Simone Biles already made history as the first Black person and the first woman to win seven national titles. And now, the five-time Olympic medalist just might be poised to make history once again at the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Biles on Thursday (July 22) was captured on video landing her signature version of the Yurchenko double pike during podium training. Biles’s twist on the move, described as a round-off onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the vault, is something no female gymnast has ever landed in competition. “Until she performed the skill at the U.S. Classic in April, no female gymnast had even attempted it in competition,” NBC reports. “If she lands it during Olympic competition, the vault will be named after Biles and become her fifth eponymous skill.”
According to The Washington Post:
The term “Yurchenko” describes the vault’s entry — named for Natalia Yurchenko, a Soviet world champion who first competed the skill in the early 1980s. This style of vault is typically the most common at all levels, and it will be performed by most gymnasts at the Olympics.
The big difference between Biles and all other female gymnasts, however, is that she does her Yurchenko with an added two-and-a-half twist in the end (a move known as an Amanar), and then she flips a second time. It’s this second flip in the end that gives Biles’s move “unprecedented difficulty,” according to The Post. It also adds a high amount of risk.
Last year, Biles posted a video of herself performing the move and landing in a foam pit. Her caption for the video was, “2020,” along with eyes emojis and a question mark, sparking intense curiosity over whether or not she would make history by performing the move in the summer games.
2020 👀👀👀 ? pic.twitter.com/3QDjSOPYbH— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) February 3, 2020
This skill is particularly dangerous because, according to The Post, “A Yurchenko with a double flip that doesn’t rotate enough could result in head or neck injuries.” Biles’s coach Laurent Landi last week told NBC that Biles—who is a favorite to win gold with or without the move—might not perform the complex move during the Olympics. “People seem to forget that it’s a very, very dangerous skill… Just to have glory and being [in] the Code of Points, it’s not enough,” she said.
The Olympic women’s gymnastics team competition is scheduled to begin on Sunday, July 25 at 7 PM ET.