Paulsson Repeats as Swedish Champ

Tonya Paulsson repeated as the Swedish national all-around champion over the weekend with beautiful and precise routines on both days of competition, also picking up gold medals on beam and floor as well as the silver on bars.

The 17-year-old who trains at Motus-Salto was absolutely flawless this weekend, beginning her all-around competition with a huge Yurchenko full on vault for a 13.6, and she continued with a gorgeous bars set where her Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, and Jaeger were highlights, though I also appreciated the attention to detail on the little things, like her perfect handstands and lovely swing in general, and she was able to pick up a 13.1 here.

On beam, Paulsson had only a small wobble on her acro series, but was otherwise excellent, especially on her double wolf turn, aerials, and switch leap to switch half, getting a 12.4 here, and she ended her competition with a 12.3 on floor where showed a big, clean double pike, a front full, and a double full, performing elegantly throughout on both her choreography and dance elements.

She was able to increase both her beam and floor scores in finals, getting a 12.8 on beam with an absolutely solid set, and then a 12.6 on floor, where her landing on her double full in the final pass was much improved after coming up a bit low on day one.

Her only real challenger in this competition came on bars, where Jonna Adlerteg – who qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games at worlds last year – defeated her with a 13.550 to Paulsson’s 12.9. Paulsson’s routine was much tidier both days, but Adlerteg competed at nearly full difficulty, which at a 5.9 is more than a point higher than Paulsson’s.

Bars was the only event Adlerteg competed here, as she’s no doubt trying to stay healthy for Tokyo next summer. On the first day of competition, she struggled a bit coming out of her shaposh to clear hip full and didn’t connect to the Tkachev after, but despite looking a bit rushed on this series again in the final, she managed to pull it out, with the dismount the only downgraded element (she finished with just a layout here instead of the double layout she does at full difficulty).

Otherwise, her Shang to Pak looked nice, and her Maloney to Bhardwaj was very well controlled on day one. In the final, she was a bit crooked when she caught the latter, losing some leg form in the process, but she did some good work getting back under control without any major breaks in her rhythm.

Also on the all-around podium were Maya Ståhl in second with a 44.050 and Nora Hanfelt in third with a 43.900. Both had pretty strong days, with Ståhl hitting all four routines, while Hanfelt just had a fall on her acro series in her otherwise beautiful beam set.

Ståhl’s best events were vault, where she had a strong tsuk back pike that earned a 12.6, and beam, where she earned an 11.0 and was especially nice on her sissone to wolf jump, standing back tuck, and layout full dismount. She doesn’t have a ton of difficulty overall, which is obviously limiting in terms of her final scores, but she does very well with all of her routines, also showing a Maloney to bail and straddle Jaeger on bars, and a nice, high double tuck on floor.

Making all four apparatus finals, Ståhl also went home with silver medals on both vault and beam, and she hit both bars and floor, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. On vault, she again had a great tsuk back pike, but her second vault – a tucked Yurchenko – landed just a little too close to the table and was pretty heavily deducted. Otherwise, she just looked a little shaky in her wolf turn and side aerial on beam, and was low coming in for her double tuck on floor, but overall this was a successful competition for her with a big jump in the rankings compared to previous national-level meets.

Hanfelt is Paulsson’s club teammate, and the two are similar in their style and elegance as gymnasts, so pretty much everything Hanfelt competed here was excellent, though she’s working at a lower level of difficulty overall. Beam and floor were especially strong for her, and despite missing her acro series on beam in the all-around competition, she still had the third-best score on the event with an 11.0 thanks to her beautiful work on her other elements, and on floor she earned the second-highest score of 11.45 with a high double tuck, front layout, and layout full in addition to clean leaps and well-performed choreography.

Unfortunately, multiple falls in finals kept her from getting any additional medals, as she missed both her side aerial and acro series on beam, and then also crashed her double tuck on floor. She did hit bars in the final, showing nice toe point on her toe-on to toe shoot and a stuck layout dismount, but while her execution of 8.3 was the highest in the final, her start value of just 1.9 held her back to sixth place.

Rounding out the top eight in the senior field were Hanna de Waal in fourth with a 42.000, Maja Sandfridsson in fifth with a 41.750, Tess Hartzell in sixth with a 39.300, Ellen Falck in seventh with a 39.000, and Ebba Dahlgren in eighth with a 38.750.

