Ever wonder why the Men’s Winter Cup is not televised, or at least web-broadcasted?
This competition takes place in Las Vegas every February, and in recent years in particular I have found it to be a better indicator than even the National Championships of who our country’s best male gymnasts actually are. Compared with the “Visa Championships”, which take place each summer, the Winter Cup always showcases a larger and more diverse field, and those gymnasts who are on the borderline between competing vs. dropping out have typically been much more willing to go out and compete one or two events rather than just scratching altogether as they tend to do at nationals. When you consider the national team spots available, the growing prestige of this competition, the glamorous appeal of Las Vegas, and the overall nostalgia this meet seems to generate among its participants, it’s no wonder that the Winter Cup has become the best attended men’s elite meet in the country. What’s even better, the college guys are all mid-season and are approaching absolute peak routine shape, the non-NCAA elite gymnasts often use it as one of their peaking points of the year as well, and we always seem to get a few surprise guests who use the Winter Cup as a testing grounds for an attempted comeback to the sport. This year, we’ve got the ultimate “VIP” guest and biggest headliner the competition could have ever asked for…world and Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm, who’s using this competition as the launching pad into his second major comeback at age 28. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see this event broadcasted? I think this year would be a perfect time to start!
It was so exciting to see the name of the greatest American male gymnast of all time officially on the “participant list” for this competition – which was just released five days ago – and became even more exciting when I realized this event is suddenly just 2 ½ weeks away. Paul has stated he will likely compete between one and three events, but his presence alone will officially stamp his comeback “legit” and will immediately thrust him back into the mix of both American and international gymnastics. Even considering the hundreds of hours of sweat, pain, fear, doubt, and relentless commitment involved in an attempted return to world class competitive shape, that first competition is always one of the truest tests and most powerful motivators during a comeback of this calibur.
Aside from headliner Paul Hamm, other gymnasts of interest currently on the participant list for this year’s Winter Cup include:
Alex Artemev (although I’d definitely take my chances at the Blackjack table or Roulette wheel before betting on that one actually happening)
Two-time world team member Sean Golden
Every member of the 2010 world team:
Paul Ruggeri (alternate)
Every member of the 2009 world team:
Numerous other up-and-coming stars and event specialists
What an awesome meet this will be!