The Most Difficult Bars Routines in the World

A D-score analysis of the most difficult bars routines of 2019 so far. Just because.

Routines are arranged in descending order of D score, and I haven’t included elements like casts and giants in the D-score breakdowns because snoozer.

Nina Derwael – 6.7

NINA DERWAEL
Nabieva (G)
Downie (F)
Derwael-Fenton (F) + Ezhova (D) + Stalder Shaposhnikova (D) + Pak (D) + Van Leeuwen (E) = 0.6 CV
Toe-on full (D) + Full-twisting double tuck (D) = 0.1 CV
GFFEDDDD = 4.0
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.7
D-SCORE = 6.7

In this group of highest D routines, Derwael is performing the most difficult individual elements (the only one getting 4.0 for her skills) and is in a tie the second-most connection bonus at 0.7—so kind of a recipe for the lead in the D-score race. She’s the only person in the world right now performing 3 elements rated F or higher on bars.

The only category in which Nina doesn’t reign is in most connection value gained on bars, a title that belongs to Fan Yilin.

Fan Yilin – 6.5

FAN YILIN
Piked-Stalder 1/1 (E) + Komova II (E) + Pak (D) + Stalder Shaposhnikova (D) + Gienger piked (D) = 0.6 CV
Piked-Stalder 1/2 (D) + Healy (E) + Ling (E) + Fan (D) = 0.3 CV
EEEEDDDD = 3.6
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.9
D-SCORE = 6.5

What’s remarkable about this routine is that Fan is done in just two sequences of skills, requiring just two cast handstands—the lowest of any routine here. Most have four different sequences of elements, meaning four cast handstands and that many more opportunities for deductions.

Fan has no skill in her routine rated higher than E, but she gets up to second-highest in difficulty through connection bonus, which at 9 tenths is clearly the best of the bunch. The only downside is that she has to add in an extra element (9 elements of D or higher in this routine when only 8 can count) to get that CV total, which is another opportunity for deductions.

Sunisa Lee – 6.4

SUNISA LEE
Nabieva (G) + Pak (D) + Maloney (D) + Bhardwaj (E) = 0.5 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Giant 1.5 (D) + Piked jaeger (E) = 0.1 CV
Full-twisting double tuck (D)
GEEEDDDD = 3.8
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.4

With Derwael, Sunisa Lee is the only other one performing a G element. That allows Lee to get up to this 6.4 plateau despite having the lowest CV of all the gymnasts reaching 6.4, with 6 tenths in bonus. The rest are at 7 or higher. Lee is also the only one in this 6.4 group performing an isolated dismount with giants beforehand. For now.

Elisabeth Seitz – 6.4

ELISABETH SEITZ
Maloney (D) + Ricna (E) = 0.2 CV
Piked Jaeger (E)
Downie (F) + Pak (D) + Van Leeuwen (E) = 0.4 CV
Toe-on full (D) + Full-twisting double tuck (D) – 0.1 CV
FEEEDDDD = 3.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.7
D-SCORE = 6.4

No one’s composition is exactly identical here, but they all have the same general idea (except for Fan). The same basic style and type of skills and Van Leeuwens, just in different orders. What’s interesting about Seitz’s routine formulation is that she saves the most highly valued portion of her routine—the most difficult single element and most important CV sequence—for the second half of her routine when most gymnasts try to get that out of the way at the beginning.

Anastasia Agafanova – 6.4

ANASTASIA AGAFONOVA
Komova II (E) + Clear-hip full (D) + Piked Tkatchev (E) + Pak (D) = 0.5 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Inbar 1/2 (D) + Piked jaeger (E) = 0.1 CV
Inbar full (E) + Full-twisting double tuck (D) = 0.1 CV
EEEEEDDD = 3.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.7
D-SCORE = 6.4

Even Derwael and Fan are counting four D elements as part of their score, but Agafonova needs to count just three D elements in this rotuine. It allows her to keep up with them while lacking any elements rather higher than E and with far more cast handstands and filler than a Fan-type routine. (She didn’t have to perform the orphan cast 1/2 in this particular set because of the fall, but that’s also in there.)

