Sofus Heggemsnes and Stian Skjerahaug
The winners of this year’s Norwegian Championships included a veteran on the men’s side, as 28-year-old Olympian Stian Skjerahaug competed in what could be the final competition of his career, while Julie Madsø, who turned 16 last month, surprised to take the WAG gold ahead of a handful of experienced favorites.
Skjerahaug got an upset in Elverum, posting an 80.300 to win the fifth all-around title of his career despite a fall on floor as his biggest competition – 21-year-old Sofus Heggemsnes, who qualified to the Tokyo Olympic Games at worlds last year – couldn’t climb his way up after crashing his Kaz 1½ on vault, coming in second with a 78.850.
Aside from their falls, both men looked strong in the all-around final, and it was a good battle all the way through. Though he sat his 1½ to double front, Skjerahaug hit the rest of his difficult passes, including a front full to double front half, 2½ to front double full, and his triple full dismount, and he also has the coolest transition from his double full side pass, doing a punch front tuck out of it that he landed in a front support position, going directly into a Russian wendeswing.
He hit pommels and rings with only minor execution faults, had a good landing on his Kaz full on vault, and looked sharp on both p-bars and high bar, showing lovely press handstand work and a stuck double pike on the former.
With the fate of this year’s European Championships up in the air, Skjerahaug told the media that this could be the final competition of his career. While he wants to hold out for Baku, he’s worried that between the coronavirus and conflict breaking out in the region, there’s a good chance that it might not happen, and he’s prepared to let go if that’s the case.
“I’m going to miss the atmosphere we have, but I feel that the time has come to give it up,” he said. “If European Championships don’t happen, I have participated in my last competition.”
Heggemsnes started out on high bar, where he did some of his best work of the day, showing the most difficult routine in the competition with a Yamawaki, layout Tkachev, straddle Tkachev, blind full, Rybalko, Endo to Endo half, and a double-twisting double layout dismount, and though he wasn’t at a hundred percent on floor, he came back from that to put out solid work on pommels, rings, and p-bars. On vault, he went for his usual Kaz 1½, and though he got some big air and looked as though he was going to land it, he ultimately stumbled over sideways, landing off the mat.
Beyond the top two, Harald Wibye ended up edging out young senior Theodor Gadderud to take the bronze with a 77.950. Wibye was especially fantastic on p-bars, scoring a 14.050, and he also showed some impressive twisting on floor, including a 3½ to barani opening pass, though he stepped out-of-bounds on his triple full dismount.
Gadderud, who scored a 77.600, had a few weak spots in his competition, but overall showed a lot of promise, especially on floor. He missed his 2½ to barani here, but nailed his double front half, front double full to front full, front 2½, and an excellent triple full to finish.
Rounding out the top eight were Odin Kalvø in fifth with a 73.500, Niklas Syverhuset in sixth with a 73.200, Didrik Gundersen in seventh with a 72.100, and Nikolai Rønbeck in eighth with a 71.150. I was most entertained by Rønbeck, who, despite a few struggles and his difficulty not being super up-to-par, had some truly awesome moments, and I absolutely loved his over-the-bar double front dismount, despite the low landing.
Also noteworthy was 2018 Youth Olympic Games vault bronze medalist Jacob Karlsen, who only competed three events here and was downgraded on pommels and high bar, but he was fantastic on rings, showing a strong iron cross, a fluid swing in his double salto skills, and a beautiful front double pike half-out dismount, earning a 13.950.
Madsø led the women’s competition by nearly a point with a 49.950 all-around score. Last year’s junior national champion who competed at junior worlds and EYOF, she showed that she fit in perfectly with the seniors, hitting a really nice FTY on vault to earn a 13.650, giving her a leg-up at the start of her day, and she continued to hit each of her remaining events well, with a Maloney to bail and clean double pike a highlight on bars, and she was solid with her layout stepout series and a switch leap to switch half to Korbut on beam.
But she was at her best on floor, where her routine was a standout at the end of a series of incredibly strong floor routines in the Oslo Turnforening rotation group. Using one of Laurie Hernandez’s old music choices, Madsø had a great performance, and also hit all of her tumbling well, including a double pike, front tuck through to double full, and a double tuck.
19-year-old Julie Søderstrøm, the reigning national champion and a three-time world championships team member, ended up with the silver here with a 49.200, while Mari Kanter, the national junior champion and Nordic junior all-around champion in 2018, took the bronze with a 48.500.
Søderstrøm started out with a fall on vault, putting her at a deficit early on, but she came back well from that, performing a big piked Jaeger on bars, a lovely front aerial and layout stepout flight series as well as a new switch ring on beam, and a solid floor routine, where she showed a clean double pike, a perfectly stuck double full, and a front full with a hop, in addition to showing off a cool double turn that began with her leg at 180 and ended up with her toes at her knee.
We also saw a fall early on in the competition from Kanter. Though she’s hands-down the best bar worker in the country, showing gorgeous lines in her Weiler half, Maloney to Pak, and all of her handstands, she unfortunately had a fall on her Tkachev, taking her down to an 11.700. She came back nicely on beam with a good flight series and Kochetkova before almost sticking her front layout full dismount, her floor included a double tuck, 1½ to front full, and a stuck double full, and she ended her day with a decent tsuk layout on vault.
Maria Tronrud, last year’s silver medalist who made her world championships debut in Stuttgart, also proved to be an incredibly solid competitor, hitting a Yurchenko layout on vault, an NCAA-style bars set with a big straddle Jaeger, nice Pak, and a powerful toe front half dismount, and a nicely-performed floor routine, where a high double pike was the highlight. Unfortunately, she also had mistakes on beam, stumbling a bit on her illusion and slipping up halfway through her double wolf turn, but the rest of the routine was great, including an excellent flight series, switch leap to back pike, and a back gainer 1½ dismount.
The remainder of the second session competitors included Juliane Tøssebro in fifth with a 46.800, Mali Neurauter in sixth with a 46.600, Aino Namtvedt in seventh with a 45.550, Selma Halvorsen in eighth with a 45.200, Edel Fosse in ninth with a 44.500, and Selma Karlsen in tenth with a 43.150, while Thea Nygaard competed bars and beam.
Tøssebro had falls on both her flight series on beam and on her front tuck through to double full closing pass on floor, a bummer because she was otherwise excellent, with highlights being her FTY on vault, beautiful double full dismount on beam, and a hit bars routine, where she doesn’t have a ton of difficulty, but did a great job getting through her set, especially on her Jaeger.
I was also impressed overall with Fosse, another one who had a lot of excellent bits throughout her day, but she also had falls that limited her overall potential. On bars, she tried a shaposh twice, but fell both times, and on beam, she had a hard fall on her flight series and then also fell again on her side aerial, but her routine there was the most difficult in the competition, with a switch leap mount, front aerial into a jump series, side somi, transverse straight jump full, and a back 1½ dismount. She also performed beautifully on floor, and her skills were great there as well, including a double tuck, stuck double pike, Popa with excellent extension, and front tuck through to 1½.
Neurauter hit all of her routines, with beam her best, Namtvedt had some really cool floor choreography, Halvorsen’s tumbling was consistently very high and clean, and Karlsen was especially lovely on floor. Nygaard, the veteran in the women’s competition at 21, had falls in both of her routines here after not competing in over a year, on her toe full and double pike on bars, and then on her flight series on beam, but her extension is fantastic, and I loved her split jump full on beam.
Article by Lauren Hopkins