Many people seem to think that vault is the least interesting even. However, in a year when a 40-years-old woman attempted a Produnova, a young Cuban athlete came out of nowhere to become the Pan-american champion and Russian athletes were pulling amanars out of nowhere, we all have to admit that this event gave us lots of exciting moments and lots of heart attacks. Before having a look at the top performances of 2015 on this event, I would like to talk about some of my sentimental favorite vaults of the year.
Brittany Rogers (Canada), worlds team finals
Words can’t express how impressed I am with this woman’s comeback! She had not competed in a major international competition since the London Olympics, she had struggled to regain her elite routines and yet, when it counted she delivered her best possible performances for her country. This really is a fantastic double twisting yurchenko, with good dynamics and clean form. Her knees are a tiny bit low when she lands but there’s absolutely no doubt that she stuck that landing cold and her reaction is just priceless. Brittany, who has already been an Olympic finalist on this event, has been working on amanars, so it would be great to see what she can do in the future.
Paula Mejias, (Puerto Rico), Osijek event finals
What a great moment for Paula! After being a medal contender at the Anadia world cup and the Pan-american Games but balking and finishing last both times, she finally got her chance to shine. I absolutely love her tucked rudi. It’s not the most difficult vault out there, but it’s nice to see a rather unusual skill and she executes it beautifully. She earned a gold medal for this performance and she deserved every bit of it. After that, she gave us two strong vaults at the world championships and she was the third reserve for the finals.
I definitely don’t want to celebrate athletes performing dangerous skill they can’t land properly and risking serious injuries, but I feel like Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan) and Dipa Karmakar (India) deserve a special mention. Oksana, who is the oldest athlete currently participating at major international competitions decided to attempt the most difficult vault that has ever been done by a woman at the age of 40! Things did not go her way and she did not earn a spot into the finals but just the fact that she attempted this vault is just insane. Dipa competed the same ridiculously difficult vault, as well as an upgraded double twisting tsukahara, to become India’s first Asian championships medalist and worlds event finalist. Both women wrote history. I just wish they hadn’t put their health at risk to achieve that. Another special mention should go to Aly Raisman (USA), who got her amanar back at the first year of her comeback and of course to MyKayla Skinner (USA), who hit some very solid chengs during the years. The problems with her block are still there, but she would definitely be a strong contender for the worlds podium if she was given the chance to compete. I was also very excited to see Shallon Olsen (Canada) performing a Khorkina as her second vault and I’m hoping to see a Cheng from her next year.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best vaults of 2015
10. Ellie Downie, Great Britain, worlds team finals
What a moment! I originally wanted to put Ellie’s near perfect Lopez on this list but I just couldn’t ignore this defining moment in the history of British gymnastics. Her technique during this double twisting yurchenko is really excellent. She has a great blog, great height, great distance and great form and it definitely looks like she should be able to add an extra half twist in there next year. And with that vault, 16-years-old Ellie Downie, who was competing at the first world championships of her career, found herself securing her country’s first team medal in the history of the sport.
9. Wang Yan (China) Chinese Nationals event finals
It’s so great to finally see a talented vaulter from China living up to her potential! Wang does not have the most explosive vaults, but she has great start values, she gets sufficient height, she shows clean form in the air and she had two excellent landings during the National championships. Despite the mistakes she has had during the year, and her disappointing fall during the worlds finals, I am very excited to see what she has accomplished on this event, where she is now the national and the Asian champion, as well as a world finalist.
8. Marcia Videaux (Cuba), Anadia world cup
What a lovely rudi! And to think that it was performed by an athlete nobody had even heard about made it even more exciting. Marcia came out of nowhere to become a world cup and a Pan american champion on this event, by showing powerful, clean and well controlled vaults throughout the year. It really is a shame that she struggled at the end of the season and she did not manage to qualify into the event finals at worlds, but she will have another chance to show us what she can do at the Test Event and hopefully, at the Olympics Games.
7. Sae Miyakawa (Japan), worlds team finals
The first time I watched Sae performing on vault was during the event finals of the 2014 Jesolo Trophy, where she almost killed herself with a ridiculously low DTY and an uncontrolled front layout. Back then, I could have never image that I’d ever include her in a list of the best vaulters in the world, but she really has come a long way in the last couple of years on this event. Her rudi during team finals made me scream out of joy! She landed with her chest quite low but unlike most gymnasts, she kept her legs together during her block, she got impressive distance, she showed good form in the air and she only had a small hop on her landing. She just exploded off the table, showing tons of power and she earned a high score for her team. This is a fairly new vault for her, since she’s only been competing it for about a year, so it will hopefully improve even more. I’m hoping to see Sae bringing back her double twisting yurchenko and being a contender for major vault finals in the future.
