Top 4 teams preview: Vault

Stoi! is working on a new approach for our Olympic team previews.

We’re inspired by the closeness and unpredictability of the top 4, as well as the gulf between them and the rest: there is pretty much no combination that would surprise us in TFs. They really could finish in any order, especially as the two teams that are stronger on paper, Russia and the US, also boast the coaches least capable of keeping them healthy. So we’ve decided to consider the top 4 teams event by event.

Predictions to follow after we’ve heard a bit more, assuming I’ve managed not to give birth by then. We’ll update as we get more information too. As of now, the Chinese have arrived at their training base but the rest haven’t, and we are low on training footage and reports.


Vault surely must be US territory. Having jinxed their prelims lineup in Tokyo by a prematurely gushing post, we should probably be more careful this time. Although so should everyone on that team throwing an Amanar whose name isn’t McKayla Maroney, actually. The other four can all do them, and have each produced at least one excellent effort this year. They’ve also all done their share of cringeworthy ones, too.

I’m really not sure that one would score much better than her DTY internationally.

It remains to be seen who will get the nod and how good they’ll be, but the US will surely show 3 Amanars. If the first two stand them up they should manage 15.5 each, then a 16 for Maroney. More if she sticks. This will leave them way out in front.

For all that some of the US Amanars remain a bit risky, they’ve all been competing them all year. That’s more than can be said for the other top teams. We have recent footage of Huang Qiushuang, Larisa Iordache, Sandra Izbasa and Viktoria Komova training their 6.5 vaults. But the only athlete from a top 4 team to have successfully competed hers this year is Maria Paseka, who landed 1 in 3 attempts at the Russian Cup. She apparently landed hers at the Russian test event two weeks ago, as did Komova, but none of the others have the competition hit record that Raisman, Wieber and Douglas do.

Additionally, some of these vaults look much more stable and likely to be competed than others. Izbasa’s Cheng seems to need the most work.

So we think:


Amanars from Paseka and Komova. The latter will be quite pretty, the former disgusting but landed successfully (which is all anyone can reasonably expect from her). Grishina has worked on the Amanar this year, but alas we think her leg injury is going to prevent it. As her DTY won’t score as well as Aliya’s, there’s no reason for her to go anywhere near the event in TFs.

Valentina Rodionenko was interviewed in a trashy Russian tabloid recently.

We are assured that she described Komova and Paseka’s recent Amanars at the test event as ‘perfect’. We find that a tad optimistic, but nonetheless it seems very clear that each intends to compete the vault in London.

More worryingly, she said that Aliya will try an Amanar in London despite the fact that she isn’t doing them now. No, Aliya, no! We fondly hope she’ll stick to the DTY instead. It would be realistic to hope for 15.1+ for it, which along with weak but landed Amanars from the other two would take Russia above 46.


Amanar from Iordache, big DTY’s from Ponor and Izbasa. They shouldn’t lose more than a couple of tenths to Russia despite the D-score deficit, because Ponor and particularly Izbasa’s DTY’s are very well rewarded. Obviously this assumes they don’t get slapped with the leotard deduction after months of what can only be described as intolerable, sustained provocation from our girl Cata.

Chelaru’s DTY is fine, but unless she actually has the Amanar she was training last year, the best thing she can do for her team on vault is to help move the springboard. This is not Bulimar’s event.

If Izbasa has her Cheng, we think she ought to save it for EFs. If she’s only sticking to the Mustafina, we’re not certain it’ll outscore the DTY. It didn’t at Euros despite the 0.3 D score advantage.

She’s another one with a DTY that won’t be far behind a relatively weak 6.5 vault, score wise. So it makes sense, sad as we are to see nothing but Yurchenko vaults in TF’s from the top 4 teams.


This looks to be their least interesting event – a shame as it’s probably the one they’ll finish on. An Amanar from Huang Qiushuang, and I can’t be the only one marveling at the prospect of that total headcase closing out the competition for them with a medal on the line.

Hopefully no Amanar from Yao Jinnan, given what happened to her last time she attempted the vault. And a relatively weak DTY from Deng Linlin, the weakest vault of any top team athlete. Unless of course He Kexin recovers hers.

Likely order:

1. US, comfortably

2. Russia

3. Romania

4. China

Despite all the chuckings and sittings down we’ve been treated to by virtually everyone except Maroney, there’s no reason why vault has to feature any splats at all. Every one of the athletes training a 6.5 vault has a perfectly usable DTY to fall back on if necessary. We hope, though don’t necessarily expect, coaches to be sensible if athletes aren’t hitting in podium training and prelims.

– Clara & Bronwyn

19 responses to “Top 4 teams preview: Vault

  • Stoi!

    Tom, Huang Qiushuang has been training a reasonable Amanar onto a hard surface and there’s footage of it. I’d say hers is one of the more reliable upgrades we’re likely to see in London.

    There’s no doubt that the US will dominate vault, no- we’ve been very clear on that. That’s stating the very obvious. However, it is undoubtedly the case that none of them except McKayla are entirely without concern. There’s no getting round that. The fact that they usually land them is good, but landing isn’t everything. That’s a highly over simplistic way of looking at it.

