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5 Non-American Athletes Who Won the American Cup

The American Cup has long been regarded as a breeding ground for America's next Olympic darling. Mary Lou, Nastia, Shawn, Jordyn, Gabby, do I need to continue? This is among the many reasons that the American Cup is called the "Scam" Cup on the gymternet. Remember the year that what, five or six American girls were among the 8 or 9 girl field?

Occasionally, a non-American athlete will triumph and earn the top sport on that  podium. Here are 5 athletes who did just that.

5. Elena Prudonova

The red-headed Russian bad ass won the cup in 1999, ahead of USA's Morgan White. That same year, she debuted her eponymous vault, the handspring double front, which has only been competed by two other people in the last 15 years.

4. Viktoria Karpenko
Ukranian gymnast, Viktoria Karpenko won the American Cup in 1998. That year, she competed against American Olympic hopefuls, Kristen Maloney and Vanessa Atler. Vanessa, a first year senior that year had been favored to win the title, but she fell on her Comaneci Salto on the uneven bars. the 1997-2000 quadriennium saw three non-American athletes take the title. Viktoria's win was preceded by Elvire Teza of France. Viktoria was also only the second Ukrainian gymnast to win the American Cup, the first, Stella Zakarkova, who won in 1979, competing for the Soviet Union.

3. Elena Zamolodchikova

In 2001, Elena Zamolodchikova was coming off of the Sydney Olympics, where she'd won two gold medals for the vault and the floor exercise. In the same year of the 2000 Olympics, Elena lost her father after he died of complications he suffered as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Elena continued her success, winning the American Cup ahead of Spain's Laura Martinez and USA junior, Kristal Uzelac. Elena's win was the last time a non-American athlete won the American Cup All-Around title.*

2. Elvire Teza

Elvire Teza is the only French gymnast in the 39 year history of the American Cup to win the All-around title. She won in 1997, ahead of Vanessa Atler and China's Ji Liya.

1. Nadia Comaneci

Ironically, the female winner of the inaugural American Cup, wasn't an American. 1976, was the year of the Montreal Olympics and the first year the American Cup was held in Madison Square Gardens in New York City. It was here, 14-year-old Nadia stole the hearts of everyone world wide, scoring perfect tens on the floor and the vault and just being an awesome legendary gymnastics unicorn. Nadia met her future husband, Bart Conner here. In her book,  Letters to A Young Gymnast, Nadia explains that the photographer, who took the above photograph, told Bart "Look at Nadia, isn't she cute?" and asked him to plant one on her cheek. Bart was 18 and Nadia was 14 at the time. It wasn't love at that minute, according to Nadia, it was... for lack of a better word, awkward. She didn't remember this happened until 15 years later when they re-united and he reminded her.

* In 2005, the American Cup was an all event final championships, no all-around competition was held. Zhang Nan tied with Nastia Liukin for the balance beam title and Spain's Patricia Moreno won the floor exercise title.

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