I hate watching the thrillers shown at the movies. If I go to them, I end up burying my head in my hands or in the shoulder of the poor soul who has decided to view the movie with me.
However, for me, the thrilling routines of gymnastics are fantastic. For one thing, they are over in a matter of minutes, which I can stand much better than the 2 hour + offerings from the cinema.
Most viewers of gymnastics appreciate that the skills done by gymnasts are very difficult. They can end in falls, and slips and you are holding your breath a lot of the routine willing the gymnast not to fall off. Well, I always am. I want the gymnast to perform well, regardless of where they come from. I don't like seeing falls, especially where the gymnast is seriously injured.
Thriller routines mainly involve very difficult skills. These skills can be well executed, but not all elements of good execution are necessary to make the routine a Thriller. Height is a good thing to have, but pointed toes are not needed, for instance. Thrilling routines are also made more thrilling when the less “steady” gymnasts pull them off. The higher the probability of a fall, the more thrilling the routine becomes. Liking the gymnast or their team can also make routines thrilling, because the stakes of a fall are higher for the viewer.
I think any apparatus can have thriller routine depending on the skills that gymnast performs, the probablility of a fall, and how well liked the gymnast is. But for me, three pieces stand out as offering the most thrilling routines: Men's High Bar, Women's Uneven Bars, and Women's Beam.
The most thrilling men’s event is without a doubt, high bar. The difference between catching the bar and not catching the bar can be very small. When a gymnast misses their rhythm or gets their swing wrong, they usually fall.
The most thrilling routines are filled with releases, and lack somewhat in the pirouette department. The first routine that comes to my mind is Jonathan Horton’s high bar in Beijing. That was a tremendous routine, which I enjoyed watching more than any of the other men’s routines in Beijing.
Yes, he deserves a biscuit!
It follows that the ladies’ uneven bars event will also be thrilling. Again, the most difficult routines for this apparatus contain a lot of releases. For me, there is no better example than the routine of Beth Tweddle. It is full of releases, and is very difficult. Sometimes, Beth misses, as she did in last year’s world championships. This year, she was right on and we were in for a treat:
Another nerve racking apparatus for women is the beam. The difference between being on and off is tiny in terms of space and massive in terms of consequences. Some of the people with the best routines are as steady as anything. Patterson and Johnson stand out to me as examples, and even they missed at times. Yet some of my favourite performers, such as Anna Pavlova, are far less steady, and when they pull their routines off, it is all the more thrilling.
This is one of the reasons why I love gymnastics. I like to watch athletes overcoming the forces of gravity and space in order to land breathtaking routines. To me, it is a thrill.