The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 & 1991 American Cups

Welcome to the live blog for the ninth meet watch in our 12 Days of Gymnastics series, featuring the 1990 and 1991 American Cups!

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10:03 pm. So that’s it for tonight! Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be back for 1996 Euros, and I think it’s a combined team/all-around competition, and then event finals. Should be a fun one!

10:01 pm. Okay, here’s Trent. He’s such a cutie. GOD he turns FIFTY this year, that feels fake. I just googled him and he went to my college and did the exact program I did! Except he went after winning high bar gold and I went after failing to get cast on Broadway.

10:00 pm. It’s okay, Trent is still going to win. They’re like “Bob on the floor is going to interview him now!” But then Trent walks away and gets too far away from BOB to do the interview HAHAHA. Love it.

9:57 pm. Trent Dimas USA HB: Lots of circle skills early on. The hugest cleanest Kovacs I have EVER seen, damn!!! Then a gorgeous Tkachev to Gienger, and gets CRAZY height for his triple back but actually overrotates it to his back, UGH, the height he gets is just CHEF’S KISS.

9:55 pm. Lyudmila Stovbchataya URS FX: Our first look at her…and basically any non-U.S. woman, tbh. Opened with a good whip to full-in, then does a whip through to double pike as well, and a piked full-in to finish with a little bobble back. She was the alternate for the Unified team in 1992, btw. Her leo is literally a 90s elementary school picture background, I’m crying, it’s so good. Rainbows and lasers? GOT IT.

9:53 pm. It’s basically over but they’re showing us 13-year-old Dominique Dawes from prelims!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!

She’s doing her floor routine, two whips to a triple into a punch front through to a double tuck. AT THIRTEEN!!!! Also has a piked full-in, and this routine is straight-up adorable. Double pike to finish is flawless. That was my first time seeing that.

9:52 pm. Kimterview. She’s like “I’m just happy to end like this, I’m happy for Betty, it’s close between us in the gym a lot.” Fun times.

9:51 pm. Bela’s body mic got stuck in Kim’s hair when they were hugging and he basically just ripped out half of her hair while removing it. CAN HE LEAVE?

9:49 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA VT: YAAAAS we’re at her big band routine! This is literally one of my favorite floor routines of all time. FULL BODY CHILLS. Piked full-in to open is solid. Whip whip whip through to double back, kills it. Almost TOO powerful on that landing, but that’s fine. GOD this was such a show-stopping routine. Double back, nails it. I almost wish she had Ragan just do this routine when she was a junior, GOD, it’s phenomenal. I have no words, this will always be a favorite of mine. A TEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO worth it.

9:47 pm. Now there’s Brandy Johnson fluff. She competed in prelims at this meet and didn’t make the final, but this is the final meet of her elite career, and it’s happening right at home in Orlando, I love it. Awwwww. That was really cute.

Wait, they said “she’s retiring from amateur gymnastics to compete professionally” which…I feel like they don’t have that exactly right lol.

9:46 pm. NOT here for the Bela and Martha fluff though.

9:44 pm. KZB and Betty Okino being BFFs fluff!!! HERE FOR THIS. This meet wins for fluff.

9:40 pm. Ziao Liang CHN HB: Timmy D just pronounced stoic “stoy-ic” HAHA. I love it. JESUS LOOOOOOOORD his Gienger went literally six feet above the bar, he could’ve done a double full honestly, but he grabs with one hand and then slips HARD. UGHHHH CHOW. He’s back on for a stoop thorugh to L grip, and then falls hard again on a Jaeger. He just gets SO much height, it’s insane. Poor baby angel. Dismount was a bit low as well. It’s crazy that just about seven years after this is when he started coaching Shawn Johnson.

9:38 pm. They’re interviewing Betty Okino, who won the competition mathematically even though there are still a bunch of routines. She’s like “I have the flu” and they’re like “what would you have done here if you were healthy” and she’s like “score 10s on everything.” GIRL!

