Who to watch at 2019 European Rowing Championships
It’s just days away from the start of the biggest international event so far this season, the 2019 European Rowing Championships.
Taking place in Lucerne, Switzerland from 31 May-2 June the championships have attracted 36 nations and nearly 600 athletes.
Expect to see top racing as many of these athletes are stepping out for the first time this season and as well as some established crews there are quite a number of new boat line-ups that could prove to be the right combinations. Check out who will be there and who you’ll want to watch.
Women’s pair (W2-)
Sixteen crews are entered to compete and this race is a tough one to call. The new Dutch combination of Aletta Jorritsma and Jose van Veen came out strong this season by winning at the first World Rowing Cup. Spain holds the bronze medal from the 2018 World Rowing Championships, but has one new crew member. Virginia Diaz Rivas has teamed up with Aina Cid. The new pair finished sixth at the first World Cup and now with more time rowing together it is likely they’ll step up at this regatta.
Denmark has also entered a new combination. Olympic bronze medallist Hedvig Rasmussen has teamed up with 2017 European silver medallist Christina Johansen. Denmark has a number of women’s sweep medals in the last few years and this duo might be able to pick up another one. Watch out too for Ukraine. Oksana Golub finished fourth at last year’s European Championships in the women’s pair and has teamed up with the fastest woman on the rowing machine, Olena Buryak.
Men’s pair (M2-)
As in the women’s pair, the field has 16 entries and is wide open. The first World Rowing Cup earlier this month saw a shake-up when the young Serbian crew of Milos Vasic and Martin Mackovic beat the World Champion Sinkovic brothers in the final. Both crews are entered and both have nothing to lose.
Also challenging for a top spots will be Romania and France. Romania has entered their silver-medal crew from last year’s World Rowing Championships, Ciprian Tudosa and Marius-Vasile Cozmiuc. The French brothers Theophile and Valentin Onfroy are world bronze medallists and European silver medallists. Watch out too for Spain. They finished just behind Croatia at the first World Rowing Cup and look to be on form this season.
Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x)
It is an 18-boat field and the racing will surely be intense. The biggest absence is that of the reigning World Champions, the O’Donovan brothers from Ireland. In their place, Ireland has entered Jacob and Fintan McCarthy. The McCarthy brothers are making their way up from the under-23 level.
They will have a big challenge with many top boats competing. The reigning European Champions, Are Strandli and Kristoffer Brun of Norway have pulled out at the last minute. This leaves the door open for the Italians. Italy has entered their silver medal crew from last year’s World Championships, Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta.
Don’t forget about Belgium. Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe are bronze medallists from the 2018 World Championships and they started the season on the right foot by winning World Rowing Cup I earlier this month.
Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)
The favourites have to be reigning World Champions from Romania, Ionela-Livia Cozmiuc and Gianina-Elena Beleaga. The duo withdrew from the first World Rowing Cup this season, so we have yet to see them race in 2019.
They will face a big challenge from Swiss home favourites Frederique Rol and Patricia Mertz. Rol and Mertz have been steadily climbing their way to the top over the last few years. They raced to a bronze at last year’s European Championships and were just shy of the podium at the World Rowing Championships.
Watch out too the Netherlands. Ilse Paulis picked up several medals in the 2018 season with partner Marieke Keijser, but Keijser is working her way back from injury and will race the single. Paulis teamed up with Martine Veldhuis and together they finished second at World Rowing Cup I. They will try and better this in Lucerne.
Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x)
The Polish World and European Champions are back. This is the first event of the season for them and they are definitely the crew to beat. This crew of Zillmann, Springwald, Wieliczko and Kobus-Zawojska have steadily built speed over the last Olympic cycle. The Germans will do their best to stop the Poles, but with two new crew members from last year’s silver medal winning boat, they are a bit of an unknown factor.
Keep an eye on the Netherlands. They finished third at last year’s World Rowing Championships, but also have two new members. Olympian Inge Janssen has returned from a one-year break and Roos de Jong has been substituted for the injured Nicole Beukers. Ukraine is also likely to be in the mix. They finished second at last year’s European Championships, but have also made changes to their line-up.
Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x)
The Italians will be the hot favourites. They are the reigning World and European Champions and have entered the same crew of Giacomo Gentili, Filippo Mondelli, Andrea Panizza and Luca Rambaldi.
But they will have to fight for it. Ukraine has entered their bronze medal winning crew from last year’s World Championships. The British saw disappointing results from their men’s quad in 2018 and have made changes to the line-up again. This makes them a bit of an unknown factor.
Then there are several crews that are often in the a-final including the Netherlands, Poland and Lithuania. These three countries have made changes to their line-ups from 2018, but manage to put together strong crews year after year. Don’t forget about Norway either. Veteran Olaf Tufte is sitting in stroke seat and hoping to lead his crew to yet another podium.
Men’s double sculls (M2x)
The French are the crew to beat in this 19-boat race. Hugo Bucheron and Matthieu Androdias are reigning World and European Champions and look to be unstoppable. The duo went from a handful of a-final finishes to the top of the podium in 2018 and this is their first international event of the 2019 season. Looking to challenge them will be the home favourites, Switzerland. The Swiss double had several line-up changes in 2018, but they seem to have settled on Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli. This combination finished just behind the French at the 2018 World Rowing Championships.
Watch out too for Germany’s Stephan Krueger and Tim Ole Naske. Naske famously fought for the top spot in the German men’s single sculls last year, but lost out to the newcomer Oliver Zeidler. Naske now pairs up with three-time Olympian Krueger. Keep an eye out too for Great Britain and Poland. They both have new line-ups, but typically put together quick crews in this boat class.
