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American Cup Becomes All-American Showcase

March 4, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Jonathan Horton, who competes for the University of Oklahoma, won his first major gymnastics title at the American Cup on Saturday while Nastia Liukin held off fellow American Shayla Worley to capture the women’s event.

The American Cup was the first meet top use gymnastics’ new scoring system. After several judging errors at the Athens Olympics, the International Gymnastics Federation did away with its 10.0 score.

Horton won the rings and finished second on the floor and vault to finish with 92.5 points for the biggest victory of his career. Hisashi Mizutori of Japan was second with 92.25 points. American David Durante took the pommel horse and parallel bars on the way to a third-place total of 91.35.

Horton finished third in the all-around at last year’s NCAA championships.

``This meet isn’t big because of the number of athletes they bring in, it’s prestigious because of who they bring in,″ Horton said.

Liukin, the world champion on the uneven bars and balance beam, overcame a fall on her aerial mount on the beam. She led Worley by one-tenth of a point entering the final event. Liukin turned in a nearly flawless routine in the floor exercise to secure the title and finished with a score of 60.050, with Worley at 59.775.

Aisha Gerber of Canada was third at 57.650, followed by Lais Souza of Brazil (57.525), Elsa Garcia of Mexico (57.050), Zhuoru Zhou of China (56.325) and Daria Bijak of Germany (56.0).

Two-time Olympic champion Elena Zamolodchikova of Russia fell during her routine on the uneven bars and finished seventh among eight competitors on the beam and floor. She was eighth overall at 40.525.

Among the men, Sergey Khorokhordin of Russia was fourth at 89.2 and followed by Fabian Hambuechen of Germany (89.1), Nathan Gafuik of Canada (88.55), Junhao Li of China (86.85) and Florent Maree of France (84.3).

A two-mark format intended to give a truer representation of the worth of a routine replaced the previous single score based on a maximum start value of 10.0. One mark represents the difficulty of a gymnast’s routine, combining the preset value of the 10 highest elements and adding points for connections or required skills.

The second mark is for execution, with judges starting at 10.0 and taking deductions for presentation, artistry and technique. The difficulty and artistry marks are then added for a final score.

Most of the competitors agreed they now have a better idea of what is expected.

``Coming in, I wasn’t sure what a 15 or a 14 score was, it was hard to tell,″ Worley said. ``This set the bar for other competitions.″

Liukin was in favor of keeping the previous scoring method, but added skills to her routine to keep pace with the new code.

``I kind of wanted the perfect 10 to stay,″ Liukin said. ``But it was a good change. I’ll get used to it and understand it more. Coming in, I wasn’t sure what the concept was, but now I have a better idea.″

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