Vault has changed. Simone has abandoned us, North Korea is not registered to send anyone to worlds, Steingruber hasn’t competed since the Olympics, Karmakar is missing worlds after knee surgery, and Ellie Downie is out. Nothing is certain but death and Chuso.
So, as we consider who should receive spots on which worlds teams specifically to do vault, it’s worth examining the actual quality of the prospective field to know what kinds of vaults are likely to make the event final and what level of difficulty actually makes sense to put on a worlds team. The vaulters of 2017.
Amanar (5.8) + Cheng (6.0) = 11.8
If Paseka is able to get back her highest-difficulty vaults, she has an edge on everyone else in the world right now in D. Some caveats: We didn’t see the Cheng at Universiade, where she was also 1-for-2 on Amanars. Plus, you know, this:
The 1/2-on vaults are usually terrifying, so even if Paseka brings back her top vaults, it’s not a done deal.
If she sticks with the Lopez we’ve been seeing, then her total is down to 11.0, well below a number of other contenders, meaning she’d have to rely on execution. So yeah. Paseka would be in it—and I wouldn’t bet against her chucking a Cheng just to see what happens—but she can’t currently be considered a favorite.
Though neither is anyone.
Rudi (5.8) + Kas 1/1 (5.6) = 11.4
Dismiss the Chuso at your own risk. Looking at the vaulters this year, it’s not unreasonable to think this could be Chuso’s year. Again. Another of her years. Among her years. Chuso obviously has 715 different vaults she could choose to throw, but her highest-quality options are still the Rudi and the Kas 1/1.
We haven’t seen those top-level vaults from Chuso yet this year, but come on. It’s Chuso. Thankfully, there’s no point in her even bothering with throwing the cannonball this year because she’s certainly capable of medaling without it. Phew.
With little fanfare, Wang Yan has made the last two major vault finals with her Rudi and Kas 1/1 combo, and since this year is not as deep with contenders, she should be able to do the same. Except this time actually in the medal hunt. It’s often a question of amplitude with her. Is she getting high enough to wrench herself around not-terribly?
Liu will have to make the Chinese team first, which is certainly not a given since she won’t contribute worlds-level scores on the other apparatuses and could be contending for a specialist role with the likes of Luo and Shang (assuming Liu TT and Wang are AA). But if she does, she has the difficulty level the medal contenders will be looking for.
One we shouldn’t forget about is Vidiaux, who has already been named to Cuba’s worlds team. It’s never a sure thing with Vidiaux. Bonking her head on a Kas 1/1 landing lunge at the Olympics dashed her medal chances, while in Glasgow, she hit the Kas 1/1 then elected to scratch the second vault. Still, at her that-one-world-cup-event-that-time best, she has competitive execution on two vaults that can score well into the 14s.
Alexa Moreno is also typically in this group, but we haven’t seen her this year.
Amanar (5.8) + Kas 1/1 (5.6) = 11.4
Riding alongside the Rudi/Kas club is Jade Carey with her Kas/Amanar combo, a level of difficulty consistent with anyone else hoping for medals, which helps make her case for the worlds team. Carey is right there with the rest of these gymnasts, even though she’s showing large deductions and occasional falls, because as this 11.4 group makes clear, no one is untouchable in terms of execution or consistency. So, why not her vaults?
Rudi (5.8) + DTY (5.4) = 11.2
Several of the most compelling vault contenders this year, however, may be sitting in the 11.2 zone rather than the 11.4 zone, a small deficit that can easily be made up with superior execution.
Sae should be one of the major vault contenders this year, particularly on account of amplitude that will have her outscoring a number of other dumpy rudis we’ll see. On the other hand, Sae should have been a major contender in vault finals for the last couple years then…wasn’t. She elected not to perform a second vault in 2015, then struggled on her DTY to miss the event final at the Olympics.
Another new figure in the vaulting scene is the European champion, who surprised for that title, taking it on difficulty against a less powerful field. Devillard’s obstacle at worlds, presuming she’s on the French team, will be to get the execution scores necessary to repeat a medal result against a field where she won’t have the same clear difficulty advantage.
Steingruber is among the bigger question marks in the current community of vaulters because we haven’t seen her compete this year. She is, however, on the entry list for the upcoming Swiss Championships, so it looks like she’s giving 2017 a shot.
