Looking back on Bern with … Marie Skammelsen (DEN)

20160726 Marie Skammelsen thumbnail.jpg

Looking back on Bern with … Marie Skammelsen (DEN)

July 26, 2016

Placing 4th on vault and leading the all-around at the halfway stage, this Danish junior made a name for herself in Bern!

Competing in her first Europeans, Marie tried to keep calm and enjoy her performance in the limelight. Let’s find out how she experienced it!

UEG: How did you experience the European Championships in Bern?
Skammelsen: First of all, Switzerland held a super European Championships. Our accommodation was perfect with good food and easy access to the arena. Of course, I knew it would be a huge competition. It was my first European Championship and it was awesome. I tried to regard it as a normal competition to keep calm and avoid being too nervous. Previously, I have competed in the EYOF as a junior, but the European Championships is simply bigger.

The best gymnasts in Europe were competing, and the arena was immensely huge with seating for many spectators. Thus, it was much larger than EYOF. Even though I've tried podium before, this was different.

We experienced a lot of noise at the boys' finals and therefore I was worried about not being able to concentrate in my competition. But when I got started it wasn't that bad. I managed to focus, it went pretty well, and it was an immense experience. It's not for everybody to experience, this was for me only. My whole family was there to support me, and my team mates were there for me, when I needed them. That was nice, and I really appreciated it.

UEG: What were your expectations of the Europeans and how do you feel afterwards?
Skammelsen: To avoid disappointment, I didn't count on anything. All I had to do was to show my skills without mistakes in the competition and hope for the best. I intended to enjoy the competition and have fun. My hope was a decent result on Vault, because I made it to the finals in EYOF, but I never expected to make it to the finals as I did.

After the qualification, it was all more than I have expected. So much more. It was huge. At first I didn't understand what happened, maybe I was in a bit of a shock. My coaches were very proud. I really appreciate my coaches who have brought me this far. We work extremely well together. I'm sure I've never seen them so proud. That's when I found out how much my coaches and I really had accomplished. You see, even though I might have understood it, it was when I looked at people around me I realised how big it was for real. The fact that no gymnasts from Denmark had accomplished something similar in many many years was amazing. That was much more than I had expected. After the finals on Vault I was obviously very happy. Fourth place at the European Championships was incredible.

However, I must say I was also a bit disappointed, being so close to a medal. I was in third place until the last gymnast was on. Thus I was quite sad, but I see how big it was, and I'm very happy with my fourth place now.

UEG: What was your favourite moment?
I guess when I realised that I was in the AA-finals, which I hadn't expected at all. I'd had a tiny hope of Vault finals, but I never expected the AA-finals. It was crazy. My teammate, Mette, shed a tear and people were hugging and cheering. I just stood there, and didn't realise what deed I'd done. That was crazy.

THAT was my favourite moment.

UEG: Which gymnast do you look up to?
Skammelsen: I don't look up to one single gymnast in particular, but I look up to several gymnasts on the different apparatuses. For instance, Catalina Ponor on the Beam because of her attitude and grace, Larisa Iordache on the Floor, and Viktoria Komova on the Uneven Bars, however the last two didn't attend these Championships, unfortunately. I also look up to Giulia Steingruber, because of her skills as a vaulter, which is my favourite as well. Maybe also because she is from Switzerland, which is a relatively unknown country in the gymnastics world compared to e.g. USA, China, and Russia, just as Denmark is unknown. She has made great results, which gives me hope to perform like her at one point.

UEG: Did you make many new friends in Bern?
Skammelsen: Not really, unfortunately. We do not talk much to the other gymnasts, because we have too little time for it. Also, you are very concentrated when training and competing. At the banquet, however, we had a lot of photos taken with the other gymnasts, and got to meet them and talk a bit. That was nice.

UEG: Did you realise you were in the lead at the halfway point of the all-around competition?
Skammelsen: I had just finished my two favourite apparatuses, Floor and Vault, and then I was number one. That was crazy, and even though I saw the scores at the screen I didn't realise how big it was. Also I needed to concentrate on the next round, which was the Uneven Bars. Thus, the answer is yes, I realised it, but I didn't understand it for real. It didn't sink in. After the competition I was told how amazing it had been. I had been number one – that is; number one in the whole of Europe – halfway through the competition. That was indeed amazing.

UEG: What is your favourite apparatus?
Skammelsen : The Vault, definitely, and to some extent the Floor. Maybe because that's where I'm strongest.
At the Floor you can radiate attitude, dance, and show the judges and the spectators what you've got in you.

I prefer the Vault mostly because I'm good at it. I'm a quick learner with a relatively good aerial awareness.

UEG: What is your main goal, your big dream in gymnastics?
Skammelsen : My main goal is definitely the Olympics in 2020. Unfortunately I'm not old enough now – just 15 years old – but my biggest goal is to go to the Olympics. That would be huge. So for now I must stay on track, remember to stay fit, and learn lots of new things. Last but not least I must keep a positive spirit and fight hard. Fight a bit more. All the time.

Marie Skammelsen’s coaches Bernadett Balázs and Milan Balázs want to add: “We were very pleased with the performance of Marie. We fought a lot of challenges during the preparation, but she handled the challenge. Our expectation was qualification for the All-Around final, and one apparatus final and she fulfilled. Marie works very disciplined and competed very well in the European Championships in Bern, and the whole year of preparation. Of course, there are also plans for the future and attempts to achieve them. We are pleased with Marie's success, which also gives her renewed motivation. She will be a senior next year, which is a new chapter in her life. We are looking forward to the future.”

To end, here are some words from Agnete Madsen, member of the Danish Gymnastics Federation in Artistic Gymnastics: “Marie's success means a great deal for the development of Danish Female Artistic Gymnastics as her results draw attention internationally as well as in Denmark. This is essential for the economic opportunities in relation to sponsors as well as to the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark. Furthermore, Marie is a role model for younger girls/gymnasts, who will learn that hard work pays off, and that it is in fact possible to achieve international results as a Danish artistic gymnast. The development in Danish Female Artistic Gymnastics has also helped form Marie. The employment of Bernadett Balázs and Milan Balázs as coaches in the club as well as for the national team has pushed the development of Danish Female Artistic Gymnastics in a positive way, well helped by the other skilled coaches in Denmark. Thus the future looks promising and we expect to see more talents breaking through.”

Well done Marie! We look for to seeing you shine again at our future events!

Photos: Danish Gymnastics Federation/Andreas Merrald