A vault ... towards the stars!
It was just before 10.30 am on Sunday 16th March at Bercy, the stage for the 12th
French International. In preparation for the vaulting final six girls were lined up before
the judges. In the leading role was Elena Zamolodchikova, the World and Olympic
champion on this apparatus - she needs no further introduction. Second in command
was the formidable Anna Pavlova. Among the supporting cast were the two K's,
Kosich and Kvasha, and Chusovitina who was on the look out for the slightest
weakness on the part of her rivals.
And then lying in ambush was the unexpected guest (but expected nonetheless by her
trainer and the French contingent), Coralie Chacon - Coco to those who know her
This, her first French International at Paris, was a baptism of fire for Coralie. Having
qualified in first position the day before, she prepared to vault.
"I was looking all around me, it was so strange to be rubbing shoulders with the likes
of Zamolodchikova and Pavlova! I was in awe of them, but I was also very focused. I
wasn't thinking about medals, most of all I just wanted to perform my vaults as well as
I could," she admitted to us after the event. Her trainer Nellu Pop said much the same
thing. "As she is still young we didn't set out with the aim of getting a result, but with
the goal of producing a clean performance."
A case of "mission accomplished" from the performance point of view, and the icing
on the cake was the silver medal that she won. Coralie executed two superb and
technically complex vaults. The first was a Tsukahara with double twist in the second
flight - a vault that only a handful of gymnasts are able to perform, with a Start Value
of 9.90. The second vault is called the "Varga" (a handspring one and a half twisting
somersault in tucked position) after the name of the beautiful Hungarian who unveiled
it for the first time in 1998.
Coralie owes her success primarily to her remarkable physical qualities - her small size
(1m42 and 36 kilos), a better-than-average speed of execution and an optimal
power-to-weight ratio. Her explosive power serves her well on vault and floor, where
she shows two big tumbles, the triple twist and the 2 1/2 twist punch front. She
knows though that she needs to improve her expression and the amplitude of her
movements, and she has been working hard in that direction with the choreographer
Adriana Pop. However, as she herself recognises: "It's difficult as I'm reserved by
nature, I don't really like to reveal myself to other people."
Her explosive power deserts her however on the asymmetric bars. Her coach
explained to us: "As a result of her muscle structure, Coralie doesn't have enough
flexibility in her shoulders to do really well on bars." On beam Coco is fairly steady.
She rarely makes huge mistakes, but the routine lacks a little in amplitude.