Open Secrets Part 2- Vault Upgrades

Footage of various vault upgrades from Eastern Europe emerged this week. These have all been rumoured and/or promised by the gymnasts themselves for some time, but it’s nice to see solid proof they’re being trained.

Firstly, Komova’s Amanar. Onto a hard surface! It’s right at the start, blink and you’ll miss it.

This was filmed 45 days before they leave for Olympics, so about early to mid June. And looked quite nice. It’s unrealistic to hope she’ll ever be capable of doing it as well as in 2010 again, given that she’s grown, but it was encouraging. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Mother Russia will have at least 2 Amanars in London. A minimum of 1 of these will be a death wish, making Raisman’s look positively stable in comparison.

Not to be outdone, the Romanians are working on some 6.5s of their own.

We all knew Iordache was training the Amanar, and here we see her doing so at 0.22. Note also that the presenter looks like Brian Dowling, winner of Big Brother 2, before he got fat.

Not really one of the better ones out there, but if she can reproduce this onto a hard surface she should be good for a 15.5 in London. And quite possibly an AA title. There’s been so much focus on Mother Russia v Wieber, a lot of people have forgotten about little Larisa. They shouldn’t.

The eagle eyed amongst you will also have noted Izbasa training the Cheng too, at 0.50. This looks the least complete of any of the vault upgrades: it’s round, but not great. Deep landing, heavily reliant on matting. The intention is clearly for her to throw it in London, but she looks to have lots to do before then. It may be worth mentioning that her Mustafina vault at Euros wasn’t quite as good as expected, although she was injured then.

It isn’t an easy vault for a tall athlete to manage: note that Cheng Fei herself became effectively incapable once she lost her 12 year old’s physique.

Nonetheless, these Romanian vault upgrades blow the team title right open. I had been ready to risk looking a fool and to predict an Olympic team title for the US. Now, I’m not even going to try and call it. Stoi! mentioned at Euros that one of the few certainties in gymnastics is this: Octavian Belu is smarter than you. He is also smarter than Marta.


20 responses to “Open Secrets Part 2- Vault Upgrades

  • Stoi!

    Yao Jinnan would outscore the majority of the other AA contenders on beam and floor, so that helps her case. She’s probably a potential minor medalist rather than title winner though. I hope she won’t be stupid enough to throw an Amanar, but then a severe lower limb injury probably won’t stop Mustafina.

  • Catherine

    Yeah I know Yao is unlikely to bring an amanar after injuring herself on a DTY not that long ago but I can’t help hoping, as she is kinda screwed otherwise with everyone else having nearly a point on her in one event.

  • M

    I agree, Romanians are a team to also watch. It’s nice that they are having these vaults as well, makes for a really interesting team final. Of course I am cheering for Russia 😉

    I can’t wait for them to downgrade the SV for the Amanars though, too much is dependent on this one vault.

    Nice seeing Komova throw an Amanar even if it was sometime in late June. It shows she has been practicing it and hopefully she can perfect it as good as possible in time for Olympics.

    • emmasrandomthoughts

      “I can’t wait for them to downgrade the SV for the Amanars though, too much is dependent on this one vault.”


      Frankly, I was ready to call for banning the Amanar, until I saw Maroney vault it.

  • KP

    Re: Amanars – Ponor’s been exceptionally coy about hers when speaking to reporters, which could either mean a) she’s training one or b) she’s Catalina Ponor. But I believe that’s what sparked all the gymternet speculation (not that we needed any provocation!)

    I highly doubt China can muster more than one Amanar (HQS) with Yao’s knee injury at nationals. They’ll be lucky to put up one 2.5 and two somewhat flat DTYs.

    And holy shit, Romania. I admit I have been feeling mighty smug about the US’s chances in London, but if Romania pulls out even a 6.5, 6.5, 5.8 vault rotation (Izbasa’s Cheng, Iordache’s Amanar and Ponor’s DTY) and doesn’t totally cheese bars, they’re back in the game! Shit just got interesting!*

    *Ok, fine. Shit’s been interesting for a while now on the AA front. But less interesting (from a D-score perspective) for the team final.

  • Catherine

    Nice post. I LOVE that this blows TF open a bit more. I do think USA will win, but I acknowledge that if Russia have no mistakes, then they are more likely to win. It looks like the team that WILL definitely have to count a mistake IS Russia, but hey, they could suprise and have an Aly Raisman-esque steady beam rotation. I think Romania’s bars will keep them off the top spot unless both of the others mess up. But Iordache looks like one of the ones to beat in AA rather than an outsider- good for her! I hope Yao Jinnan has an amanar now (ONLY if it’s safe for her) because she deserves to be one of the top contenders. She’ll fall down big time otherwise.

  • Stoi!

    Thanks for the compliments, though I feel I must protest at the ‘non biased’ part. We’re horrifically partisan!
    Regarding Ponor’s Amanar, there’s been a lot of speculation about her training one. But I’m not sure if that’s based on anything other than the hugeness of her DTY.

  • glenn

    to quote “between the olympics”: if victoria komova throws a clean amanar, everyone else is toast after 2 rotations”

    ^^this might be overstating it, but it definitely brings her back into the game. and if china and romania get their 6.5 vaults back, I think the team final will be too close for anyone to call.

  • Allie

    First I just want to say I’m so glad I’ve found this blog. Living in the US it’s a refreshing and much needed balance to what we hear here.

    I saw on another gym blog when talking about the nominative Romanian team that there were rumors of Ponor training an Amanar but when asked about doing an Amanar by the media in Brussels, she didn’t give much info. I feel like if that’s true it makes predicting the women’s team final that much more difficult. I do agree with the last thing you guys said. Belu is smarter than Marta and I think that anyone counting Romania out while he’s at the helm is living a bit on the edge.