Of these, I absolutely loved de Waal’s beautiful dance elements on both beam and floor. She took a considerable time away from gymnastics to focus on dance, and it really shows, especially in how she turns en dehors on floor, where she attempted both a triple front attitude turn and a quad turn in a true passé position. She also has gorgeous extension in her acro on beam, especially noticeable in her side aerial.

I was hoping she’d medal on both in finals, but she ended up fifth on beam after a large wobble on her switch side, and she was fourth on floor, where she had a low level of tumbling difficulty, and stumbled through a couple of her turns, holding her back just three tenths from the podium.

Sandfridsson had a fall on her double tuck on floor and her bars difficulty is quite low, keeping her from making the all-around podium, but she went home with the gold on vault and the bronze on beam for her great work there in finals. On vault, she had strong amplitude in her tsuk back pike, just taking a small step, though she landed her handspring front tuck quite low, earning a 12.05 average, and on beam she earned a 10.95 with a front aerial, standing back tuck, full L turn, and gainer tuck with a hop.

The vault bronze went to Kristina Åhlin, who had a few falls in her all-around competition to finish ninth. In the final, she had a tsuk back pike with a small step, and a tucked Yurchenko with a great block, though she took a large step back, averaging an 11.875.

Alva Eriksson, typically one of the country’s strongest seniors in recent years, competed only bars and floor here, and she medaled on both in finals. On bars, she got the bronze with an 11.55, showing strong work on her toe-on to Maloney to Pak, straddle Jaeger, and a high, clean layout dismount with a good landing, and on floor, she won silver with an 11.15, stumbling back her big double tuck out-of-bounds, but coming back with a clean front layout, front full, and back layout, and she also had some great dance elements in there, with a switch leap to tour jeté half, double turn in front attitude, and a Popa.

Surprising for a floor medal was Alice Zakrisson, who was 15th all-around. Zakrisson is one of the more powerful Swedish seniors, and was also looking likely to take a vault medal as she attempted a tsuk layout and handspring front tuck, but she had issues with both, piking down a bit on the former to get it downgraded to the piked tsuk, and then nearly sitting the tuck, finishing fourth on a tie-breaker.

But floor was much more of a success, and she ended up getting a 10.55 to take the bronze. She hit her double tuck, front layout full, and back layout 1½ to show off some of the more advanced tumbling in the senior competition, and she also had a high level of dance elements, including both a full L turn and hop full L turn, a butterfly, a switch leap to switch half, and a tour jeté half.

The Westlund twins, Nathalie and Emelie, and Malva Lundqvist Wingren came into this competition as the juniors to beat, and they did not disappoint, as Nathalie Westlund took the gold with a 46.750, Wingren won silver with a 44.700, and Emelie Westlund ended up with a 42.900 for bronze.

It wasn’t the greatest competition for anyone in this trio, with all three having falls, but the fact that they all still managed to medal is a testament to their overall skill level and talent, and more importantly, they all have tremendous potential that point to an incredibly bright future for Sweden.

Nathalie Westlund was the most put-together of the juniors in the all-around competition, hitting a strong Yurchenko layout for a 12.7, and then showing lovely work on bars, where it’s clear she’s a product of Eskilstuna, the same gym that produced Adlerteg. She has a gorgeous swing, showing off a toe-on to toe full, Maloney to Pak, huge straddle Jaeger, and clean double tuck for a 12.1, and she also had a moment where she did a simple half turn in handstand that was so perfectly flawless, I marked it down as a routine highlight.

On beam, Westlund had a super solid back handspring layout stepout series, a lovely set of jumps, and a good double full dismount, but she unfortunately fell twice here, on both her side aerial and on her switch leap to switch half, getting a 10.0, and on floor, she opened up a bit low on her double tuck, but finished strong with a clean front layout and double full to earn an 11.95.

