We all know that the US have gone from strength to strength on this event over the past quad. Three different individual world champions, the second best vaulter in the world didn’t even get chosen as Olympic alternate, and one of the most stunning vault rotations the sport has ever seen in London.
And now, they are in the interesting position of potentially having four athletes who could win the world title. Four. Yes, you read that right. Positively Russian-esque in the abundance of second vaults, which is interesting given that Marta has historically tended not to encourage gymnasts to train them.
The first two, we know for sure are contenders. Mykayla Skinner and Simone Biles have both, in recent weeks, competed vaults that would be absolutely certain to medal at worlds.
Skinner did a DTY and a Cheng. She has a lucky firstname, too.
Unusual technique, but it’s a Cheng ffs. And still valued at 6.5, unlike the Amanar.
We all knew Biles had a fabulous Amanar, now she has a Lopez too. She very nearly stuck the Amanar at Jesolo last weekend.
There simply aren’t three other gymnasts in the world who can better these vaults right now. Skinner actually isn’t even on the national team, but then neither was Kayla Williams at this point in 2009. Biles most certainly is, and Marta spent a lot of time fussing over her in Jesolo. As well she should, given the 60 AA score.
These two alone could go 1-2 at worlds, depending how Izbasa looks at the time. But there are also others waiting in the wings.
The first is Maroney, taking time out of her busy gurning schedule to go back into the gym. Her instagram is apparently full of photos of her going to and from the gym, rather than actually in there- perfectly understandable given that she probably isn’t quite in elite shape. Antwerp isn’t that far away, but then this McKayla may well be the best vaulter in the history of the sport and doesn’t need to be 100% anyway. She could get away with doing the Lopez as her second vault. No doubt she would dearly love to retain her title: while her fuck up and facial expressions possibly made her more famous than winning Olympic gold would have done, it still has to smart a wee bit.
And the other is Vanessa Zamarippa, of UCLA. Readers will no doubt remember the stunning Cheng she stuck at US Nationals in 2010.
In all honesty, we have no idea whether she’s going to be remotely capable of this vault again. She throws a lovely FTY every week whilst competing in the NCAA, but of course that’s irrelevant for our purposes. So this is the longest shot of the four, easily.
Vanessa has talked, though, of trying for elite once she finishes her collegiate career in a few weeks time. Apparently she can do a DTY as well, though has never competed it. Long shot, but you never know. Funny things can happen in post-Olympic years.