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Yul Moldauer: The Privilege to Feel Pressure

Few days before flying to a training camp in the Netherlands ahead of the 2023 World Gymnastics Championships, Moldauer talks about his 2023 season.

November 10, 2023

A few days before World Championships

It is the last few days before flying to a training camp in the Netherlands ahead of the 2023 World Gymnastics Championships. European Champion and owner of 5280 Gymnastics, Vladimir Artemev calls for the gym to be quiet, and his protégé jokes that maybe it's better if it isn't quiet. As he prepares to mount the parallel bars to complete his third of six competitive routines for the day, a little kid in the back yells, "Let's go, Yul."

Under the watchful eye of one of the world's best judges, Yul Moldauer mounts the parallel bars and quickly begins his packed routine. Most of his routine is stellar; there's just a small bend of the arms while in handstand before he sticks his trademark double front half out dismount. The gym erupts in applause.

In between his routines, Yul sets his video recording equipment next to the still rings. His phone is quickly commandeered by a small gymnast-in-training, the daughter of his coach and Olympic bronze medalist, Sasha Artemev. Within minutes, the curious toddler has added no less than 100 selfies to his library of world-caliber video recordings. He takes a few minutes to look through the photos with her and then it's back to business. His high bar routine is comprised of a much-improved Takemoto full and unsurprisingly, at the end of the routine, he sticks the dismount. Yul seems to have an uncanny ability to spot and stick the landing. Only one question remained after his routine: to Yamawaki or not to Yamawaki (a release move over the high bar). The Yamawaki wasn't present in his full routine but he completed a couple afterwards to help him decide on the final routine composition. Moldauer then moves to floor, where he is a world bronze medalist, and ends the day on pommel horse.

Following a day of one-on-six (where he performs one routine on six events) Moldauer sits down to talk about his performance at the U.S. National Championships, the upcoming World Championships, and how much longer he'd like to be competing.

"Things Like That Happen"

On August 26th, it seemed as though the stars might align. It was Yul's 27th birthday, and three-quarters of the way through the competition, he was in the lead. But a second national title wasn't to be, as he made several mistakes on high bar and floor exercise. In his words: "I'll be honest; I choked." In a matter of minutes, he went from thinking he could be the national all-around champion to wondering if he had botched his chance at making the World Championships team. Before the last event, he told himself that he had to hit pommel horse, and he did. It's that ability to come back strong that he's most proud of.

Moldauer was named to the World Championships team. He's by far the veteran of the group, with five world championships and an Olympic Games under his belt. There are three new faces joining him and Asher Hong at the World Championships this fall. After the team was named, they created a group chat that Yul describes as "full of encouragement." When asked what advice he will share with those less experienced he said, "When we get there, I'm just going to tell them that It's just like an NCAA meet. At the end of the day, it's a team event. We shouldn't be thinking about individual medals. We are here as a team. Don't get scared that it's worlds…Own the moment. It's a privilege to feel pressure."

That last quote, "It's a privilege to feel pressure," is a lesson that he learned from former teammate Colin van Wicklen, and it's one that has carried Moldauer through many successful competitions. He's hopeful that Antwerp will be successful for the team, believing that success there would give them the opportunity to change the face of men's gymnastics in the United States.

You might ask what a perfect World Championship would look like for Yul. He'd tell you his answer without question: "To stand on the podium alongside Asher Hong, Khoi Young, Paul Juda, Fred Richard, and Colt Walker." The individual success? He said that will follow if they just do their job.

What is the Future for Yul Moldauer?

Practice is coming to an end and we have time for one last question: What are Yul's plans after the World Championships? He laughs and says, "I knew this question was coming." Moldauer is known for not taking much time off after major competitions and this year will be no different.

He has put his name in the hat for the Swiss Cup – a fun and lucrative gymnastics competition. He's also competing in the German Bundesliga and the French top-12 league later this fall. He'll rest after he returns home in mid-December. But the rest won't last for long. Before you know it, he says, the 2024 Olympics are going to be here, and he plans to do everything possible to be in Paris competing for Team USA at the Olympics once more.

His dreams don't stop there. Competing on home turf at the L.A. 2028 Olympics is the ultimate goal. Till then, he's working towards a team medal an ocean away in Antwerp, Belgium.

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