The Hardest Skills in Women's Gymnastics

01
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Vault: Amanar (Yurchenko 2.5)

McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, California, in action in the Vault during the Senior Women Competition at The 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championships, USA Gymnastics' National Championships at the XL, Centre, Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Amanar vault, named after Romanian Olympic champion Simona Amanar, is a Yurchenko vault with 2.5 twists off the vaulting table.

Breaking it down: The gymnast does a round-off onto the springboard, a back handspring onto the table, and then a layout back flip with 2.5 twists after pushing off the table. She lands forward, facing away from the table.

Who does It? The Americans have perfected this vault well beyond any other country. Every member of the 2012 Olympic team was capable of performing the vault, with McKayla Maroney doing the highest version of it. Simone Biles, the 2013 world all-around champ, and Elizabeth Price, a 2012 Olympic alternate, also can do the Amanar with ease.

Watch it: McKayla Maroney does an Amanar en route to her second world title on vault, in 2013.

02
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Vault: Cheng (Round-Off Half-On Rudi Off)

Fei Cheng of China performs on the Vault in the the womens individual finals during the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at the NRGi Arena on October 20, 2006 in Arhus, Denmark. (Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Named after Chinese vault goddess Cheng Fei, this vault is a Yurchenko half-on to a front rudi off the table.

Breaking it down: The gymnast does a round-off onto the board, and then a half turn onto the table, so she is facing the table. She then pushes off and does a layout front flip with 1.5 twists (called a rudi). She lands facing the table.

Who does it? Very few female gymnasts besides Cheng herself. North Korean sisters Hong Su Jong and Hong Un Jong have both performed it, as has Brazil's Jade Barbosa. Americans Mykayla Skinner and Vanessa Zamarripa have both done it as well, though not in international competition. More gymnasts have attempted it in the tucked position, pioneered (and named after) Russian Olympic champ Svetlana Khorkina.

Watch it: Cheng Fei vaults to her first of three world titles using her namesake vault. It should be noted that Cheng did both the Amanar and the Cheng vaults -- she was just that awesome.

03
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Bars: The Def (Full-Twisting Gienger)

Emilie Le Pennec competes on the Uneven Bars at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

 The Def is a Gienger release move with an extra full twist.

Breaking it down: The gymnast swings up and releases the bar. She then performs a back flip with a 1.5 twist and catches the bar again, facing the opposite direction from which she released.

Who does it? French gymnast Emilie Le Pennec is perhaps the most famous example, since she performed it when she won uneven bars gold at the 2004 Olympics.

Watch it: Emilie Le Pennec does a Def (at :30) to win Olympic gold. Though she breaks form when she catches the bar, she does the skill from a hop full, which makes it even more difficult.

04
of 07

Bars: Full-Twisting Shaposhnikova

Olympics: Day 4 Aliya Mustafina of Russia performing her routine on the Horizontal bar during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Breaking it down: The gymnast starts on the low bar, facing away from the high bar. She circles around the low bar to do a traditional Shaposhnikova release but performs a full twist before catching the high bar.

Who does it? Aliya Mustafina, the 2012 Olympic champion on uneven bars, did it at the 2013 worlds, and Elisabeth Seitz of Germany has performed it as well.

Watch it: Elisabeth Seitz does a full-twisting Shaposhnikova in warmups at the German national championships. Seitz can also do a Def release.

05
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Beam: Back Full

Day 2 Gabrielle Douglas #392 of the United States performing her routine on the Balance Beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Qualification round at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Breaking it down: The gymnast does a back flip with a full twist, in the tucked or -- if she's really good -- layout position. Gymnasts have done tucked fulls from a stand, or as part of a tumbling pass (for example, a back handspring into a back full.)

Who does it? Full-twisting back flips have been done on beam for about two decades, but they're still considered very difficult, especially when done laid out. Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic all-around champ, did a seemingly effortless standing full at the London Games. Romanian Oana Ban performed one of the best layout fulls.

Watch it: Gabby Douglas does a back full on beam
Oana Ban competes a layout full on beam

Sidenote: We also named the layout back full as one of the coolest gymnastics skills.

06
of 07

Floor: Moors (Double-Twisting Double Layout)

Victoria Moors of Canada performs the Artistic Floor exercise during the Women's Final at the O2 Arena London on January 13, 2012. (Paul Cunningham/Corbis via Getty Images)

This skill, named for Canadian Olympian Victoria Moors, is almost unthinkable.

Breaking it down: The gymnast flips backward, doing two flips and two complete twists in the layout position.

Who does it? Victoria Moors had the skill named after her after performing it at the 2013 worlds. American Mykayla Skinner has also done it in US national competition.

Watch it: Victoria Moors does a double-twisting double layout at the 2013 worlds. Though she has weak form on the skill, she had some serious guts to even go for it.

07
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Floor: Dos Santos (Arabian Double Pike / Double Layout)

Daiane dos Santos of Brazil competes on the floor during the 23rd International Gymnastics DTB Cup at the Schleyer-Hall on October 22, 2005 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Named for Brazilian powerhouse Daiane Dos Santos, these two skills are a variation on the Arabian double front.

Breaking it down: The gymnast starts backward and does a half twist into a double front, in either the piked or layout position. She lands facing in the opposite direction.

Who does it? The original Dos Santos (in piked position) has been done by many top gymnasts, including 2009 world champion on floor Beth Tweddle, and 2012 Olympic floor champ Aly Raisman. The Dos Santos II (in layout position) has been rarely attempted, even by Dos Santos herself.

Watch it: Aly Raisman does an Arabian double pike in her second pass at the 2012 American Cup.

Daiane Dos Santos attempts the Arabian double layout (Dos Santos II) at the 2004 Olympics.

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Deusen, Amy Van. "The Hardest Skills in Women's Gymnastics." ThoughtCo, Apr. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/hardest-skills-in-womens-gymnastics-1714810. Deusen, Amy Van. (2017, April 9). The Hardest Skills in Women's Gymnastics. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/hardest-skills-in-womens-gymnastics-1714810 Deusen, Amy Van. "The Hardest Skills in Women's Gymnastics." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/hardest-skills-in-womens-gymnastics-1714810 (accessed September 21, 2017).