I am in no way even an “average” viewer of the Olympics. I turn on the gymnastics and ice skating and then I turn them off because I’m only here for the fun stuff. Thankfully, I don’t need to be an expert to understand that when Simone Biles just landed a Yurchenko Double Pike, it’s an incredibly big deal.
Team USA posted footage of Biles landing the move during practice for Saturday’s U.S. Classic. According to the Washington Post back in 2020, the move, named after Russian champion Natalia Yurchenko, has never been attempted by a female gymnast in competition. Seems like Biles has every intention to be the first.
NBC Sports reports that after landing the double pike, Biles told coach Laurent Landi, “I just got a little nervous during the landing.” In a call with the media afterward, she added: “I was like, ‘It’s ok, I’ve done this so many times, I’ve been doing this for months now.’” The outlet added that the move could be the fifth “Biles” skill named after her in gymnastics Code of Points.
Speaking of nervousness, in its breakdown of the move in 2020, the Washington Post noted how dangerous the Yurchenko is for gymnasts, writing:
In a Yurchenko, a gymnast does a round-off onto the springboard, then a back handspring onto the vault. Once a gymnast’s hands hit the vaulting table, she pushes off into the air and begins a single flip. That flip is where variety usually begins. Gymnasts typically increase the difficulty of this type of vault by adding twists. U.S. teammate Sunisa Lee does a double twist in competition. Biles and other top vaulters do a Yurchenko with a two-and-a-half twist, known as an Amanar.
Biles has previously posted practice footage in a foam pit while honing the move:
Seen in both practice videos, Biles flips a second time after the first flip, which the Washington Post reported added “unprecedented difficulty, along with extreme risk.”
Anyway, enough with the scary stuff. Instead, let’s wish Simone luck at Saturday’s competition. Literally everyone is rooting for her!