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European Championships Vault- Preview

April 3, 2011

This is probably one of the easier events to predict since few gymnasts have two vaults. Although there is no official list of who plans on competing two vaults in Berlin (that I know of), there aren’t many choices. I’ll start out with past results as I did in my all around post. Since there were vault finals at 2010 Europeans, I won’t use 2009 at all.

2010 Europeans

1. Ekaterina Kurbatova (did not make team)
2. Youna Dufournet (did not make team)
3. Tatiana Nabieva- 14.15
4. Diana Chelaru- 14.062
5. Ariella Kaeslin- 13.975

2010 Worlds (Europeans)

1. Aliya Mustafina- 15.066
2. Ariella Kaeslin- 14.783
3. Tatiana Nabieva- 14.599

2011 Scores (compiled by the all around)
1.Aliya Mustafina- 14.933
2.Tatiana Nabieva- 14.483
3.Oksana Chusovitina- 14.312

The Favorites

Aliya Mustafina has to be the favorite to take this title. If she’s lucky, she’ll get 3rd, 5th or 8th in prelims (the last three spots in finals, according to the draw) so she knows what she has to do in finals to win. When she competes two vaults, her average difficulty ranges from 5.3 to 6.3. She’s competed her 6.1 and 6.5 vaults this year. I don’t expect her do do them in prelims, but as she showed at the American Cup and the French International, she can land them when the pressure is on, even if it may not have been the original plan.

Tatiana Nabieva also has to be a favorite. She has the same 6.1 and 6.5 vaults as Mustafina, but is even sloppier and less consistent with them. I expect to see a piked Podkopayeva and a double twisting yurchenko from her, as she has been doing all year. Her Amanars attempts were scary during podium training at the French International. The vaults she does have, though, may be enough for a medal.

Ariella Kaeslin is a former European Champion, but her vaults are not as strong as they once were. The last time she competed her Rudi, she failed to land it on her feet. If the same happens in prelims here, she won’t be in finals. She got a double twisting yurchenko last year, but hasn’t competed it yet this year. She’d have to really put it together to medal here.

Oksana Chusovitina is another past European Champion, and she has been looking much better in the beginning of this season than she has since Beijing. With a 1 1/2 twisting tsukahara and a front layout full, she’s got more difficulty than some other gymnasts if they don’t go all out. Although her form is not perfect, she should have no trouble making the final (although she failed to make finals at europeans and worlds last year) and finishing among the top gymnasts who are half her age.

Other Contenders

Although she has not competed a second vault in a few years, Sandra Izbasa is a serious threat to anybody in the final. She had a clean double twisting yurchenko at worlds last year, and has been training a very nice layout podkopayeva. Those are two pretty difficulty vaults, and her execution is arguably better than anybody else who may make the final. Click here to watch her training vault a month ago.

Izbasa’s two teammates, Diana Chelaru and Amelia Racea also compete two vaults. They both compete double twisting yurchenko’s as their first vault- not the cleanest, but they’re alright. Chelaru only competed a front pike as her second vault a few weeks ago, which is a pretty big downgrade for her. It will be interesting to see if she has something else in her repertoire that she wasn’t quite ready to debut. Racea used to compete a yurchenko 1/2 on front tuck 1/2 off. Who knows what she’s training at the moment. One of them should make finals.

Giula Steingruber is another strong Swiss vaulter who is looking to follow in the footsteps of teammate Ariella Kaeslin. She has a powerful but somewhat sloppy Rudi and a full twisting tsukahara. Her difficulty should mean she has no problem making the final, but a full twisting tsukahara may be a bit to weak to earn her a medal.

Julie Croket may be the final finalist. She has decent form on a handspring front tuck full and a full twisting yurchenko. Her difficulty won’t be the highest, but her landings are usually solid. Maria Livchikova could also take the final spot if she lands her vaults, a double twisting yurchenko and a front pike 1/2.

Official Prediction:
1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Sandra Izbasa
3. Oksana Chusovitina

Nabieva will probably get overscored and medal, though. Or she will cry when she doesn’t.

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