Women’s double sculls (W2x)
This field includes the reigning World Champions, Lithuania, and the reigning European Champions, France. The Lithuanian crew of Ieva Adomaviciute and Milda Valciukaite have been racing together for several seasons. They finally found top speed to win at last year’s World Rowing Championships.
The French crew of Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino have had mixed results. They won gold at last year’s European Championships, but finished last in the b-final at the World Championships. It is anyone’s guess how they perform in this early-season race.
Watch out too for Belarus. Their new line-up finished second at the World Rowing Cup I a few weeks ago. And don’t be surprised if Great Britain and Germany end up in the final. They have new line-ups, but often finish strong in this category.
Men’s single sculls (M1x)
This blue riband event has attracted 25 entries and some big names. The first name on the list is Norway’s Kjetil Borch. Borch pulled off the impossible last year by winning the World Championships. But was he able to maintain speed over the winter months? Borch will face a big challenge from Olympic silver medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek heads into his 19th international season on form.
Oliver Zeidler from Germany had his first international season last year and he remains Germany’s fastest single sculler with a winter training season putting him in good stead for racing.
Keep an eye too for Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis. Griskonis finished third at the 2018 World Championships and has a stack of medals to his name. And don’t forget about home favourite Nico Stahlberg. Stahlberg collected a few medals in 2018 and will have the home crowd on his side.
Women’s single sculls (W1x)
Jeannine Gmelin won everything in 2017 and 2018, until Sanita Puspure from Ireland raced a fantastic final at the World Rowing Championships to take home gold. Gmelin is making her 2019 season debut and she will be up against a late entry from Puspure.
For Gmelin and Puspure their biggest competitors are likely to be Magdalena Lobnig of Austria and Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands. Lobnig has been a regular on the podium and in 2018, she finished second at the European Championships and third at the World Championships. Scheenaard was most recently part of the Dutch women’s double that finished second at last year’s European Championships. She won gold in the women’s single at World Rowing Cup I earlier this month and is definitely a medal contender in Lucerne. Watch out too for 2012 Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova. Knapkova took time off to have a baby and is back at it for the 2020 Olympic cycle.
Women’s Four (W4-)
Most of the crews are new line-ups. The Russians are the reigning European Champions in this boat class, but they have entered a completely new crew. Romania holds the silver from last year’s European Championships and is also regularly strong in women’s sweep rowing, but they have also entered a new line-up. It includes, however, the formidable force of Madalina Beres, the 2018 European Champion in the women’s pair.
Watch out too for Poland and Denmark. Poland finished third at last year’s European Championships and they have kept the same combination. Denmark has seen recent success in this category, but also seem to be switching rowers between the women’s pair and women’s four. The Netherlands may also post a result, they recently won gold at the first World Cup of the season.
Men’s four (M4-)
The Romanians will be looking to retain their 2018 European title. They have made one switch to their line-up, bringing in Mugurel Vasile Semciuc for Cosmin Pescari. The crew recently finished second at World Rowing Cup I, behind the Polish. Poland has entered the same line-up for Lucerne and will be looking to repeat their gold medal win.
Romania and Poland will face a strong Italian crew. Italy has seen mixed results over the last few years, but finished with silver at last year’s World Rowing Championships. They have made one change to their line-up, replacing Matteo Lodo with Cesare Gabbia. Keep an eye out too for Great Britain and Germany. Their men’s sweep rowing programmes are robust and they are likely to boat fast crews.
Women’s eight (W8+)
The women’s eight is a four-boat race between Great Britain, the Netherlands, Romania and Russia.
Romania is reigning European Champions, but were recently beaten by the Dutch at the first World Rowing Cup. Russia did not enter a women’s eight in the 2018 season and will be looking for a strong debut to the 2019 year. Great Britain has had mixed results. They finished ahead of the Dutch in second at last year’s European Championships, but were sixth at the World Rowing Championships.
This straight final will certainly be interesting to watch to get an idea of each crew’s 2019 speed.
Men’s eight (M8+)
The Germans are back. This is the first international event for this season coming from a clean sweep of the 2018 season. They also hold the World Best Time. The German flagship boat will be looking for a repeat performance this year.
The rest of the field is a shake-up. Great Britain has put their top athletes into the men’s eight and will look to challenge the field. Romania had a strong showing in 2018, but lost to Poland at World Rowing Cup I. The Netherlands has a new line-up and will be looking to test their speed.
International boat classes
The lightweight women’s single sculls (LW1x) has drawn an impressive 14 entries. One of the forerunners must be Belarus’ Alena Furman. She rowed an incredible final at last year’s European Championships to take home the title. Watch out too for silver medallist in the lightweight women’s double and under-23 World Champion, Marieke Keijser. Keijser was out for World Rowing Cup I due to injury and is therefore racing in the single.
The lightweight men’s single sculls (LM1x) capped off with 18 entries, including Ireland’s Gary O’Donovan. O’Donovan doesn’t often race in the single and it will be interesting to see what he can do. He will be challenged by Italy’s Martino Goretti, Croatia’s Luka Radonic, and Slovenia’s Raijko Hrvat. These veterans have been racing against each other for years and all have top results under their names.
The lightweight men’s quadruple sculls (LM4x) has eight entries and it is a toss-up between Italy and Germany. Italy is the reigning European Champions, while Germany is the reigning World Champions. Both countries have made changes to their line-ups. Watch out too for Turkey. They finished third at last year’s World Rowing Championships and are surely medal contenders.