What if vault execution deductions were actually doubled?

Vault judging – a talking point after every major competition. Why are scores so similar for vaults that are not equal? Does execution really matter if you have enough difficulty? The latter question is commonly asked, but what can be done to make sure execution ‘matters’ in the final standings?

An option that gets discussed a lot is doubling all execution deductions on vault. On paper this sounds great – if you want to throw huge difficulty without great execution, you’ll have to face the consequences. But would this actually make a difference to the final standings?

I decided to have a look. I’ve gone back through just the women’s Olympic vault finals since 2000 to see if the standings would change if the execution deductions were doubled.


2000 Olympics

Results from the 2000 Olympic Vault final if execution scores were doubled:

RankCountryGymnastVault 1Vault 2Final score
1RussiaElena Zamolodchikova9.425 [SV 10.0]9.600 [SV 9.9]9.513
2RomaniaAndreea Raducan9.450 [SV 10.0]9.425 [SV 9.9]9.438
3RussiaEkaterina Lobaznyuk9.325 [SV 10.0]9.475 [SV 9.9]9.400
4🔺SpainLaura Martinez9.425 [SV 9.9]9.325 [SV 9.8]9.375
5🔻SpainEsther Moya9.525 [SV 10.0]9.050 [SV 9.9]9.288
6RomaniaSimona Amanar9.250 [SV 10.0]9.100 [SV 9.8]9.175
7ChinaDong Fangxiao9.275 [SV 9.9]8.975 [SV 9.8]9.125
8MexicoDenisse Lopez8.175 [SV 10.0]7.300 [SV 9.9]7.738

2004 Olympics

Results from the 2004 Olympic Vault final if execution scores were doubled:

RankCountryGymnastVault 1Vault 2Final score
1RomaniaMonica Rosu9.250 [SV 9.9]9.475 [SV 10.0]9.363
2USAAnnia Hatch9.000 [SV 9.8]9.325 [SV 9.8]9.163
3RussiaAnna Pavlova9.050 [SV 9.8]9.250 [SV 9.8]9.150
4RussiaElena Zamolodchikova9.100 [SV 9.8]8.850 [SV 9.9]8.975
5🔺UkraineAlona Kvasha8.825 [SV 9.8]9.050 [SV 9.7]8.938
6🔻North KoreaKang Yun Mi8.925 [SV 10.0]8.700 [SV 9.9]8.813
7ChinaWang Tiantian7.825 [SV 9.8]8.800 [SV 9.9]8.313
8FranceCoralie Chacon7.925 [SV 9.9]3.963

Not too much would have changed from the 2000 and 2004 finals. With start values so close together, and many of the medallists having the same start values, the results would not have been significantly affected by doubling execution deductions. However, it does show a clear difference between those who hit both vaults and those who fell on one / both of their vaults – the final scores from Denisse Lopez in 2000 and Wang Tiantian in 2004 are significantly lower than those ranking above them.

The only changes would be Laura Martinez in 200 and Alona Kvasha in 2004 who would both move up one place (although not into the medals). Interestingly they both had the lowest difficulty in their respective finals, and moved ahead of somebody who had the joint-highest difficulty in the finals, so even in the 10.0 system, having lower difficulty and higher execution would have led to a slightly better finishing position if execution deductions were doubled.


2008 Olympics

Results from the 2008 Olympic Vault final if execution scores were doubled:

RankCountryGymnastVault 1Vault 2Total score
1🔺USAAlicia Sacramone15.200 [6.3 | 8.900]14.850 [5.8 | 9.050]15.025
2GermanyOksana Chusovitina15.150 [6.3 | 8.850]14.850 [6.0 | 8.850]15.000
3🔻North KoreaHong Un Jong14.600 [6.5 | 8.700 | -0.600]15.000 [6.5 | 8.500]14.800
4🔻ChinaCheng Fei15.650 [6.5 | 9.150]13.600 [6.5 | 7.100]14.625
5SwitzerlandAriella Kaeslin14.500 [6.3 | 8.200]13.900 [5.5 | 8.400]14.200
6🔺BrazilJade Barbosa13.650 [5.8 | 7.850]12.900 [5.6 | 7.300]13.275
7🔻ItalyCarlotta Giovannini14.050 [5.8 | 8.450 | -0.200]12.450 [5.9 | 6.550]13.250
8RussiaAnna Pavlova14.750 [6.5 | 8.250]7.375

The change to open-ended scoring is where it gets interesting, and 2008 is the only final where the gold medallist would change. Sacramone had the highest execution of the final, but her lower difficulty kept her off the podium. This would not have been the case if the execution scores were doubled, where her execution would have been enough to get the gold.

