In her first competition of the year, 2016 Olympian Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands finished in the top three on every event in her all-around win at the International Games in Reykjavik.
The 18-year-old Iceland-born gymnast earned a 56.35, a huge score under the current code of points, thanks especially to her brilliant work on balance beam. She performed a back handspring mount to split jump to wolf jump, a beautifully-connected 1½ turn to side aerial to Korbut, a split leap to front aerial to illusion turn, a full L turn to switch leap to full Y turn to full turn, and a 2½ dismount with a step for a 14.85.
The routine was brilliantly constructed and executed, and while many were worried that the new code of points would limit the turns and dance connections that made the Dutch ladies so talked about last quad, Thorsdottir’s routine shows how seamlessly they are managing to choreograph them right into valuable combinations of skills, including one going right into her acro series. It’s unique and lovely, especially when performed as fluidly as Thorsdottir did it here.
Thorsdottir’s other highlight was her new Imogen Heap floor routine, which included a double tuck, 2½, perfect double L turn to double pirouette to double Y turn to illusion turn, and a front full to stag to finish, though as always it was her performance itself that made the routine.
With a clean Yurchenko full and a bar routine that included a Maloney to bail to toe full, Jaeger, and clear hip to giant full to double tuck to back up her best events, Thorsdottir locked down the gold nearly two points ahead of the rest of the field, making it a fabulous start to her Tokyo 2020 campaign.
One of the most-improved gymnasts in the past year, Thorsdottir already looks like a huge medal contender for Euros and worlds, and that’s with a watered-down vault. Once she brings her Yurchenko double back or throws in the Amanar she’s been training, look out! She’s coming in hot and ready to win.
In second was 2016 Olympian Daria Spiridonova of Russia, who had a great day, hitting all events for a 54.6. Obviously, she was at her best on bars, where she performed an inbar to toe full to Maloney to pak to van Leeuwen, a toe-half piked Jaeger, and a full-in with a couple of stumbles back for a 14.35.
Because of the new rule in the code that states only three skills can be performed from the same root, she could only count seven skills instead of the eight she performed, as four of her skills were toe-ons. This took her from a 5.7 to a 5.6 D-score, but if she upgrades back to a couple of inbars, she should be fine.
On vault, Spiridonova, 18, performed a Yurchenko full, she opened her beam with a lovely back handspring mount and got through the rest very well, finishing with a smile on her face after landing her double tuck, and her work on floor was solid, a few small errors like stepping out on her opening double tuck and landing her closing double pike low aside.
16-year-old Sydney Johnson-Scharpf of the United States won the bronze medal behind these two Olympians with a 54.15. Because she’s not on the US national team, Johnson-Scharpf can compete at non-FIG or PAGU-sanctioned invitational or friendly-style meets through her club. She represents the US in name, but was not in Iceland representing the US women’s national program. Several other US-based gymnasts like Tienna Nguyen, Irina Alexeeva, and a bunch of level 10 kids from Sylvia’s Gymnastics in Pennsylvania regularly compete internationally so they can get more experience, so it was cool to see her take advantage of an opportunity like this, and even cooler to see someone who’s not currently very high up in the pecking order of the US elite world end up challenging two international stars.
With a powerful and clean Yurchenko double earning 14.5 and her energetic and fun floor — complete with a big double arabian, stuck piked double arabian, clean 2½, and double tuck with a hop — earning a 14.05, Johnson-Scharpf walked away with the top scores on both events, a great feeling for her in her first competition back since competing at Jesolo last year (the former junior national team member missed the summer domestic season, what would’ve been her first as a senior, due to injury).
Most impressive, however, was her silver medal finish on bars. In the old code, Johnson-Scharpf’s highest bars score was just a 13.5, which would be about a 13 in the new code. But in Reykjavik, she showed tons of improvement, getting a 13.8 (second-best at this competition) for her difficult and aggressive set that included a toe-on to Maloney to Tkachev, straddle Jaeger, pak, Chow to Gienger, giant full, and full-in with a step. Though she has no super difficult skills, she racks up four tenths with her two transition to release combos, a smartly-composed routine for the gymnast who is more powerful than elegant, allowing her to really take advantage of her strengths.
Unfortunately, she did have a fall on her front aerial on beam, which kept her from the silver medal, but ultimately I think she showed so much improvement compared to the kid we saw last year in Italy, and she also seemed to have a lot of fun getting the kind of international experience that many US national team members would love to have.
Beyond the podium finishers, the senior field was quite weak, with an almost ten-point gap between third and fourth place. Rounding out the top eight were Andrea Orradottir of Iceland with a 45.65 (she also won the bronze medal on beam with a 12.05), Claudia Tomeo of Spain with a 43.75, Tekla Thorarensen of Iceland with a 43.3, Helga Sigurdardottir of Iceland with a 42.7, and Paula Norberto of Spain with a 42.3. Victoria Gilberg of Denmark, who competed only on bars and beam, shared the beam bronze with Orradottir for her clean work on the event.
Russia’s Irina Komnova swept the junior field with a 50.9, posting the top scores on each event with a 13.3 for her clean vault the highest. She did have a fall on beam, but otherwise showed solid routines to take the all-around lead by over five points.
In second and third were the Icelandic gymnasts Margret Kristinsdottir with a 45.75 and Sonja Olafsdottir with a 45.1. Kristinsdottir is one of the top juniors in Iceland at the moment, though unfortunately she had a rough day on bars to earn a score far below what she was capable of, though she shared the beam gold with Komnova and also had the second-highest score on floor. Olafsdottir had her best day on vault and floor, though finished outside the top three on both, but she did take home the silver on bars.
Full results from the competition are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins