Sarah Hagstrom in the walled town of Soave, a few minutes from taking the EOC 2023 Sprint Relay win for Sweden. Note grapes used for Soave wine drying traditionally in the tower! Photo: On The Red Line
The European Championships in 2023 were in the sprint formats in historic towns of Northern Italy. The event centre was in Pescheira del Garda and the races were in Verona, Soave and Vicenza. The Sprint Relay was won by Sweden, and the GB team was 6th. Ralph Street made the podium on all the race days with the sprint relay and two fourth places, but he didn't win a medal. Megan Carter-Davies, Jonathan Crickmore and Nathan Lawson had top-20 results. Cecilie Andersen, Peter Hodkinson, Eddie Narbett all got through qualification on one or two days, and Freddie Carcas missed out by the narrowest of margins. In fact the individual days were full of the competition of narrow margins.
Tove Alexandersson and Matthias Kyburz both won two gold and one silver in three races. Sara Hagstrom and Jonatan Gustafsson won two medals each and made the podium every day.
It was also the World Cup Final Round, and there was the unusual sight of a GB athlete on the stage for presentation of the Top-6 as Ralph Street was 5th in this year's World Cup.
Several members of the GB team won World Cup points in the individual races. Ralph, Megan Carter-Davies and Nathan Lawson in both, Peter Hodkinson in the individual (which was his only race) and Jonathan Crickmore, Eddie Narbett, Cecilie Andersen and Freddie Carcas in the knockout.
Men's World Cup Podium: Kasper Fosser, Matthias Kyburz, Gustav Bergman, Emil Svensk, Ralph Street and Martin Regborn
GB took a team of 14 athletes, 7 women and 7 men, to the 2023 European Championships in the sprint formats.
The team were supported by Andy Kitchin, Murry Strain, Emil Wingstedt and Lasse Gron.
Usually GB has six entry spaces in a race but as Megan was World Champion she had a personal place in the Individual Sprint so all 7 women ran that.
Qualification isn't easy, and it's a bit harder in World Cup rounds like this that in a World Champs.
The individual sprint races have morning (sometimes very early morning) qualification races. These are the main deal for most athletes, as they result in about three-quarters being eliminated. An additional consideration is that the big orienteering countries have eight entries in each of the women and men heats (excluding personal places for World and European champions) so there are a lot of good runners striving for qualification.
Former World Champion several times Daniel Hubmann did not get through qualification either day. By the way he is doing another season next year, and is likely to do well in the forest races if not the early season sprints.
After the knockout qualification heats reduced the women's field to 36: 7 Swiss and 6 Swedes qualified, 3 Finns and 3 Norwegians (and 1 was eliminated on the split tie rule that casued Freddie Carcas to lose out .) That's more than half the places.
The rest were: 2 from DEN, ESP, FRE, GBR, HUN, POL, and 1 from CZE, EST, LAT, NED, NZL.
It definitely isn't easy to get through: no German runners qualified either individual sprint or knockout sprint.
Jannis Schoenleber (who is Swiss-based) and Anselm Reichenbach (Junior World (JWOC) Champion in sprint this year) running parallel qualification heats, photo: Rob Lines
Megan Carter-Davies, photo: Rob Lines
Megan ran the final leg for the Sprint Relay team, picking up a place to take GB onto the podium. She was 13th and 19th in the individual races, in both cases being well-placed until a late mistake.
Charlotte Ward, photo: Rob Lines
Charlotte ran the first leg for the Sprint Relay team, coming back in the 4th/5th/6th/7th group that also included Norway and Finland. She missed qualification on both individual days.
Cecilie Andersen, photo:Rob Lines
Cecilie missed qualification in the individual sprint but won through qualification in the knockout. There she went out at the quarter-final stage.
Rachel Brown, photo:Rob Lines
Rachel was 20th and 23rd in the qualification races on the individual days so didn't take part in the later stages.
Kirstin Maxwell, photo: Rob Lines
Kirstin was 27th and 35th in the qualification races on the individual days.
Mairi Eades, photo:Rob Lines
This was Mairi's debut in the senior team. She just ran the individual sprint where she did not get through qualification..
Pippa Carcas, photo: Rob Lines
This was Pippa's debut in the senior team. She mispunched in the individual qualification race and was 38th on the knockout day..
Ralph Street, photo: Rob Lines
Ralph was on the podium each day, 4th= in the individual, 6th with the GB team in the relay, and 4th in the knockout final.
Jonathan Crickmore in the knockout quarter-final, photo: Christian Aebersold
Jonathan got through qualification on both individual days, finishing 41st in the individual and 19th in the knockout..
Peter Hodkinson, photo: Rob Lines
Peter, pleased to be back in the team after a long injury, just ran the individual sprint, getting through qualification comfortably and finishing 32nd in the final.
Nathan Lawson, photo: Fred Härtelt
Nathan ran second leg for the Sprint Relay team which was in the podium. He qualified both individual days, coming 20th in the individual sprint and 31st in the knockout.
Peter Molloy, photo: Rob Lines
Peter had a bit of a rebound after winning World Cup points in World Cup Round 2 on his senior debut, as he missed qualification both individual days.
Freddie Carcas, photo:Rob Lines
Freddie just ran the knockout and was 12th= in his heat, losing the split tie for the last qualification place. He neverthless got 4 World Cup points.
Eddie Narbett, photo: Rob Lines
Eddie, making his debut for the senior team, missed qualification in the individual race but made it through in the knockout, losing out in the quarter-final stage, gaining 14 World Cup points.
This was the middle competition day, with the individual sprint two days before, and the knockout sprint two days after. It was held in the spectacular location of the small walled town of Soave, famous for its wine. There was one team per nation, 25 entries in all. The podium was:
Our interviews with the GB Sprint Relay team (on YouTube)
The Great Britain Sprint Relay team on the podium, photo: On The Red Line
Ralph Street finishes the individual sprint, photo: Christian Aebersold
Elena Roos and Natalia Gemperle win the two final places available from their semi-final, photo: On The Red Line