Star Gymnast Simone Biles completed a Yurchenko double pike, the most difficult vault in women’s gymnastics, at the world championships on Sunday, becoming the first woman to perform the move in a major international competition successfully and cementing her place in gymnastics history.
Since the 26-year-old already has four skills named after her, two on floor exercise and one each on balancing beam and vault, the Yurchenko double pike, a vault with an extra flip that makes it so difficult and deadly, will now be known as the Biles II.
“People, I hope, realize that maybe that’s one of the last times you’re going to see a vault like that in your life from a women’s gymnast. I think it’s time to appreciate that,” Biles’s coach Laurent Landi stated, according to The Washington Post.
According to USA Today, the Yurchenko double pike has a thin line between success and catastrophic damage. It has no safety net, so if a gymnast is even the slightest bit off, they risk landing on their neck or head.
The Yurchenko vault family is named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, who executed it for the first time in 1982 at a competition in Moscow, according to ABC.net.
Natalia Yurchenko studied with Russian and Soviet coach Vladislav Rastorotsky, and the two devised a novel method of mounting the vaulting horse. The vault consists of seven steps: run, hurdle, take-off, pre-flight, block, post-flight, and landing.
According to USA Today, the strength required to pull one’s torso around twice in a piked position is tremendous. It’s why Biles is the only woman in competition to achieve it, and few men even attempt it.
Biles had such strength that, despite how challenging the vault was, she had to take a step back to regulate her landing. The gymnastics referees docked her a half-point for having her coach, Landi, stand on the mat, ready to help if something went wrong, but she still finished with a 15.266, possibly one of the top scores of the competition.
Despite the fact that there are still 20 more teams and 8 qualifying sessions left, her victory solidified the U.S. women’s position at the top after their qualifying session. They have won the last six world team championships, dating back to 2011, and a seventh victory would surpass the Chinese men’s current record.
One of her skills was named after her during the 2013 world all-around championships, and since then, Biles has spent the previous ten years on an unstoppable winning streak, shattering medal records and expanding the boundaries of what is thought to be possible.