Pan Am Games Vault and Bars Finals

This afternoon, the women at the 2015 Pan American Games competed in the first round of event finals with Cuba’s Marcia Videaux handily capturing the vault gold and Rachel Gowey of the United States eking out the win on bars.



It was an easy gold medal for Videaux, Yamilet Peña got a silver for landing on her butt, and Ellie Black of Canada just managed to pull out bronze, finishing 0.025 above teammate Maegan Chant and Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito tied in fourth. In fact, the gymnasts in 3rd though 7th place each scored within less than two tenths of one another, making it a super tight and exciting race to the podium.

1. Marcia Videaux, Cuba, 14.737

Videaux began her night with a tsuk double full, twisting quickly and getting a ton of power, actually looking like she over-rotated on the landing a bit and needing to step back in the direction her body was still kind of twisting. Who else thinks we’ll see a tsuk 2.5 by next year?! She got a 14.575 there, and then moved on to the handspring Rudi, which was beautiful and very nicely twisted. Though there was another large step back on the landing, it was overall a great attempt and she got a 14.9 there.

2. Yamilet Peña, Dominican Republic, 14.250

Le sigh. The Produnova was the first vault, and she sat it but she made sure to hit her feet to the ground first so she wasn’t given a zero. She received a 14.5 there, giving her the boost she needed to medal. Her second vault, the Yurchenko 1.5, wasn’t actually half bad, earning a 14.0 due to a sizable step on the landing though she got some tremendous power off the table.

Here’s the problem with vault…the entire difficulty comes from one single skill. Who cares if you chuck it and fall? You can still get a medal at many competitions above gymnasts who all hit. But throw a skill you can’t do on bars or beam or floor and the risk doesn’t outweigh the cost. For an E-rated skill, you’re only getting 0.5 for your difficulty on that single element, 0.6 for F, 0.7 for G, and so on so a point for a fall actually matters there because none of these elements are worth over a point. But for vault, what’s the big deal about a full point off when your entire skill is worth 7 points?!

Falls are fine, they happen, and sometimes if you’re performing difficult vaults, you might just win with a major error like a fall. But when it becomes a strategy to make sure you’re planting your feet first so you can get the full value and not a zero, it’s time to change the rules. At this point, I wouldn’t hate it if the FIG doubled the deductions on vault…since it’s such a quick event, there’s not enough time to rack up the deductions that happen on bars, and gymnasts easily find loopholes like the Produnova has become.

All three gymnasts who have competed it this quad have gone for the “feet first and pray” method, which is absolutely making a mockery of the sport. I don’t blame the gymnasts for taking advantage of these loopholes, but I do think the FIG needs to nip it in the bud. Fast. Like, before someone gets seriously hurt chucking a skill she should not be doing.

3. Ellie Black, Canada, 14.087

Last up in the lineup, Black didn’t have quite her best efforts today, though she did just enough to finish on the podium 0.025 ahead of the ladies in 4th. Her tsuk 1.5 was a little short, just not getting as much power as she did in the all-around, forcing her to land deeply with several steps backwards to make sure she stood it up. She was given just a 13.925 there, but did a solid enough job on her handspring layout full, piking it down throughout and hopping it forward slightly but looking very powerful and taking a 14.25.

4. Daniele Hypolito, Brazil, 14.062

First up for Hypolito was her Yurchenko 1.5, which didn’t get quite the distance she normally gets, and she landed a bit short, bending her knees before the landing and taking a large step back for a 13.975. Her second vault was the Yurchenko half-on pike half off which looked super strong and had a much better landing for a 14.15.

Maegan Chant, Canada, 14.062

Chant began with a beautiful stuck tsuk full, showing mostly excellent form and only piking down slightly at the end for a 14.325. Next up was the handspring layout half, which just bounced back slightly for a 13.8. A great job for Chant in this performance.

6. Franchesca Santi, Chile, 13.962

I loved seeing Santi do a great job in the air on her DTY, which showed great twisting and a great landing at first, though she had trouble controlling the landing, stepping over and out for a 14.5. Her second vault was a handspring layout half, which she piked somewhat heavily and landed with her chest low and a foot going out of bounds for a 13.425.

7. Makarena Pinto, Chile, 13.912

First up for Pinto was her handspring front tuck full, which looked very clean and had just a step back on the landing for a 13.875. For her second, she went for a tsuk full which she stuck very nicely for a 13.95. She did pike down a little and landed off to her right but otherwise it was a solid efford.

8. Paula Mejias, Puerto Rico, 6.112

Mejias began with an attempt at a tsuk double full, but after talking herself through it for quite a bit of time before her run, approached the table with a very odd run, getting off-step and approaching the table much too soon. She thought quickly on her feet and was able to stop herself from going over which was very good, as she could have really risked injury there, but she unfortunately received a 0 for her balk.

Without counting a first vault, she downgraded her second vault to just a tsuk layout, which she basically chucked just to get it over with rather than with the intent of performing well…a wise decision, as she was definitely a bit shaken up there. That second vault earned a 12.225.



The three at the top were all within less than a tenth of one another, though Gowey stood out enough to earn the gold. Right behind her was Jessica Lopez of Venezuela with a 14.7, while Amelia Hundley of the United States picked up the bronze. Elsa Garcia of Mexico could have been part of that equation, but she hit her foot on the low bar on her van Leeuwen which took her out of the race.

1. Rachel Gowey, United States, 14.725

This was a gorgeous and very clean routine from Gowey, who is showing tremendous potential on this event. She began with a great hop to Weiler half to inbar full on the low bar before continuing with a Komova II to giant full, a Galante, a strong pak salto, a clean van Leeuwen, and a beautiful stuck double layout dismount.

