11 Female Gymnasts With Skills Named After Them
The 2016 Rio Olympics are almost upon us, and one of the most anticipated sports, the women's gymnastics competition, kicks off on Sunday. Some gymnasts will be performing tried and true moves; others might be throwing new skills that will one day bear their names.
To get a skill named after her, a gymnast must perform it at a World Championship or Olympics; each skill is rated on a scale from A (easiest) to I (hardest—at least currently). We've gathered a few of the skills named after some of the sport's brightest stars below.
1. OLGA KORBUT // BALANCE BEAM
Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut first performed this move—a backward somersault that ends with the gymnast straddling the beam—in the 1972 Olympics. You can see the skill at the 40-second mark in the video above. Korbut had another skill called the Korbut Flip, which was performed on the uneven bars; it was eventually banned because, as you’ll see, it was insane.
2. SIMONE BILES // FLOOR EXERCISE
American gymnast Simone Biles first performed this move—a double layout with a 180-degree turn at the end—in 2013. That half-turn means she lands blind (she can't see the ground when she lands), which increases the skill’s difficulty. You might spot this pass when Biles takes her turn on the floor in Rio.
3. PAULINE SCHAEFER // BALANCE BEAM
A regular sideways tucked salto (or flip in which your hands don't touch the ground) would not do for German gymnast Pauline Schaefer, who added a half twist to create her eponymous move in 2013 (you can see it at the 44-second mark in the video above); the skill was completed at the World Championships and added to the Code of Points the following year. You'll likely see it as part of Schaefer's beam routine in Rio.
4. ELISE RAY // UNEVEN BARS
Ray, an American gymnast who competed at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000, actually has three uneven bars skills named after her. By far the most difficult is her dismount, a double layout with two full twists that earned a G rating.
5. SIMONA AMANAR // VAULT
This skill, which Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar performed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, is a Yurchenko-style vault (a family of skills named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko). This means that it starts with a round-off onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the horse; Amanar broke the mold when she added a backward salto with two-and-a-half twists in the laid-out position. The vault is so difficult that, according to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), “it carries a 6.3 point difficulty score, half a point higher than most other vaults in the code of points.” You might see Biles perform this vault in Rio.
6. BETTY OKINO // BALANCE BEAM
“A triple turn isn’t so hard,” you think. Well, try doing it on one leg on a 4-inch-wide balance beam, as American gymnast Betty Okino did at the 1991 World Championships, and you’ll be singing a different tune.
This isn't the only move Okino has named after her; there's also an uneven bars skill that bears her name.
7. MARISA DICK // BALANCE BEAM
The balance beam mount named for Marisa Dick, a gymnast for Trinidad and Tobago, with a diagonal approach, followed by a “change leg leap to free cross split sit,” according to FIG. Basically: Jumping on the beam and landing in a clean split. Dick will likely be performing the C-rated skill named after her in Rio.
8. CHENG FEI // VAULT
Another Yurchenko-style vault, this skill named for Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei—a three-time world champion in the event—incorporates a half-turn into the back handspring, then continues with a forward, laid-out salto with one and a half turns.
9. SILVIA HINDORFF // UNEVEN BARS
Hindorff, an East German gymnast, first performed this skill in the 1978 World Championships. It starts with the gymnast in a handstand on the high bar; she then performs a hip circle before releasing the bar; she flies over it in a straddle position before catching the bar again (this part of the move is either called a reverse hecht or a Tkatchev, named for Soviet gymnast Alexander Vasilyevich Tkachyov, who was the first to perform it in competition). You can see Dominique Dawes perform the E-rated skill at the 14-second mark in the video above.
10. BRENNA DOWELL // FLOOR EXERCISE
This move—a forward double pike somersault—is named for American gymnast Brenna Dowell, who first performed it in 2015. You can see her nail the skill, which has an F rating, at the 50-second mark in the video above.
11. VICTORIA MOORS // FLOOR EXERCISE
The only skill in the Code of Points with an I rating (in fact, FIG had to create the I rating for the skill), the Moors is a backward double-twisting double layout. Moors also has an uneven bars dismount named after her.