Bubka has the world record, but Colwick has a pretty new (atleast to me) type of takeoff. Do you think the leap-takeoff could potentially go higher if someone were to perfect it? Or is it limited?
Last summer I had a meal with the Virginia Tech coach, who is close friends with Colwick's coach (Dave Butler). He told me that Butler is not a fan of Colwick's TO, but that a habit so entrenched is not worth fixing with a senior who makes it work so well.
I believe the TO is limited and dangerous. When Colwick does it well, there is no question that he makes it go very high (18'9). When he does it poorly, he lands in the box (as in the outdoor NCAA meet of 2008). Colwick is a very VERY fast vaulter. If a vaulter that fast is unsafe, ever, with a specific technique, then I would not recommend that technique for the rest of the vault community.
I think ideal form works ideally for ideal athletes. Non-ideal athletes tend to go their highest doing things a little wrong; having the step be a little under for instance, having grip be a little low. You have to be very strong to make a perfect vault work perfectly.
For individuals, I recommend emulating elite vaulters who are of similar body-type with similar attributes. Brock Spandl, 5'11 tall 17'3 UofM vaulter, should not look to Jeremy Scott for ideas and insights. Jeremy Scott is 6'9. But Adam, you may want to look at Jeremy as you are tall, skinny and fast a lot like Jeremy is.
Please stay away from Colwick's interpretation of the free take-off. I think it ends in retirement (and injury) for most athletes.
Well said Steve. I have read on polevaultpower.com that Butler is a teacher of the Petrov/Bubka model and decided not to try to change Jason's style as it would be too hard.