© Rosa Poetschke

HELSINKI, Finland, July 20, 2015 – At the close of this year’s World Gymnaestrada in Helsinki, Finland, the U.S. delegation of 257 performers enjoyed great success and participated in all aspects, including marching in the Opening Ceremony at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium. More than 21,000 participants of all ages from 50-plus countries around the world participated in this year’s World Gymnaestrada, and the 2019 World Gymnaestrada was officially awarded to Dornbirn, Austria.

Nine U.S. gymnastics clubs participated in this year’s event: American Sokol Stickney in Stickney, Ill.; Berks East Gymnastics in Parkerford, Pa.; Biron Gymnastics from Houston; Chattooga Gymnastics and Dance in Marietta, Ga.; Columbia Gymnastics in Columbia, Md.; La Jolla YMCA in La Jolla, Calif.; Skyview Gymnastics in Mt. Airy, Md.; West Bend Gymnastics in West Bend, Wis.; and Westport-Weston Family Y in Westport, Conn. The U.S. delegation also includes participants from Colorado and Alaska.

The United States was represented in the Group Performances, City Performances, the Pan American Gymnastics Union Evening, the World Team Large Group, and the International Gymnastics Federation Gala. The groups also participated in the closing ceremonies.

Four groups from Team USA performed at the main performance hall on the first day. Berks East and Chattooga performed in a combined routine. The La Jolla group performance paid tribute to the Roaring ’20s, the ’50s and the ’80s. Biron’s focused solely on a ’20s Jazz/Gatsby theme. All four group performances were well received by the global community and even experienced a standing-room-only performance. Columbia, Westport, West Bend and Skyview appeared on Tuesday. Several U.S. delegates participated in the World Team Performance with 2,200 other participants held during the first ever Midnight Sun Special on Wednesday.

On Thursday, West Bend, Westport and Skvview represented the United States in the Pan American Gymnastics Union Evening along with Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Peru, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago.

The 90-minute FIG Gala was created by Finnish choreographer Liisa Ahlqvist-Lehkosuo and gala director Lotte Ahlström in cooperation with the FIG Gymnastics for All Committee under the lead of committee Vice President Araki Tatsuo (Japan) and member Flemming Knudsen (Denmark). Twenty gymnastics groups from 18 different countries representing all continents and including some 500 performers were chosen to perform in the gala in Helsinki. Biron’s represented the United States. The mix showcased the variety of Gymnastics for All and cultures and includes acrobatic, rhythmic and dance performances with and without different kinds of hand apparatus.

The World Gymnaestrada, the official FIG world event for “Gymnastics for All” (group gymnastics), is a gymnastics festival where everyone actively participates. Gymnaestrada traces its history back to the World Gymnastics Festival, which was an outgrowth of national gymnastic festivals that date back to the second half of the 19th century in Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In 1950, the FIG General Assembly decided to integrate an International Gymnastic Festival into their official event program called “Gymnaestrada.” The first Gymnaestrada took place in 1953 in Rotterdam. Other cities that have hosted the event include Zagreb, Stuttgart, Vienna, Basel, Berlin, Zurich, Herning, Amsterdam, Berlin, Göteborg Lisbon and Lausanne.

For more information on the World Gymnaestrada, visit www.wg-2015.com.