The vault is just below the Produnova in both difficulty and the commensurate points: 5.8, right under the 6.0. And Dipa Karmakar suffered a fall on landing when she went for the Rudi 540 vault in her first competitive attempt in the finals of the Baku World Cup, her right knee wobbling in the landing as she fell backwards on uncertain feet.
Though the extent of her injury will only be clear on medical examination, Karmakar has opted to skip the Doha World Cup starting next week, and did not risk attempting the second vault, after the discomfiting landing.
The Indian gymnast’s push for a medal in a fairly competitive field with American Jade Carey, Mexican Alexa Morena, Russian Maria Paseka and the ageless Oksana Chusovitina, had seen her step up a notch to try the Handspring front somersault with 1 and a half twists. She had qualified in third place.
The vault involves a forward jump-up handspring, while the jump-off from the Table is a series of one and half twists, ending in a 540 degree front-facing landing.
Dipa stumbled as her left and right knee veered off course and the right leg couldn’t hold balance to stick the landing. She was heavily taped around the patella going into the final, and will hope strengthening and rehab push her back on track, ahead of the World Championship in October.
Though the Rudi 540 lacks the rank-dangerous double turns in the air, that can leave watchers gasping, the spin and a half are quite a handful. While Dipa has trained her eyes on it for two years, spanning her injury and surgery, Baku was going to be the first test, since the points were pegged down.
The Rudi 540 requires the body to push the spinning momentum mid-air after the thrust off the stretched Salto on the table. Controlling the body with correct alignment when landing after the 540 spins, will remain a challenge in coming days as Dipa returns to training.
Dipa’s reputation for flirting with danger followed her into the first big meet she was competing at after the Olympics and Asian Games. Post-Rio and her knee trouble, Dipa has kept the Produnova in cold storage, but will rely on the Rudi to regain confidence. The fall with its attendant damage, as she lost balance and stumbled back, left a few gasping, though she had moderate height on the vault to not completely crash. Her run-up needed greater acceleration and the lift-off a greater thrust.
Oksana, who has fashioned her own variation of the 540, took silver behind American Carey. Frenchwoman Coline Devilard ended with a sitting landing on her Rudi to come 4th, while Russian Paseka crashed her Cheng vault. Dipa who brought up the rear finishing 8th, has an uphill task on the 5.8 vault, though the knee will need attention first.