Sophomore fencer Anna Van Brummen has already had a multitude of success in the year of 2014. The women’s fencing team has clinched its fifth consecutive Ivy League title, with Van Brummen coming in first in the épée as well as being named first team All-Ivy. In the beginning of Februrary of this year, Van Brummen also won the Junior World Cup in Goteborg, Sweden, beating 189 other fencers from 32 different nations.
Van Brummen began fencing back home in Houston, where she picked up the épée. Fencing is divided into three different blades: foil, épée, and saber. Wielding each blade encompasses different styles, technique and rules so that a great sabrist will not necessarily make a great épéeist. The foil and épée both score points by touching the tip of the blade to your opponent. Saber on the other hand, requires just contact. One point is one touch on your opponent, and duels are scored up to 15. Another difference in épée, unlike the other two blades, is that in épée you are allowed to hit any part of your opponent’s body. This means that smaller body parts, wrists and feet are fair game, which adds an interesting dynamic to a duel.
There are two different types of grips fencers use in competition. One is the pistol grip, which is just that: a grip shaped like a pistol, which allows for stronger blade movements. Van Brummen fences using the alternative: the French grip, which is a straight grip curved to the contour of one’s hand. By holding the extended grip close to the bottom, Van Brummen is able to have longer reach and the ability to counter attack and keep her opponent on edge.
“I like to play the game of avoiding the blade,” Van Brummen said. “It also allows for foot-touches and wrist-touches, which are great and really annoy your opponent.”
However, different types of styles and techniques characterize fencing. Each individual fencer has their own habits and strategies against different opponents, making each matchup different and more exciting.
“Everyone has different styles that match up differently against different people,” Van Brummen said. “Each person usually has their one main competitor.”
Van Brummen’s main competitor is an Italian fencer named Alberta Santuccio, who she will most likely meet in the upcoming international competition. Their last meeting was in the Junior World Cup in Dijon, France, where she lost in the semi-final in a close 15-13 duel.
Right now, Van Brummen is looking towards both a transition from college fencing to international fencing as well as a transition from junior fencing to senior fencing. Currently ranked 11th in the world in juniors after her competition in the Junior World Cup in Goteborg, Sweden, Van Brummen will be competing later this year in the Junior World Championships in Bulgaria for Team USA.
“I’m really looking forward to World Championships. You stay for a whole week and are able to fence individual and US team competition,” Van Brummen said.
Van Brummen has been to the World Championships three times before, with her best individual performance being eighth two years ago. This year she has high expectations, hoping to perform well in her final Junior World Championship appearance.