The Doha Vault Preview

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Yeo Seo-jeong

This one is a no-brainer so easy it hurts.

Simone Biles is so unmatched in this vault field, if I were a betting man, I’d put eleventy billion dollars on her taking the gold here. In fact, I’d take that bet even further and say that she’s going to win it by a full point, nearly impossible on this apparatus and yet she’s going to be the one to make it happen, adding the first world vault gold to her collection that currently includes two silvers and a bronze.

Though she’ll debut her new vault – a Cheng with an extra half twist, which means she’s doing a Yurchenko half-on front layout with two twists off – in the all-around competition, she’s sticking to “just” the Cheng in the final, but all that means is that her combined difficulty will be an 11.8 instead of a 12.2, aka two tenths higher than anyone else in the field instead of a six-tenth advantage.

But no one can come close to what she’ll score from the E panel. The sheer power she gets off the table made her new (and soon-to-be eponymous) vault and her Amanar look like timers compared to the struggles most girls had with their Yurchenko doubles on the hard table in Doha. She was hyper-focused on her landings in podium training, which is huge as this is where she’s usually tackled the most, and she’s clean as hell in the air…what else can I say? She’s probably the best vaulter who has ever lived. Sit back and feel blessed to be experiencing history.

Sadly, some of the world’s top vaulters – including all three medalists last year, Maria Paseka of Russia, Jade Carey of the United States, and Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland, as well as European champion Boglarka Devai of Hungary – are skipping the action in Doha this week, but while that’s a bummer, it opens up the podium to several exciting up-and-comers, including Korean gymnasts from both North and South who are hoping to shake things up.

Asian Games champion Yeo Seo-jeong, a first-year senior from South Korea who also won the vault title at her international debut in Portugal this spring, has a pretty solid Rudi and Yurchenko double, but what we’ll want to watch from her is whether she’s going after the handspring double full, a half-twist up from the Rudi which she got credited – but crashed – at the world cup. This is a vault that has been submitted multiple times over the past decade, first by Alicia Sacramone and then by Steingruber, but Yeo became the first woman to try it out in competition this year and she could be the one who gets it named if she lands it in Doha.

Yeo, who also has a solid Yurchenko double, had a ton of pressure on her shoulders at the Asian Games as the daughter of 1996 Olympic silver medalist and two-time Asian Games vault champion Yeo Hong-chul. In addition to following in her dad’s footsteps, she would be the first South Korean woman to win Asian Games gold in over 30 years if she pulled this off, and many thought she’d cave to that pressure, but she “played it safe” with the Rudi to get the win, and now she’s looking like a top contender for a world medal as well.

The bronze medalist at the Asian Games, Pyon Rye Yong, has some equally difficult vaults in her pocket with both an Amanar and a Rudi. This will be the first world championships for the 17-year-old from North Korea, and while her consistency can be a little hit-or-miss on her top event, all she needs is one good day to wind up on the podium.

With so many of the traditional top girls out, this could be a medal year for Oksana Chusovitina, who last picked up hardware seven years ago in Tokyo. The Korean gymnasts and several other newcomers are all younger than Chusovitina’s child, but Chusovitina has what they don’t, which is the experience to hit every single time she competes. With four world cup titles on vault this year alone in addition to the Asian Games silver medal, Chusovitina’s expected difficulty might not be quite as high as we’ll see from some of these competitors, especially if she doesn’t do everything she’s capable of, but I wouldn’t count her out if I were you.

Also coming in with super difficult sets are Canada’s Shallon Olsen, who made the Olympic final in 2016 and then the worlds final last year, and Liu Jinru, who is taking over as China’s vault “it girl” in Wang Yan’s absence, earning her first major international assignments over the past month with the Asian Games and now worlds.

