Off The Record with Vivien Vajda
Oscar Rendon | St. LOuis, MO | October 26th, 2018
You may know her as the sensational jump-roper from this last season on America’s Got Talent where she made it to judge cuts. She performed in front of Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Mel B with an injured ankle but was cut from the show. Set backs are nothing new for Vivien as she explains in our interview, making the sport of Jumprope an art with her acrobatics, flexibility, and strength. Now, Vivien can be followed on her social media as she travels the world with her jumprope in hand. She currently resides in Shanghai, China where she has been teaching others her skills with a jumprope. Vivien is not only a jumprope master but she has a background in figure skating, gymnastics, piano, and singing. She also dabbles in horse riding, muai tai, body boarding (a type of surfing) & dancing. She speak 6 languages : English, Hungarian, Portuguese, French, German, Mandarin-Chinese. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in International Business.
Vivien was very open with us about her backstory, journey, and passion for jumprope and her background in sports. Get to know her better by reading our interview below.
OTR: Tell us about you, your background and what drew you to the sport of Jump Rope.
Vivien: Before I became a jump roper I was a figure skater and a gymnast. I was a very active kid so my parents wanted me to do as much sports as possible and see which I liked. My father Laszlo Vajda was a 10 times Hungarian champion in Figure Skating and he competed at the Insbruck Olympic Games in 1976 but as he got sick he couldn’t join the finals. My father was the first person to jump Triple Lutz which made him the “King of Lutz” and got invited to skate for the Japanese and Danish Royal Family. He also skated for Holiday on Ice for 16 years as a principal skater. My grandparents from my Hungarian side already passed away and also my grandfather from my Brazilian side before I was born. When I was very little we used to live in Linz, Austria because my dad was the head coach for the selection team and my mom was working by his side as a choreographer. Since they were both busy on ice and my grandma lived far away from us they didn’t have other choice than carry me to their work with them. As I started walking the first thing they did was put skates on my feet so I could follow them around on the ice. Later on we moved to small town in Hungary and there was no all year around skating rink so I had to give up skating and continued with gymnastics. I was 10 years old when I first saw jump rope and fell in love with that sport. I thought it was unique, challenging and quite crazy… then we moved to the capital city of Hungary Budapest for one year where I could figure skate again, do gymnastics and jump rope. Besides that I also did singing classes as my singing teacher from school found talent in me. At the age of 10 I sang a Latin Solo at a Gala’s closing ceremony for the at that time Hungarian president. After spending one year in the capital we moved back to the small town where I continued my jump rope career , singing and started taking piano lessons at the music academy. At the age 15 I carried on jumping by myself and I had my parents as my coaches.
OTR: How have you used Jump Rope as a practice in everyday life?
Vivien: For me, jump rope was not only a game. My rope was/is my teacher for life, my passport to travel the world, my motivator. It rewarded me, punished me, educated me… Why I am saying that is because as I mentioned before jump rope is a very challenging sport. We hit ourselves quite often , get tangled by the rope, we fall and get hurt , get injured. It is full of challenges. But when we finally manage to do a certain trick that is such a satisfying feeling. I have learned that each failure is a lesson, and no one else will punish us for our failures. It is us who punish ourselves. It’s up to us if we give up or if we keep going. I have also realized that no success is appreciated and treasured if you didn’t experience failure before. With each failure you learn a lesson and for each time u stand up and keep going u will grow as a person. And life is exactly the same thing.
OTR: What has been the most rewarding thing Jump Rope has given you? You teach and travel..
Vivien: All the hard work that I have invested in this sport made me become 14 times World Champion and travel the World, meet great people, participate in great events, learn more about the world and different people’s mindset and their culture. So I am really grateful that my sport has taught me so much, prepared me for life and took me around the World.
OTR: Where has your passion for JR taken you?
Vivien: Because of my sport I have been to : USA, CANADA, BRAZIL, UK, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, SWEDEN, AUSTRIA, CYPRUS, RUSSIA, PORTUGAL, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY,MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE…
OTR: What was your decision in auditioning for America’s Got Talent?
Vivien: I love my sport and not many people know that jump rope is actually a SPORT. Being on a show that is viewed by the entire world is a huge challenge, honor and kind of crazy. The Pressure is really big as so many people watch it and also you have the judges. I didn’t go there for the money, I went there to represent myself and my sport so I knew that I could not afford to make mistakes. I was really glad and thankful to the judges and especially to the audience who showed so much support when I was jumping and I felt very emotional and touched when I saw the crowed standing and cheering for me. It was really an indescribable feeling. After I got the 4 yeses I knew I would have to step up my game and come with something better than before. However, about 3 weeks before my second performance I had sprained both ankles very badly from having a bad landing from a flip. At that time the doctor said I wouldn’t be able to jump. I was really sad but I didn’t want to give up. I thought to myself that I didn’t work hard all these years to give up now. It took me 2 weeks to be able to walk again. I had to re-plan my performance and make it easier so hopefully I’ll be able to jump. 3 to 1 days prior the performance I had hurt my ankles again. I used tapes and 2 compression socks on each ankles and high top shoes to hold my ankles. Before I went onstage I had hurt my ankle again so for most parts I had to improvise on the show. I even left the flip just for the day of the show and for the end part of my performance as I knew that if I tried to practice it earlier I surely wouldn’t be able to do the show. Unfortunately my act wasn’t good to make it to the live shows. For me regarding AGT my dream was to get into the live show so I could show who I really am and what am I really capable of. I didn’t only want to do jump rope but I wanted to do a broadway style of performance where I could partly sing, dance, act and jump rope. Unfortunately my injury didn’t let this happen.
OTR: How was your experience on the show?
Vivien: Regarding the people in AGT everyone there was very kind and I met so many great people there so in all it was a fun experience.
OTR: With the level of talent you have in the sport of Jump Rope, what have been some of the worst injuries you have sustained from years of practice and dedication to being the best?
Vivien: I have broken my ring finger to the side when I was 12 by doing a flip and it is still on the side (at least I don’t have to open my hand if I’ll ever get married. Putting a ring on it will be an easy job lol) . I have fractured the top part of my right tibia bone and a piece of the bone broke down from the right knee 1 month before the Rio Olympic Games. However I put knee compression on and still participated at the Olympic torch relay and still did jump rope performances at the Olympic Games. I have had many ankle sprains so many times. I am still in the healing process from my last couple ankle injuries. Last week was my first time being able to do some of my flips again. However, I have to tape my ankles as my left one is still kinda painful but way better than before. I have injured my back and shoulders as well. I have fallen on my head a couple of times. I have won 2 World Championships and 2 national championships with a very high fever. But these are all part of being a professional athlete.
OTR: Lastly, what is your message to everyone? What do you want the world to know about you? What are you up to now?
Vivien: I think I’ve talked about myself enough so I will just leave a few message:
Don’t be afraid of being yourself and chasing your dreams. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t or that you are not good enough. Be faithful, try to be positive, be thankful for all the good things you have and you achieved. Be thankful for all the lessons that u had. Be kind, do what you love and try to be a good example to other people… We can make the world a better place by starting with ourselves.