Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson discusses her favourite gymnastics skills.
After thinking for a long time, I have finally compiled a list of my top 10 favorite skills to watch in gymnastics routines. (It was very hard to narrow down my list to just 10! 🙂
I don’t think I dislike any particular skill. Most of the time, I watch a routine and don’t really have a big reaction to any move. But once in a while, a gymnast does something extra special and it makes me take notice. I tend to watch certain skills over and over again to see exactly how they’re done!
Handspring-rudi: I like this vault so much I wrote an article about it for Full Twist earlier this year. (I wrote that the rudi should have a higher start value than 6.2.) It is a very uncommon skill. It’s refreshing when someone tries to make their vault different from the widespread Yurchenko-style. I think everyone would agree that the recently retired Alicia Sacramone was one of the best at this vault.
1 ½ twisting Yurchenko: The double-twisting and 2 ½ twisting versions of this vault may be more exciting, but I just adore watching this one. It used to be more common in the 1990s and early 2000s and has disappeared mainly due to its low difficulty value. 2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin performed it in her all-around performance, when she stuck it with perfect form. It looks hard and, when done correctly, it looks lovely.
Gienger: This is the kind of uneven bars release that leaves you thinking How in the world did they just do that? A half-turn in mid-air makes it different than many standard release moves, and when it’s done without a separation of the legs, you can’t help but be amazed. Unfortunately, this skill is rarely completed to its full potential. Shawn Johnson did a great job on hers and was probably one of the best ever at it.
Pak Salto: It’s interesting, it’s difficult, it’s breathtaking—the Pak salto has it all. It’s a common release move, seen in many routines, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. And—always a bonus—the Pak salto looks even better when in slow motion replay on TV!
Ono Turn: The Ono turn is a one-armed full spin on the high uneven bar. It’s highly difficult! Beth Tweddle did this spectacular pirouette in her 2012 Olympic bronze bar routine. I admire how much arm strength it must require to complete.
Standing full: A full-twisting back flip on the balance beam is incredibly risky, but it’s becoming a more commonplace skill now. We have seen many perform it in the past few years, but perhaps none better than Gabby Douglas. While some gymnasts complete the twist with their head almost touching their feet, Gabby always manages to stay upright—certainly what the judges are looking for!
Onodi: This just might be my favorite skill of all. It’s a rarity when an element combines both artistry and acrobatics, but this flic-flac with a half twist gets the job done. The Onodi is also becoming more widespread, especially in the Russian program. You have to be flexible and fast to pull it off, which is why Katelyn Ohashi, Catalina Ponor, and Anastasia Grishina have had such luck with it—they’re very flexible gymnasts!
Barani: Now here is a balance beam trick you don’t see every day. A front tuck with a half twist—wow! Sui Lu, the 2012 Olympic beam runner-up, completes it with effortless elegance.
Double layout: Too many floor routines nowadays include a double pike tumbling pass. Few gymnasts, however, perform their exercises with a double layout. It’s true that the layout is harder than the pike, but only by 0.2. When a gymnast takes the effort to do the harder pass, it shows in the beauty of the skill. Catalina Ponor mounted with a perfectly stuck double layout in her 2012 Olympic silver-winning floor routine.
Arabian double front: This is a gorgeous skill when done correctly, with lots of height and power. A stag leap tacked onto the ending makes it even better. Aliya Mustafina, Kyla Ross and Lauren Mitchell have made it look easy (including the leap)!
If anyone has their own favorite skills, whether to watch or compete, please leave a comment below!
Image via Getty Images.