Red Rocks have made a big leap on vault; assistant coach Robert Ladanyi is a big reason why

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah assistant coach Robert Ladanyi, celebrates MyKayla Skinner's landing on the floor, in Gymnastics action at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Whenever one of Utah’s gymnasts hit their vaults, Utah assistant Robert Ladanyi performs his own version of the event, leaping high into the air with his arms stretched way above his head.

Ladanyi, Utah’s second-year coach, is Utah’s primary coach on the vault. He has been jumping a lot this year as the Utes have excelled on the event, ranking second nationally behind Oklahoma with a 49.455 average.

“I am very pleased with vault,” Ladanyi said. “We only have three gymnasts with 10.0 start value, but they have all been doing great on sticking the landings on the lower value vaults and we are executing with a lot of consistency and it shows.”

While Ladanyi is quick to give the gymnasts credit for the effort, they attribute a lot of their success to him.

Ladanyi was hired two years ago to help the Utes on their power events of vault and floor.

Previously he coached at Florida from 2006-15 where he helped the Gators win three national titles and at Denver from 2016-17 where he helped coach the Pioneers to a ninth-place finish, their best effort at nationals.

Given his success, expectations were high when he joined the Utes, but he has delivered. “He brings a lot of good technique,” senior MaKenna Merrell-Giles said. “He has helped out our vault and floor tremendously.”


No. 5 Utah at No. 8 Georgia

When • March 16, 2 p.m.

Ladanyi knows the ultimate judge of a team’s success is in the postseason, which starts soon for the Utes who wrap up their regular season with a meet at Georgia on March 16, then compete in the Pac-12 Championships on March 23.

His first go around with the Utes in the postseason last year wasn’t very satisfying as Utah was last on both vault and floor in the NCAA Super Six, scoring just 49.075 on the vault and 49.1875 on the floor.

Ladanyi doesn’t think the Utes will replicate that downfall this year thanks to Utah’s training mindset.

“We were ranked high nationally the whole season and we went to nationals and competed completely different,” he said. “This time around we want to take advantage of all the training we have been doing and the confidence we have gotten during the season.”

Ladanyi can relate to the pressures the Utes feel since he is a former gymnast himself, having competed for the Romanian National Team. He served as the Junior National Team coach from 1992-97 then began his coaching career at a club in Texas in 2002 before joining Florida’s staff.

Ladanyi doesn’t hide the fact that the Utes’ subpar performance at nationals last year bothered him, Utah co-coach Megan Marsden said.

“When things aren’t up to snuff he takes things personally,” she said. “He has a lot of coaching experience and he knows his stuff. He enjoys the hands-on coaching and developing athletes and motivating them. That is where his real strengths lie.”

To that end, Ladanyi has a good relationship with his gymnasts. He is extremely organized, keeping track of workouts and lineups throughout the season with copies of their mugshots that he moves around like chess pieces.

On a personal level, he has an easy-going nature that helps balance the strict demands of the sport.

“He is always making us laugh,” senior Kari Lee said. “He has helped us a lot and he is fun to work with.”

He will be even more fun if the Utes continue their solid performances on the power events.

“It’s mostly a state of mind and how you approach competition,” Ladanyi said. “People put pressure on themselves and it isn’t needed, they have to treat championships like a normal day.”


Ranking Team Average

1. Oklahoma 49.515

2. Utah 49.455

3. Georgia 49.345

4. LSU 49.31

5. UCLA 49.285

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