The Olympics hasn't even officially started and Simone Biles is already showing off her next-level skills by successfully performing a maneuver that has never been completed by a female athlete before.
The U.S gymnast, who is set to dazzle fans this summer as she competes in what could be her final Olympics, completed the Yurchenko double pike. Described as a round-off onto the springboard, Biles back handsprings onto the vault, something no female gymnast has ever done successfully in competition.
Simone Biles lands a Yurchenko double pike vault in podium training! #tokyo2020 #SimoneBiles pic.twitter.com/BJQCLXTwPl
— Behind The Gold Podcast (@behindthegold) July 22, 2021
She originally posted the move on social media last year, teasing fans about whether it would be something she would take to competition. Gymnastics analysts originally thought she might not perform the dangerous vault during competition because the risk of injury is high and she has no need to do it as she's already proven her extreme talent.
In May she returned to competition after eighteen months and cruised to victory at the US Classic in Indianapolis, the Yurchenko double pike vault becoming one of her signature moves.
When she performed at the U.S Classic, her score was 16.100, which was higher than either of her gold-medal-winning vaults at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The judges only demoted points for her steps taken after the maneuver was complete.
Well, she seems to be on form to bring her game to the Tokyo Olympic games, with her showing off the beautiful yet dangerous Yurchenko double pike vault during her podium training.
USA Today explained that a Yurchenko, named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, is any vault in which a gymnast does a round-off onto the takeoff board followed by a back handspring onto the table. The difference in various Yurchenkos is what follows - Biles is the only woman to do a double pike and a double somersault with her body in a piked position, in competition.
What makes it so difficult is there is no bailout, meaning if it's done wrong, the gymnast is likely to end on their neck or head.
Another of her signature moves is the opening move of her floor routine, which she debuted in 2019. The triple-twisting double on the floor was first performed fifteen years ago by a male gymnast. It consists of a round-off into a back handspring, and then twists and flips three times, reaching about ten feet off the ground.
Even in slow motion, the maneuver is crazy.
Biles is an "all-rounder" meaning she competes across 4 gymnastic events - the vault, floor, uneven bars, and balance beam. Despite the uneven bars being her 'weakest' event, she remains one of the best in the world. On the balance beam, she is a current world champion, this is where you can see her performing a double-twisting double somersault dismount which is named after her.
In March 2020, Biles was unsure if she could make it through another year of training, as she had passed the age where most professional gymnasts would retire. She had always planned to retire after Tokyo and the postponement of the games meant she had to choose whether her body could stand another season.
"It hurts," she told SI, laughing in an airy Houston warehouse after her Sports Illustrated cover shoot. "Today I was on floor and I was doing triple-doubles, and even when I punch hard, that hurts my body. I'm doing the correct punch, but it just hurts. I didn't land short. I didn't land funky. I just do hard skills, and that just hurts."
Nevertheless, she has made it, perfecting the difficult and dangerous Yurchenko double pike in the last year. She needs four more medals of any color to become the most decorated gymnast in history and if she sticks her landing she will definitely secure her place as the GOAT, the greatest of all time.
You can see Simone Biles perform at the Tokyo Olympics which run from July 23rd to August 8th.