The Scary State of Vaulting

1:07 PM Arabian Punch Front 5 Comments

I just don't know what to think anymore.

As most of you know, I love some good vaulting. I was most excited for the vault finals this year. Quite a few things didn't pan out - Alexa Moreno missed Worlds due to injury, Ellie Black just missed qualifications landing in 9th, and Noel van Klaveren had landing errors that caused her a spot in the finals despite upgrades. The pleasant surprise was Chantysha Netteb qualifying to VT finals after upgrading to a double twisting Yurchenko, something she attempted unsuccessfully at the European Championships.

The finals itself had some expected components. Yamilet Pena fell on her Produnova. Phan Thi Ha Thanh's Rudi was questionable. McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles hit both of their vaults.

There were lots of downsides too. After qualifying with her DTY, Netteb attempted the same vault but quickly fell to the grown grabbing her knee. The slow motion replay looked horribly reminiscent of Aliya Mustafina's ACL tear at Euros 2013. Yamilet Pena attempted her Produnova and did a "better" job by not rolling out of it but still landed on her backside, albeit feet first so she was awarded more than a 0. What disturbed me the most was seeing the 6.3 next to Phan Thi Ha Thanh as she ran to do what is usually a DTY. The problem was that it was a DTY with an attempt to continue twisting when she had already landed. She fell to the ground without any visible injury.

We were lucky that Hong Un Jong did not attempt the triple twisting Yurchenko. Her Amanar can be all over the place but I will say that when it's clean, it's actually pretty nice. Her Cheng is another story. She was deducted enough that this placed her behind Biles who had an easier 2nd vault. Appropriate, I'd say.

What about Giulia Steingruber who probably executed 2 of the nicest vaults of the entire final?

Steingruber's E scores were 9.3 and 9.166. Hong's were 9.266 and 9.0. Steingruber was up first which is always a tough position to be in since scores typically escalate throughout the competition. Her Rudi was beautiful. The deductions I see are the pike coming off the horse and lack of distance. On the DTY, again there was a pike for the landing and perhaps a low chest deduction too. Hong's Amanar, from what I could see, had the landing deductions. Her second vault, however, was a hot mess in the air. Pike throughout the vault (with some tucking at the knees too), crossed legs, low chest on landing, and step back.

I think it's near impossible for the judges not to reward difficulty of the vault in the execution score. I feel like things are missed or benefit of the doubt is given when it shouldn't be. I do think Steingruber was unlucky by going first, however, I can't explain the above 9 execution on Hong's Cheng.

Scarier than this was Phan Thi Ha Thanh attempting the Amanar. What in the world?! Phan and Steingruber have the same vaults. (Honestly, I think Phan typically does a piked Rudi but just puts up a laid out Rudi and gets credit for it but that's a story for another time.) Her only way of surpassing Giulia who has cleaner execution on the Rudi but typically comparable on the DTY is to do the Amanar. Phan has not been one of those girls that you wonder when she will upgrade because of the height she gets or room she has for landing. Instead, the Amanar she did was a DTY where she continued turning and hoped she didn't fall. It was a dangerous hot mess.

With the triple twisting Yurchenko on it's way, I worry for the state of vaulting. We have gymnasts landing Produnovas to their heads (or to forward roll would be the nice way of saying it). We have gymnasts competing underrotated Amanars (think Shawn Johnson to Maria Paseka). We have gymnasts getting credit for laid out Podkopayeva's (Yurchenko 1/2 on pike half off) when they are indeed piked. And now, joining the group of not-yet-ready-to-land Produnovas, we have gymnasts creating a new group of not-yet-ready-to-land Amanars. The same way Pena seems safer than Mahmoud, we're entering a world where Paseka seems safer than Phan. Yay?

I'm not a fan of banning things. My proposal is that these difficult vaults, like triple twisting Yurchenkos and Produnovas need to be submitted before competition to the FIG showing readiness. What would that mean? Take a video of you doing this vault successfully on competition mats to the FIG and then you can perform it at an actual meet. These vaults are so dangerous that we shouldn't hope that the podium helps you finally land it. We shouldn't count butt-slamming rebounds as a proper landing (Pena at Zibo). I don't know what the best solution is but something needs to be done.

We can start by taking proper execution scores and properly downgrading vaults. The latter has already been done at this World Championships - both Tatiana Nabieva and Maegan Chant had vaults downgraded due to body position and under-rotation, respectively.

I guess Pena has already "passed" but neither Hong nor Maroney nor Biles should be allowed to compete the TTY without showing that they can walk afterwards too.

The entire vault final can be watched here (TVR). Results can be found here.

What do you think of Steingruber vs. Hong? What do you think of the state of vaulting?


  1. I'm not convinced about a 9+ E for either of Hong's vaults--but I'm been of the opinion that vault judging has been remarkably lenient this week.

    1. Yeah. You get used to things being in ranges and it didn't seem like it fit the 9+ range. Sad times.

  2. I was in the arena, really close to the vault actually so I got to see everything in detail:
    1. It was a shame that Giulia was leading the whole final and the last three gymnast pushed her out of the podium. She did two great vaults, but as always, the CoP rewards difficulty and they'd rather give the bronze to Hong Un Jong who performed difficult but messy vaults than beautiful Giulia's vaults. Whatever.
    2. Thi Ha Thahn Phan's second vault was REALLY scary, i saw it closely and she literally twisted her knees when she already landed a DTY. She could've got injured really easily.
    3. My heart broke when I saw Chantysha's face in pain :(
    4. Maroney's vaults were awesome, she totally deserved gold.
    5. Simone clearly deserved silver, her Amanar is great but needs to upgrade her second vault if she wants to beat Maroney.
    6. Oksana's vaults were just messy. But I can't help it but admire a gymnast competing at the age of 38 and still world vault finals.
    7. Yamilet Peña's Produnova just...she'll break her neck someday, or her back. She seriously needs to stop competing it. And I guess she was just mentally shaken after the fall so she fell on her DTY aswell.
    But in general, it was an exciting vault final.

    1. That's amazing that you got to see it in person! Thanks for the insider info!

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