Nikita Bogdanov with the gold medal after an evening full of emotions

Nikita Bogdanov won the title of Individual European Champion in speedway on ice in Tomaszów Mazowiecki. The Russian was unrivaled, winning all his races. Silver for Ove Ledstroem (Sweden), and the bronze disc hung around Luca Bauer’s neck (Italy). The fourth was the gold defender Dmitriy Soliannikov (Russia).

Arena Lodowa hosted the championship of the Old Continent for the second time in a row. This time it was held with the participation of fans who supported the players with loud cheering. It was emphasized after the competition by their winner. – It helped me a lot, even brought me to the finish line. Thank you very much to all the fans – said Bogdanov.

Falls, bad luck and injuries
The beginning of the competition was a bit long, because we recorded numerous falls. Most often it was the experienced Aki Ala-Rihiimaki. The Finn replaced Frankie Zorn, who was unable to ride in the tournament due to a fall during Friday’s training. Ala-Rihiimaki also had to go to the hospital after the second fall and withdrew from further competition.

Johann Weber did not survive until the end. “EisHans” had equipment problems and was on the track twice. He has not left for his last run. Like Michał Knapp, who also managed to finish only his first race. It had a bizarre course, because Max Koivula fell first, damaged Weber’s motorcycle in the repeat, and after the race, Ala-Rihiimaki was excluded for crossing the inner part of the track with two wheels.

In this situation, Knapp scored 3 points. The Pole, however, did not finish any of his start-ups, he also recorded a fall in which his elbow suffered. He has already withdrawn from the last run. – This is not what I had imagined for this performance, mainly a training tour was missing. We also had problems with the tires and the fit of the equipment. Plus this painful fall. I’m not in a good mood – said the representative of our country.

Iwemy’s bad luck
The leaders of the competition rode on a different level. Not only Bogdanov, but also Ledström, Soliannikov and the experienced Harald Simon presented themselves excellently. Luca Bauer also got from gear to run.

After 20 races, Bogdanov and Ledström were confident of their participation in the final. Soliannikov entered the play-off, and Bauer watched from the parking lot what would happen in the rivalry between Simon and Iwema. If the Dutch had won and the Austrian had come second – then the young German representing Italy would have dropped out of the top six. Cheered by his family (including his mother from Konin) and Iwem’s friends, he chased Simon, but he blocked his way and the Dutchman fell.

The judge ordered a repetition of the three (previously Koivula was excluded) and the fight against time in the machine park began. Before Iwema left the track again, it was necessary to replace the towbar and remove the foil, which unluckily got caught in the front wheel as a result of an earlier collision. It took the longest time to get her out. It was nervous, although Nieek Schaap was waiting, who without hesitation started his motorcycle, ready to lend it to Iwem.

In the end, the competitor of Polish origin left with his equipment and stood for the repetition of the 19th race. However, he did not manage to catch up, fighting with Andrej Divis, he fell, and later – to the applause of the audience – he pushed the motorcycle one point to the finish line.

Youth takes it all
The great emotions have just begun. In the 20th race, Ledstroem showed off the action of the day, defeating Soliannikov. The defender of the title was the best in the play-off, and Bauer also made it to the finals with a fantastic attack on the outside when he passed Simon.

The decisive battle had two parts. Bogdanov won the first start, and Soliannikov was chasing Ledström behind him. There was a collision between them, and the judge decided that the Russian was at fault, excluding him from the repeat. There was even blood shed, because the spikes in the tire had scarred Soliannikov’s foot and Ledstroem’s chin.

The second start again belonged to Bogdanov, who turned out to be unrivaled. Ledström came second and Bauer came third. That was the order on the podium. – I am very happy, it is my great success. I would like to thank my father and the mechanics without whom this gold medal would not exist – emphasized Bogdanov.

Ledström was also pleased. – Taking into account the fact that I drove third in the first part of the final, and in the repetition I came second, I can be satisfied. Congratulations Nikita, he was the fastest today – said Ledström.

Bauer, on the other hand, was the first to hug Father Gunther, one of the legends of ice speedway, who was happy with his medal. – I am very happy with this result. After a not very nice start, the bikes did great afterwards, said Bauer.

It is worth noting that all four finalists are players of the younger generation. Ledström is 24 years old, Bauer is a year younger than him, Soliannikov is two years younger, and Bogdanov is only 20 springs. Taking into account the extensive experience of many competitors taking part in the ice speedway, we can certainly talk about a breath of freshness in this sport discipline.

1. Nikita Bogdanov (Russia) – 15 + 3 (3,3,3,3,3) – 1st place in the final
2. Ove Ledstrom (Sweden) – 14 + 2 (3,3,3,2,3) – 2nd place in the final
3. Luca Bauer (Italy) – 10 + 2 + 1 (1,2,1,3,3) – 3rd place in the final
4. Dmitry Solannikov (Russia) – 13 + 3 + in (2,3,3,3,2) – 4th place in the final
5. Harald Simon (Austria) – 12 + 1 (3,3,2,1,3) – 3rd place in the play-off
6. Albin Lindblom (Sweden) – 10 + 0 (2,2,2,2,2) – 4th place in the play-off
7. Jasper Iwema (Netherlands) – 8 (2,1,1,3,1)
8. Niek Schaap (The Netherlands) – 7 (1,1,2,2,1)
9. Andrej Divis (Czech Republic) – 6 (0,1,2,1,2)
10. Jimmy Hornell (Sweden) – 4 (0.2 in, 2, u)
11. Lukas Hutla (Czech Republic) – 4 (ex, 2,1,1, ex)
12. Michał Knapp (Poland) – 3 (3, d, ex, d, ns)
13. Hans Weber (Germany) – 3 (d, ex, 3, u, ns)
14. Atte Suolammi (Finland) – 3 (1,0,0,1,1)
15. Max Koivula (Finland) – 2 (ex, 1,1,0, ex)
16. Aki Ala-Riihimaki (Finland) – 0 (ex, ex, ns, ns, ns)