The highest qualifier for the vault finals is Marcia Videaux. She is a first year senior from Cuba who came out of nowhere and won a gold medal on vault at the Anadia world cup. Her vaults are a rudi and a double twisting tsukahara and she performs them both brilliantly. She has a good block that gives her plenty of height and distance, she keeps her legs together while twisting and she typically has no problem controlling her landings. Some times she pikes down at the end, but there’s no doubt she’s a brilliant vaulter who has a fantastic chance to win a gold medal. With Yessenia Ferrera out, she is Cuba’s only medal contender in the women’s side and everyone would love to see her doing well.
start value: 6 6.2
Puerto Rico’s Paula Mejas surprised us all by showing a fantastic level of difficulty and qualifying second into the finals. She is 19 years old and she has participated at two world championships in 2013 and 2011, where she finished in the top 20 on vault. She recently competed at the Anadia World Cup, where she was forth on vault during qualifications but unfortunately did not deliver in finals. She has an original tucked rudi and a double twisting tsukahara. Just like Marcia, Paula is her country’s only medal hope.
start value: 6 + 5.7
One of the most familiar names of those finals is Yamilet Pena from the Dominican Republic. She is probably the most succesful athlete of the field on this event since she’s the only one who has made it to both worlds and Olympics finals. She became famous by performing the most difficult vault in the women’s code of points, the Produnova. I have been rooting for her since she first appeared in the senior international stage in 2011 and I’m always happy to see her tears of joy every time she performs this vault well enough to get credit for it. I admire her determination and courage and I understand how important it is for her to make it into finals and win medals in order to promote gymnastics in her country and get some more attention and funding for her training. However, it’s hard not to be concerned when you see how she lands that skill. She has a pretty weak vault, she tucks way too early, she severely cowboys the double front and if she’s lucky, she barely puts it on her feet before she sits it down. She’s been performing this vault for four years now and I only remember her landing it once, and with a very deep landing. There’s nothing I’d love more than to see her mastering this vault, but I also believe that when a gymnast crashes a vault 95% of the time, she shouldn’t be performing it. That being said, there’s not much we can do other than hoping she doesn’t hurt herself. The truth is that with the massive 7.0 start value, she has a great chance to win a medal, even a gold medal, with a fall. Her second vault, is a slightly messy but much less scary 1.5 yurchenko.
In fourth place, we have our AA champion, Ellie Black of Canada. She has also been an Olympic finalist and Commnowealth Games medalist on this event so she has plenty of experience behind her. During qualifications, she landed both her vaults but she didn’t perform as well as she normally does so there’s definitely room for improvement on her scores. She competed a tsukahara 1.5 and a front handspring layout full. In previous competitions, we have seen a double twisting tsukahara and a rudi from here, so she is capable of more difficulty. There are some things she could work on when it comes to execution and I don’t know if she is planning to upgrade for finals, but considering how inconsistent Pena is with her Produnova, Ellie certainly has a good chance to medal if she performs well. Her home crowd is surely going to support her as loudly as possible.
start value: 5.5 + 5.5
The host nation is also represented by 18-years-old Maegan Chant. She already has competed at two world championships and she had the 14th highest vault average at Nanning while she has also been a Commonwealth Games finalist. Maegan doesn’t have the highest difficulty level we’ll see since she performs a front handspring layout half out and a full twisting tsukahara. However, she typically is quite clean and extremely consistent. Whether or not she will manage to finish on the podium, competing in front of her home crowd should be an amazing experience for her.
Start value: 5.2 5.0
Then we have Franchesca Santi, who is one of two event finalists from Chile. At the age of 23, Franchesca achieved one of the biggest accomplishments of her career when she won a bronze medal on vault at the Sao Paula World Cup earlier this year. She performs a double twisting yurchenko and a half on front pike. The DTY is a new skill for her and she is not completely comfortable with it yet but it really is a breakthrough for her country.
start value: 5.0 5.8
Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito qualified into the finals in 7th place. She really has had a fantastic competition so far, proving that despite her age, she still is one of the very best gymnasts in the continent. On vault, she is capable of a nice and consistent 1.5 twists and a yurchenko half on, half off. She doesn’t really have the difficulty to medal unless others make mistakes, but just making it into the finals is obviously an amazing achievement for her.
start value: 5.3 5.2
Makarena Pinto from Chile, grabbed the very last spot for the finals. She performs a tsukahara with a full twist and one of my favorite vaults, a front handspring tucked full. Again, she’s not a top medal contender, but the fact that Chile has two event finalist is pretty damn impressive regardless of whether they can medal or not
start value: 5.2 5.3
Unfortunately Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, Mexico’s Alexa Moreno and Cuba’s Yessenia Andrade, who are some the strongest vaulters in America are not attending this competition.