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Smooth Skills Episode 5!

Ludivine Furnon wasn’t the only entertaining French gymnast we’ve seen over the years.  In fact, on the women’s side, France has actually produced some of the most creative gymnasts in history – particularly in terms of floor choreography, but certainly with some skills on the other events as well.  Let’s take a look at perhaps the only other gymnast in history whose dance ability can rival Ludivine’s:

Isabelle Severino Floor 1995 Worlds

Isabelle Severino Floor 1997 Worlds

Isabelle Severino Floor 1998

Isabelle Severino Floor 2004

Isabelle Severino Floor 2005 European Championships

Isabelle Severino Floor 2006 Worlds AA

Isabelle Severino Floor 2008

What an amazing French duo.  Both of these gymnasts made their splash onto the world scene at the same competition – the 1995 worlds.  As you can see, Severino’s career extended much longer than Ludivine’s, and over the 2004-2008 quadrennium she made a comeback to gymnastics after a stint with Cirque du Soleil.  In her mid to late 20’s, she returned to top competitive form and became one of the most popular gymnasts in the world – perhaps as sort of an “artistic” version of Oksana Chusovitina.

Severino was a fantastic all-arounder as well.  In fact, early in her career she first became famous for her bar work.  As one of the few gymnasts in the world to have ever competed a “Def” (full-twisting Gienger), Severino won the bronze medal on bars at the 1996 worlds.  Even during her “second” career from 2004-2008, she competed this rarely seen skill – even in combination.  Make sure you check out her bar routines from 2005 below – she is the first and only gymnast to ever compete a Def to a Pak salto (and most gymnasts these days won’t even connect a Yaeger, Gienger, or Tcatchev into a Pak salto – even when they are huge!)

Isabelle Severino Bars 1996 Worlds

Isabelle Severino Bars 1997 Worlds

Isabelle Severino Bars 2005 Swiss Cup (Def to Pak Salto!)

Isabelle Severino Bars 2005 Europeans (Def to Pak Salto again!)

Isabelle Severino Beam 1996

Isabelle Severino Beam 2007

How incredible to see a gymnast maintain that kind of competitive form, skill level, and creativity for so long.   As many of you may know, Isabelle was set to compete in her third Olympic Games last year in Beijing, but was forced to retire after she ruptured her Achilles.  Her artistry will live on, though, and hopefully will inspire this next generation of gymnasts to develop the same passion for performing that she always showed.

Next…one more look at some creative French gymnasts.  There’s one in particular who may be right up there with Ludivine and Isabelle!