Though I don’t think we’ll see it this year, Olsen has trained a Yurchenko triple, which she submitted last-minute in Montreal after throwing it in warmups, though she ended up going with her Amanar and Cheng in the final. This year, Olsen has regularly competed the Cheng alongside her always-stable Yurchenko double, including at the Commonwealth Games where she won the gold. Liu, meanwhile, has a combination Rudi and tsuk double, but she didn’t make the Asian Games vault final because of a glitch with her starting time on one of her qualification runs, a bizarre error she certainly won’t repeat here.

I don’t see anyone breaking through the aforementioned group if all goes according to plan, but waiting in the wings are several strong gymnasts, including European medalists Angelina Melnikova of Russia and Denisa Golgota of Romania, Ellie Black of Canada, Lilia Akhaimova of Russia, Alexa Moreno of Mexico, Teja Belak of Slovenia, Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands, Sarah Voss of Germany, and Grace McCallum of the United States, all of whom have strong potential to make the final, though lack of difficulty may hold them back from the podium.

Like the all-around final, while Biles seems more than set to snag the gold, the rest of the competition should keep things super interesting, with the silver and bronze almost impossible to predict. I have a gut feeling about Chusovitina right now, and I also think this could be Olsen’s year as well if she does exactly what she did at the Commonwealth Games, but I’m really excited about the young talent that is Yeo, and I’d love to see her sneak onto the podium to really make a smash and put South Korea back on the map in this world stage debut.

The women’s qualifications at world championships will be held October 27-28, followed by the team final on October 30, the all-around final on November 1, and event finals held November 2-3. We’ll come back to you soon with previews for the apparatus and team competitions, as well as what you can expect from the men, who begin on October 25.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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44 thoughts on “The Doha Vault Preview

    • yes, i hope they will at least develop into a cheng or amanar…. we can’t rely only on simone or jade…. without simone this yr, the us vt line up would be below what china and russia can bring..

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      • Without Simone, they would have had to construct the worlds lineup differently to bolster their vault scores. Probably would have taken Jordan Chiles.

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        • but chiles doesn’t have the score to be used in anything else…. i mean, they would still likely win in the worst case of no simone for any event in TF but really US can’t slack off in this department anymore.

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    • She showed a tucked pod at podium training – but it’s only around a 4.6 D so I can’t see her getting a medal unless there is a major meltdown in the field. But I think it is great that she is training a second vault which hopefully can be upgraded before 2020. It always seemed really sad that despite the USA being a major vaulting force in team finals there were so few gymnasts that have 2 vaults – domestically only 2 or 3 actually contest the vault champion title at nationals.

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  1. Simone for gold and Chuso for silver would make me so happy. Chuso’s last Worlds medal was for Germany, and it would be so nice to see her get one more after her return to competing for Uzbekistan.

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  2. Where did simone make the comment about what vt she will do when? i guess i missed that….

    I think the safest time to do the biles vt is during qualification since even with a fall, she would still make the AA and Vt final and obviously US would still qual to TF by a billion points. Def don’t want to first do the biles in tf or aa or ef for the first time….. after qual she can just stop doing the biles and would still easily win AA and vt ef…

    Seems like a lot of other nations are really catching up to the US in vt though. Think of it like this… without simone, the us vt line up this yr is just very unremarkable and maybe even below china and russia. I know this might be overcallin and i also know amanar is no longer the higher premium it used to be over dty, but US needs to start emphasize more vaulters again…. we can’t just rely on simone or jade…. esp when you look at the dty on the current team that are not even completely perfect like kyla ross if you trying to go after e score

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    • It was a surprise yesterday to see that the US (with the huge exception of Simone) looked only average on vault – Riley crashed one of hers and Ragan’s was scary as well

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    • It’s not the United States of Amanar anymore, but I think any other country would be happy to have the selection of DTYs that the US has. It’s a good thing US girls aren’t risking injury thinking they can’t make teams unless they have that vault. I looked up D scores for Russia: They have two 5.8s and a 5.4. The US will have Simone’s Cheng at a 6.0 and then two 5.4. That makes them equal in D score and I bet US comes out ahead on E score. China is not strong on vault. I don’t think the US has any real worry. They will probably be the best team on vault even if it is their weakest of the four events.