9:37 pm. Chris Waller USA HB: Endo, one-arm front pirouette, layout Tkachev, awesome, straddle Tkachev to Gienger, baller. stoop through to L grip, and a stuck double double!!! THAT WAS AMAZINGGGGG.

AND we got a “TWO FLIPS, TWO TWISTS!!!” from Timmy D which HAS to be one of his earliest times yelling this?! 1991! It’s been 30 years and he’s still going!

9:34 pm. Betty Okino USA FX: Full-in is a little low at the start but totally fine. Maybe short in one of her leaps? Triple spin, makes it look SO easy. Whip through to a stuck double tuck, that was great. THE ARTISTRY THO. Double tuck, pretty open, and a solid landing. CHAMPION.

9:32 pm. Zhang Xia CHN FX: Piked full-in, crashes it. OOF. Low on her double pike but stands it up at least.

9:31 pm. Oh I missed the rotation leaders so we’re going to have a HUGE SURPRISE HERE. I’m pretty sure Okino has a pretty big lead, though.

9:30 pm. Andreas Wecker GDR PB: God I’m sick of p-bars already. Giant half, then a one-armed pirouette. Double pike that he stumbles back and Timmy’s like “well that’s a tragedy.” I think we have different definitions of what a tragedy is.

9:26 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA BB: Her beautiful reverse planche mount. Front handspring to sissone. Bhs loso loso, super solid. Switch leap to switch leap, a little off-kilter on the tucked Korbut, which I think is a Chen, named for Chen Cuiting, and then she does a double tuck with a hop to finish.

9:24 pm. Ziao Liang CHN PB: Piked front salto, really crisp on his handstands, small elbow deduction on a handstand, but moves very fluidly overall. Double tuck with a hop forward.

9:20 pm. I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE….CHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 9.20.07 PM

I don’t think I’ve ever seen him compete before. I know he had a lot of injuries. Truly had no idea he competed at this meet. I’m so happy.

They’re doing a montage about China and it’s actually pretty good, about how sports only had a resurgence in the 80s post-Cultural Revolution, and then gets into how athletes are hand-picked for the provincial schools that feed into the national program.

9:18 pm. Chris Waller USA PB: He had a really good routine, just took a big step on the double pike.

9:15 pm. Betty Okino USA BB: Brilliant on her triple flight series. Switch to ring-ish leap. Double spin, no Okino today. Handstand split, into a straddle planche, so gorgeous. Double tuck with a step. GOD she was such a treasure. 9.937!

9:14 pm. Curtis Hibbert CAN PB: He’s got lots of really cool things, messy in most of them, but not your usual p-bars routine. Double pike dismount, iffy on the landing.

9:11 pm. Zhang Xia CHN BB: Oh I guess we missed vault AND bars this time? Front walkover mount. Switch leap to straddle jump, good. Oof, bhs loso loso, came out of the first loso looking low and off-center, and just kinda crashed the next one. Full turn, lovely. Punched back out of her double tuck landing as well, ugh.

9:08 pm. Now we’re getting a montage of pommels fails, including Chris Waller. 😦

Trent Dimas leads for the men ahead of Ziao Laing and Miguel Rubio, with Chris Waller in fourth. For the women, it’s Betty Okino ahead of Kim Zmeskal, and then Zhang Xia of China.

WAIT. IS. ZIAO LIANG…CHOW???????????? I’M 99% SURE IT IS. I literally almost cried!

9:06 pm. They’re going back to show us the first rotation, and it’s Betty Okino sticking the crap out of her FTY to get the first perfect 10 of her career!

9:05 pm. Timmy D is back to commentate, and his partner this time is Julianne McNamara. I’m excited for it. She is dressed exactly like my mom dressed when going to work in the early/mid 90s, WOW. Major flashback.


For the U.S. women it’s Kim Zmeskal and Betty Okino.