Anastasia Iliankova – 6.3

ANASTASIA ILIANKOVA
Shang (F)
Tweddle (F) + Ezhova (D) = 0.2 CV
Stalder Shaposhnikova (D) + Pak (D) + Van Leeuwen (E) = 0.3 CV
Toe-on full (D) + Full-twisting double tuck (D)  0.1 CV
FFEDDDDD = 3.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.3

Iliankova, Derwael, and Downie are the only athletes brave enough to put in at least two separate F+ releases in their routines. Iliankova, however, doesn’t have any individual sequence of elements gaining more than 0.3 in CV. All the 6.4+ athletes have at least a 0.4 sequence. So, assume Valentina is going to get that Ezhova connected to the Stalder Shap this year whatever it takes.

Becky Downie – 6.3

BECKY DOWNIE
Stalder full (D) + Maloney (D) + Hindorff (E) = 0.3 CV
Downie (F)
Tweddle (F) + Ezhova (D) = 0.2 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Full-twisting double tuck (D)
FFEEDDDD = 3.8
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.5
D-SCORE = 6.3

Downie’s current routine composition that she showed at European Games has a noticeably large number of cast handstands and unconnected skills for her, which means even with already one of the most difficult routines in the world, there’s room to upgrade without adding elements.

Carolann Heduit – 6.3

CAROLANN HEDUIT
Piked-Stalder full (E)
Komova II (E) + Ricna (E) = 0.2 CV
Piked-Stalder Tkatchev piked (F) + Pak (D) = 0.2 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Giant 1/2 (B) + Piked Jaeger (E)
Double front (D)
FEEEEEDD = 3.9
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.4
D-SCORE = 6.3

Heduit is second only to Nina Derwael in overall difficulty of elements with a 3.9—and just two D elements in that mix. No one else besides Heduit has 6 E+ skills in her routine.

Heduit has also connected the initial piked-Stalder full to the Komova II in previous compositions—and if she can connect the Pak to Van Leeuwen, the path exists for this to become one of the absolute most difficult routines in the world.

Claire Pontlevoy – 6.3

CLAIRE PONTLEVOY
Piked-Stalder full (E) + Komova II (E) + Ricna (E) + Pak (D) = 0.5 CV
Stalder Shaposhnikova 1/2 (E)
Piked-Stalder 1/2 (D) + Piked Jaeger (E) = 0.1 CV
Stalder 1/2 (C)
Giant 1/2 (B) + Double front (D)
EEEEEDDD = 3.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.3

You can tell that Pontlevoy and Heduit are teammates with those opening sequences—but with Pontlevoy connecting her piked-Stalder full into the Komova. Pontlevoy catches up to Heduit with that connection value because she doesn’t maintain the same difficulty of elements through the second half of her routine, yet still matches that 6.3 D score.

Alyona Shchennikova – 6.2

ALYONA SHCHENNIKOVA
Piked-Stalder full (E) + Komova II (E) + Tkatchev (D) = 0.3 CV
Ricna (E) + Pak (D) + Stalder Shaposhnikova 1/2 (E) = 0.4 CV
Stalder 1/2 (C) + Front giant 1/2 (B)
Double layout (D)
EEEEDDDC = 3.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.7
D-SCORE = 6.2

May that Achilles rest in peace. Shchennikova’s bars had one of the most difficult openings of anyone—on track to contend with the very top D scores with those first two sequences—but in this 6.2 routine, she does have to count a C element (and still gets to 6.2), which is fairly unusual for routines with such high D scores.

Ana Padurariu – 6.2

ANA PADURARIU
Piked-Stalder 1/2 (D) + Piked Jaeger (E) = 0.1 CV
Piked-Stalder Tkatchev piked (F) + Pak (D) = 0.2 CV
Komova II (E) + Bail (D) + Stalder full (D) = 0.3 CV
Stalder shoot (B)
Full-twisting double tuck (D)
FEEDDDDD = 3.6
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.2

Padurariu is delivering some 2010 realness in her routine with a bail handstand and a shoot to high bar, which is quite unusual for contemporary routines of high difficulty. You can’t typically get the needed connection bonus out of a bail, but she does so by performing a Komova into it and a pirouette out—even if the Stalder shoot afterward has to serve as a non-counting deduction trap.

