Skregelid Leads Norway to Back-to-Back Northern Euros Gold

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The Norwegian team led by 2017 world championships team members Martine Skregelid and Thea Nygaard showed a super strong performance at this year’s Northern European Championships in the Faroe Islands, successfully defending their team gold medal a year after winning at home in Trondheim.

Both Skregelid and Nygaard ended up on the all-around podium, with Skregelid reaching a 50.450 to take the gold at one of the best meets of her career while Nygaard won the bronze with a 49.250.

Skregelid was thrilled to do so well here, and said her rough performance at worlds inspired her to work harder going into Northern Euros, her final competition of the season. “After worlds, I had two weeks to work on my routines and improve my execution,” she said following the competition. “I learned from my mistakes in Montreal, and my win here makes me very inspired and motivated going forward.”

With four hit routines in the team and all-around competition, Skregelid qualified into three finals, winning the beam title with a solid and impressive set that earned a 12.55 while also getting the bronze on vault averaging a 13.1 and placing sixth on bars after falling there. With all of her success here, Skregelid, 18, wants to improve even more going into next season, where she hopes to lead the Norwegian women to qualify a full team to the 2019 world championships in Doha next fall.

Nygaard, 18, was forced to withdraw from competing at worlds just prior to her subdivision due to a concussion, but she had a great comeback here with four solid events including one of the best beam routines I’ve ever seen her do. She also qualified into the bars and beam finals, taking home the bronze medals in both despite a fall on beam, and like her teammate, she hopes to continue going forward as a leader for Norway as they go into next season with the program’s strongest team in history.

In addition to Skregelid and Nygaard, junior Julie Madsø, who is just 13 and in her first season at the elite level, finished 11th all-around with a 47.000. She fell on beam, but fought back to have excellent performances elsewhere, and she also won the silver medal on floor with her excellent routine. She’s a very talented and promising kid, and I’m excited to see what she can do going forward.

Fellow junior Julie Erichsen also competed on all events but bars, while Ingrid Hafenbrädl competed only on bars. Both had falls, unfortunately, but Erichsen showed very strong ability on vault and Hafenbrädl is generally at a much stronger level, so it was a bummer to see her have this kind of fluke performance at what was a big meet for her.

2016 Olympian Irina Sazonova led the Icelandic team to the silver medal while also winning the all-around silver for herself, earning a 49.666 with a fall on beam. Sazonova also qualified into every final but vault, but struggled in most, placing sixth on bars with a fall, eighth on beam with a fall, and seventh on floor.

Other all-arounders included Agnes Suto-Tuuha, a member of the 2017 worlds team, who placed 13th with a 46.816 after weaker than usual performances on bars and beam, and Thelma Adalsteinsdottir, who placed 16th with a 45.716. Both came back for strong event finals, with Adalsteinsdottir winning the silver on bars even with a weak routine, while Suto-Tuuha got the silver for a strong performance on beam, and also placed fifth on floor with a hit routine.

Dominiqua Belanyi, also a 2017 worlds competitor, only competed bars and beam with mistakes on both, while Sigridur Bergthorsdottir competed on vault and floor. Her vaults in the team competition were excellent, putting her in contention for the gold, but bad landings in the final held her back in eighth place with a 12.425 average.

It was exciting to see the young Scottish team come in for the team bronze, with all five members — Shannon Archer, Cara Kennedy, Sarah McKenzie, Ellie Russell, and Isabella Tolometti — looking equally strong. McKenzie and Tolometti placed 6th and 14th in the all-around, respectively, Archer and Kennedy put up strong scores on vault, and Russell hit a solid bars set, giving the team the edge they needed to finish just 0.017 ahead of Finland.

Both Archer and Kennedy qualified to the vault final, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, with good but not super-solid sets, and both McKenzie and Tolometti reached the beam final, but struggled with mistakes and placed sixth and seventh. Overall, the team looks stronger than it did going into the Commonwealth Games four years ago, and they also have some depth backing this core group, which could help them challenge in Australia next spring.

Finland was gutted to come so close yet so far, missing the podium by one one-hundredth of a point. They’re definitely the stronger team, but falls and mistakes held them back a bit. Maija Leinonen, last year’s all-around bronze medalist and beam champion, ended up fourth here with a 49.183 after a mistake on bars, while her up-and-coming teammate Helmi Murto finished seventh with a 48.533 after a mistake on beam.

