In July 2013 TS Goetzis Zurcaroh – a group of gymnasts from Austria – arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, dressed to impress. The troupe had entered The World Gym for Life Challenge, a global gymnastics event held every four years for groups of all ages and abilities. The Austrians, then, were ready to show off the hard work that had gone into what would be the winning routine – and the video of their triumphant performance went truly viral.
For the performance, all 31 gymnasts in the TS Goetzis Zurcaroh squad filed into the hall through one door at the back. And as the massive group first entered, the audience whooped and cheered loudly. Then the gymnasts took their starting positions spaced evenly around a huge mat in the middle of the performance area.
The distinctive outfits were undeniably the most striking part of the troupe’s entrance. Indeed, each gymnast was dressed in a skintight bodysuit that hid his or her face. The bodysuits were also covered in dramatic multi-colored vertical slashes, which seemed to mimic primitive body paint. And to top it off, each member sported a bright green mohawk.
So the TS Goetzis Zurcaroh gymnasts certainly looked the part, with each individual making a piece of the whole. To begin the show, then, each member of the group lined up around the massive mat, facing inwards and crouching down on the floor. Then they all got up, walked on to the mat and assumed a triangular shape before the performance music struck up.
Most of the group were sitting on the floor, while a small portion at the tip of the triangle formed a tower, holding the smallest member of the group high above the rest. And then, the dramatic music kicked in, and the routine officially started. The audience was already cheering enthusiastically, but what was to follow blew their minds.
The routine started off slow and spiritual, more like a contemporary dance performance than an explosive gymnastics display. The 31 members of the TS Goetzis Zurcaroh troupe moved gracefully around the mat, showcasing their extreme flexibility and choreography skills. But then the tension in the music started to build.
Indeed, the relaxing music gathered some momentum and the tempo changed as the troupe’s floor work continued. The audience could seemingly anticipate that the routine was going to have a dramatic change in mood before long and excitement grew. Then, about two minutes in, the music dropped, and the smallest member of the group was flung skywards.
That one powerful movement signified an energy shift in the entire routine, and suddenly all the gymnasts burst into vivid life. The ones on the floor threw themselves around forcefully, striking strong poses and making sharp movements. All the while, the music was continuing to build with insistent drums coming to the fore.
Then, as a gong sounded, the smallest gymnast was once again lifted into the air. Another member of the group was also raised above head height by two sturdy teammates standing behind him. Together, the two borne aloft performed an extremely impressive move. In fact, the smallest gymnast was gripped by the second and then swung through his legs as though she was a pendulum.
At this point, the music was at its most dramatic, which was appropriate for the level of skill involved in the pendulum move. But then the risk takers upped the ante even more to the delight of the crowd.
Yes, as the smallest gymnast swung to the top, the other gymnast let go of her hands. Then, all in a split-second, the airborne gymnast performed a flip and was caught by her ankles before continuing the pendulum swing. They then repeated the same action in reverse.
To finish off the heart-stopping move, the smallest gymnast was flung high into the air. From there, she performed three somersaults before being caught by waiting members of the troupe. The audience, naturally, went wild. But there was even more spectacular drama to come.
While the majority of the other members of TS Goetzis Zurcaroh formed a ring, the smallest one was seen lying flat on the floor in the middle. Then, in an explosive show of energy, she was launched from a lying-down position to a handstand pose above another gymnast’s head.
From there, she went into the splits, all while being held upside down a few feet in the air. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the supporting gymnast holding her over his head suddenly took one hand away. Yes, the smaller one was supporting herself with just one arm.
The smallest gymnast – who was clearly the star of the show – had an important role to play in the next maneuver, too. Showcasing her extreme flexibility, she acted as a skipping rope that was swung round and round as a teammate jumped over her looped body with practiced precision and timing.
Next, the troupe whipped out some ribbons and performed a mesmerizing dance with them. But the finale of the TS Goetzis Zurcaroh show was yet to come. With the high-tempo music still building, the group gathered together to assemble the final big lift. Almost every member of the 31-strong troupe was needed for the human structure.
And once again the smallest gymnast acted as the finishing touch on top of the stunning shape. Indeed, she was lifted to stand on the shoulders of another teammate at an eye-watering height. Then, to disembark, she simply fell into the arms of supporting gymnasts awaiting below.
There were more examples of eye-boggling flexibility to conclude and then the whole troupe posed together as the music suddenly stopped. This abrupt finish made for a truly dramatic ending. And just like that, the TS Goetzis Zurcaroh group walked away to a rapturous crowd reaction – and the winning title.
Unsurprisingly, a video of the group’s incredible performance at The World Gym for Life Challenge went totally viral. Indeed, the film clip has garnered almost four million views on YouTube. But despite this, the Austria-based TS Goetzis Zurcaroh didn’t even enter the 2017 competition.
The winners of the 2017 event, then, were the Greek gymnasts Olympiada Thrakomakedonon, with their routine “The Wolves and the Moon.” This performance saw a total of 62 female gymnasts participate in a “synchronized” show, which organizers called an “amazing achievement.”