NEW YORK — No pressure or anything, Jordyn Wieber.
The last two Olympic gymnastics champions warmed up with a victory at the American Cup a few months before claiming their gold medals. So, too, Mary Lou Retton.
Now it's Wieber's turn. The reigning world champion kicks off her Olympic season Saturday at the American Cup, a chance to give everyone an early reminder that she's the one to beat this summer in London.
"It's a message to say, 'Hey, look at me. Everybody take note. I'm in shape and you better watch out. This is just a stepping stone in my Olympic journey,'" Retton said Friday.
Wieber already has won the American Cup twice, including an upset of then-world champion Aliya Mustafina at last year's event. But everything is magnified in an Olympic year, and the American Cup is no exception. Carly Patterson won the American Cup in 2003, but it didn't cause nearly the stir as her victory the following year. Same for Nastia Liukin, who won the meet in 2006 and then again in 2008, five months before winning gold at the Beijing Olympics.
It's not by accident that USA Gymnastics moves the event to Madison Square Garden, a flip or two from the bright lights of Broadway, every Olympic year.
"I knew Mary Lou had won it going into her Olympic year, and I knew how prestigious this event was," Patterson said. "You're in Madison Square Garden, and it's a packed house. It's an exciting competition to have on your resume."
Mustafina and Russian teammate Viktoria Komova, who finished second to Wieber at worlds, aren't here, and Wieber's biggest competition Saturday likely will come from fellow American Aly Raisman, who was fourth at worlds last year. Romanian up-and-comer Larisa Iordache, who won three gold medals and six total at last year's European Youth Olympic Festival, is making her senior debut here.
But you can bet the Russians and their coaches — and everyone else in the world, for that matter — will be scouring the internet for results and videos as soon as the meet is over.
"It's (a chance) to make a good impression and prove to the world that, after winning the world title she is not in a relaxed mode," said Martha Karolyi, coordinator of the U.S. women's team.
U.S. champion Danell Leyva and John Orozco headline the men's competition, which also includes Britain's Daniel Purvis. Purvis was fourth in the all-around at the world championships and last month helped Britain qualify for the London Games, the first time the British will have a full men's team at an Olympics since 1992.
Wieber is well aware of the significance of this year's American Cup — it would be impossible not to with everyone asking her about the last two Olympic champions winning it and Retton, Patterson and Liukin making the rounds Friday. But she's trying not to pay too much attention to that history, to say nothing of the hype that has surrounded her since she won worlds last October.
The 16-year-old from DeWitt, Mich., who turned pro after worlds, already has made an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and coach John Geddert has lost track of how many interview requests he's gotten. Her list of endorsements is growing, and she's beginning to pop up on commercials. The spotlight will only grow the closer it gets to London.
"It's been a little bit different," Wieber acknowledged. "I still feel like I have to prove myself like everybody else."
There won't be much doubt of that after Saturday.
This is Wieber's first meet since winning the world title, and she's spent the last six months packing even more difficulty into routines that were already among the hardest being done. She's added four-tenths of difficulty to her balance beam routine, with another three-tenths to be added in the coming months, and increased the start value of her floor routine by two-tenths.
Considering Wieber and Komova were separated by just .033 points at worlds in Tokyo, those additions might well make the difference between gold and a less-desirous medal in London.
"If that girl stays healthy through the Olympic Games, she's the one to beat. Truly," Retton said. "She's the whole package. She's got the explosiveness, she's got the flexibility and she's getting the confidence.
"There is a lot of pressure," Retton added. "But as an athlete, that's what we thrive on."
And Wieber can't wait for it to begin.
"It's really exciting to be here in New York," she said. "I'm definitely excited for the next few months."
