The European Championship started by Middle Qualification in Hökberg arena.
Men run 5 km long courses and the winners of the three qualification heats are the defending European Champion Valentin Novikov (Russia), Olav Lundanes (Norway) and Johan Runesson (Sweden).
On 4 km women courses Minna Kauppi (Finland), Anne Margrethe Hausken Norberg (Norway) and Helena Jansson are the winners of the heats.
Results are on the main page. The competitors placed number 17 and better in each qualification heat are qualified to run the A-final on Thursday May 17thin Skattungbyn. The only exception is the C-heat in women class. Due to the technical problems with time-keeping it was decided by the Competition Director Mark Baljeu to take 20 runners from this heat to A-final (instead of usual 17) to maintain fairness of the competition.
Valentin Novikov (see below) in A-heat won by 3 seconds ahead of his team mate Dmitry Tsvetkov and Mikhail Mamleev representing Italy(both had the same time).
The B-heat was dominated by Norwegian Olav Lundanes (see below) who beat his team mate Carl Waaler Kaas by 37 seconds, the third Vojtech Kral from theCzech Republiclost 40 seconds.
Johan Runesson (see below) in C-heat defeated the “King of Middle distance” Thierry Gueorgiou by 15 seconds. The third place was surprisingly taken by Jonas Vytautas Gvildys fromLithuania.
15 countries will have their team members in men A-final on Thursday in Skattungbyn. 6 runners from Sweden and Norway qualified to A-final.Russia,Switzerland(after elimination of Martin Hubmann) andFinland (Hannu Airila was eliminated) will have 5 runners on start of the A-final, the Czech Republic and France 4 runners. Other 8 countries (Denmark, Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Austria) 3 and less athletes.
The big time differences characterized the women A-heat. Minna Kauppi (see below), returning in shape after her serious heart sickness in winter, won by 1:59 minutes ahead of Ines Brodmann from Switzerland, Annika Billstam (Sweden) on the third place lost 2:19 minutes.
Anne Margrethe Hausken Norberg (see below) defeated the defending European champion Simone Niggli from Switzerland by 23 seconds, Lena Eliasson (Sweden) was the third with loss of 57 seconds.
The Swedish star Helena Jansson (see below) is also back after illness and injury. She won the C-heat by 45 seconds ahead of her team mate Tove Alexandersson. “This was a demanding course. Sometimes fast run and sometimes very difficult. The body was not really cooperating, but I managed it technically today,” Helena said in the finish. Maja Moller Alm from Denmark finished as the third.
So there will be 54 women in middle distance A-final on Thursday. Sweden, Norway and Finland will have 6 runners. Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Russia 5 runners, and Denmark 4 athletes. Seven other countries (France, Great Britain, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Estonia and Italy) will have 3 or less runners in the A-final.
(All pictures taken by Anders Öberg.)