Freddie Carcas just missed out on the knockout stages. He was tied in the final qualification spot in heat 3 and lost out because he has fewer ranking points than the other runner.
The European Champs Knockout Sprint racing took place on Sunday 8th October in Vicenza. The morning qualification (athletes in quarantine by 7:30) was in the suburbs, on the Creazzo map. The heats reduced the fields from 142 men and 131 women to 36 of each for the finals, for six "quarter-finals" of six runners each. The finals were in the largely pedestrianised centre of the City, with quite a few pedestrians and cyclists, mostly unaware of "high-speed" runners until whistles and shouting announced their approach.
The qualification races were very tight as expected, and for the many near the cutoffs it was quite chancy. The knockout stages were full of excitement and noise, fast running in the streets, some possible danger and some tiny margins.
Vicenza claims Andrea Palladio (1508–80) and its buildings helped inspire a distinct architectural style known as Palladian. It is documented in his pattern books, based on a detailed study of classical Roman architecture. Parts of the area have World Heritage Status as a result.
It had been 15 per heat to qualify on Wednesday. This day it was just 12 per heat, and the winning times were around 9 minutes, so the margin for mistakes was very small..
Megan Carter-Davies and Cecilie Andersen got through amongst the GB women. Charlotte Ward, Rachel Brown, Kirstin Maxwell and Pippa Carcas did not. Two big names not to make the cut were Marie Olaussen (who would later be on the podium for Top-6 in the World Cup), and Lina Strand who had been 6th in the individual sprint on Wednesday and has 5 World Champs medals.
Four of the six GB men got through. Freddie Carcas was tied in the final qualifying spot 16 seconds behind heat winner Tuomas Heikkila, but lost out on the tie-breaker as he has fewer ranking points than Jakub Glonek. Peter Molloy missed out, 35 seconds behind his heat winner Tino Polsini. Ralph Street, Nathan Lawson and Jonathan Crickmore all got though. Eddie Narbett finished 26 seconds down on his heat winner Matthias Kyburz, 1 second behind 12th the last qualifying place.. But he had been held at a traffic barrier and the GB protest was upheld, Eddie therefore made an extra runner for the quarter-final stage.
Gustav Bergman, third in the World Cup, had missed the cut on Wednesday, but he got through this time, with a couple of seconds to spare. Plenty of familiar names did not get through qualification however. Neither of the Hubmann brothers made it, nor did last year's World Champs medallist August Mollen, nor Adrienne Delenne from the successful French Relay Team two days before, and nor did the Danish Knockout specialist Andreas Bock Bjoernsen who had qualified in a high place on the Wednesday.
Charlotte Ward in the qualification race, with Elin Gemperle and Victoria Haestad Bjornstad, photo: Rob Lines
Kirstin Maxwell, with Mathilde Smedegaard Madsen and Nikola Zlamalova, photo: Rob Lines
Pippa Carcas, photo: Rob Lines
Rachel Brown, photo: On The Red Line
Eddie Narbett, photo: On The Red Line
Peter Molloy, photo: Rob Lines
Freddie Carcas, photo: Rob Lines
Megan Carter-Davies in Qualification, photo: Rob Lines
Jonathan Crickmore, with Soren Thrane Odum and Alvaro Casado, photo: Rob Lines
Ralph Street in Qualification, photo: On The Red Line
Runners were allocated to quarter-finals based on an IOF rule that assigns by position in the various heats. Two runners from each heat go to each of the six quarter-finals. The entertainment of runners selecting their opponents was lost, but the time saved on a long day was much appreciated.
Megan, Ralph and Nathan were allocated to the first of their respective quarters. This was good as it maximises the rest between rounds.
On The Red Line It seemed that the course marshalls were less able to anticipate runners possible actions for the first of the quarter-finals however. This is not surprising. Our view is the mistake that Megan made (and which cost her a semifinal place) after punching the penultimate control first in her quarter-final would not have been possible in other quarter-finals, because of small marshalling adjustments.
Cecilie was in QF2, with three Swiss runners: Simona Aebersold, Elena Roos and Natalia Gemperle.
Jonathan was in Men's QF3, with Matthias Kyburz.
