2008 Olympic all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin took time to reflect on her favorite memory from the event's first four years.
"One of my favorite Nastia Liukin Cup moments is from 2012 at Madison Square Garden," Liukin said. "I won the all-around at the 2008 American Cup there just months before winning the Olympic Games, and that left me with such special memories. Then, four years later, walking into MSG for the first time since 2008 and seeing pink signage with Nastia Liukin Cup around the most famous arena in the world is something I will never forget. The entire weekend was almost a blur at times, but I remember every second of it."
"Another one of my favorite memories was from our first Nastia Liukin Cup in Worcester, Mass.," Liukin continued. "We had these beautiful and unique pink glass trophies, which were a spectacle themselves. But, when they were handed out, the trophy was almost as big as inaugural winner, Lexie Priessman. The thought of her holding the trophy makes me smile."
"My third favorite moment actually came at the 2012 Olympics in London," said Liukin. "Watching Gabby Douglas achieve her ultimate dream and goal by winning the all-around was special for me in a number of ways, but I couldn't help but to think back to watching her compete at the Nastia Liukin Cup two years earlier as her elite career was just getting started."
The participants in the Nastia Liukin Cup are selected through the Nastia Liukin Cup Series, which features many of the country's top gymnastics invitational meets held throughout the United States. The final Nastia Liukin Cup qualifier will be determined at the Greater Greensboro Invitational, which will be held the week of the AT&T American Cup.
A total of 18 junior and 18 senior gymnasts will advance to the Nastia Liukin Cup. Senior athletes must be 16 years of age or older, and junior athletes must be 15 or younger. The invitational meets remaining in the 2014 Nastia Liukin Cup Series are listed below, and the numbers in parentheses indicate how many qualifiers are determined at each invitational.
- Atlanta Crown Invitational, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 10-12 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Kim Zmeskal's Texas Prime Meet, Irving, Texas, Jan. 17-19 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Lady Luck Invitational, Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 17-19 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- CGA Coaches Spectacular, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 17-20 (1 JR)
- Sand Dollar/Whitlow Invitational, Kissimmee, Fla., Jan. 24-26 (1 JR, 2 SR)
- Parkettes Invitational, Allentown, Pa., Jan. 25-26 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Wisconsin Dells Gymnastics Vacation Classic, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Jan. 30 - Feb. 2 (1 JR)
- Arizona Sunrays Classic Rock Invitational, Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 (1 SR)
- Circle of Stars Gymnastics Invitational, Indianapolis, Ind., Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Fiesta Bowl Invitational, Chandler, Ariz., Feb. 7-9 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Gliders Invitational, Ontario, Calif., Feb. 7-9 (1 SR)
- IGI Chicago Style, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 7-9 (1 JR, 2 SR)
- Pikes Peak Cup, Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 7-9 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- WOGA Classic, Frisco, Texas, Feb. 7-9 (2 JR, 1 SR)
- Charity Choice Invitational, Tacoma, Wash., Feb. 7-10 (1 JR)
- Buckeye Classic, Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 14-16 (1 JR)
- The Magical Classic, Orlando, Fla., Feb. 14-16 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Presidential Classic, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 14-17 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Metroplex Challenge, Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 15-16 (1 JR, 1 SR)
- Greensboro Gymnastics Invitational, Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 26 (1 SR)
Gymnasts who compete in the Nastia Liukin Cup will receive 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. Last fall, 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.