Leinonen, Urvikko Split Finnish National Titles

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Maija Leinonen won her second all-around title in a row at the national championship meet in Finland this weekend, beating out 2012 Olympian Annika Urvikko by nearly two points with the two coming back on day two to split the apparatus medals.

21-year-old Leinonen hit all four events to post a 48.850 in the all-around this weekend, looking a little shaky on some elements but overall showing great control in all of her routines to win the national title just a few weeks after coming close to making the all-around final at Euros.

She came back in event finals to win the gold medals on bars and beam in addition to the bronze on vault, doing well on all three events, though her difficulty is a bit low on each. Leinonen was hoping for a fifth medal on floor, and she came within about four tenths of getting the gold, but unfortunately she had several tenths knocked off for going out-of-bounds in a routine that had generally weak landings, ending up tying for fifth place.

Urvikko, who has been dealing with injuries and missed out on Euros, won the silver medal in the all-around with a 47.150 after struggling through her performances on bars and beam. The 26-year-old had excellent sets on vault and floor, though, and returned to win both titles with clean performances in finals, her clean Yurchenko full looking especially nice. Though she had falls on both bars and beam in finals, she got medals on bothtaking the silver on beam and the bronze on bars in an overall weak field.

The bronze all-around medalist was 16-year-old Helmi Murto, who became a senior last year but missed out on all of 2016 due to injury. This was her first competition in two years, and while she had some falls and mistakes in the all-around competition, earning just a 45.850, most errors seemed to come from nerves, as she’s actually quite clean and shows tremendous potential for upgrades.

Murto’s bars only received a 10.1 in the all-around competition due to mistakes and a fall, though her set reminds me of something we’d see at the NCAA level, clean and strong with all of her skills looking solid. She made the finals for beam and floor, medaling on both with mistakes with an 11.833 for the floor silver and an 11.1 for the beam bronze. Though she was a bit shaky throughout this entire competition, I’m so excited to see what the future holds for her. Finnish gymnasts tend to peak a bit older, with all three top girls in their early to mid 20s, so if she’s able to stand out at 16, I think she could eventually build to a point where she’d be able to make major teams down the line.

Rounding out the top eight were Wilma Malin in fourth with a 45.350, Anna Salmi in fifth with a 44.900, Isabella Ahlblad in sixth with a 44.750, Essi Hyvärinen in seventh with a 44.600, and Jenni Grönroos in eighth with a 43.400. Malin snagged the silver medals on vault and bars, while Hyvärinen was the bronze medalist on floor with an 11.767 for her solid performance.

Missing from the senior field was Rosanna Ojala, a three-time medalist at last year’s Northern European Championships who was injured during the touch warmup on floor at Euros last month.

Ada Hautala won the junior all-around title with a 47.200, followed by Iida-Maria Vänni with a 46.850 for the silver and Sani Mäkelä, who had an uncharacteristically rough day on beam and floor, with a 46.200 for bronze. Enni Kettunen, who struggled on bars, finished just off the podium, in fourth place with a 46.000.

Mäkelä showed a lovely Yurchenko full in the vault final to win the gold there with a 13.45 before also winning the gold on bars with a 12.0 for a clean set, while Vänni won the gold medals on beam and floor, hitting both very well for scores of 11.7 and 12.3, respectively, while also taking the bars silver.

These two and Hautala, the bronze medalist on vault and floor in addition to placing fifth after falls on both bars and beam, should be the three named for EYOF this summer, though Kettunen — the silver medalist on vault and floor — could potentially come up and take one of the spots if she shows she’s a bit more consistent going forward into the final selections.

In addition to these four, we saw Lilian Langenskiöld in fifth with a 45.500, Emilia Kemppi in sixth with a 44.450, Viivi Nieminen in seventh with a 44.300, and Lea Bernards in eighth with a 43.950, also tying 16th-place Kia Haavisto for the silver medal on beam while Sara Loikas, 14th all-around, won the bronze medal on bars.

Full results from the competition are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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