The European Rowing Championships – preview

This weekend is the European Championships in sunny Seville. A lot of the European teams are using this event almost like a World Cup and have sent full teams. The big absentee, however, are the British who have not entered any boats. But, in their absence its interesting to see some of the potential line-ups that we may see at the 2nd World Cup at Eton Dorney in June.

 

M1X

19 entries. 9 Olympians are racing the single, the “big” guns are Olympic silver medallist Ondrej Synek and the mercurial German, Marcel Hacker. Synek is making his 2013 debut and Hacker won recently at Essen regatta (defeating GB Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell).

Georgi Bozhilov of Georgia won the 1st World Cup in Sydney but he will find the level of competition a little different in Sydney! Another of the Olympic M1X finalists is 5th placed Aleksander Aleksandrov of Azerbijan. Also look out for Estonia’s Tonu Endrekson who was 4th in the M4X at London, and the evergreen Olympic M2X medallist, Luka Spik of Slovenia

My money is on Synek to open his 2013 account with a gold ahead of Hacker & Spik.

 

M2X
16 entries. This event has the makings of an intriguing battle. There is plenty of Olympic experience on show. Italy’s Romano Battisti won silver behind the Kiwis in this event, but for Seville he has a new partner with Francesco Fossi replacing Alessio Sartori. Fossi was in the Italian quad that finished 11th at Dorney. Estonia has kept with the same combination that came 4th at the Olympics, Allar Raja and Kaspar Taimsoo. These two won this event last year and also won at the first World Cup in Sydney so have shown some good early season speed. Another double who have shown speed already this season are the German’s Eric Knittel & Stephan Krueger, they were a disappointing 9th at the Olympics but won earlier this month at Essen. Another crew that will be hoping to put a disappointing Olympics behind them are the Norwegians, Nils Jakob Hoff & Kjetil Borch. Having won the final World Cup in Munich they were disappointed to miss out on the “A” final at Dorney. Borch went on to win Champ 1X at the Head of the Charles but as a double they will be itching to get back to the top. Another pairing to note are the Olympic “A” finalists from Lithuania Rolandas Mascinskas & Saulius Ritter. The final crew to highlight is one for the future, Michal Plocek & Jan Andrle from the Czech Republic. Plocek is world junior 1X champion and has only just turned 19 – one to watch.
So who do I think will win? – difficult as some doubles are making their debuts for the season so the speed is relatively unknown, but if I had to pick I’ll go with the Norwegians 1st, Italy 2nd & Estonia 3rd

M2-
11 entries. I see this as a direct fight between the French and the Dutch (with the Germans scrapping on the edges!) The French, Germain Chardin & Dorian Mortelette won an impressive silver at the Olympics behind the all-conquering Kiwis. They also won in Sydney in April. The Dutch, Rogier Blink & Mitchel Steenman have come out of the Dutch 8 that finished 5th at the Olympics with the intention of being the fastest pair in Europe. They have already beaten the Poles and Croatians when winning at Essen and will be a stern test for the French. The Germans, Andre Sieber & Philipp Naruhn were in the M4- that won the “B” final at the final World Cup in 2012 and are an established pairing. Also look out for the Ukranians, Oleg Lykov & Sergiy Chykanov who were in the Olympic 8 that was 8th last year.
My picks….it’ll be a real dogfight between the French and the Dutch with the French coming out on top. Germany for the bronze.

M4X
13 entries. Croatia have the same crew that won silver at the Olympics and have been racing together since 2009. But they are up against the German Olympic Champions, well, three of them. Philipp Wende has been replaced by 19 year old World Junior Champion, Kai Fuhrmann.
The Poles have a long tradition in this event but only have one crew member (Konrad Wasielewski) remaining from the boat that were world champions in 2009 and 6th in the Olympics.
The Spik brothers (Luka & Jan) are in the Slovenian crew and are joined by Matej Rojec & Gaspar Fistravec who were 3rd in this event last year. Also watch out for the Italians who have Matteo Stefanni & Simone Raineri from the 11th placed Olympic Quad, Simone Venier from the M4- that was 8th at Dorney.
My picks: Germany or Croatia….hmmm…Croatia 1st just ahead of the Germans with the Italians a long way back in 3rd.

M4-
11 entries. The pick of the bunch here are the Dutch. They have three of the boat that came 5th at the Olympics with Rueben Knab replaced by Robert Luecken who was in the Dutch 8 at the 2011 Worlds. The Serbians have all four of the crew that were 10th at the Olympics and the Romanians have the same line-up that took silver in this event last year. The German’s have put together a new 4- with only Toni Seifert remaining from last year’s crew. He is joined by U23 silver medallists Max Planer & Felix Wimberger and also world junior champion Malte Jakschik. This has the potential to be a very quick boat in the next few years. Finally look out for the Italians who have half of the M8 that won silver at the European Championships in 2012.
My picks: The Netherlands for gold, Germany silver and Serbia bronze.