I can imagine she likely wants to connect several things here, like the inbar Tkatchev to pak, and then possibly the first two sequences to one another as well so she can get all five of those skills together. If she can do that, this could be a huge threat to other bar workers in the U.S.

2. Jessica Lopez, Venezuela, 14.700

From start to finish, this was a very strong routine for Lopez, who hit her piked Tkatchev to pak salto (with leg separation there), Maloney to clear hip half, Jaeger, giant full, Tkatchev to Gienger, and double front dismount with her feet hopped together. My one complaint was the lack of attention to detail on things like handstands, all of which seemed a bit short, but overall it was an excellent set and deserved to finish in the silver medal position.

3. Amelia Hundley, United States, 14.650

Hundley did an excellent job in this event final, beginning with her hop to Weiler half to Maloney. Her Ricna to pak was lovely, as was the van Leeuwen, and her toe-on to toe full before the super clean full-in dismount was right on top of the bar. A beautiful routine from the American, who looked absolutely thrilled to see her score flash at the end.

4. Elsa Garcia, Mexico, 13.950

First up in the rotation, Garcia hit her stalder full to van Leeuwen, which looked a bit messy as she caught, and she whacked her foot on the low bar pretty hard though it didn’t seem to throw her off. Her giant 1.5 to piked Jeager was excellent, as were her toe-on to Ray and her toe full to lovely bail right in handstand to Ray. Her double front dismount was slightly cowboyed but she stuck it right on her toes…an excellent routine, though definitely a shame that she hit her foot there.

5. Ana Sofia Gomez, Guatemala, 13.900

Gomez began with her incredible toe full to Maloney to clear hip to Ray to Gienger sequence, absolutely one of my favorites to watch, though she did have some leg separation on the Gienger. Her toe half to Jaeger was solid, and while she had some leg separation on her bail before the toe shoot, she stayed in the game and finished with a strong full-in dismount just stepped back slightly.

6. Ahtziri Sandoval, Mexico, 13.775

I loved this routine for Sandoval, who began with an original recipe shaposh to pak salto, hit her Maloney to clean bail to toe shoot, bent over a tiny bit on her toe full into the Gienger, and hit her full-in dismount with a tiny step. It’s a lovely routine and her swing and lines are both gorgeous.

7. Madison Copiak, Canada, 13.600

This was a solid routine for Copiak, who hit her piked Jaeger, clear hip to pak, toe-on to toe full to Maloney, toe half, and clean full-in dismount with just a hop. It seemed she clipped her foot on the low bar at one moment near the end, but otherwise this was a very dependable set and scored well in execution, though her difficulty wasn’t quite strong enough to include her in the top half.

8. Isabela Onyshko, Canada, 13.325

Onyshko struggled a bit from the start, catching her Maloney to clear hip full (with some break in her leg form as she pirouetted around) right into the Tkatchev. The HIndorff to pak had the same problems it had in the all-around, with a strong Hindorff but the pak caught basically with her shoulders, causing her to rest her hips against the bar to regroup before continuing. She caught the van Leeuwen and then hit the toe-half to front giant to double front dismount, which was cowboyed and had a step forward.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

6 thoughts on “Pan Am Games Vault and Bars Finals

  1. Peñas produnova aside, could someone sponsor her for some regular training in the US or elsewhere with more popularity? Not saying she is doning a bad job neither her coaches, but she needs a bit more confidence, specially in the other events.


    • She has reportedly been training at Excalibur, Gabby Douglas’ old gym, which has much better training conditions than what she was used to, though she hasn’t really been there long enough to see much of a difference I’d guess.


  2. On the feed, it does look like Gowey did a Galante, but if you pause a video of her EF right before her flight, you can see that she does a Ricna.


  3. As much as I know the system is largely to blame for the skill chucking on vault, I don’t see Yamilet as entirely blameless either. I liked to think she and her coaches would be more intelligent by now. They are not being “forced” to do the Produnova, and considering the abysmal success rate, I don’t see what they are getting encouragement from. Oh no, wait, I do, from silly things like qualifying and getting a silver medal at Pan Am… I try to admire Yamilet’s tenacity, but in the end I have little patience or respect for her gymnastics.


    • Yeah, they see the loophole in the system and they take it, so that’s definitely on them. They literally strategize a way to win medals with a fall, and that’s a problem. The system is inherently at fault, but most don’t take advantage of it, probably largely because they don’t want to risk injury, which is what Pena is doing. But yeah, coming in with the strategy of “slam your feet down first so you get a 14.5!” is their decision and the sad thing is that it’s working out for them. The idea behind it is that in countries with bare-bones programs, medals lead to money, so there’s a huge incentive – i.e. when Dipa Karmakar busted out the Produnova at CWGs and got a medal and went back to India like a queen. So there’s a reason behind it, and I really feel for them trying to boost their program financially in whatever way they know how, but if those loopholes didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of them. At its core, it’s a FIG problem…all three gymnasts doing the Produnova are from countries with limited resources both gymnastically and otherwise, and that’s no coincidence. The FIG needs to figure out how to get rid of that loophole and then on a separate note, figure out how to boost these smaller programs so they don’t have to resort to chucking tricks to earn cash. Give it a point deduction for the fall and then like another point off as a penalty or something. They need to seriously figure something out because right now, they’re basically encouraging gymnasts to chuck whatever they can because it doesn’t matter how scary your landings are if you can still win medals.


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