There are loads of reasons for why gymnastics is such a fun sport to watch. Tough and seemingly impossible skills, high-flying tumbling and, let’s be honest, pretty leotards, are just a few. But aside from these reasons, nothing makes gymnastics more enjoyable to watch than when a gymnast performs with gorgeous artistry. These gymnasts truly feel their floor music as they’re performing, they look like ballerinas up on the beam, they perform unique elements to show off their flexibility, and their leaps and turns are not treated as requirements to be fulfilled in a routine.
At the World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow last month, we got to see a lot of beautiful gymnastics, but I’d argue that the Netherlands Women’s Gymnastics Team was a cut above the rest in terms of artistry. The team qualified in 8th place to secure a spot in the team final, not to mention securing a spot at the Olympic Games next year. The Netherlands also had two gymnasts qualify to beam finals - Sanne Wevers and Eythora Thorsdottir, with Wevers capturing the silver medal. Wevers’ sister, Lieke Wevers, qualified to floor finals.
It’s not surprising that it was on beam and floor that the Dutch women excelled, since these are two events where the gymnasts can show the most expression. Sanne Wevers won the silver medal in beam finals with unique acrobatic combinations and difficult spins. In a world of back handspring back layouts, Wevers instead performs an aerial cartwheel, leg raised and connected into another aerial cartwheel for her tumbling series. She also performs a full twisting back handspring - straight out of a switch leg leap, by the way. She dismounts with a gainer off the end of the beam - worth a D in difficulty, the same amount as a 2 ½ twist. Wevers particularly impresses on her dance elements, especially her spins - which she performs three of in her routine - a double L spin (named after her), a single L spin, and a double spin, which she connects into a split leap.
Watch her training beam at 2015 World Championships:
Wevers’ teammate, Thorsdottir, is also outstanding to watch on beam. While some people comment that certain gymnasts “tumble on the beam”, I’d say that Thorsdottir dances on the beam. Her rhythm is incredible, and every hand and foot placement is matched exactly to each move. Her sissone into aerial cartwheel into back swing down flows effortlessly, and she ends her journey across the beam with a lovely pose hanging off the apparatus - it’s photoshoot-worthy. Thorsdottir also performs all the right moves to show off her flexibility, including an Onodi, an illusion turn, a ring leap and a sheep jump.
Although she did not make floor finals, Thorsdottir’s floor routine is one worth watching as well. The entire routine is light and airy, and if you watch closely, she is on her toes throughout nearly the whole routine. Her routine is set to whimsical music, with choreography that looks like it came from a musical. She gains most of her difficulty points from her spins - which include a double L spin connected into another spin, a double spin connected into an illusion turn, a triple Y spin (Mustafina), and finally a triple spin at the end of her routine.
Thorsdottir’s teammate, Lieke Wevers, who qualified to floor finals, is also a pro at performing beautiful and difficult spins. She does four different spins in her routine, including a quadruple spin (Gomez). The ballet influence on Wevers routine is best seen at the beginning, when she rises to her toes in tune with her gorgeous and dramatic piano floor music.
Part of what makes the Netherlands’ gymnastics so beautiful is not just their attention to dance, but also their execution. Pointed toes, legs locked together, and choreography in tune with their music. Lieke Wevers actually received the same execution score as silver medalist Ksenia Afanaseva in floor finals (8.7), despite coming in last. On beam, Sanne Wevers had one of the lowest difficulty scores (5.7, tied with Viktoria Komova and her teammate Thorsdottir) and yet she gained the silver medal for having higher execution.
The Netherlands team are a joy to watch for the beauty and grace that they bring to the competition floor. We’re looking forward to seeing how they improve over the next few months in preparation for the Olympic Games.