She struggled again in apparatus finals, but still managed to pull off medals on all three of her events. On bars, she came off halfway through her toe-on to toe full, and she was a bit rushed when she came back into the routine, coming up short on some handstands and catching a toe shoot really close, but her Jaeger and double tuck were both very nice, and she won the silver here with a 10.8. On beam, she missed her flight series, but hit the rest, including an especially lovely side aerial to tuck jump half and a clean double full, for an 11.2 to take the bronze. She then put together a really strong floor routine to end her competition on a high note, taking just a few hops and steps on landings to win gold with an 11.65.

Wingren started her competition with a hit bars routine, where she had a Pak, clear hip to toe shoot, and a front layout dismount for a 10.45, and then she moved to vault, where she showed to be one of the top gymnasts in the competition among juniors and seniors with her brilliant and huge handspring front pike, where she just took a large step forward for a 13.15. She went to floor next, where her opening tucked full-in was the most difficult tumbling line in the competition, and she was also excellent on her double tuck, 1½ to front tuck, and clean layout full for an 11.3, and then she showed an awesome punch front mount on beam, though her form on this event overall was a bit lacking, and she also had a fall on a punch front on the beam, scoring just a 9.8 here.

In apparatus finals, Wingren easily took the vault title with an even cleaner landing on her handspring front pike, and then for her second vault, she did the tucked version, taking a step forward to average a 12.95. She also won bronze on floor with a 10.9, just taking a few steps on landings and coming up a bit short in some of her dance elements. On bars, she had another hit routine to place fourth, but on beam, she again struggled with form and a fall on her punch front, finishing sixth with a 9.4.

Like her twin, Emelie Westlund also began her day with an excellent Yurchenko layout, taking two steps back out of it, but looking very clean otherwise to earn a 12.8. Unfortunately, on bars she fell first on her toe-on to Tkachev, and then again when she put her hands down on her double layout dismount, and she also struggled with her clear hip coming in late to her blind full, causing her to bend her legs a bit throughout, and so she was only able to get to an 8.85 there.

Beam was also a bit rough, with falls on her switch half and back pike series, getting a 9.25, but Westlund finished up with excellent work on floor, where she had a solid double pike, front layout, and a back layout 1½ to finish with a 12.0.

Thankfully, apparatus finals went a bit better for her, and she was able to go home with the gold on bars as well as silver medals on beam and floor. Her toe-on to Tkachev combo was excellent here, and she also had a nice Pak, clear hip to blind full, and open double tuck dismount with a little bounce for an 11.2, while on beam, she got an 11.6 with just a few little form breaks, and then another 11.6 on floor with a mostly solid routine despite a few steps out of her tumbling passes.

In the vault final, following Wingren with the gold, we saw Isabel Hell win the silver with a 12.475, and Embla Molander get the bronze with a 12.350. Hell had a very nice, stretched tsuk layout with a hop back, and then a tsuk with a super open tuck for her second vault, while Molander had a step forward on her handspring front pike and then a large run out of her follow-up front tuck.

Behind the Westlunds on bars, Amanda Helsing grabbed the bronze with a 10.5 (and the top execution score of 8.5!), showing very nice stalder work into a toe-on to toe shoot with great extension on everything, and she dismounted with a layout, just taking two small steps out of it into her salute.

On beam, the Westlunds’ club teammate Elina Grawin ended up getting the upset for gold with an 11.8, and her routine was one of the highlights of the competition for me. This was Grawin’s first national championships, and beam was the only event she competed, but she’s a lovely gymnast and one to keep an eye on in the future. She had a beautiful switch leap to split leap, a clean layout stepout series with just a break at the hips toward the end, a full Y turn, front aerial into her jump series, tick-tock down into her choreo, side aerial, split ring leap, and a double full, making this one of the most difficult routines, and she did it all so elegantly.

There was also a junior who competed named Gabriela Chetu who is a recent transplant to Sweden after coming up through the Romanian system, at the Farul Constanta club. The 13-year-old moved to Sweden last year, and now trains at All Star in Stockholm. While her difficulty is pretty minimal and while she scored only a 34.150 here to finish 10th, she’s a lovely gymnast and I hope we can see her add to her skill level in the coming years.

Notably absent from the competition at the senior level was Jessica Castles, who is now in her freshman year at the University of Arizona, while at the junior level, we didn’t get to see Jennifer Williams, the top Swedish gymnast at junior world championships last year, as she’s recovering from a recent elbow surgery.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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