A look at a few highlight routines from the Winter Cup Finals:

Jake Dalton Vault

The best meet of this kid’s life.  What a breakthrough performance that could very well have just changed his entire career.  This vault was the highest score of the entire competition with a 16.55…exactly the kind of vault the U.S. men could really use to help them compete on a level closer to the Chinese.  There were three Americans in this competition who competed 7.0 value vaults – Dalton, his Oklahoma teammate Steven Legendre, and Michigan’s Samuel Mikulak.

Steven Legendre Vault

Ironically I think Dalton and Legendre could very well be a in a heated battle for a spot on this year’s world team, and potentially on next year’s Olympic team.  With Danell Leyva not being a particularly high scorer on either floor or vault, the U.S. may very well want to have a floor and vault specialist in both Tokyo and London.  I seriously doubt there would be room for two of them though.  Granted, both Dalton and Legendre have become very competitive all-arounders, but I don’t think either one is ready to be used in a team finals situation on any other event.

Jake Dalton P-Bars

He actually placed 2nd on this event behind Danell Leyva with two solid 15.25’s (6.1, 9.15 both days).  Not a ton of difficulty, but a couple of unique skills and a very clean and solid routine.

Jake Dalton Rings

Again, not a super strong ring routine, but he managed to place third on this event (14.55 and 14.3).  You can see that even on Dalton’s weaker events, he was dead on at this competition.  I was so impressed with how he handled the pressure of having the all-around lead after Day 1.

Joshua Dixon Floor

One of my favorite routines of the meet.  He has an incredibly smooth and fluid look, making those tumbling passes look WAY too easy!  He was 2nd behind Dalton on floor, scoring a very impressive 15.45 for this routine on Day 2.  This was definitely the main reason he was selected for the national team, interestingly ahead of Daniel Ribeiro who placed first on pommel horse by 1.5 points but again was left off the national team.  I believe the selection committee is truly favoring all-arounders over single event specialists now; although floor was Dixon’s only real standout event, he competed a solid all-around, while Ribeiro just competed four events.  An interesting shift in thinking from previous years, though I can’t quite say I understand that one.

CJ Maestas Rings

First place on one of the U.S. weaker events…Maestas was third in the all-around, but rings was his only really competitive score (15.45 and 15.55).  If he could improve a bit on pommel horse and score at least mid-14’s, he could be a key player for the U.S. over these next couple of years.  I’m not sure if rings alone will be enough to do it for him, but he sure might be in the mix.

Danell Leyva P-Bars

What an awesome routine!  He’s getting better and better on this event, and I believe he could challenge for a medal at the world level this year if he continues to clean up just some slight form breaks.  This 16.15 (9.45 E-score!) was the highest I’ve ever seen him score here.  I absolutely love all of his diamidov skills, particularly the giant diamidov 1 ½…stunning.