ANAHEIM, Calif.—Jordan Chiles is a 16-year-old gymnast from Washington that you’ve probably never heard of. She was too young to vie for a spot on last year’s Olympic team so this year is her first time competing at the national championships in the senior ranks. And when she was competing on balance beam on night two of the competition, she found herself off on a wolf turn. (Don’t ask why it’s called that. It just is.) During this skill, the gymnast is supposed to keep her hips low to the beam. But Chiles was off balance and rather than fall off the beam like any mere mortal, she decided to do a triple spin up and out of her mistake. Chiles became a true hero tonight.
She also earned her best score of the season on beam—14.2—which allowed her to edge Riley McCusker for second place in the all-around competition.
In the mixed zone after the competition was over, the first question Chiles was asked was about her improvised spin.
“I was kind of crooked at the beginning so I didn’t want to fall so I stood up and then I realized I kept turning,” she said. “After a while, I didn’t realize I was still turning so I told myself, ‘Why am I still turning?’ so I opened up.” Chiles said that her coaches informed her after her routine that she went around four times total—once on the bottom in the crouch and three times up top.
Here it is from a different angle.
(Who are these robots sitting alongside the beam watching this incredible save and not reacting?)
Here’s Chiles’s complete beam routine if you want to watch her heroics in the proper context.