M8
10 entries. Germany, the Olympic champions, got a massive shock when they were beaten by the British, French and Polish at Essen regatta. But they have changed the line-up with Sieber & Naruhn moving to the pair and being replaced by Olympic champions Maximilian’s Reinelt & Wilke. The French have made one change to the line-up that raced at Essen with Julien Despres replacing Matthieu Androdias. The Poles have an unchanged line-up from Essen which is the same line-up that won the “B” final at the Olympics. Also watch the Belarusians who have based their crew around the M4- which came 7th at the Olympics. The Dutch have a brand new line-up in what looks like a development boat, lead by Olympian Ruben Knab and containing 3 guys making their international debut. In the Italian boat is Vincenzo Abbagnale….the latest in the great “rowing royalty” Abbagnale family. Another crew of interest are the Czechs, with the majority of the crew that won bronze at the European Champs last year, they are coxed by Oldrich Hejdusek who made his international debut in 1974!
My picks, I doubt lightening will strike twice, I don’t see the German’s losing again with the French in 2nd and the Poles 3rd.

That’s it for the heavyweight men, now for the heavy women;

W1X
16 entries. Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova is the overwhelming favourite. She is the only sculler from last year’s Olympic W1X final competing. But, she won’t have it all her own way. Also racing is Sweden’s 2010 world champion, Frida Svensson. Svensson had a slightly disappointing Olympics (she finished 10th) but at her best she could beat anybody and she’ll be looking to return to the form that won her gold in 2010. Another big challenger will be Ukranie’s Nataliya Dovgodko. She won Olympic gold as part of the W4X. The last two scullers to highlight are Donata Vistartaite (Lithuania) who was 8th in the W1X at the Olympics (and also won this event last year) and World U23 champion Julia Lier of Germany.
My picks….Knapkova easily over Svensson with Dovodka 3rd.

W2X
11 entries. One of the big surprises in this year’s entry list is that multiple world & Olympic medallist & Tomi Keller nominee, Ekaterina Karsten is not racing the single. Instead she is in the double, a boat class she has not raced at a FISA event since the Munich World Cup in 2003. Karsten is joined by Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Yuliya Bichyk. It remains to be seen if this is a long-term boat or just “ a bit of fun”. The Poles have changed the combination that took bronze at the Olympics with Natalia Madaj (from the 8th placed Olympic W4X) replacing Julia Michalska.
The Lithuanians have gone with a blend of youth and experience with Vistartaite (doubling up in the W1X) joined by 19 year old JW2X champion Milda Valciukaite. The German’s have also gone with a youthful double with U23 medallists Lisa Schmidla & Mareike Adams. Another crew with Olympic experience are the Dutch, Chantal Achtenberg (bronze W8) and Elisabeth Hogerwerf (8th W2X).
My picks..Poland ahead of the Belarusians with the Germans in bronze.

W2-
9 entries. 3 crews in it for the medals. Leading the way should be the Germans, Kerstin Hartmann & Marlene Sinnig who were in the “A” final at the Olympics. But they will be pushed by the Romanians and the Dutch. The Romanians, Cristina Grigoras and Nicoleta Albu are both out of the 8 which came 4th at the Olympics. The Dutch have Olympic bronze medallist Carline Bouw joined by Olivia van Rooijen who raced in the W8 during the World Cups last year. Outside of these three the Czechs (Martina Stillerova & Katerina Kopecka) were 4th at the U23 worlds one place ahead of the Norwegians (Trude Meyer & Hanna Inntjore). Also the Italians have a young pair of junior world medallist, Beatrice Arcangiolini and U23 medallist, Gaia Marzari.
My picks…German for the gold with the Romanians 2nd and the Dutch 3rd.

W4X
9 entries. Olympic champions Ukraine have an all-new line-up lead by Olympian Olena Buryak. But I don’t think they will feature in the medals. It’ll be Germans (again!) who are clear favourites for gold. They have the same line-up (Oppelt, Thiele, Baer & Richter) that took Olympic silver last year. They should win this at a canter with probably, the Poles leading the chasing pack. They have a line-up of Joanna Leszcynka and Sylwia Lewandowska from the 8th placed Olympic quad joined by Maria Springwald & Agnieszka Kobus from the 4th placed U23 quad. The Romainas have a very youthful quad (possibly with an eye more on the U23 worlds) made up of 4 junior world medallists. Finally look out for the Italians (Schiavone, Colombo, Magnaghi & Palma) who all have medals from the European champs.
My picks…Germany by a country mile ahead of Poland with either Italy or the young Romanians in bronze.

