The highest start value in the event is on the line if Simone Biles becomes the first woman to accomplish a Yurchenko double pike vault internationally at next month’s global championships.
An official from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) confirmed on Thursday what USA Gymnastics official Chellsie Memmel and Biles reported earlier this week, that the vault was given a difficulty value of 6.4 points.
This vault has an extra four tenths above the next highest one. Both the Produnova and Biles’s previous eponymous vault are 6.0s, making them the greatest value in the world at the moment. The highest-scoring vault from the 2016 World Championships was a 5.6.
Memmel and Biles were taken aback by the FIG’s 6.4 for the Yurchenko double pike, which they believed should have been valued in the 6s.
During the Olympic cycle in which Biles first performed the Yurchenko double pike at home in the spring of 2021, the FIG assigned it a provisional (but not final) rating of 6.6. This was at a time when vaults were often assigned greater values than they are now. Biles thought at the time that it deserved a 6.8 to set it out from the scores of other, less challenging vaults.
After withdrawing from the Olympics owing to twisties, she did not return to the vault in 2021 (this was unrelated to her Yurchenko double pike, which also lacks in-air twists).
Many people assumed that the FIG’s old 6.6 would translate to a 6.2 in this cycle’s international points system because the value of other high-scoring vaults was reduced by four tenths.
The FIG was not obligated to accept USA Gymnastics’ August valuation of the vault (6.4) for use in domestic competitions.
At three different competitions in the United States this summer, Biles vaulted. Each time, one of her instructors noticed her, costing her 0.5 points since safety comes first. This exemplifies how risky it is to enter the vault.
Biles acknowledged that earlier events contributed to her pleased surprise at the FIG’s value of 6.4, but she did not elaborate.
After the FIG awarded her historic double-double dismount off the balancing beam with two less tenths in difficulty value than she had hoped for, she labeled the FIG’s valuation “bull——” in a social media post in 2019.
Biles claimed at the time that gymnasts were being dissuaded from trying the skill because its worth had been lowered, despite the fact that “they keep asking us to do more difficulty.”
With “the risk, the safety of the gymnasts, and the technical direction of the discipline” in mind, the FIG issued a statement explaining how it determined the difficulty ratings for certain aspects.
Biles knew she was in for more heartbreak when her team asked for a value of the Yurchenko double pike just before the world championships.
Because, as Biles put it on Wednesday, “we asked for stuff in the past and weren’t rewarded for it.” Therefore, the 6.4 on the vault completely startled us. That makes us really delighted, by the way.
Donatella Sacchi, president of the FIG women’s technical committee, responded to a question about how the committee decides whether or not to approve a new vault or element by email, explaining that it “evaluates each new vault or element based on the development of artistic gymnastics at the moment of submission, considering also the rules in place on all apparatus and some other reflections.”
Qualifying for the U.S. women’s team takes place on October 1, followed by the final on October 4, the all-around final on October 6, and the individual apparatus finals on October 7-8.
If a gymnast is the first to perform a new technique in a big international competition, that gymnast will have the talent named after them.
Two floor exercise skills (including the triple-double, the most valuable talent in the event), one beam dismount, and one vault are all named after Biles. The Yurchenko double pike would be the fifth most difficult move to execute in Antwerp.