Of course, that’s no guarantee that she’s going to have her full difficulty back on both vaults, but if she does, Steingruber would be a favorite (if not the favorite) as she tends to garner quite strong execution scores for both vaults. Her rudi is the best and most controlled in the world right now, and she typically has the necessary height on her DTY to make up for that being not the most comfortable vault for her. She just needs to show that she has them back.
Amanar (5.8) + Khorkina (5.4) = 11.2
Olsen’s prospective spot on Canada’s worlds team is mostly based on the idea that she’s going to get the Amanar back and have a total vault difficulty that ranks with the top contenders, which it would. At the Olympics, Olsen trailed only the very best gymnasts in difficulty with this set of vaults, though she’ll need both at full strength to stay up among this pack as she relies on her difficulty.
Amanar (5.8) + Lopez (5.2) = 11.0
Andrade is a possibility who can score quite well for both of her vaults. That Lopez is huge and clean and way too easy for her. Please add a million twists. BUT, Andrade does not always elect to compete two vaults and is currently working to get back from injury in time for worlds. It’s far from a guarantee that she’d get the Amanar back or even make having two vaults a priority in her training.
This 11.0 difficulty zone with the Amanar and the Lopez is also where Jordan Chiles will be aiming to sit by adding her Lopez at the selection camp. With the overall field as it is, that looks like a competitive set of vaults. If Chiles were to hit both cleanly, you could make an easy argument that it would be event-final worthy, if not more.
So that’s…9-to-11 people-ish who rank in the top echelon of vault difficulty? It’s safe to say, however, that not all of these people will show up to worlds competing their peak vault difficulties. There are quite a few “if she gets it back/if she makes the team” in this collective. Pretty much everybody, in fact.
As such, it seems quite likely that we will see some members of Club DTY + Lopez get into the vault final at worlds as well.
DTY (5.4) + Lopez (5.2) = 10.6
What Melnikova has going for her: she has actually competed both these vaults fairly regularly this season, which is more than we can say for a lot of the other major contenders. Her fate will be decided by how many of the gymnasts with more difficulty hit, rather than her own performance, but she’d be hanging around somewhere as long as that Lopez pulls itself together. Errrrrr.
Devai placed better than both Melnikova and Tisha Volleman in the Euros vault final when all three performed the same vaults, and it’s easy to see why. Her execution was clearly better. This group of vaulters will need the field at worlds to be not-super-great, but that might very well happen. I wouldn’t bet against Devai sneaking in as a DTY/Lopez spoiler.
I’ll also put Rogers in this DTY/Lopez category if she gets onto the team as these are the vaults she showed at the University Games.
The difficulty Rogers showed at the Olympics on vault, however, would put her in the 11.0 group as a fairly competitive option among the bigger hitters, two tenths behind Olsen.
HS full (5.4) + Kas 1/2 (5.2) = 10.6
Keep Ellie Black in mind as another vaulter with an equivalent 10.6 total to all the DTY/Lopez gymnasts. Canada is not short on people with two vaults who can sneak into a final.
Amanar (5.8) + Kas (4.8) = 10.6
This is a bit of a stretch since we haven’t actually seen Murakami hit an Amanar in competition—and may not see her even bother with two vaults at worlds—but these are the vaults she showed in her most recent event-final outing, and if hit, would keep her in the conversation. Because Amanar.
As we go farther down the depth chart, it becomes less likely that we’ll see these gymnasts make a vault final, but with as many question marks as there are in the above groups, it’s worth keeping them in mind.
Potentially going for a 10.4 total, we have Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico. She typically vaults a handspring tuck 1/1 (4.8) but has shown a Kas 1/1 (5.6) in past meets. If Sofia Busato makes the Italian team, she could also be in there with a DTY (5.4) and a handspring layout 1/2 (5.0), along with Teja Belak, who will look to go for a Y1.5 (5.0) and a handspring layout 1/1 (5.4), though that layout is usually tucked (4.8).
Keeping everyone honest with clean 10.2 totals will be Emily Little and Zsofia Kovacs. Both have strong DTYs (5.4) but don’t have the difficulty in the second vault (Kas for 4.8) to make a push in a major competition. Still, both gymnasts are very comfortable with their two vaults and should do well enough in execution to outscore chuckers showing slightly more difficulty and much more sloppiness. We may also see Courtney McGregor in this 10.2 category, as the vaults she showed last season (DTY for 5.4 and RO1/2 on, pike 1/2 for 4.8) would keep her on par with this group.