    Ross can’t reliably do the Amanar anymore, hence she’ll probably sit out prelims. Most of Raisman’s are underrotated- usually not enough that international judges would downgrade, but it makes them more of an injury risk. Ask Aliya. Gabby’s hand placement on vault means she’s capable of slipping, hence Pac- she does this on DTYs too sometimes not just Amanars. And Jordyn doesn’t do the vault as easily as she did since she grew a bit (not surprising) which is why she’s had a few knee twanging landings this year. Again, this is an injury risk. one that doesn’t disappear because she’s at the Olympics. These are all legitimate questions to ask.

    However it’s worth pointing out that even if the US were to water down, they could still win vault. 16.1 from McKayla plus around 15.2 for DTYs from probably Raisman and Ross would be possible, and it’s far from sure that the other teams could match 46.5. This is a measure of the US’s strength on the event.

    As for Russia, I think most of us dread rather than eagerly await them throwing 3 Amanars. Aliya doing it is a bad idea. I wish I could share your certainty that it won’t happen, but the past record does not fill one with confidence.


  • Tom

    Seriously? I highly doubt that Russia will have more than 1 Amanar. People are gushing about the new training videos of Amanars. I’d like to see a decent one IN COMPETITION. Yeah, that’ll be smart; have Huang throw a new vault in the Olympics. There’s no way Russia will have 3 Amanars, and the peope who think so are kidding themselves. That’s as likely as Huang actually chucking it in London. The USA girls have all done them before 2012 and yet we’re questioning them now? Jordyn’s got the second best in the Olympics now. Obviously McKayla absolutely thrashes everyone on vault, but Jo is second. Gabby has the 3rd best and they’ve all landed them consistently (well, minus Pac Rim for Gabby). There’s no doubt that USA will absolutely dominate vault.

    • Stoi!

      Komova & Paseka both landed Amanars at the internal test, so they’re confirmed as having two.

      And of course the US will win vault by a landslide.


  • Stoi!

    As far as we know, Aliya hasn’t been training “her” vault, or any second vault.

    Paseka & Grishina will probably be the only two Russians to do 2 vaults in prelims.

    Agreed that Aliya’s DTY has higher scoring potential than the Mustafina, so no need to aggravate any further potential injury.

    That vault also lands forward, and she’s not as comfortable with it, so I never quite understood why people think it’s “safer.”

    Her Mustafina vault in Rotterdam looked scarier to me than her Amanar. Gangly crossed helicopter legs and sickled feet or not.

    – B.

  • poths

    AM I the only one aggrieved that Izbasa and Ponor with their huge, clean DTY’s will score less than Raisman & Paseka’s Amanars. It’s not right, it really isn’t. For that matter. Neither Raisman or Paseka should get within a point of Maroney’s Amanar. FACT!

    • D

      It depends how they perform them! They might have good landings and the Olympics (unlikely), also we don’t know if they will score better or not. Either way it’s not like ponors is that clean, she has bad form and always takes a big hop/hops back. 🙂

  • Stoi!

    The layout rudi is worth 6.3. We should see a couple of those at the Olympics, but the only chance of there being one in TFs is Chusovitina.

    D, we think it might well come down to beam- stay tuned!

  • G

    I long fit the days of Produnova! Now that was an amazing vault. Can’t wait for the day when Amanars values are downgraded. I hope the girl from Dominicav republic lands her Produnova and wins EF.

    • emmasrandomthoughts

      I hope the girl from the DR lands her Produnova and doesn’t kill herself on international TV.

      • G

        Who cares if she dies afterwards ? Just land the damn thing already. She’s been real close but so far no dice. What a great story if she does and steals the gold from Maroney.

      • Robyn

        Anyone know offhand of a link to a well-executed Produnova? Perhaps Yelena herself? I can’t remember what it looks like and am too lazy to cruise YouTube sifting through crap.

  • M

    Really great article. I agree US has the advantage on this event. it’s so difficult to predict China and Romania (to an extent) because not sure what vaults they have, hell one of them in China could have learnt the Cheng you never know.

    Is there no vault worth a 6.3 dv? I don’t know why teams don’t try one that is worth 6.3. It is closer to the 6.5 amanar S.V than the 5.8 dyt which really put teams at a disadvantage because no one is going to get a 15.5 on a dyt.

    I really wish Valentina would stop talking. The lady irks me to no end, it’s like she can’t shut up, is obsessed with the Amanar and not liking her comments about Musty either.

    • emmasrandomthoughts

      Yeah, the handspring Rudi (ASac’s vault) has a 6.3 start value. You’re right, it’s difficult to predict what the other teams are going to do, but I do wonder if waiting until the Olympic games to throw a difficult skill for the first time in competition is the best course of action. It seems risky. But then again, what do I know?

      On the other hand, athletes train skills that don’t always make it into competition.

  • D

    Great article ladies! Is it just me or does it seem like vault is starting to seem like the apparatus where the team finals will be won or lost on. At this point I’m still unsure of exactly what vaults (except for the Americans) the big four will show in TF. There is such a score difference between dty’s and amanars, I can’t predict who will win TF’s till I know what the vault lineups will be. For all we know russia could have 3 (i hope Aliya doesn’t attempt it ) or 0 amanars (unlikely), thats a potential difference of 2.1 points, a make or break amount. It’s going to be exciting!!!

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