The magic continues for Morgan Hurd. Four months after her breakout all-around win at the world championships, the 16-year-old claimed her second major international title at Saturday’s American Cup in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Yul Moldauer, the defending U.S. men’s all-around champion, won the men’s title.
Hurd, who loves Harry Potter and is one of the few elite gymnasts to compete wearing glasses, outdueled Japan’s Mai Murakami to come away with her first American Cup crown with an overall score of 56.599, bettering her total from last October’s world championships by more than a point.
The improvement was partially due to two new skills in the Delaware resident’s bag of tricks — an especially difficult full-twisting double pike dismount on beam and a double layout on floor exercise — both of which she nailed in the heat of competition.
Murakami wasn’t beaten easily, however. On balance beam, the event that cost her an all-around medal at last fall’s worlds, she showed nerves of steel, and the reigning world champion on floor tied Hurd for the day’s top score on the event.
Team USA’s Maile O’Keefe overcame miscues on uneven bars and balance beam to finish with bronze in her senior international debut. O’Keefe, a two-time junior national all-around champion, showed her potential by tying for the best mark on vault with 14.600.
Steadiness was the key for Moldauer as he picked up his second American Cup trophy in the men’s competition, tallying 85.964 to successfully defend his title from 2017. Moldauer seemed to grow stronger as the competition wore on: after finishing his six-for-six performance with a stuck dismount for his high bar set, the 21-year-old unleashed a chest-thumping, fist pumping mini-celebration as he left the podium. Moldauer earned bronze at worlds last year on floor exercise.
Great Britain’s James Hall turned in the top performance of the day on pommel horse to seal second, ahead of 2016 Olympian Petro Pakhnyuk of Ukraine.
Allan Bower, a teammate of Moldauer’s at the University of Oklahoma, rounded out the top five with 81.864.
The American Cup is the first of four events in the FIG all-around world cup series. The series continues March 17-18 in Stuttgart, Germany.