Gil LeBreton

These U.S. gymnasts are fit for a Cowboys-sized stage

Simone Biles will compete in the Liukin Cup on Friday night at AT&T Stadium.
Simone Biles will compete in the Liukin Cup on Friday night at AT&T Stadium. AP

Simone Biles of Spring called it “a big stadium for big gymnastics.”

And Biles, who turns 18 next week, knows her way around big-time gymnastics. At 4 feet, 9 inches, and as the reigning two-time world all-around champion, she’s a virtual giant in her sport.

She’s also right. All the big acts, sooner or later, play AT&T Stadium.

Super Bowl XLV. Paul McCartney. Beyoncé. The NBA All-Star Game.

Taylor Swift. Manny Pacquiao. U2. George Strait. The 2014 NCAA Final Four. The first College Football Playoff championship game.

“For a moment, I thought I was a little crazy,” confessed Steve Penny, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, which is staging this weekend’s Nastia Liukin Cup and AT&T American Cup events.

“But as soon as we came and saw it and talked to the Cowboys, everybody kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Yeah, we think this makes sense.’ We actually feel pretty comfortable here. It’s a nice fit.”

Penny’s U.S. program clearly fits. The American women have won team medals at the last six Olympics, including gold medals at the London and Atlanta Games.

The last three women’s all-around gold medalists have been Americans, including Allen’s Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin of Parker and Gabby Douglas.

Of the six world championship team medals that have been awarded since 2003, the U.S. women have won four of them, plus two silvers.

Biles herself has won nine medals — six of them gold — at the previous two world meets.

On the world’s gymnastics stage, the U.S. women are rock stars. They were made for Jerry Jones’ big stage.

The Liukin Cup competition Friday night will feature some of the country’s best junior gymnasts. The American Cup on Saturday will have an international field of nine women and nine men.

Biles and Mykala Skinner will be the two U.S. women competitors, and Americans Donnell Whittenburg and two-time national champion Sam Mikulak will compete on the men’s side.

The Rio Olympics are still 17 months away but don’t mistake the American Cup for an exhibition.

“It’s going to be a showcase, two great meets,” Penny said. “Some of the best athletes in the world are going to be competing with Simone and Mykala. On the men’s side, it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out showdown.

“No, it’s no exhibition. These guys are here to win. It’s the third event in the World Cup series, plus there’s some money on the line. They want to do well here.”

For the American Cup, thanks to the size of the field and the stadium’s roomy dimensions, competitors will have plenty of elbow room and won’t have to perform simultaneously. Seating will be on one side of the stadium, with the 180-by-72-foot video board lowered to 50 feet.

“It’s a pretty unique setup for us,” Penny said.

“And by the way, we’re playing to the ‘Jones’ side of the stadium.”

It should be a perfect fit.

All of the big acts — even the 4-foot-9 ones — sooner or later perform at AT&T Stadium.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton


AT&T Stadium, Friday-Saturday

Nastia Liukin Cup: 7-9 p.m. Friday

AT&T American Cup: 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday. TV: KXAS, noon-2 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $35-$250; or 800-745-3000

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