It was the final night of the 2021 U.S. Classic on Saturday when Simone Biles attempted a move considered so dangerous in the gymnastics world that no other woman in the sport — not even the woman it's named after — has tried it in a competition. Being the record-breaking athlete that she is, however, Biles changed that: She is now the first woman in history to execute the Yurchenko double pike.
Pioneered in part by former Russian gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, who first introduced the roundoff back handspring onto the vaulting table, the Yurchenko double pike is considered an untouchable move in the gymnastics world because of how dangerous the execution and landing can be. It consists of a running start to the vaulting table; a roundoff back handspring; two flips mid-air in a pike position, where the body is folded and the legs are fully extended, and a clean landing on both feet.
Ironically, Biles' history-making move wasn't enough to earn her a higher score; she only received a 6.6 from judges. Dangerous moves like the Yurchenko double pike are automatically given a lower point start. Despite knowing this, Biles said she was proud to perform it, and ultimately, defended her all-around title with a final score of 58.400.
"I was just thinking, 'Do it like training. Don't try to like overdo anything,'" she told reporters after the competition. "Because I have a tendency as soon as I raise my hand to kind of overpower things, and I did a little bit, but at least I was on my feet. It's a new vault and I'm proud of how today went."
Saturday’s U.S. Classic marked Biles' first competition in over 18 months and the beginning of her road to the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She continued to train throughout the height of the pandemic and made headlines with a detailed Vogue interview last July. With the Olympics drawing closer each day, it's only a matter of time before the G.O.A.T of the gymnastics world channels her strength into another history-making move.