All the finalists in the women's vault knew that it would take a large score to beat Simone Biles of the U.S. for the gold. And that is why two competitors attempted something incredibly dangerous.
The move is known as the “Produnova” — named for Russia's Yelena Produnova. It's known colloquially as the “Vault of Death” for the risk of serious injury it carries.
The maximum-difficulty vault (7.0 D-score) consists of a front handspring followed by two front somersaults. Basically it's the '90s-era Action Park of vaulting. Here is 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan going for it on Sunday:
Despite the fall (and what looks like a brutal experience for her knees), the 5-foot tall, 94-pound Chusovitina, competing in her seventh Olympic games, scored a 14.9.
There's not official video but Chusovitina had company in the very bold (if not crazy) territory as India's Dipa Karmakar also attempted the Produnova, impressively landing on her feet and rear for a score of 15.266. Only seven women have ever attempted the vault and five have landed it (including Chusovitina and Karmakar).
“Once you’re in the air, you’re going for it,” said 2012 vault silver medalist McKayla Maroney. “There’s no way out. You either land it, or you break your neck.”
Karmakar finished just off the podium in fourth overall with a 15.066 and Chusovitina in seventh at 14.833.