Jones captures the 2012 Nastia Liukin Cup


NEW YORK, March 2, 2012 – Charity Jones of Miami, Okla./Dynamo Gymnastics, posted a 38.075 score to win the all-around title at the third annual Nastia Liukin Cup inside Madison Square Garden Friday night. Alex McMurtry of Midlothian, Va./Richmond Olympiad Gymnastics, and Polina Shchennikova of Colorado Springs, Colo./T.I.G.A.R, tied for second, scoring 37.875. Defending champion Grace Williams of Linden, Mich./Gedderts’ Twistars USA, finished third with a 37.750. Proceeds from the event go to the Nastia Liukin Fund, a charitable fund within the National Gymnastics Foundation.

Jones began her night on the vault, performing a big Yurchenko double full for a 9.775. In rotation two, Jones scored 9.375 on the uneven bars with a Tkatchev release move and double layout dismount. On the balance beam, her routine, which included a back handspring to layout stepout and double tuck dismount, gave her a 9.625. In the final rotation, Jones took to the floor leading the competition. Mounting with a tuck full in and dismounting with a double pike, she scored a 9.300 to win the all-around title.

"It feels amazing to win the Nastia Liukin Cup," Jones said. "It’s just so surreal because there are so many good athletes here. I tried my best, and to come out on top feels good."

McMurtry began on the floor, earning a 9.350 with a tucked full-in that seemed to hang in the rafters. On the vault, she posted the night’s highest score, a 9.900, for a powerful double twisting Yurchenko, giving her the vault title. McMurtry, then, moved to the uneven bars where she earned a 9.050. In the final rotation, McMurtry was solid on the balance beam, executing a switch leap to back tuck and nearly stuck two-and-a-half twisting dismount for a 9.575 and a share of second place.

Shchennikova, who tied McMurtry for second in the all-around, started on the floor exercise with a 9.450, after mounting with a double pike. On the vault, she performed a Yurchenko full for a 9.425. Shchennikova soared on the uneven bars with a piked stalder to Tkatchev to Pak salto connection for a 9.550 and the event title. In the final rotation, Shchennikova used her grace and long lines on the balance beam to post a 9.450.

Photos by John Cheng and Brian Freed

Williams, who won the Nastia Liukin Cup title in 2011, earned her highest score of the night on the vault with a 9.600 for her Yurchenko full. She also earned a 9.375 on the uneven bars, a 9.475 on the beam and a 9.300 on floor to finish third in the all-around.

Wynter Childers of Spearfish, S.D./Spearfish Gymnastics, posted the highest score on the balance beam, a 9.700, to win the event title, while Alicia Boren of Franklin Hills, N.J./North Stars Gymnastics Academy, won the floor exercise title with a 9.550, dismounting with an impressive full-twisting double back.

Each of the 34 gymnasts in the field qualified through one of the designated invitationals that comprised the Nastia Liukin Cup Series. A selected number of gymnasts from each invitational advanced to the Nastia Liukin Cup.

The Nastia Liukin Cup participants received a Nastia Liukin-designed leotard and a warm-up from GK Elite; two tickets to the AT&T American Cup; and both met and had their photo taken with Liukin. For more information, go to nastialiukincup.com.

Background information

  • 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 is just the third U.S. woman 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 recently returned to training with an eye on the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Coached by her father, Valeri, who has four Olympic medals from 1988 including two gold, she was added to the 2011-12 Women’s National Team in November 2011.