Image source: Getty / Emilee Chinn / Stringer
In 2019 it was her amazing floor triple-double and her double-twisting, double-backflip beam dismount – both now named after her – and in 2021 Simone Biles shook the gymnastics world by making her debut with a new skill never before rivaled by a female athlete. : a double Yurchenko pike. You bet the skill is downright difficult!
What is Simone Biles’ new Yurchenko double pike jump?
In gymnastics, a Yurchenko, named after former Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, consists of a flare on the springboard followed by a back flip on the vault. Biles then does two backflips with straight legs (hence the “double pike”). Technically speaking, Biles’ body flips in the air two and a half times if you count the fact that she has to push her hands off the vault table. If she manages to land the jump at the Tokyo Olympics, it will bear her name (likely the Biles 2), marking her fifth eponymous skill total and second in the jump.
Emily Chan, a women’s artistic gymnastics judge with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and former gymnast, told POPSUGAR that from a physical perspective, a lot of things make the skill difficult. “First of all, you need running speed and height to get those two and a half rotations,” Chan said. “And it’s also dangerous if you don’t do it correctly. So for Simone, she does it safely, so it’s amazing.”
When Biles made her vault debut for the first time in competition at the 2021 GK US Classic – wearing a leotard adorned with a goat for her ‘greatest of all time’ title – she bounced a little, proving that she has even more power than necessary. Chan mentioned that, of the few men who perform it, you rarely see them performing the jump with that much power, and they don’t spin a Yurchenko double pike too much like Biles does. Watch his Yurchenko double pike in action in front of you.
Note: On the men’s side, the Yurchenko double pike is named after China’s Yang Wei, which you will find in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Code of Points 2022-2024.
Why does Simone Biles do a Yurchenko double pike jump?
Biles’ double Yurchenko pike has the highest difficulty score (D score plus execution score) for a women’s vault in gymnastics. Judges at the GK US Classic gave Biles’ Yurchenko double pike a tentative score of 6.6. Chan said she thinks between 6.6 and 6.8 is fair, citing the fact that for the remainder of 2021 another ultra-difficult jump, a forward handstand on the table with two forward jumps named after Russian Yelena Produnova, is two-tenths less (in the 2022 to 2024 version of the female gymnasts code of points, it is a 6).
Biles and United States Women’s National Team Coordinator Tom Forster argued that the assigned D grade was too low. Biles expressed the same sentiments on a score assigned to her double twist beam and double backflip dismount after the FIG Women’s Technical Committee said it considered the risk associated with the dismount. “They had an open points code and now they’re crazy about people being too early and great,” Biles said in May, according to The New York Times.
Biles will continue to challenge what is possible in his sport. She already has high-scoring routines – she fell on bars and put her hands on the floor during the GK US Classic and always won the all-around by more than one point – so she doesn’t really need to up her game. However, that’s exactly what she will do, she says The New York Times“Because I can.”