After a two year hiatus, Simone Biles became the first woman to compete a Yurchenko double pike on vault internationally on Sunday in Antwerp, Belgium. This was Biles’ first international competition since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
For those not familiar with gymnastics, the mouthful that is a Yurchenko double pike consists of a round-off onto the springboard, into a back handspring onto the vault, into a double pike backflip off the table. Double back flips alone take incredible strength and height to safely and successfully execute, making the difficulty of this vault out of this world.
The “Biles II” was assigned a difficulty score of 6.4 points by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), four tenths more than any other vault.
Over the summer, USA Gymnastics scored the vault at a 6.4 for domestic meets, but FIG was not bound to that number, according to NBC Sports.
The 26-year-old four-time Olympic gold medalist now has five moves named after her. Gymnasts earn skills named after them when they are the first to perform them in major international competitions.
The vault is one of the most dangerous skills in women’s scoring code, according to NBC News. Since there is no possible bailout, it is likely for gymnasts to land on their head or neck. Biles has faced half-point deductions for her coach spotting her during three U.S. competitions over the summer.
Aside from the vault performed over the weekend, she also has one other vault, two floor exercise skills, and one on beam skill named after her.
When Biles first competed the vault for the first time in spring of 2021, it was given a preliminary score of 6.6, but she believed it should be given a 6.8 to separate it from the less difficult vaults according to NBC Sports.
The most difficult vault to be performed was last year at the world championships and was given a 5.6.
Biles did not complete the vault internationally after pulling out of the Tokyo Olympics due to the “twisties”, a spatial disorientation condition common in gymnastics.
During her career, Biles has earned 7 olympic medals (4 gold), 25 world medals (19 gold), and 7 U.S. all-around titles.
Biles finished the qualifying session in first place with an all-around score of 58.865. The U.S. as a team, including world all-around silver medalist Shilese Jones, 2022 world champions Skye Blakely and Leanne Wong, Joscelyn Roberson and alternate athlete Kayla DiCello, finished with a qualifying score of 171.395.
Biles and her team are favored to win gold in the women’s team final on Wednesday.
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