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        • AA is not the safest time for the biles…. she doesn’t have a large 5+ points margins over 2nd place compared to qual or even TF…..safest time is to do the biles vt during qual and if you want, in TF….not sure why you would want to do the biles for the first time in AA… i mean she will more than likely be fine whenever, but it’s always the nerve that will break you…..

          I can see if there’s no touch warmup in ef, then should just do cheng…… but it makes no sense to do the biles for the first time in AA…. should do the biles the first time in qual….. even if she fall doing she would still likely qualified to the vt ef anyway…

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        • I’m not sure what her reasoning is, but I guess AA is where she feels most comfortable throwing it and risking a fall and one point loss. The vault has looked awesome whenever she’s showed it, but she probably doesn’t land it perfectly every time and it’s possible she (or Tom) just feels more confident using the Cheng until the team medal is secure.

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        • The probable margin of point is the largest in qual and tf… esp in qual where you are allowed to make the most mistake. Does anyone else not agreeing with me that the safest time for a new biles vt is in qual since you have the most margin there? am i making some bad assumption or missing something? why would you want to test out a new vt not in qualification? it makes absolutely no sense…

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        • Qual has a touch warmup, yes? I don’t see why she wouldn’t do it then. If Tom wants to go with the safer option until the team has their medal, have her do the Amanar first to count. It definitely seems like the best round to debut it.

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    • You’re absolutely right, Biles should DEF do the “Biles” in quals and AA. It’s more risky to do in TF because the team has a bunch of rookies–what if one or even two of those girls has a total meltdown? Also, if superhero Simone falls in front of all her teammates, how will that affect them mentally for the rest of TF (vault being the first event)?

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    • I believe because of injuries Russia and China are both counting an FTY as a vault in 3/3 scoring… so on paper, the world is catching up, but because of depth issues, perception is far from reality

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    • Whereas in most cases, I would say the first time competing a new skill is risky, this just doesn’t look to be the case with Simone’s Biles vault. She lands it consistently very well and it doesn’t look to be a challenge for her to hit.

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    • I don’t agree. Most countries have 1 amazing vaulter (sometimes two). Than a follow up of two decent DTY’s we have seen this in Rio, Glasgow – 2015 Nanning – 2014? Antwerp – 2013…..Next year, ther US will have more upgrades for vault, and I highly doubt the vault will effect the US at this years worlds. They are pretty much the strongest in every event (minus bars). However, I do not feel they are as confident as years past. It will be interesting to see how they fare as a team with out the Karolyis and their minions breathing down their necks.

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      • my prediction is they will do just fine. even with the depleted 2014 team and the nervous 2015 team….

        it would be interesting to see if they can again win all 4 events in TF…. That was very impressive in Rio that they did that…. i think they beat both china and russia in bars even if you account for falls from china….

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  3. I’d love to see Yeo on the podium!

    Does anyone know if Andrade is competing two vaults this year? She actually did a dance-through on FX in podium training, so maybe she’s farther along in her comeback than we had realized…

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  4. Pingback: The Doha Vault Preview | species specific

    • Yeo can still submit the element later on in the comp if she wants, but I doubt she’ll go for the double, because what’s the point? She’s SUPER likely to get her first World medal with just a Rudi and DTY.

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      • Yeah, and playing it ‘safe’ with the Rudi worked for her at Asian Games. It’s better to not risk it and get the medal than to risk and get it named. If she also makes the AA final, maybe she can try it there? That would make sense to me.

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  5. Liu Jinru has very high 2-vault difficulty, but she is lacking execution comparing to almost all potential finalists. Her only okay vault is her DTT. She seems to be really inconsistent with her Rudi, and she sometimes makes this vault indistinguishable from her DTT.

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  6. I would love to see 2nd and 3rd go to either Chuso, Yeo, or Golgota (any order is fine by me). These are the three that have impressed me most this year, and I want them to go 2nd-4th here!

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  7. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Sorry we’re late, Bob had diarrhea | The Gymternet

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