Simone Biles has teased a complicated vault that no female gymnast has ever performed in a competition before — and fans think she is perfecting it for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
just droppin this here real quick 🙂 pic.twitter.com/sIx0M112qJ
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) February 21, 2020
The 22-year-old gold medalist gave her fans a behind-the-scenes look at her training on Thursday by tweeting a video of herself performing a vault that many have deemed too risky to pull off: a Yurchenko double pike.
In the five-second clip, Simone is like a flash of lightning as she runs and does a round-off onto the springboard, a back handspring onto the vault, and two flips in pike position (hips bent and knees straight) before landing on a mat in a foam pit.
A Yurchenko — named after Natalia Yurchenko, a Russian gymnast who first performed the skill in the early 1980s — begins with a single flip.
The Washington Post explained that gymnasts increase the difficulty of the move by adding twists, but Simone has taken things one step further by adding a second flip while in the pike position.
If the vaulter doesn’t rotate enough during the double flip, it could result in head or neck injuries. While some male gymnasts have landed this vault, no female gymnast has ever performed it in a competition.
‘Just droppin this here real quick,’ the gymnast captioned the jaw-dropping footage, which has left thousands of her fans gushing about her immense talent.
Many people were amazed to note that Simone is so powerful that she actually over-rotated the daring vault during the practice run.
‘Everyone needs to understand how lucky we are to be alive in the time that @Simone_Biles is doing gymnastics. LOOK. AT. THIS. A Yurchenko double pike onto a soft mat and it looks PHENOMENAL,’ one person wrote.
‘Imagine being so powerful you can over rotate a YURCHENKO DOUBLE PIKE… amazing, show stopping, brilliant,’ another added.
‘Any other gymnast ever: If I attempt a yurchenko double pike will I land on my neck and die instantly?@Simone_Biles: If I attempt a yurchenko double pike, will I have *too much power* for a clean landing?’ someone else tweeted. ‘So glad I’m alive in her time.’
Less than two weeks before she teased the stunt, Simone took to Instagram to show off what looks like a sternum piercing. In the snapshot, she is wearing a low-cut black wrap top that reveals the sparkly diamond on her chest.
Simone, who already has several body piercings, didn’t mention the new jewelry when she captioned the image, and instead, she wrote: ‘kinda unbothered.’
It’s unclear when she got the sternum piercing, which takes about 6 to 12 weeks to heal, but it was visible in another Instagram picture that she shared at the start of the month.
Thursday marked the second time that Simone has shared a video of herself working on the dangerous vault.
Earlier this month, she posted a four-second clip of herself performing the move into a foam pit, writing: ‘2020?’ with six eye emoji, leaving fans wondering if she is practicing the vault for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Toyko.
Simone has gone from doing the vault into a foam pit to landing it on a mat in the pit, which means she has made significant progress over the past two and a half weeks.
It seems more and more likely that she is planning on pulling off the move in competition despite the risks.
McKayla Maroney, a member of the ‘Fierce Five’ gold-medal-winning 2012 U.S. Olympic team, revealed during a 2016 interview on the gymnastics podcast GymCastic that she had practiced Yurchenko double tucks in training when she was about 14 years old.
She recalled Martha Karolyi, who was the USA Gymnastics national team coordinator at the time, telling her, ‘Do not ever do that again!’ after watching her perform the vault at camp.
‘It’s just the most intense block,’ she said of the Yurchenko double tuck. ‘Like, you have to block so high, and the thing about double backs that’s really dangerous is it’s like once you’re going for it, you’re going for it.’
McKayla explained that if something doesn’t feel right when you’re performing a twisting vault, you can decide midair to do fewer twists and still land safely, but a Yurchenko double tuck doesn’t allow that option.
‘When you’re doing double back, you can’t stop,’ she said. ‘You’re gonna die.’
Simone seems to know her limits, however. When asked in 2016 why she has never tried the Produnova — a vault similar to the Yurchenko but with a front handspring and front tucks — she told the New Yorker: ‘I’m not trying to die.’
In October, Simone became the most decorated gymnast ever after she won her 24th medal on the beam at the world championships.
She and Belarusian men’s gymnast Vitaly Scherbo were tied with 23 medals before she broke the record. Less than two hours later, she took home her 25th medal.
Of her 24 career world medals, 18 are gold, against 12 of 23 for Vitaly.
Simone hasn’t confirmed whether she’ll continue to compete after next year’s Olympics, so this may have been her last world championships.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Erica Tempesta