9:03 pm. It wouldn’t be American Cup fluff without being like “here are Bela Karolyi’s 15,000 gymnasts who all won the American Cup titles over the years starting with Nadia Comaneci in 1976!!! WE LOVE BELA!!!” Vom.

9:02 pm. The 1991 American Cup fluff is the camera zooming in on the finalists who are bathed in the softest most angelic light, it’s so terrible, I’m obsessed.

9:00 pm. We’re wrapping this up with some commentary now, and I’ll press play on 1991 at 9:02 pm. Here’s the link!

8:59 pm. So it’s Zmeskal, Kalinina, and Kosuge for the women, and then Kolivanov with the men’s title, while Büchner and Ringnald are tied for second. I LIKE IT.

8:57 pm. Sandy Woolsey USA FX: Was that a whip full through to triple full?! DAMN. She’s a fantastic twister. Little stumble on the double tuck. Pretty sure her music has lasers in it. #PEWPEW Double full to punch front through to a layout stepout. Really great work.

8:55 pm. Natalia Kalinina URS FX: Double layout, stuck it, and then went into a lunge because she felt like it. Gorgeous choreo. Double handstand pirouette before her second pass, a tucked full-in to back handspring to straddle jump through to an arabian 1 3/4, amazing. And terrifying. Switch leap to stag ring jump into the corner before her last pass, a tucked full-in, just hops her feet together. Again…A QUEEN. 9.925 will move her into second.

8:53 pm. Ralf Büchner GDR HB: Clear hip, Kovacs with suuuper leg separation and almost misses a hand but keeps going. Stalder, huuuge layout Gienger, stoop to L grip front giant work, and he stuck the full-twisting double layout cold. That was excellent.

8:51 pm. Mari Kosuge JPN FX: Whip through to piked full-in, great! Just some leg separation on the pike. Super energetic routine. Shushunova before her second pass, a double tuck into a controlled lunge. Great. This leo is fabulous and so are her leaps. Double full to punch front basically OUT OF HER LEAPS AS A SIDE PASS. Dead. Full-in to end was a bit low but that was a freaking great routine.

8:49 pm. Lance Ringnald USA HB: Tkachev to Tkachev, was supposed to connect to a third, but caught too close. Stoop through to front giants, front full, then back to regular grip for the giants, and a double double layout with a baby hop. Another fab HB routine. We love to see it. 9.8, he needed a 9.9 to take the lead, but he’s in second right now.

8:47 pm. Kevin Davis USA HB: One-arm giant right into a Tkachev then into a Gienger, awesome. Full-twisting double layout, wiggles his arms a bit on the landing, but great routine.

8:46 pm. KIMBO secures the title! And there are still one billion routines left to see.

8:43 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA FX: Her dad’s filming it on his video camera which is basically the same size as the TV cameras. Piked full-in, some leg separation but a solid landing. Love her choreo, GOODNESS, Ragan had Baby KZB’s mannerism’s PERFECT in her own choreo. She can play her in the movie. Whip whip whip to double tuck, fabulous. Double back is ambiguous between tucked and piked, but another super solid landing.

8:42 pm. Alex Kolivanov URS HB: Stalder, Kovacs, then a one-arm front pirouette. He was supposed to do a Gaylord there according to Timmy but was playing it safe. “Playing it safe” means doing a casual triple back dismount. Pretty low on the landing but LOVE.

8:41 pm. Kim Zmeskal keeps the lead, just ahead of Kalinina, and then for the men it’s Kolivanov, Büchner, and Ringnald.

8:38 pm. Natalia Kalinina URS BB: Back handspring mount, then a beautiful Rulfova. Switch leap down to the beam and does a back extension roll out of it, love that so much. Wobbled on the bhs bhs loso series, then hit a leap series very well, though her back leg was a bit lower than I’d like. OH GOD that walkover that she walks DOWN TO HER BACK ON THE BEAM, so so so exquisite. Full-in with a baby step. A QUEEN. 9.825 with that wobble is pretty good.

