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Simone Biles is already the greatest gymnast of all time. But as she looks ahead to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the four-time gold medalist decided to attempt a move no female gymnast has ever landed before: the Yurchenko double pike.
During podium training for this weekend’s 2021 U.S. Classic, the 24-year-old was seen successfully landing the historic vault, which is named after the 1980s Russian world champion Natalia Yurchenko and consists of a roundoff, then a back handspring, before ending with a piked double backflip.
“It’s very, very challenging and what’s scary is people can get hurt,” Biles’ coach Laurent Landi told 60 Minutes in February. “You do a short landing, you can hurt your ankles...it’s a very dangerous vault.”
“I was really nervous chalking up,” Biles told ESPN on Friday. “I was like, ‘It’s OK, I’ve done this so many times.’ I’ve been doing it for months now. So I felt prepared and I knew I was prepared, it was just the initial landing out there in the arena.”
Even Biles wasn’t sure she would be able to land such a historic move.
“We were just flipping to flip, to see what I could do … but never in a million years did I think that it would be feasible and to actually put it out on a competition floor,” she said.
Biles will perform on Saturday evening, for the first time in more than 18 months, in the U.S. Classic in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 24-year-old gymnast is slated to compete later this summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It’s not clear if or when Biles will attempt the Yurchenko double pike in competition.