Georgia-Mae Fenton – 6.2

GEORGIA-MAE FENTON
Derwael-Fenton (F) + Ezhova (D) + Maloney (D) + Clear hip (C) + Ricna (E) + Bail (D) + Stalder 1/2 (C) = 0.5 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Toe-on full (D) + Full-twisting double tuck (D) = 0.1 CV
FEEDDDDD = 3.6
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.2

Fenton is boasting the largest combo we have on bars right now—7 skills and going for 8 if she can connect that Van Leeuwen. If successful, that would present a routine with Fan-level efficiency in that she’d have just two sequences of elements and minimal cast handstands. The difference is that not all of the skills in Fenton’s mega-combo are countable, and she has to perform 10 skills of C or higher in this routine, which is a lot. This would be a killer 2008-code routine, is what I’m saying. It even has the bail.

Kelly Simm – 6.2

KELLY SIMM
Front giant 1/2 (B)
Toe-on full (D) + Downie (F) = 0.1 CV
Ricna (E) + Pak (D) + 0.2 CV
Stalder Shaposhnikova (D) + Bhardwaj (E) = 0.2 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Double layout (D)
FEEEDDDD = 3.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.5
D-SCORE = 6.2

Like Heduit’s, Simm’s routine is noteworthy for being able to get up there in difficulty despite not having any combinations of more that two elements, which most gymnasts need to get this high. It means there are a lot of cast handstands in here, but because she does have three separate valuable two-element combos, she’s still able to get up there to a 6.2.

Rebeca Andrade – 6.2

REBECA ANDRADE
Maloney (D) + Stalder full (D) = 0.2 CV
Piked Tkatchev (E) + Pak (D) + Van Leeuwen (E) = 0.4 CV
Giant 1/2 (B) + Piked Jaeger (E)
Toe-on full (D) + Full-twisting double tuck (D) = 0.1 CV
EEEDDDDD = 3.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.7
D-SCORE = 6.2

For those who don’t have piked-Stalder skills and aren’t just throwing out Nabieva’s to their heart’s content, Andrade’s composition in this routine is basically the dream. She’s not performing anything more difficult than E, but she has enough connection value to get up into the 6s for what would ostensibly be considered a “power bars routine,” although she’s better than the dismissive connotations that expression carries.

Simone Biles – 6.2

SIMONE BILES
Weiler 1/2 (D) + Maloney (D) + Tkatchev (D) = 0.3 CV
Toe-on full (D) + Tkatchev piked (E) + Pak (D) = 0.3 CV
Van Leeuwen (E)
Double-twisting double tuck (F)
FEEDDDDD = 3.6
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.6
D-SCORE = 6.2

So, when are we making Simone connect the Pak to Van Leeuwen for 6.4?

 

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32 thoughts on “The Most Difficult Bars Routines in the World”

  1. Incredible post! It really shows how diverse bars routines can be and how even mote diverse they could with a few adjustments in the code. If they give gymnasts a way to transition out of the bail for CV, routines will truly glow up.

    Too bad a post like this about beam and floor wouldn’t be as good because beam is a credit bloodbath and floor is at an all-time gymnastics low.

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      1. Inbar 1/1 + Layout Geinger + Pak + Van leeuwen
        Inbar 1/2 + Healy + Ono + Fan

        EEDE 0.5 cv
        DEED 0.3 cv

        6.5 SV, 8 D+ skills instead of 9, and less E deductions for the deduction trap of a between bars Geinger.

        Inbar 1/1 + Komova 2 + Free hip 1/2 + Layout Geinger + Pak + Van leeuwen
        Inbar 1/2 + Healy + Ono + Fan

        EECEDE
        DEED

        6.8 SV

        this looks bad because it’s 10 skills but I think she could do this quite well.

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  2. Wow Nina is gunning for that Olympic gold!

    I’d say she’s a frontrunner with all that difficulty, but Fan, Sunisa, and a bunch of other Russians and Chinese are in contention as well, so it will be exciting to see!

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    1. Yep. She shouldve made that final in Rio. Now she has the reputation necessary for olympic bars final.