Eddie was in Men's QF6, with Kasper Fosser, Joey Hadorn and Emil Svensk.
Runner's Choice was used for the Quarters. Runners independently chose option A, B or C for the first 3 controls. The semis and finals were straight races with no choice.
The start of Women's Quarter-Final 1, photo: Rob Lines
Megan led the race until the penultimate control, which she punched first but then did not leave in the correct direction, being passed by three runners. She was 4th in the race and eliiminated.
Megan Carter-Davies leads QF1 at the start kite. She is followed by Tereza Janosikova, Tilda Johansson, Ana Isabel Toledo, Laura Robertson and Eef van Dongen
The three Swiss runners took the top three spots in Cecilie's quarter-final, thus making the semi-final, where they would meet the first three from Megan's quarter.
Cecilie Andersen, photo: Rob Lines
Nathan set off fast in the first men's quarter-final, but at the end it was Tuomas Heikkila, Martin Regborn and Ralph Street (3rd, 4th= and 4th= in Wednesday's individual sprint final) who were through to the semi-final. Gustav Bergman was fourth, his runner's choice and navigation were good but his speed was not quite that of the fastest on this occasion,
Men's Quarter-Final 1 Start, photo: Rob Lines
Jonathan Crickmore's quarter-final was won by Matthias Kyburz. Jonathan picked a different route to the penultimate control from the group of chasers and against their speed it was probably a sound bet - the other route was busier and may well have been obstructed and the distances were very similar, but it didn't work out this time: Jonny was fourth.
Men's Quarter-Final 3 Start, photo: Rob Lines
Eddie Narbett was in the sixth quarter-final, a 7 runner affair. Rather than anything Eddie or those who qualified for the semi's did this race will be remembered for a collision between Kasper Fosser and Joey Hadorn. Going in opposite directions in an alleyway they ran into each other. Neither was able to continue the race, and both went to hospital for checks. Both were potential finalists. Joey won the silver in the format at the European Champs 2021. Kasper Fosser's elimination left the way clear for Matthhias Kyburz to win a medal and overhaul Kasper Fosser to take the World Cup 2023 (which may have happened anyway given Kyburz would win the gold.)
The last Men's Quarter Final Start, photo: Rob Lines
Eef van Dongen, Aleksandra Hornik and Simona Aebersold missed out on the final, but Simona's teammates Elena Roos and Natalia Gemperle won through, as did Swedes Tove Alexandersson, Hanna Lundberg and Sara Hagstrom. The Norwegian Victoria Haestad Bjornstad won the third semi to join them.
In the men's it would also be two Swiss (Matthias Kyburz and Riccardo Rancan) and three Swedes (Jonatan Gustafsson, Emil Svensk and Isac von Krusenstierna) in the final, with Ralph Street winning the first semi to be the sixth runner.
Thomas Krivda leads Matthias Kyburz from the start of Men's Semi-Final 2
In the women's final the World Champion in this format, Tove Alexandersson, ran away from the others to retain her European title. We hear it was her 46th World Cup victory. Sara Hagstrom tried some different routes, but it was Elena Roos, in her final international race, who took the silver, and she was followed in by Natalia Gemperle taking the bronze.
Tove Alexandersson wins the Womens Final, photo: EOC2023 /IOF
In the men's final, on this day on this course World and European Champion Matthias Kyburz was supreme. With the start not too fast he went to the front and was able to keep up the pace, leading into each control and holding off the challengers. Gustafsson, Svensk and Street tussled behind. Rancan and von Krusenstierna, slightly behind had to try a different route at the end but it produced no joy, and at the end it was Street who was behind at the last control and missed out on a medal, taking his second fourth place of the week.
Close finish for silver, photo: Rob Lines
The Men's Knockout Sprint Podium. photo: Rob Lines
Ralph Street's fourth places in the individual and knockout sprints did mean he finished in the top-6 of the World Cup 2023. This doesn't include the World Championshiop races, but it does include seven World Cup Individual races during the year. It was announced as the "six best men orienteers in 2023"!
Kasper Fosser, Matthias Kyburz, Gustav Bergman, Emil Svensk, Ralph Street and Martin Regborn