Natalia Yurchenko (URS)

For a thorough listing of Natalia Yurchenko's competitive results, please visit Gymn Forum's Yurchenko biography.

Photo by Tom Theobald. Check out
Tom's photography site!

Yurchenko was one of the Soviet's great stars from the early-to-mid 1980s. Her success peaked in the early 1980s when she tied (with fellow Soviet Olga Bicherova) for the 1982 World Cup title and exclusively won the gold at the 1983 World Championship crown. Many fans expected her to win multiple event final titles at these Championships, but she unfortunately injured herself on vault.

Most gymnastic fans are familiar with Yurchenko's name, even if they have not seen tapes of her performances. Indeed, Yurchenko introduced the very popular round-off entry approach to vault. These vaults are now known as the Yurchenko style (or family) of vaults.

Interestingly, Yurchenko's coach, Vladislav Rastorestkiy (sometimes spelled Rostorotsky or Rastorotskii), was the one who perfected the vaulting technique of setting the springboard at the correct distance (gymnasts head resting on the "legs" of the horse, then stretch out straight-going toward where you run from and set the board under her heals and this is the correct distance). Rastorestkiy also coached former Soviet greats Ludmilla Touricheva and Natalia Shaposhnikova.

Photo by Tom Theobald. Check out
Tom's photography site!

Yurchenko retired from gymnastics in 1986, eventually becoming the leader of a dance group in Moscow. Yurchenko did not give up gymnastics entirely however: In 1991 she came to the USA to compete in the World Professional Gymnastics Championships (a picture of Yurchenko from this meet, along with a terrific tribute to Yurchenko, can be found at the Tribute to the 80s web site).

Natalia Yurchenko in 1999
Photo courtesy of Sandy Kost-Sterner of the Pottsville Gymnastics
Training Center

In mid-1999 Yurchenko and her daughter Olga (born 1989) immigrated to the United States, where she accepted a position as head coach of the Lehigh Valley Sports Academy girl's team. (Husband Igor Sklyarov, a former Olympic soccer player turned business man later joined them in the USA).

Yurchenko spent the next three years coaching at Parkettes, in Allentown, PA. In 2012 she moved to Chicago, where is she is now head coach of the USAG girls team at Lakeshore Academy of Artistic Gymnastics.

In 2013, Yurchenko unveiled her official website,


Natalia Yurchenko coaching at Parkettes, 2009.
Photo courtesy of Jen Pace

. This page was created on March 22, 1999 and last updated on July 30, 2013.