    Only 25 days until we find out!

  • Julia

    Gymnastics fans so often conflate the ideas of being a fan/rooting for a particular country and being so blind to that country’s or athlete’s flaws that they automatically think they’ll win everything in sight no matter what the facts state.

    One of the things I’ve always loved about this blog is that it takes every team, athlete and prediction with a grain of salt, being upfront with the pros, cons, uncertainties and weak points; ie Bronwyn acknowledging that Tan Sixin has beautiful gymnastics but also saying that her mental game is nonexistent. I mean, anyone with a pair of eyes knows this, but some gymnastics fans think that being a “fan” = never saying anything less than positive about an athlete/team/country EVER.

    Basically, what I’m saying is I’m with you, C and B.

    • Robyn

      I totally agree. Without doing a little digging, it’s easy to just go along with what Tim & Elfi say about US athletes. And if you live in the US, that’s all you ever hear so you don’t really know any better. I’m so glad I found this blog. I think your international analysis is very funny and well-done.

      • Sarah

        Glad you’re posting about the trials, was hoping for some followup. The US television coverage really is the worst.

        I’ve realized that it’s fine to just root for the girls I like. I probably won’t ever unconditionally love a whole pack of gymnasts like I did in ’96, probably because I won’t ever be 12 years old again.

        Of course it will be interesting to see how it goes down with the teams and I am really appreciating the hilarious, well-informed, non-biased speculation here.

  • Stoi!

    Jule, I’m not going to call it other than how I see it in order to satisfy someone else’s definition of what a fan should be. Up to a point, we do try to respond to what readers want. So for example we have a post about US trials in draft at the moment, as people have asked for our take. But that’s an issue of subject matter rather than viewpoints. If you want to see us take a different perspective, try and persuade us that yours is right. Otherwise, all I can suggest is that you vote with your feet.

    I should point out, though, that we were taking a nuanced perspective on Russia at Euros several weeks ago. For example, I think I was the first on the gymternet to identify that even with a messy floor, if Mustafina had done beam in Euro TFs she’d likely have scored around 60 in the AA. And when we reviewed the competition, we put them in the ‘jury still out’ rather than ‘bad’ category despite the unarguably disappointing medal haul.

  • Stoi!

    We’re not the kool aid drinking type of fans, Jule. The fact that we like an athlete/team doesn’t mean we think they’ll win and doesn’t oblige us to pretend either. Example 1, Ukraine. Though if you think we overestimate Romania and underplay Russian chances, you might find our Euros predictions illuminating. We had Russia at an easy team win and at least 4 individual medals. Talk about over-optimistic.

    Anyway, if you want our take on Russian chances in London, this is mine. There’s no real point trying to make predictions (although we will be doing) simply because they’re all so variable. If the Russians all decide to get their shit together simultaneously, they’ll dominate, as nobody needs us to tell them. Komova, Mustafina and Grishina alone could probably win the team title on a good day. They’re that good. In all likelihood, this won’t happen, simply because even consistent teams- which Russia aren’t- aren’t usually all ‘on’ simultaneously. So the issues are how close they’ll be to their best and what mistakes other teams make too.


    • Jule

      I don’t say you have to be biased fans but it seems to me that you are not fans at all. When I discovered your blog I was very glad because there are so little Russian fans. Well, I appreciate your humour though.
      Everybody predicted that Russia will win based on the Tokyo results but no one knew that Komova had a surgery and she could only compete 2 events and that Mustafina wouldn’t compete beam (she did great on beam at the friendly meet before Euros and she would have scored better than Paseka who had a fall). The difference was so small (0,7) that only Komova doing VT and Musty beam would have been enough.
      Russia is stronger now than in Brussels but so is Romania. They only have an advantage because they are very consistent and mentally strong unlike the Russians. Let the best win.

    • Alison Clements

      Great answer Clara. I love your blog, especially its equal irreverance for everyone, the way you bring names to our attention that TV commentators overlook, and the fact that you tell it like it is rather than how you might wish it would be.

      I’d much rather hear a realistic view of how the gymnasts might stack up, than read biased reports which set unrealistic expectations and then go into shock when it all turns out differently. Moceanu and the AA in 1996, anyone?

  • Jule

    You keep saying how great the Romanians are and how they can win gold but you never same the same about the Russian team. I am honestly disappointed as I thought this was a Russian fan blog. Maybe you should change the name from davaistoi to haistai.
    You also keep saying that your money is on Iordache for AA although Komova has equal chances to win (both have Amanar, Larisa has better FX and BB but Vika can score much higher than her on UB). Who will hit on the day will win, D-score are almost the same.
    Also you think that Romania can win (I think that too) but never Russia. I think there is a chance for Russia to surpass Romania as there is a chance for Romania to win. If Komova would have scored at Euros what she scored at the Russian Cup one month later and have done 4 events and not just 2 than they would have won the Euros.
    We just have to wait and see what will happen in London but show some support if you are a Russian fan.
    And yes, I agree that Bellu is smarter than anybody else. That is why he keeps winning! Davai Russia nonetheless.

    • G

      Prediction: Team gold -USA
      AA gold – Aly Raisman ( God help us all )

      • emmasrandomthoughts

        I disagree with your AA prediction completely. In fact, I’m wondering if she will even qualify for the AA, or if Gabby can push her out of the finals. (I hope so!) We’ll see.

        I agree on the Team Gold prediction, but I’m sure Russia and Romania have a few tricks up their sleeves.

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