Finstad Wins First National Title

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In her first year at the senior international elite level, Linn Finstad of the Nedre Glomma gym made a big impression when she took the national all-around title with a 49.85, one of the top scores the country has seen this year.

16-year-old Finstad, a member of the 2014 European Championships team and the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival team, made her senior debut in Cottbus this past spring, showing lovely work on a beam routine that placed 14th in qualifications. With some mistakes on this event and on floor at Norway’s FIG meet at the end of September, Finstad only ended up finishing second all-around there, but this weekend she came back with a big flourish.

In addition to her all-around title, Finstad won the bronze medals on vault and bars before going on to win two more golds on beam and floor. Typically her best events, Finstad showed beautiful execution on both as well as the top D scores on both, giving her a slight edge over her fellow competitors in what were some incredibly tight apparatus finals.

Solveig Berg of Asker Gymnastics turned 17 at the start of this weekend’s competition, and won the silver all-around medal as a slightly belated gift with a total of 48.55, a competitive record for her.

“I didn’t have any big expectations before the meet,” Berg said following the competition. “I just hoped to hit my routines.”

In the apparatus finals, Berg hoped to medal on her favorite event, beam. She ended up having a fantastic routine, finishing just one tenth behind Finstad with a 13.0 before tying for the bronze on floor with a 12.45.

With her success at nationals, Berg should be a standout competitor for a spot on the Northern European Championships team, a competition Norway will host at the end of this month.

“I’d love to make that team, and probably will after my efforts this month, but I haven’t set any specific goals for myself this year or in the years to come,” she said. “I do gymnastics because I think it’s fun.”

Martine Magnussen, a teammate of Finstad’s at Nedre Glomma, was kind of a surprise to come in and win the bronze only two tenths over Thea Nygaard of Holmen, typically the country’s strongest all-arounder. Magnussen, 15, hit all four routines for a 47.8 total while Nygaard struggled with falls on bars and was unable to challenge, earning a 47.6 for fourth place. Victoria Bøe of Holmen was fifth with a 47.05, and Sofie Skåttun of Oslo was sixth with a 46.8.

Magnussen also won the bars gold with an 11.3 for a hit routine, and her average of 13.325 on vault got her the silver medal, only a tiny margin behind Nygaard, who got the gold with a 13.35 average. Nygaard also got the bronze on beam and silver on floor, Bøe tied for the floor bronze, and Ingrid von Hafenbrädl, who only competed bars in prelims, won the bars silver with a clean but downgraded routine for an 11.15.

Typically one of the country’s top competitors, Sofie Bråten of Oslo could’ve contended for the all-around gold had she felt strong enough to compete vault. The remainder of her events went well on the first day of competition, and though she wasn’t quite as successful in finals, she still walked away with the bars bronze, tying Finstad with an 11.1. On beam, she was fourth with a 12.15 and on floor she was sixth with a 12.05, with mistakes on both of these.

Finally, it was interesting to see some performances from Slovakia’s 2012 Olympian, Maria Homolova! After finishing up her own elite career and getting her degree, Homolova moved to Norway, where she currently works as a coach at the same gym where top all-arounders Nygaard and Bøe train. At nationals, 29-year-old Homolova competed vault and beam in prelims, a bit downgraded from what we saw in London, but still impressive given that we haven’t really seen her at all since the Games.

Full results from this competition are available here. The federation hasn’t yet selected the team for Northern Europeans, though I’d say Finstad, Berg, and Nygaard are frontrunners along with Bråten, though Magnussen and Bøe also showed why they should factor in as well.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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