What to watch for–Vault

So! there are, as we know, four events in women’s gymnastics. Since I know that there are four year fans out there (whatever, guys. Gymnastics is exciting ALL THE TIME. And if gymnastics were easy, it would be called football) I figured I might as well throw down some knowledge. YES I SAID IT.


So vault. Such a weird event. It’s over so fast, unlike the other three events. And it basically involves a gymnast running full speed at a stationary object. So, there’s that.

The vault we are most likely to see is Yurchenko style. Basically, that’s a round off onto the springboard–that’s the entry style. We might, from the very low level teams, see what’s called an FTY, which is a full twisting Yurchenko (Zam does a great one for NCAA). This will be rare, though.

The 1.5 is a vault we might see once or twice from underdogs, and in fact its what Liukin vaulted last time for the AA (all around) gold. But vaulting has gotten harder, so we are unlikely to see it from any serious competitors.

However, we will see roughly 2342343 DTYs, or double twisting Yurchenkos. Kayla Williams did one of my favorite DTYs–its the second vault (2.08) here. Quite a few of the teams will have vault rotations stacked with a mix of DTYs and Amanars, if they are lucky, or they will just have DTYs.

Then there’s the Amanar, which is two and a half twists. It’s tremendously hard. There are three kinds of Amanars we might see at the Games: “oh shit” (Nabs actually won’t be at these Games, but she has the best skanky vault and the best bitchface, so). Then there’s “serviceable” (we will see Musty at the Games, but almost certainly not doing this vault, since she blew out her ACL on it). Hmm. its not letting me add links, but heres that vault: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=YMSUqdN7gpA.

And then there’s McKayla Maroney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU-LA8QgMMs. This is the best vault that’s ever been done, by anyone. It is just truly incredible.

NYT did a cool infographic about the Amanar: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/07/19/sports/olympics/the-toughest-vault.html?ref=olympics

They used Weiber instead of Maroney, but you can get a sense of how the vault works.

These three examples should basically tell you what to watch for on vault.

1. Height. McKayla sometimes gets 10 feet up in the air.

2. Form, important in all aspects of gymnastics. The only deduction–aside from a step–that Maroney gets is maybe .1 for preflight (before her hands leave the table) leg separation. Someone like Nabieva will get .3 for her leg separation, because its huge. They will also take large deductions, depending on just how skanky it is, for things like bent arms and legs, flexed feet, helicopter (crossed) legs, etc.

3. Distance from the table. You want to try to land in the next county, if possible. But you also want to land on the landing mat and right down the middle.

4. Landings! A stuck vault helps a LOT, not only because you avoid a landing deduction (.1-.3, usually, depending on the size of the step/hop) but also because it really sticks in the judges minds.

5. Keeping the start value. The SV, or D score, is what the routine/skill is worth, so its the max that it can score if everything is done perfectly. If a gymnast tucks too much during the vault, or doesn’t rotate the full amount, the vault can be downgraded, which means that the gymnast will get a lower score.


Now, you may be wondering: are there any other vaults besides Yurchenko style? Well! I am so glad you asked!  In fact there are. They are just not as common.

Alicia Sacramone, who we will not see in London, did something called a Rudi (front handspring on, 1.5 twist off) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkyswxnVOVY. We will see a couple of these, especially in event finals, which reminds me: to qualify for event finals, a gymnast must do TWO vaults. (in team and AA , the gymnast only has to do one). She must compete both in qualifications.

Then there’s the Tsuk (1/4 turn on, twisting back flip off) which is done by our friend Oksana Chusovitna, who is 37 years old. Girlfriend is a fucking legend. She has a 13 year old son. Her first Olympics was 1992, for gods sake.  Two decades later, she’s at it again. Honestly her Tsuk is a bit wonky and I dont even care, because she is the most badass gymnast ever Here’s her Tsuk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_QZnBR9C90.

Then there’s the Prodnova, which has only been done in competition once or twice–first by its creator, whand now by one Yamilet Pena. Quite honestly she has only a very small chance of actually standing it up; its a handspring double front, which is just completely and totally insane. and her second vault is pretty bad, honestly (its a Y1.5, although maybe she’ll upgrade). But her main vault, IF she can stand it up, is hella impressive…of course she almost never stands it up. see her vaults here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8S6gtsdAD8

So! I am not going to talk too much about which gymnasts will be doing what in team finals, but of the big four, thoug, the US is by far the frontrunner. They have 3 Amanars in TFs (actually all five years have done Amanars, some better than others) and in TF we should see Raisman/Douglas, Weiber and of course Maroney. One of the reasons the US is so excited about this is because the Amanar is jsut worth so much more than any other vault.

Vault finals is where it gets interesting though. There are almost never medal winners in TF or even AA outside of the Big Four (US, China, Russia, Romania) at least not recently. But event finals often do feature gymnasts from non powerhouse countries. So in EFs, we will see Maroney for sure if she isnt injured (there is a rumor going around that she is injured: if this is true, someone should just take Marta Karolyi somewhere and…punch her lights out). We might also see Pena. We should see Chuso. My dream poduim at this point is:

1. Maroney

2. Chuso

3. Pena

but if Pena doesnt stand up her Prod, then I’ll sub in Izbasa or Than.


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