The Rio Olympics Might Feature This Elusive Move

by Chris Tognotti

If you've been following the USA women's gymnastics team at the Rio Olympics, then you've been getting a unprecedented show. The team ― who've dubbed themselves the "Final Five," as the team size will shrink to just four by the 2020 summer games in Tokyo ― is widely regarded as the greatest of all time, having dominated the rest of the world in the team all-around competition, and featuring individual competitors with a host of breathtaking skills. But there's one elusive move you might be wondering about: what is a triple twisting yurchenko?

There's a chance you've heard the name before, but if you're watching Olympic gymnastics, you haven't seen a woman pull one off before. It's a high-stakes, no-margin-for-error twisting flip off the vault ― the next evolution of the double twisting yurchenko ― and while it's been seen before in men's gymnastics, a woman's never yet successfully executed one in competition. The double twisting yurchenko is a longtime staple of vault gymnastics, but the triple is another beast altogether.

But there are reasons to think the status quo may change before the Rio games are done, thanks either to Simone Biles ― widely considered the strongest overall gymnast in the world ― or North Korean gymnast and ace vaulter Hong Un Jong, whose near-miss triple twisting yurchenko early in the games has sparked major buzz that she may try to pull it off again in the vault final.

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Biles and Un Jong will both be competing in the final, having finished first and second respectively in the qualifiers, so both of them will have one more opportunity to pull off that most elusive of moves. Of course, it's entirely possible neither of them will try it ― Biles is such a dominant and consistent gymnast that she definitely doesn't need to execute a triple twisting yurchenko to win. But the vault is arguably her weakest area of the competition, and it's the one at which Jong Un most excels.

Simply put, if Jong Un attempts and completes one in the final ― she's apparently been working on it, although sadly, the video of her training attempt has been pulled down ― and Biles is unable to at least match it, she could be in trouble in her quest for a record fifth gymnastics gold medal in just one Olympics. In other words, you definitely won't want to miss it ― the finals will be taking place on Sunday afternoon.