The Evolution Of Vault

The Evolution Of Vault

The Evolution Of Vault

Dec 10, 2011 by Gary From Gymnastike
The Evolution Of Vault

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the evolution of uneven bars. This week, we will be looking at how vault has changed over the decades.

There are six styles, or families, of vault for both the men and women. Each has their own unique set of requirements. Before the changing of the Code Of Points in 2006, vaults were based out of a 10 depending on their difficulty. In the new code, vaults are still assigned predetermined values, but are scored open-endedly. It is also important to note that both the men and women perform the same styles. However, vaults still have different values for the men and women. A vault for the men could be out of a 5.8 while the same vault for the women is out of a 5.6.

There are seven parts to any style of vault. The terminology is as follows:

Beginning Salute
: The gymnast raises their arm(s) over their head to acknowledge they have seen the judges flash the green “go” light. Once saluted, the gymnast has thirty seconds to complete their vault. If the fail to do so, they are given a score of zero (0.000).

The Sprint: Gymnasts gain speed by running or sprinting down the runway in order to attain enough speed to complete the vault.

The Pre-Flight: When the gymnast is in mid-air between the spring board and vaulting table. This is also when the style of vault is “revealed”.

The Block: When the gymnasts makes contact with the vaulting table with both hands. A vault with only one hand contacting the table will result in a score of zero.

The Post-Flight: When the gymnast leaves the vaulting table and performs their element in the air.

The Landing: When the gymnast’s feet make contact with the mat.

The Finishing Salute: When the gymnast raises their arms over their head to tell the judges they have completed their vault. Failure to do so can result in a score of zero.


Styles of Vault


Front Handspring

The front handspring vault was the first style to be used in the modern era of the sport. Until the early 1970s, nothing spectacular was performed. Gymnasts would simply sprint down the runway, perform a front handspring onto the horse and push off into a layout position with no salto (flip) or twist. Some gymnasts would take a risk by performing a Yamashita, pulling the legs into a pike position, still with no salto or twist, and kicking out before landing. In 1971, it became popular to perform a layout or Yamashita with a non-salto twist. Gymnasts also began performing full twisting front handspring vaults or adding a full twist and the men performed a ¼ twist during the pre-flight. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1970s that gymnasts began to perform tuck and pike saltos on vault. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, gymnasts began to add twist to the saltos. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that gymnasts began to perform layout saltos with and without twists, even though layout saltos had been performed with great popularity for different styles years before.

Now, in 2011, the most difficult front handspring vault for the women is a double tucked front introduced by Yelena Produnova of Russia at the 1999 World Championships, making her the first woman to do so while the men had been performing it over the past several years. For the men, it is a triple twisting layout introduced by Yang Hak Seon of Korea at this year’s World Championships. The compulsory vault from 1989-1992 was a Yamashita with a half twist.


In 1972, Mitsuo Tsukahara of Japan introduced the style that would be named for him. He took the front handspring style and performed it with a half twist during the pre-flight and a double layout during the post-flight. This was the first time a double salto in the layout position had been performed on vault. Many variations were introduced the rest of the decade including piked and tucked versions both with and without twists. Nellie Kim of the Soviet Union became the first woman to perform the Tsukahara with a full twist at the 1976 Olympics. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that gymnast began attempting the Tsukahara with a one and a half twist. And Yelena Zamolodchikova of Russia became the first women to perform a double twisting layout Tsukahara at a World Championships or Olympic Games at the 1999 World Championships.

To date, the men have performed two and a half, triple twisting and triple salto variations while the women have only gone as far as a double twist. The compulsory vault from 1985-1988 was a Tsukahara tuck and from 1993-1996 a Tsukahara pike.


In 1982, Natalia Yurchenko of the Soviet Union introduced the Yurchenko style. She performed a round off onto the springboard and a back handspring during the pre-flight. Natalia performed the first Yurchenko with a full twist in the post-flight. In the late 1980s, many Soviet gymnasts including Elena Shushunova and Olesya Dudnik added one and a half and double twists. At the 2000 Olympics, Simona Amanar of Romania introduced the Yurchenko with a two and a half twist. This remains the most difficult Yurchenko vault for the women. The men have performed triple twisting and triple salto variations. Almost thirty years later, the Yurchenko remains the most popular style of vault for the women at Worlds and the Olympics.


In 1986, Oksana Omelianchik of the Soviet Union introduced her vault, taking the Yurchenko and adding a half twist during the pre-flight with a front pike in the post-flight. However, the Omelianchik did not become popular until the mid-1990s. Many variations have been introduced since, including a layout one and a half twist introduced by Cheng Fei of China at the 2005 World Championships which remains the most difficult variation for the women. The men have performed it with double and two and a half twists.


Patrizia Luconi of Italy also introduced her vault in 1986. She took the Yurchenko and this time, added a full twist during the pre-flight with a salto during the post-flight. The Luconi did not become popular until the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, gymnasts who were weaker on vault performed this style because the different variations where not as difficult as other vaults and allowed them to have start values at 9.500, 9.600 and 9.700. From 2005 to present, the Luconi vault has been decreased in value tremendously for all variations with the exception of the full twisting layout version which is worth the same as a double twisting layout Yurchenko for the women.


These two videos show every vault that is in the current 2009-2012 Code Of Points.


Part One


Part Two