Leinonen also had an uncharacteristically rough performance in event finals, missing her second vault to finish seventh there and falling to finish last on floor. She also had a fall in the beam final, though while she wasn’t able to defend her title, she still ended up tying for bronze with an 11.55. Murto, meanwhile, had the strongest performance of the day on bars in finals, winning Finland’s sole gold with an 11.95 and she also hit floor to place sixth.

First-year seniors Wilma Malin and Isabella Ahlblad each competed three events in the team competition, but both ended up with several mistakes and didn’t qualify to any finals, while junior Langenskiöld competed everything but floor, and tied for the bronze in the bars final with an 11.25.

The team from Denmark placed fifth, several points out from the podium which was expected with an overall weaker team, though both Camille Rasmussen and Mette Hulgaard were standouts on the individual level.

Rasmussen, just 13, was fifth in the all-around with a 48.666 after an incredibly impressive meet. Beam didn’t go quite according to plan, and her mistakes there held her back from getting on the podium, but otherwise she looked fantastic, and ended up snagging two medals — the silver on vault and the gold on floor.

She shows great promise as a vaulter, looking the cleanest of the meet with both of her attempts, averaging a 13.175, and on floor she showed a fun and engaging set that included a double pike with a slight bounce back, stuck double tuck, and front tuck through to layout full that had the audience clapping along.

Her performance earned a 12.6, the highest floor score on either day of competition, and she was able to defeat several gymnasts who have competed at the world and Olympic level, showing tremendous promise given her young age. Rasmussen has the potential to bring Denmark to new heights internationally, and we’re so excited to see what she can do in the future as she tackles bigger competitions like next year’s junior European Championships.

Hulgaard ended up tenth all-around with a 47.200 for what was a generally good day for her, aside from a fluke fall on vault. At 29, Hulgaard continues to be a leader for this team and it’s great to see her back on all four events after years of ill-timed injuries. She qualified to both the bars and beam finals, finishing seventh on bars after falling, but she fought back to win one of three bronze medals awarded on beam, showing one of the better-executed sets of the meet.

The other Danish gymnasts to compete included Sofia Bjørnholdt, Isabella Bøckhaus, and Emilie Midtbøll. Bjørnholdt, a first-year senior, finished 17th all-around with a 43.366, while Midtbøll did well on vault and Bøckhaus contributed to the team’s bars total.

Rounding out the team finishes were Sweden in sixth, Ireland in seventh, and the host team Faroe Islands in eighth.

29-year-old Marcela Torres was Sweden’s standout competitor. Her 8th-place finish came with minor stumbles on each event, though she still managed to put up a 47.933, and she landed an excellent tsuk full and front tuck half in the vault final to win the gold with a 13.325 average there.

Agnes Åkerman finished 18th all-around with a 43.216 with multiple falls on bars and beam, Alva Eriksson put up solid performances on her three events, Ida Staafgård fell on beam but ended up showing great ability on vault and floor, winning the silver on the latter with a 12.5, and Sigrid Risberg made the bars final, finishing eighth after several falls in her routine.

I thought Ireland would come in strong here, but with a few mistakes as well as gymnasts not able to compete at full strength, they ended up relying on younger and less experienced gymnasts. Canadian transplant and Irish national champion Meaghan Smith had the team’s best finish with a 47.883, putting her ninth after mistakes on beam, while junior national champion Megan Ryan finished 12th with a 46.950 and fellow junior Rebecca Geddis was 15th with a 45.900.

Two of the country’s strongest gymnasts, 2015 worlds team member Tara Donnelly and Casey Bell, were limited to only two events apiece, with Bell doing solid work on vault and bars while Donnelly struggled through her performances on bars and beam. I’m not sure if Donnelly is injured, but after nearly sweeping the Island Games this summer, I expected her to be a top all-arounder here, so I’m assuming she can’t possibly be at full health. Bell, meanwhile, broke a bone in her leg last fall and is still on the mend, and I can’t wait to see her finally get to compete at full strength at the senior level because she has so much to offer this team.

The team from the Faroe Islands was mostly young and new to international competition, so they weren’t expected to put up much of a fight here due to lower levels of difficulty across the board. Their top all-around finish came from Rebekka Rein in 19th with a 41.416, while her teammates Astrid Breckmann finished 20th with a 37.866, Christina Arge finished 22nd with a 36.416, Elsbet Dalbø competed all but vault, and Mary Petersen put up a 12.0 on vault, the team’s highest score of the meet.

Full results from this year’s Northern Euros are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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