W8
5 entries. This will probably be a fight between the Romanians and the Germans. The Romanians have half the crew that were 4th at the Olympics joined by 3 of the W4X who won bronze at last year’s Europeans and also European gold medallist, Andreea Boghian. The Germans have 5 of their Olympic 8 with the rest of the crew being recent U23’s. The Russians have got their bronze medal U23 W4- joined by half the crew that were 6th in this event last year. Of great interest are the Italians, I cannot remember the last time Italy entered a W8 at a senior FISA event. I do not expect them to be challenging for the medals (6 of the crew are making their international debuts) but it’s great to see them entered.
My picks…Germany gold, Romania silver Russia a long way back in bronze.

And now for the lighties
LM1X
14 entries. LM1X World Champion and erg monster, Henrik Stephansen still can’t get a seat in an Olympic boat 😉 He should be a reasonably comfortable winner in Seville. His main challenge will come from Portugal’s Pedro Fraga who was 5th in the LM2X Olympic final. These two should be well clear of the chasing pack which will probably be lead by Greece’s Spyridion Giannaros who won gold in the LM2X at last year’s Europeans. Also look out for Switzerland’s Michael Schmid (6th LM1X at last year’s world championships) and German Jonathan Koch who took bronze in the 1st World Cup this season.
My picks Stephansen gold, Fraga silver Schmid bronze

LM2X
22 entries. A big field with a lot of Olympic and world experience. Leading the way will be the French, Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou, who just missed out on a medal in London. The Greeks, Eleftherios Konsolas & Panagiotis Magdanis were 8th one place ahead of the Norwegians (Kristoffer Brun & Are Strandli). Making the transition from sweep to sculling are the Swiss and Dutch. Simon Schuerch and Mario Gyr were 5th in the LM4- in London one place ahead of the Muda brothers from Holland. With Pedro Fraga racing the single his seat in the LM2X is taken by Joao Gabriel (bronze LM8 in 2010) joining Nuno Mendes in the boat which made the “A” final at last year’s Games.
The final crew to highlight are the Germans, Lars Hartig and Konstantin Steinhubel. Hartig finished 6th in this boat at the Olympics and Steinhubel won silver at the U23 Worlds last year.

My picks…France, Greece, Switzerland

LM2-
10 entries. Pick of the bunch are the Swiss, Simon Neipmann & Lucas Tramer who were 5th in the light 4 at the Olympics. Chasing them will probably be the Italians, U23 LM4- world champion, Guido Gravina and world silver medallist Giorgio Tuccinardi. Also featuring should be the Greeks, Georgios Konsolas and Nikolaos Afentoulis who were both in the LM4X that won silver at the World Championships last year. The final crew to flag up are the Hungarian Revesz brothers who were 8th in the LM8 last year.

Picks..Switzerland, Greece, Italy

LM4-
11 entries. This event is all about the Danes. Eskild Ebbessen has retired and Jacob Larsen has the unenviable task of trying to fill the great mans shoes. The Danes should win fairly comfortably but the battle for the lesser medals will be fascinating. The Czech’s are the only country who have kept the same line-up as last year (where they finished 11th at the Olympics). The French have Thomas Baroukh and Franck Solforosi from last year’s LM4- which came 7th at London. The other half of the crew are U23 silver medallist Augustin Mouterde and Guilaume Raineau who was 7th in the LM1X last year. The German’s have put together an interesting boat with Olympian Lars Wichert joined by Lars Schoemann-Finck. Schoemann-Fink spent the winter training and racing in New Zealand where he won the New Zealand national Championships (no mean feat given the quality of lightweights New Zealand has), he also was the only German to race at the first world cup in Sydney where he raced both the lightweight and heavyweight singles (taking silver and bronze).
The Italians have a long tradition of lightweight rowing and they have put together an experienced line-up, Elia Luini won the “B” final in the LM2X at the Olympics and is a former World Champion, Livio La Padula was in the LM8 which won silver last year and Armando Dell’Aquila won gold in the LM2-. The final member of the crew is Martino Goretti who was 12th in this class at the Olympics.
The final boat to highlight are the Dutch with their world silver medal LM2- of Arnoud Greidanus & Joris Pijs joined by Timothee Heijbrock from the Olympic LM4- and Bjorn Van Den Ende who raced in the LM8 last year.
My picks, Denmark for gold, Germany silver and France bronze.

And finally…..

LW2X
13 entries. The Italians, Laura Milani & Elisabetta Sancassani are defending champions, but they will have their work cut out defending that title. The biggest challenge is likely to come from the Germans, Lena Mueller & Anja Noske who were “A” finalists at the Olympics. Also challenging will be the Danes, Helene Olsen & Christina Pultz who are world silver medallists from the LW4X. Keep an eye out also for the Dutch, Elisabeth Woerner & Joanneke Jansen who are both U23 medallists from last year. The final crew to watch will be the Polish who have LW4X gold medallist, Weronika Deresz, teamed with junior international, Katarzyna Welna.

My picks…Germany gold, Italy silver, Denmark bronze.

That’s it…the European Champs this year are like a mini World Cup and it’ll be fascinating to see how some of the new combinations get on, and whether the existing crews still have the speed from last year.
Next stop Dorney!

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