Baton twirling, as a sport, has multiple divisions. For women, these are Youth (12-14), Junior (15-17), Senior (18-21) and Adult (22+). For men, these are Junior (12-17) and Senior (18+). There are also three different skill levels: B, A and Elite. Given that a small number of entrants split up into all these different sections, the sport is highly competitive.
The Virtual Nations Cup included five competitions: Solo, 2-Baton, 3-Baton, Artistic Twirl and Artistic Pair. Artistic Twirl is similar to Solo, only features more dance and gymnastic elements. While these routines are harder and require more exact timing and flexibility, even the ‘simpler’ routines require great dexterity and control.
This event attracted a large global pool of competitors, including some who have competed in events like World Championships. These include the Women’s Adult Elite first and second place winners in the solo event, Himawari Kushima and Julee Stewart. At the Elite level, most twirlers have been competing for years and have a lot of experience. Many of the Elite and Senior winners’ older routines at World Championships can be found on YouTube.
Most of the winning twirlers in this competition were from Canada and Japan, although there were a few from Germany, Spain, France, Russia, England and the USA. The sport seems to be overwhelmingly more popular in certain places than others. This may be due to the fact that these countries are known for having good sports programmes that win a lot of awards in international competitions like the Olympics. Hence, it would make sense that smaller sports like baton twirling would garner enough interest for serious training opportunities to be made available to athletes.
The event can be watched on YouTube on the British Baton Twirling Sports Association’s YouTube channel (abbreviated as BBTSA). The winning entries are an intriguing insight into the world of a lesser-known sport that nevertheless demands great focus and dedication.