VT - Gabrielle Douglas - USA - Amanar (very small hop). Score: 15.866
VT - Rebecca Tunney - GBR - Yurchenko full (small hop). Score: 13.866
VT - Victoria Moors - CAN - Yurchenko double (big side step). Score: 14.733
VT - Georgia Simpson - AUS - Yurchenko full (small hop). Score: 14.100
VT - Diana Chelaru - ROU - Yurchenko double (big leg separation, small hop). Score: 14.500
VT - Larisa Iordache - ROU - Yurchenko double (hop back). Score: 14.866
VT - Jordyn Wieber - USA - Amanar (very small hop). Score: 16.100
(hardest vault being done in the world)
VT - Lisa Hill - GER - Yurchenko full (hopped straight up). Score: 14.100
VT - Alexandra Raisman - USA - Amanar (bent knees, small hop). Score: 16.100
UB - Gabrielle Douglas - USA - Tkatchev (huge) to pak, piked stalder, endo, piked tkatchev, double layout (hop). Score: 15.633
UB - Georgia Simpson - AUS - Stalder, shaposh, overshoot, toe one full, tkatchev (low), double pike (hop back). Score: 13.800
UB - Diana Chelaru - ROU - Gienger, straddled jaeger, overshoot, double layout (low, steps forward). Score: 13.200
UB - Larisa Iordache - ROU - Toe on shaposh, piked jaeger, stalder full to tkatchev to pak, toe on full to tucked full twisting double back. Score: 14.233
UB - Jordyn Wieber - USA - Weiler kip, weiler kip, toe on shaposh, struggle on pirouette, toe on full to tkatchev (low), double layout (stuck). Score: 14.833
UB - Lisa Hill - GER - Toe on shaposh, free hip full, gienger, toe on full, overshoot, straddled jaeger, full twisting double back. Score: 14.233
UB - Alexandra Raisman - USA - Toe on full, toe on shaposh, overshoot, straddled jaeger, stalder full to tkatchev (bent knees), double front (hop back). Score: 14.333
UB - Rebecca Tunney - GBR - Stalder, blind change to jaeger, toe on piked tkatchev to pak salto, shaposh, overshoot, full twisting double back (chest down, step forward). Score: 13.900
UB - Victoria Moors - CAN - Toe on, toe on shaposh 1/2, extra swing on pirouette, straddled jaeger, overshoot, toe on front full dismount. Score: 13.033
BB - Gabrielle Douglas - USA - Front aerial, back hand lay step, standing full (wobble), switch leap back pike, switch half (wobble) missed connection to back tuck, punch front, switch ring, bhbh double pike (step). Score: 14.800
BB - Larisa Iordache - ROU - Back hand tuck full, double turn, switch leap half, front aerial, back hand back pike (wobble), switch leap back tuck, side somi, r/o back hand triple full (steps). Score: 15.400
BB - Jordyn Wieber - USA - Front aerial, 1 arm back hand lay step (wobble), standing full to back hand stepout, switch leap back pike, side aerial side somi, switch side, back hand back hand 5/2 (small hop). Score: 14.966
BB - Lisa Hill - GER - Onodi (wobble), side aerial, switch leap (small wobble), back hand lay step, switch half, side somi, r/o double full. Score: 13.500
BB - Alexandra Raisman - USA - Front tuck, back hand back lay, front pike layout step out, switch half (wobble), back pike, side aerial, switch leap back tuck, full turn leg up horizontal, r/o arabian double front (small hope). Score: 14.966
BB - Rebecca Tunney - GBR - Switch side, front tuck, switch leap back tuck, front aerial (fall), back hand back pike (fall), full turn (wobble), side somi (fall), side aerial (wobble), r/o double pike. Score: 10.200
BB - Victoria Moors - CAN - Switch half, side aerial (wobble), front aerial, back hand back pike (wobble), side somi, r/o double tuck (step back). Score: 13.833
BB - Georgia Simpson - AUS - Switch half, punch front (wobble), switch leap back tuck, side aerial, full turn leg horizontal, front aerial back hand back pike (fall), back hand back hand double tuck (steps back). Score: 13.300
BB - Diana Chelaru - ROU - Wobble on mount, punch front, switch half, front aerial switch leap back tuck, switch side (wobble), back hand back hand double tuck. Score: 14.000
FX - Gabrielle Douglas - USA - 3/2 to triple full (small hop), arabian double front to stag jump, double turn leg horizontal, tucked full in, tucked double back to split jump. Score: 14.700
FX - Rebecca Tunney - GBR - Whip arabian double front, 3/2 through to 5/2 to stag jump, triple turn, double tuck, double pike (step back). Score: 14/166
FX - Victoria Moors - CAN - Double twisting double back, 3/2 through to triple, 5/2, double tuck (step forward). Score: 14.766
FX - Diana Chelaru - ROU - Tucked full in, whip to triple twist (step back), double pike (hop), double tuck. Score: 14.400
FX - Georgia Simpson - AUS - Tucked full in (stumble full in), double tuck (hop), double pike. Score: 13.366
FX - Larisa Iordache - ROU - Whip to triple twist stag jump, piked full in, 5/2 punch front punch front, double tuck. Score: 14.833
FX - Jordyn Wieber - USA - Double twisting double back, 3/2 through to triple twist (step forward), 5/2 to split jump, double pike. Score: 15.133
FX - Alexandra Raisman - USA - 3/2 to arabian double front punch layout, piked arabian double front to split jump, triple twist, double pike. Score: 15.433
FX - Lisa Hill - GER - Double pike, 3/2 to punch layout, front hand front full, double tuck. Score: 13.766
Unofficial Gold: Gabby Douglas
Gold: Jordyn Wieber
Silver: Aly Raisman
Bronze: Larisa Iordache (Romania)
Real star of the show. Not actually competing, just bending the rules and training to get comfortable in a big competition. Not on the scoreboard, but being scored and beating everyone. Gabby Douglas. (via usagym: "61.299 for Gabby Douglas today. That would have won any of the last three world championships. And she’s only an alternate here at the American Cup!")
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