Wednesday, 15 February 2012

In anticipation of the Triple Twisting Yurchenko

It is waiting, crouching in the grass ready to pounce: we can say with relative certainty that we will see a triple twisting yurchenko some time in the near future, it is just a question of WHEN.

For years we have heard rumours and speculated about those who could be capable of performing this vault, but something in the air suggests that the TTY is closer than ever.

Vault has changed its personality in recent years. In the two quads leading up to 2008, it was generally considered the lowest scoring event and an area of fairly little ingenuity: all around gymnasts on the whole tended to “get through” vault and then slam high scores on other events. Whilst this was less true after the advent of the open ended code, it was still possible to make ones name as an all arounder without being strong on the apparatus. After all, the current all around champion won her crown with a Yurchenko 1.5, a vault most associated with the Atlanta Olympics from 12 years previously.

A beautiful vault, but with the scoring potential of vault returned to the rafters, it seems likely that the next AA champ will have a top shelf vault.

But the time of vault as a stringent scorer has ended, and it is now feasible for AA hopes to be spearheaded on this apparatus. Whilst I disagree with any kind of scoring imbalance, I can’t help but feel fond of this concept: it reminds me of 1992, and other times when golden hopes were made or broken in a crisp, exciting couple of seconds.

Although there could be many competitors currently hiding in the shadows that could potenatially be training a TTY, the most obvious and worthy assumption lies with the current world champion: the fantastic Mckayla Maroney, who combines power and execution like few ever have before. She currently holds the accolade of the highest world level score on vault this quad: a 16.033. A score which is also the third highest on any discipline. 

This could scarcely be improved

Now, let us indulge in some even wilder speculating. With a triple twisting Yurchenko of execution even approaching that with which she performs her Amanar, she would be the overwhelming frontrunner for the London vault title (she is anyway, in my opinion). But that’s not all: this earthquake of a vault could even transform Maroney, almost overnight, into an All Around threat.

Here is what I mean:

The above takes her qualification scores from bars and beam, her team final score for floor and the execution score of her team final Amanar, the latter of which was used to generate an actual score based on the 7.2 difficulty value of the triple twisting yurchenko.

As can be seen, she is already nipping at Raisman’s heels. She is this close to the second American even with an overtimed and messy beam routine.

Further, I think that Maroney has fantastic upgrade potential. She has brilliant execution and technique on all four events, and her bars routine has very little in it. On floor, she has some great skills combined with brilliant dance and even a few relatively small tweaks could make it a lot better (I am thinking a somersault or jump out of the opening 3.5 pass and maybe even a full or half twist in the double tuck). It should be fairly safe to assume that she will make some improvements across these apparatus, if only to just make herself that bit more indispensible to the US team.

Of course, the above speculative scores are dependent on a lot of things that probably will not come to pass. The closeness assumes Maroney having the best day of her career, and managing to maintain the same insanely huge E score with that extra half twist. That and the assumption that Raisman isn’t upgrading, which we know she is (for those that don’t know - it seems she is trying a layout punch following the double Arabian and a tuck punch after the Dos Santos - super cool - and she is planning on training the amanar regularly). And even this doesn’t take into account the many other American competitors who could be challenging for the second AA spot in London.

Who knows what is going on over at WOGA. Could Bross still challenge for the second AA spot? One thing seems certain, she will have a DTY at the absolute best, whereas Raisman and Wieber will both have Amanars. That is 7 tenths to try and find elsewhere.

Despite these reasonable doubts, I still think the original point stands: a gymnast capable of performing this vault to a good standard could harness extreme scoring potential. As with anything in modern gymnastics, however, there are likely to be those who perform it to a poor standard of execution and safety. Hong un Jong was rumoured to have a TTY at the time of the Beijing games, but elected not to perform it after Cheng Fei had fallen. Nabieva was also close to a triple twist. Calling anything resembling this vault a TTY would be an injustice, however. I personally prefer to call it an impression of a jellyfish being hit with a tennis racquet.

In my humble opinion, the only vaulter worthy of this vault, past and present, is Maroney. If she is training it, I simply cannot wait to see it. 


1. Cheng brings out the Cheng

What a moment, and what a gymnast. It seems likely Maroney will have this as her second vault. If it looks anything like Vanessa Zamarripas was on a good day, I'm happy.

2. Khorkina has a lot of nerve

A tucked version of the above. As annoying as the NBC terrible trio are, I always found their Khorkina giddiness very endearing.

3. What a powerhouse this one was

Not the first time she did this, but the first world level performance with a good video. Her power was verging on scary. 

An aside: will the TTY end the Yurchenko arms race?

As vault difficulty has evolved over the past few decades, the vast majority of the resultant vault "species" have been Yurchenko variants. First the full was trendy. Then the half. Then the 1.5. Eventually, we end up where we are today: almost every federation chases the Amanar, with the DTY being the second best option.

But is it even POSSIBLE to push this envelope any further? Is it even POSSIBLE to chuck a TTY? People once would have said that only a select few are Amanar capable. Yet they are getting more common every competition.

Will the TTY becomethe next rabbit to chase? In twenty years from now will all the girls be doing one? Who can say, but I hope not. 


  1. Sasha competed it in 2007, but it wasn't his best effort in this video

  2. The last sentence was an eye opener! Very interesting and possibly true.

  3. Chrisjordan: Thanks for the video! I don't really follow MAG, I just assumed the TTY had been competed there. I was referring specifically to WAG as I am in the majority of my posts here (I should probably write that somewhere!)

    Allen: I'm glad, I hoped it would be! Sounds crazy now, but in 1992 when Lysenko was the only top competitor doing a DTY we wouldn't have expected that it would be essentially the norm 20 years later (and this is at best!)

  4. Ummm I know Mckayla Skinner is trying, but her Amanar was scary enough, so who knows if she'll get it, or if she'll compete it, or try it out of the pit. But I do hope Maroney is the first :)

  5. The Nabieva video! Brought back fond memories of the time when she was the daredevil junior with insane skills and Mustafina was the side-kick.

    The 3 vault innovations you mentioned - I can't help thinking that they were not just insanely difficult, but quite innovative and different from the usual. Whereas a TTY, which is very very impressive in its own right (not denying that), will just be continuing this yurchenko dominance in these 2 quads.

  6. "In my humble opinion, the only vaulter worthy of this vault, past and present, is Maroney. If she is training it, I simply cannot wait to see it. " ...
    Did you happen to see Simone Biles last weekend at the WOGA Classic? I would say her chances are pretty good!

    Not bad for a Jr.!

  7. Just a little correction. The highest score achieved this quad in world competition was a 16.133 on the uneven bars by He Kexin in the 2010 worlds team final. The second highest score is also He Kexin with a 16.066. I think Maroney definitely has the next highest with her 16.033 though.

  8. Thanks! No idea how I missed that, must have been sleepy on that day. I shall change it now.

  9. What was the third debut? The video has been removed and you didn't mention what it was so I can't look for another clip (not a criticism, obviously it wouldn't have mattered if the video was working).

    p.s. My interest in MAG is small, but I could watch Dragulescu do his signature vault all day. It's incredible!

  10. TOTALLY Agreed about the Dragulescu. Incredible. Such a shame he made an unfortunate habit of bombing the second vault.

    The third clip was Produnova's double front