6. Ksenia Afanasyeva (Russia) Europeans event finals
This is not the cleanest amanar the world has ever seen, but it is one of my favorite vaults of the year. Ksenia was never renowned for her vaulting. She had a powerful double twisting yurchenko that was valuable for her team, but balance beam and floor exercise were supposed to be her best events. During her career, she had performed an amanar once so it was not a skill that she was comfortable with and she was coming back from injuries, after being absent from major competitions for almost two years. Nobody expected her to be able to land an amanar. Even when she said that she was planning to do so, most people were reluctant to believe it. And yet, she actually went for it and landed it well to win a bronze medal. I swear I was screaming like crazy from the moment I saw the 6.3 start value on the board til she actually put it on her feet. For me, it was one of the most intense moments of the year. Even though this amanar is nowhere near perfect it’s quite a decent attempt. She starts twisting too early, her form gets messy in the air and she is a bit off line but she gets enough height and distance and she gets the 2.5 rotations all the way around so she deserved the score she received. I just wish she could have stayed healthy during the rest of the year, so she could clean up this vault and I’m hoping to see her bringing it back and performing it better next year.
5. Maria Paseka, (Russia) European championships, event finals
Maria Paseka is the athlete who has surprised me the most during 2015. Who would have thought that this messy yurchenko 2.25 we saw at the London Olympics would turn into such a strong amanar? She still has lots of cleaning up to do and I wish she could fix this huge legs separation during her vault and her bend knees in the air, but nobody can deny that she has shown fantastic improvement on this event. She gets great height and distance, she had no trouble completing the 2.5 twists and she controls her landings beautifully. Ι never thought that I’d find myself rooting so hard for this girl, but I am ridiculously impressed by how much she has improved, despite struggling with multiple injuries during this quad and I’m so proud of her for everything she has achieved.
4. Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland) worlds All Around finals
In the beginning of her career, Giulia was known as a vault specialist. She has come a long way and she has turned into one of the best All Arounders and floor exercise workers in the world, but her vaulting remains exceptional. Her rudi definitely is one of the most powerful and explosive vaults being done in the world right now and she shows clean form and excellent control during her landing. She has been competing this vault for a long time and it seems way too easy for her, so I’d by lying If I didn’t admit that I dream of Giulia becoming the first woman to ever compete a handspring double full.
3. Hong Un Jong (North Korea), worlds event finals
Hong has won every title she could possibly win on vault, since she has become an Asian, a world and an Olympic champion. During this quad, she has proven herself as the absolute best in the world on this event, by being on the podium at every single world championships. She is capable of two incredibly difficult vaults and she nails both of them every time. Her vaults are not as powerful and explosive as others’, but she has beautiful form in the air and her landings were fantastic. She hadn’t competed at all for the entire year, so seeing her handling the pressure as well as she did during the worlds finals was definitely impressive.
2. Rebeca Andrade (Brazil) FIT challenge
Oh Rebeca what could have been… Her amanar is probably the only one in the world right now that could be compared to Simone’s. It is powerful, it is sky high, it is very clean and beautifully landed. And she had just gotten it back after struggling with injuries, so she would probably perform it even better as she got more comfortable with it. It really is a magical vault and I do think she deserves to be in the list of athletes who have executed amanars brilliantly, alongside Biles, Maroney, Price, Cheng and Rosu. I am devastated that she didn’t get the chance to show this vault at worlds and I desperately want her to recover in time to go to the Rio Olympics.
1. Simone Biles (USA) US nationals day 1
Now, this is the kind of vault that goes down in history, this is the kind of vault that people will still watch 50 years from now and still be blown away! Her block is pretty much perfect, the height and the distance she gets are insane, her form is ridiculously clean, she easily gets the 2.5 twists around and boom, she sticks that landing, like it’s nothing. This is one of the most difficult vaults being done in the world but it’s easy for her! In my opinion, this is the closest to perfection anyone has come during this quad.
gif credit: jordynslefteyebrow
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