8:36 pm. Now Bart Conner is talking about how it would even be possible for Kurt to come back better than he was a decade earlier, because his routines from the early 80s would now get low 9s due to the changes the sport went through in that time. But Kurt’s like fine, doubt me, but I’m gonna DO IT. My haters are helping me be a better gymnast!!! Bless him.

8:33 pm. We’re getting a montage of Kurt Thomas being OLD (how dare he!) and still training for the Olympics (HOW DARE HE!) in hot pink shorts and the spikiest hair ya ever did see. I’m crying. This is a LEWK.

8:31 pm. Lance Ringland USA PB: Wait I zoned out of parallel bars because I hate it, but Timmy’s like “we’re watching history be made with brand new skills!!!!” I’m like WHAT WHAT?! He did a double salto at one point, which was definitely pretty new at this time…yeah, the double front. Get it Lance. Just bounces back on the double pike dismount.

8:28 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA BB: The famous Kim Zmeskal mount! Front handspring into a jump, and then she does a bhs loso loso SO quickly, and so solidly. Bam. Full turn, she’s had a few nice relevé moments here. Switch leap to split leap, gainer layout stepout, she’s not flinching. Double back, piked in the first flip but tucks her legs in the second. Still, that was like, my only complaint, that was a fantastic routine. 9.825

Hilary Grivich in the crowd with Brandy and Shannon Miller. ❤

8:27 pm. Alex Kolivanov URS PB: He has lots of hand adjustments right off the bat, and he’s also shy in handstand on almost everything. Pretty rushed too. Hop up to handstand was good. STUTZ? Double pike with a small hop. Meh.

8:25 pm. Sandy Woolsey USA BB: Cool handstand split mount, piked jump, then tick tocks with a half turn I think down to the beam for choreo. We have such an awkward angle for this. Bhs bhs layout, piked, but great. Runs into a front walkover/handspring, it’s ambiguous but cool. Her leaps are a bit low and shy of 180. I almost just had a HEART ATTACK, she missed her foot at the end of the beam and I thought she was going to die but thankfully she had great air awareness and just did a single pike instead of trying for the double. My GOD I almost died. Her coach Stormy is like “well you’re still alive” HAHA. Same.

8:22 pm. They’re showing Brandy Johnson in prelims, falling on a Jaeger and putting her hands down on all three of her floor passes, and she’s like well I just had kidney problems and surgery last week SO leave me alone.

8:20 pm. Mari Kosuge JPN UB: I wasn’t typing during this but she had a really great Tkachev and a solid full-in, looked like a great routine overall.

Kim Zmeskal keeps the lead, followed by Sandy Woolsey, and then Natalia Kalinina. For the men, Alex Kolivanov (he’s now a MAG coach at Iowa!) and Ralf Büchner are tied for first.

8:18 pm. Lance Ringnald USA VT: FTY with a gigantic hop back. Timmy D is freaking out about how difficult this vault is, HAHA. He’s like “wow considering how difficult this is, they will barely take off for that hop because this is SO hard!!!!” And less than a decade later we had a 2 1/2.

8:16 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA UB: Cut to Mary Lou just chillin, and I think she’s sitting next to Luan Peszek! The amount of hairspray between the two of them is what caused the hole in the ozone layer. Really low Jaeger, down to the low bar after. Okay handstands, but not great. Also a tiny bit low on her Tkachev. Double pike with some leg separation and a tiny scoot on the landing. Bela is running around like a fool as per usual. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, BELA. 9.887

8:14 pm. Kevin Davis USA VT: He was once again shaking his hair out, LOL. He reminds me of like, your typical Zack Morris late 80s/early 90s preppy dude. American Psycho vibes. I’m into it. Tsuk full, which he crashes, and the color commentator is like “that may have ended his dreams.” I’m pretty sure his dream isn’t to win the 1990 American Cup but go off.