Cheng Fei and Carlotta Giovannini both counted falls on their second vaults, and this would inevitably place them lower in the standings if a fall counted as a 1.6 deduction.


2012 Olympics

Results from the 2012 Olympic Vault final if execution scores were doubled:

RankCountryGymnastVault 1Vault 2Total score
1RomaniaSandra Izbasa14.666 [6.1 | 8.566]14.200 [5.8 | 8.400]14.433
2🔺RussiaMaria Paseka14.300 [6.5 | 7.800]13.800 [5.6 | 8.200]14.050
3🔺GermanyJanine Berger13.966 [6.3 | 7.666]13.800 [6.0 | 7.800]13.883
4🔻USAMcKayla Maroney15.233 [6.5 | 9.333 | -0.600]12.500 [6.1 | 6.400]13.867
5GermanyOksana Chusovitina13.900 [6.3 | 7.600]13.433 [5.5 | 7.933]13.667
6🔺CanadaBrittany Rogers13.733 [5.8 | 7.933]12.800 [5.6 | 7.200]13.267
7🔻Dominican RepublicYamilet Pena12.033 [7.1 | 5.133 | -0.200]13.133 [5.8 | 7.333]12.583
8CanadaElsabeth Black

As with 2008, the 2012 results would have been affected primarily by those who counted falls, with a fall now being a two-point deduction if execution deductions were doubled. McKayla Maroney would have just dropped out of the medals and Yamilet Pena would have placed last out of those counting scores.

I do wonder if this kind of scoring would have led to the Produnova vault resurgence that we saw between 2011 – 2016. The increased difficulty of the Produnova would not have been an advantage as the execution score would have been hit so much harder – we would have seen execution scores in the 5s in both the 2012 and 2016 vault finals


2016 Olympics

Results from the 2016 Olympic Vault final if execution scores were doubled:

RankCountryGymnastVault 1Vauly 2Total score
1USASimone Biles15.500 [6.3 | 9.200]15.666 [6.4 | 9.266]15.583
2🔺SwitzerlandGiulia Steingruber14.866 [6.2 | 8.666]14.000 [5.8 | 8.200]14.433
3🔻RussiaMaria Paseka14.133 [6.4 | 7.933 | -0.200]14.183 [6.3 | 7.883]14.158
4🔺ChinaWang Yan13.733 [6.0 | 7.733]14.066 [6.2 | 7.866]13.900
5🔻IndiaDipa Karmakar13.733 [6.0 | 7.733]13.533 [7.0 | 6.533]13.633
6🔺CanadaShallon Olsen13.633 [6.3 |7.333]13.433 [5.9 | 7.53313.533
7🔻North KoreaHong Un Jong14.400 [6.4 | 8.000]12.500 [6.3 | 6.400 | -0.200]13.450
8🔻UzbekistanOksana Chusovitina12.866 [7.0 | 5.866]13.466 [6.0 | 7.666 | -0.200]13.166

First of all, 2016 would have given Simone a lead of over a point instead of seven-tenths, and anything that shows how much better Simone was is a good thing.

Simone aside, everybody would end up switching places in this final once execution deductions are doubled. Hong Un-Jong would drop a place due to counting a fall, and Dipa / Chuso would both drop a place each, most likely due to Prod-reasons (even Dipa would have only received a 6.533 execution, and her attempt was the best of the 2012/2016 Olympic final attempts).

Importantly, Guilia steingruber would have jumped up to the silver medal spot, with Maria Paseka dropping to third. In 2016 Paseka only beat Steingruber by 0.037 but had an advantage of 0.7 more in difficulty, so if execution deductions are doubled then Steingruber’s stronger execution would be enough to go ahead (and by almost three-tenths)


So overall, yes, doubling execution deductions would make a difference to the final standings, especially after the change to the open-ended scoring. Falls and Prods would not come off well, and those with better execution ultimately would fare better in the standings. Unfortunately it still doesn’t change the limited deductions that can actually be given on vault, but still a step in the right direction.


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Published by MT

Gymnastics fan since 2006. NCAA fan since 2016. Numbers fan since birth.

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