Søderstrøm Improving on Path to Euros

One of Norway’s top gymnasts right now is new senior Julie Søderstrøm, a 16-year-old who trains at Asker Turnforening. Last year, Søderstrøm made the junior team for Euros, and was consistently one of the top juniors in the country, but this year she is reaching a whole new level, and just won her second domestic meet of the year at the Unni & Haralds Trophy held in Oslo this past weekend.

Søderstrøm earned a 47.65 in the all-around to win the gold by more than two points over silver medalist Victoria Bøe. Granted, it wasn’t the toughest field, as Norway’s other top all-arounders — Solveig Berg and Martine Skregelid, both of whom train alongside Søderstrøm at Asker — competed only two events apiece here, but nonetheless, she looked strong even with a rough performance on bars, which tends to be her weakest event.

There were some mistakes in event finals, especially on bars where she earned just a 7.3 total score after a couple of falls, but she still managed the silver on vault for two clean attempts in addition to silver on beam with a fall and then gold on floor.

Compared to last year, Søderstrøm has improved so much in her ability and has an absolutely beautiful style to her gymnastics. She is currently expected to compete at this year’s European Championships in Cluj, where she has the potential to make the all-around final if she hits all of her routines.

Berg and Skregelid are also on the nominative list for Euros. The two placed just behind Søderstrøm at the 1st Norwegian FIG Meet earlier this month, with these three the country’s best by a pretty solid margin, but this weekend Berg competed only on bars and beam while Skregelid competed vault and bars.

Though Berg performs only basic elements on bars and has super low difficulty there, she generally does very clean work, hitting all handstands nicely and showing lovely lines and extension. In the all-around competition, she showed her typically excellent work here, earning an 11.0 with the top E score of the day, an 8.1.

On beam, Berg actually competes at a pretty high level, but unfortunately fell in her routine on this first day of competition, earning an 11.5. She won both events in finals, even with a mistake on bars, though her beam was stronger than it had been the previous day, earning a 12.35 to get the gold by over a point.

Skregelid showed beautiful work on both of her vaults in both days of the competition, averaging a 13.1 on day one, and then a 13.0 to win gold in finals, with equally clean work both days. Unfortunately, she had falls on bars on Saturday, and did not advance to the final, though in the past she’s been capable of some of Norway’s stronger bars scores, and competes a comparatively difficult routine.

Norway’s final Euros nominative entry is the experienced Sofie Bråten. The 21-year-old hasn’t competed yet this season, but is a super strong vaulter, having made international finals in the past, including at last year’s world challenge cup in Osijek, where she placed sixth. Bråten also has world championships experience, having competed in both 2014 and 2015, and is generally a leader and motivator for her teammates, so she’ll make a great addition to this otherwise young team.

Outside of these four, the depth in Norway isn’t super strong, but we did get nice performances from Victoria Bøe in second with a 45.2 and Sofie Aateigen in third with a 45.1. Bøe also won silver on bars and floor in addition to a bronze on beam, Aateigen won floor bronze, Vilde Amblie won vault bronze, and the Swedish gymnast Tova Jönsson won bars bronze.

Edel Fosse, a member of last year’s junior Euros team who trains at Nidaros Turn, dominated the junior competition and would’ve won the senior title as well, earning a 48.15 in the all-around.

In addition to all-around gold, Fosse nearly swept the event medals, winning the title on every event but floor, where she earned bronze after some rough landings. Fosse has a solid difficulty level, especially on bars and beam, and performs beautifully, making her one to watch for the future (she turns senior next year).

Mari Kanter of Holmen won the silver medal with a 46.05 and Sigrid Lello of Nidaros Turn won the bronze with a 43.35, narrowly beating Vilma Smestad, also of Nidaros, who placed fourth with a 43.15. Kanter also won silver on vault, Lello won bronze on bars, and the floor title went to Julie Madsø of Holmen, who won the Norwegian FIG all-around title earlier this month, but unfortunately had an incredibly rough meet on bars this weekend, and ended up 11th with a 41.5.

Other event finals medalists included Maria Tronrud of Oslo with vault bronze, Selma Halvorsen of Oslo with bars silver, Selma Karlsen of Oslo with beam silver, and Hedvig Saga of Holmen with floor silver and beam bronze.

Just before the competition, the Norwegian federation determined the national teams. The senior team includes Søderstrøm, Skregelid, Berg, Bråten, and Bøe along with Sofie Skåttum, Martine Magnussen, Ingrid von Häfenbradl, Thea Nygaard (who competed at the Sainté Gym Cup in France over the weekend), and 2016 national champion Linn Finstad.

The junior team includes Fosse, Kanter, Tronrud, Madsø, Åsne Øyulvstad (fifth at this competition after a rough bars set), and 2016 Euros team members Juliane Tøssebro and Sara Davidsen.

The Norwegian gymnasts have one more meet leading up to Euros, the 2nd Norwegian FIG Meet to be held April 8-9 in Oslo, which should finalize the group of girls who will travel to Cluj, though I can’t see Søderstrøm, Berg, or Skregelid being replaced at this point. Given that Bråten hasn’t competed yet this season, her status is still kind of up in the air, with Nygaard probably most likely to take her place at the moment, but we’ll see what happens as we get closer.

Full results from the Unni and Haralds Trophy are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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