8:13 pm. Sandy Woolsey USA UB: “Conservative, Sandy!” says her coach, STORMY, which is a bizarre thing to say before bars. But maybe she was wild in warmups. Nice Tkachev to straddle back right to handstand, to a clear hip half then right back down to the low bar. Very quick and clean so far! Tucked full-in with a small step. That was great!

8:11 pm. Natalia Kalinina URS UB: Great Deltchev and Tkachev, though i think the Tkachev was maybe a bit close. Full-in was super low and far forward in the landing, big lunge out of it.

8:10 pm. Rolf Büchner GDR VT: “He’s very excited about being in the United States” because the borders just opened up. He has a daughter and was telling the press he’s so happy about his daughter having more opportunities than he did because of the wall coming down. TEARS. Handspring layout half with a big lunge back.

8:09 pm. The women have competed on vault, with Kim Zmeskal in the lead with a 9.937, Natalia Kalinina in second, and Sandy Woolsey in third.

Kim’s FTY was honestly perfection, and Sandy’s was also pretty good. No recap of anyone else because #MURICA.

8:07 pm. Kevin was also pretty great on rings, just had his hips high on a planche, but he stuck his dismount cold. He has a 28.8 right now, and the other U.S. gymnast Lance Ringnald is in third.

Now we’re gonna watch some of Lance. Both of these dudes did 1 3/4 rollouts on floor, and I HATE IT. Lance also crotched the horse on pommels, but he truly popped off on rings with lots of great control and that cool straddle sit where you put your ankles on your wrists lol. And he stuck the double layout!

8:05 pm. The men are already three apparatuses in, and Kevin Davis of the U.S. is in the lead right now. And he’s silently singing in his head and whipping his hair around like a yacht rock music video.

We’re seeing some of Kevin’s earlier work and he crushed it on pommels.

Btw, this is the McDonald’s American Cup. Tbt to when USAG had sponsors!

8:04 pm. Kathy J-C and Timmy D are our commentators today and Timmy’s at his UTMOST Kenneth from 30 Rock.

8:02 pm. So this opens with the back of a Japanese gymnast as she stares at the Lincoln Memorial, which means we’re already off to an amazing start.

This is back when the American Cup had prelims, so we’re just watching the final today, which includes the top 8 women out of several dozen women who did the first round. There are also men here!

8:00 pm. I’ll be pressing play on the 1990 American Cup at 8:02 pm!

7:58 pm. So this was originally scheduled to be at 3 pm today but work has been BRUTAL. I’ve been working about 12 hours a day and try to schedule some of these for the middle of my day where I’m like, mostly focused on this but still paying attention to work emails so I don’t miss anything important, but then something important ALWAYS comes up, and today I was like yeah, I’m not even going to try, I just know it’s going to be bananas.

But tonight I’m TOTALLY FREE and not multi-tasking, so hooray for that! As I said last night, I have not even the slightest clue why I chose to do the 1990 and 1991 American Cups, but here we are, and I’m definitely excited for back-to-back Kim Zmeskal meets, as well as Betty FREAKING Okino in ’91. At least I found THE most perfect picture for the homepage for this one. ❤

Here are the links!

We have about two full hours of coverage tonight, so I hope you can join us, and please enjoy!

6 thoughts on “The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 & 1991 American Cups

  1. Btw I’m living for your Bela comments In Each of these haha. You should do a “greatest Bela hits” And how distracting he is in each meet!!!


  2. Pingback: The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 & 1991 American Cups – SportUpdates

    • That’s the name they gave on the TV graphic and on the results, so when they showed that, I had no idea who it was because I had only ever seen it spelled Qiao. But then when they showed him, I was like, wait a minute, that’s Chow, aka Qiao Liang. It must have been an error in transliteration, since it was 1991, but I just went with what was on the screen graphic because I had no idea who it was at first.


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