      That simone gif though. I cant. Lololol

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      1. A Hernandez is a bail with an additional half turn in handstand after grasping the bar. It’s only a D but has the benefit of getting the gymnast facing the right direction for a Shaposh element.

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      2. Oh, but that’s actually called a Retiz, and it was removed from the code. Spencer did that post about it some months ago lol

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    1. But is that even a valid skill anymore? They added it to the code at one point but then it was deleted in the next revision without any notice…

      It’s a great skill to get facing the correct way.

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      1. It is under the same number actually. But how hard is it to do? I would really love to see Sophie Scheder doing it! It would fit in her current routine so much! She would gain cv and get back into this kind of list…

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      2. Oh, I just said it was removed from the code (taking Spencer’s word for it) but I went to checked since you said it wad there and in fact a provision for a 1/2 turn is still there. Hm. Why doesn’t anyone do it then? It’s not like people are that worried about deductions considering everything else they do lol.

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  3. Am I the only one that thinks Derwael’s new routine construction is really hideous? Three back-to-back-to-back Tkatchev variations…

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      1. Thinking about this even more, the back to back Tkachev variations would be cool if they were all connected (or some were connected) but all the kip cast handstands in between really ruin it for me too.

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    1. Totally agree. Nina is my everything and my favourite this quad, but that second Tkatchev needs to go. Her routine would still be a 6.5, but she gets those two tenths in execution just from not having to do an additional cast.

      If she wants to increase her D further, I think she should get a harder dismount. She has the talent to upgrade there without increasing deductions.

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    2. I don’t mind a bunch of tkachevs (unpopular opinion but I enjoyed Laurie’s last quad) but not right at the top of the routine like that. I do have a bit of beef with tkachev half that aren’t actually half twists at all but just caught with crossed hands so there’s a jerk as the gymnast’s body wrenches through the catch. He Kexin and Beth Tweddle’s were the only ones I really liked.

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  4. I will forever be a China and Russia stan for uneven bars. They generally have the most beautiful extension, toe point and swing.
    HOWEVER since a few weeks I am rooting for Sunisa Lee for international golds for 2019 and 2020. She has the most difficult routines AND stunning form, a dream to watch.
    Ana Padurariu’s gymnastics also have this beautiful Komova-esque je-ne-sais-quoi.

    Nina Derwael and both featured French girls though… UGHHH the flexed feet. Don’t like.
    Didn’t Mélanie DJDS post some crazy hard UB combos in training on social media? I hope she upgrades, she is always beautiful to watch.
    Also, Angelina Melnikova is getter better and better on UB, and I am also a Kim Bui fan. But they will have to upgrade if they want to get to an UB final with the current crazy depth of the field.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the giant swing where they arch and bend their legs over the low bar to build up momentum (instead of piking to not hit the low bar). I believe Khorkina started it and it’s not only Russians that do it – Madison Kocian does too. It’s really ugly if you ask me and I don’t know why the bent legs aren’t a deduction.

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      2. Oh, I never paid attention to the fact that it was a national trait. Thank you for enlightening me.
        I thought Khorkina straddled her legs to avoid hitting the bar.

        But isn’t it about the average height of gymnasts from a given country, and not a matter of technique?
        Fan Yilin is 1,48 meters tall, which is very short, whereas I couldn’t find any info about Ilyankova but she looks at least 1,6 meters tall. Aliya is 1,61 and Komova is 1,62 while Ilyankova looks taller to me.

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  5. Rebeca Andrade hasnt made any event finals At Worlds and that’s just wrong. She is the complete package. Great on all events. Powerful tumbling, but flexible and floaty, artistic. Ugh. Those damn acl tear istg.

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  6. The diversity on bars this quad is such a breath of fresh air compared to the last quad. Last quad was pirouette, shap, pak, shap half, pirouette, jaeger, pirouette, dismount.

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  7. I honestly don’t think there are any locks for the British Olympic team at the moment apart possibly from Little Downie if she stays fit, and some big names are going to lose out. We have great depth on bars (my daughter used to train at Kelly Simm’s club, and five/six years ago she really wasn’t a bar worker so to see her in this list is impressive) but Fenton is unreliable on this routine, so selection is impossible to predict.

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