Ralph Street made the podium but not a medal in the European Champs Sprint 2023: 5 seconds off gold, 2 seconds off silver, 1 second off bronze, photo: On The Red Line
The European Champs Individual Sprint racing took place on Wednesday 4th October in Verona.
It is a 2-race format, with qualification and finals. Both sets of courses were relatively straightforward by the standards of international sprint racing, and it was mere seconds deciding the quakification and the medals - especially in the men's race..
In the morning qualification races, held away from the centre of Verona, the fields were reduced from 144 men and 134 women to 45 of each for the finals (actually 46 women as in one heat two runners tied for the final qualification spot.)
In the afternoon, next to the Roman Amphitheatre and running through the Old Town near Juliet's balcony, the medals (and places, and World Cup points) were decided.
The event centre for the European Champs is at Peschiera del Garda, a popular tourist location and historic fortress town (e.g. of the Austrian Empire's Quadrilateral) on the south-east corner of Lake Garda. The competition days are gradually further east along the line of the Milan-Venice railway: in Verona, then Soave and finally Vicenza.
The event centre is at Peschiera Del Garda, a historic fortress town on the south-east corner of Lake Garda
The races were in Verona and there were a lot of tourists. The champions are familiar names from near the top of the World Cup standing: Matthias Kyburz and Sarah Hagstrom. Matthias's margin was 4 seconds over Kasper Fosser. Sarah's margin was 8 seconds over Tove Alexandersson. The courses were comparatively straightforward.
The qualification races were very tight. The tightest was men's heat 1 where runners needed to be within 21 seconds of winner Joey Hadorn's time to get through. That is where Joey took 60 seconds you could take 62 but not 63 seconds if you wanted to get through. The Czech Jakub Glonek was one to miss out in this heat 11 seconds off qualifying in 23rd place. Overall some very well known names didn't make the cut, notably last year's World Champs silver medallist in this format Gustav Bergman 16th in heat 3, missing out by a single second, Tim Robertson last year's World Games champion, and Daniel Hubmann, three times World Champion in this format, who was 19th in heat 2.
Peter Molloy, photo: Rob Lines
The 45 men through were 7xSWE, 7xNOR, 6xSUI, 4xFIN, 4xFRA, 4xGBR, 3xCZE, 3xITA, 2xDEN, 2xESP, 1xAUT, 1xBEL, 1xPOL.
Amongst the British women Megan Carter-Davies was the only qualfier, which she did in style winning her heat. GB were able to make seven entries as Megan is World Champion meaning she had a personal place. Six therefore missed out on qualification: Charlotte Ward, Cecilie Andersen, Rachel Brown all by less than 15 seconds, and Kirstin Maxwell, Mairi Eades and Pippa Carcas.
The country totals: 7xSWE, 7xSUI, 6xDEN, 5xFIN, 4xNOR, 3xCZE, 2xPOL, 2xFRA, 2xHUN, and 1 from each of AUT, NED, ESP, GBR, LAT, LTU, NZL, POR.
Charlotte Ward, photo: On The Red Line
Cecilie Andersen, photo: Rob Lines
Rachel Brown, photo: Rob Lines
Kirstin Maxwell, photo: Rob Lines
Mairi Eades, photo; Rob Lines
Pippa Carcas, photo: Rob Lines
Ralph Street was the highest placed British runner, 4th, 1 second off bronze, Tuomas Heikkila of Finland, 2 seconds off silver, Kasper Fosser, and 6 seconds off gold. Ralph was tied with Martin Regborn - 4 runners within 2 seconds 4 seconds behind Matthias Kyburz.
Ralph was pleased with his run and presciently he had said it might well be a case of seconds in an interview on the Ivarnational Podcast episode which was published two days beforehand (Ralph's interview is 35 minutes in.).
Ralph Street finishes the final, photo: Fred Härtelt
Ralph Street at the line, photo: Rob Lines
Nathan Lawson was 20th.
Nathan Lawson, photo; Rob Lines
Peter Hodkinson, back in the team after a longtime injury, was 32nd.
Peter Hodkinson, photo: Rob Lines
Jonathan Crickmore was 41st.
Jonathan Crickmore, photo: Rob Lines
Megan Carter-Davies had good speed in the final, being 4th at the 12th of 19 controls, but lost time with some technical mistakes and finished 13th. Megan balmed tiredness and lack of match practice.
Megan Carter-Davies, photo: Rob Lines
Megan Carter-Davies finishes the final, photo: Fred Härtelt
The Men's Sprint Podium, European Champs 2023, photo: Rob Lines
The Women's Sprint Podium, European Champs 2023, photo Maurilio Boldrini, eoc2023/IOF.
The racing continues with the Sprint Relay on Friday 6th and the Knockout Sprint on Sunday 8th. The relay team is Charlotte Ward - Nathan Lawson - Ralph Street - Megan Carter-Davies.
Rachel Brown and Megan Carter-Davies, photo: Rob Lines