Simone Biles dazzles in training with new skills — Thoughts from Jessica O’Beirne of GymCastic

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Dec. 23, 2023

Happy Gymnastics Saturday! This is my last column of the year! I’ll be back in January, along with the rest of the team here at The IX. 

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(Editor’s note: this is the last Gymnastics Saturday of 2023. The IX is off next week, and Gymnastics Saturday will return on Jan. 6, 2024.)

In the meantime, please watch this video of Simone Biles competing absolutely wild skills in training on repeat while you enjoy your rest and respite. 

The two things here that stood out most to me were the full-twisting Yurchenko double tuck vault and the Schaefer — the Schaefer! — on beam. That’s the skill named for German gymnast Pauline Schaefer that looks like it’s being performed on an entirely different plane than the beam. It’s a side somi ½, but that name really doesn’t do it justice. 

She also does a Shang on bars. Shang! On! Bars! Let me never hear anyone say it’s her “weak” event again.

I hope we see some of these in competition, but it’s honestly sometimes cooler to see this stuff in training and think about how this is what gymnasts do on their vacations. 

Peace out, 2023. 

Other gym news

The Balance Beam Situation brings us two more NCAA team previews: LSU and Utah.

The Gymternet has a comprehensive list of gymnasts who will turn senior in 2024 and thus will be eligible to compete at the Paris Olympics. 

College Gym News has a piece on how to choose an NCAA team to follow if you’re a mainstream sports fan. You can also catch up on liveblogs from preseason intrasquads, including UCLA, Utah, Auburn, LSU and Arizona State.  

Vanderbilt University in Nashville will host a meet on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 15). All six teams competing have Black head coaches: Fisk, Talladega, Brown, Iowa State, Rutgers and William & Mary. 

UCLA’s Paige Anastasi interviews teammate Selena Harris about the upcoming season:

Check out a trailer for the upcoming Becky Downie documentary, filmed by Deanna Hong:

The (final, I guess — sniff, sniff) Pac-12 watch lists are out! 

The EAGL conference pre-season poll is out! 

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Five at The IX: Jessica O’Beirne of GymCastic

Who better to give us the gymnastics year in review in a series of hot takes than Jessica O’Beirne, founder and host of “the number-one gymnastics podcast in the galaxy,” GymCastic? The show just did its own year-in-review episode, and I reached out to O’Beirne to see if she’d be willing to provide us with a distilled version. She obliged! (She also took the fastest-interview-ever title away from Natalie Wojcik. Sorry, Natalie.) This interview has been edited for clarity.

Top 3 new skills in 2023?


  • The Yurchenko full-in from Simone Biles
  • Suni Lee’s full-twisting secret uneven bars release
  • Jake “Air Pirate” Jarman’s 4.5 twisting layout

Top 3 transfers in college gym in 2023?


  • Sav Schoenherr to LSU
  • Nya Reed to UCLA
  • lka Juk to Iowa

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Top 3 best gymnastics moments you saw live in 2023?


  • The crowd reaction to Biles at Classic. First time I decided to start bringing earplugs to meets. 
  • Romania qualifying as a team to the Olympics again with phoenixes on its gymnasts’ leos
  • Lee running to [Team USA physician] Dr. Marcia Faustin after she was able to compete again [at Nationals]

Top 3 favorite podcast moments in 2023?


  • Eythora [Thorsdottir of the Netherlands, at Worlds] telling the story of “shitting her pants” during a meet
  • Heath Thorpe, the Australian all-around champion, requesting an interview with us at Worlds when he was there working as media after being left off the Australian team
  • [Oklahoma head coach] K.J. Kindler holding up a piece of paper [at NCAAs] with a quote from The Balance Beam Situation saying that what was motivated the team to win

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Lela Moore