Sanne Wevers is the reigning Olympic Champion on balance beam. She’s been a World silver medalist on the event. She’s been a European Champion. Qualifying again to last year’s balance beam finals, but not reaching the podium, Wevers looked to earn some additional hardware on the event this year in Stuttgart. But she will not be among the field of finalists after a low E-score from the judges in qualification. Her 7.7 E-Score—combined with her 5.5 difficulty for a 13.2 total—will place her outside of the top 8 that qualify for finals.

Photo by Grace Chiu

“It started a little bit shaky, but I think the judge was very [harsh] on me there,” Wevers remarked after the competition of the beam set. “Actually I was pretty mad about it. Because, of course, I knew they were very [strict] on the execution, but that’s also a little off from what we focused on. We try to be the highest E-score out there and I’ve never had a 7.7, so I don’t know why. It’s fiercely harsh, but for me, the individual competition is done now.”

Known for her artistry, unique style and exquisite turns, Wevers has not always had the highest D-values among the field, but has generally been well rewarded for her grace, style and execution. Her beautiful presentation has won over fans as well, and she’s earned her a spot on Inside Gymnastics Magazine’s 50 Most Artistic list year after year.

The “artistic” part of gymnastics is something that Wevers and the Dutch team have zoned in on through the years. It’s something that is woven throughout the national team training plan every year. Team members participate in dance classes and acting classes to build performance quality and expression.

Looking at beam scores overall for the entire field, the judges seem to be using a narrow range to separate (or not separate) very different quality sets. While judges have 10 points to work with in their execution marks, a relatively narrow range is applied, which doesn’t necessarily reward the difference in quality. At the time of this writing (with multiple subdivisions still to go), the range of E-scores for the top 54 gymnasts only varied from 7.0 to 8.3. Think about that. A ten-point range to work with and only a 1.3-point span for routines that greatly varied in overall quality. Though E-scores have been lower overall throughout this quad, the range is relatively small, as has been the case in recent years. If the judges truly want to provide incentive for gymnasts to focus on artistry and style, there’s a strong case to be made for using a much wider E-range overall.