FINLAND ARE CROWNED WORLD DISC GOLF CHAMPIONS.
….and it’s all over! A busy day on the course for everyone, both players and spectators, ended with a final win for the Finnish Team; but not without some anxiety! If you can remember back to yesterday the Finns made a controversial Captains Pick in choosing to play Estonia in the semi-final. It nearly did come back to bite them.
Half way through the morning round the Estonian Wolf was prowling the course and causing some concern amongst the visitors from the across the Baltic. They were up in one doubles match and one pair of singles and tied in another – but like many wolves these days they eventually had to run away with their tails between their legs as they were chased off the course. Finland came back in all matches and only Estonian Captain Raimo Kimmel resisted. He won his match against Mikael Hyvari 4 and 3 but that was the only victory for Estonia. The Finnish Captain Janne Hirsimaki had dropped himself for this game so he could marshall his team – and he found that an uncomfortable experience. He was no longer behind the wheel (Finnish Kimi Raikkonen joke coming up) and he could not lose himself in the race (I didn’t say it would be funny) !
His nervousness proved unfounded and after the win we knew he would be back in his usual masterful position, playing not managing! Which he did to great effect in the Final. In the other semi-final match Germany beat Austria 5 to 3. Wins for their powerhouse FPO Ann-Katrin Semert and Junior Timo Hartmann gave Germany a hard fought 1 up win to earn their first points. Benedict Heiss lost out to Austrian Jonas Neuliner 5 and 4 but the match was won with another doubles victory by the impressive Dominic Stampfer and the younger Kevin Konsorr. That double doubles victory guaranteed Germany a place in the final which was sealed by a point in the match between Gregor Matter and Otfried Derschmidt – two very experienced players on the European Disc Golf scene who battled to and fro but ended up as all old men do – settling for a draw!
Meanwhile the lower order places were being sorted as the Czech Republic continued their climb up the rankings – and with only their minimum 6 players. These athletes are highly skilled – and very young – as are the Austrian Team – and despite their Masters Player bringing the average up a lot the very youthful Bohdan Bilek combined with Lukas Filandr to contrive a draw with the hugely talented and experience French pair of Sylvain Goouge and Mehdi Boukarabilia. It is highly likely that the French Team will be disappointed with their 6th place but they did not manage a win against the Czech team who were strong against all their opponents.
In the minor placings Slovakia beat Canada on count back to claim 7th; New Zealand saw off the British Team 6-2 to take 9th and Lithuania beat the Spanish for 11th. This was Saturday morning – it was one last game with a chance to leave with that warm feeling of having at ,least played well against the teams closest to you in skill. It certainly appeared that a lot of players were going to have fun and play well at the same time! A certain sense of ennui set in – an acceptance of what will be will be – after four days, eight games and more holes played than could be remembered their were suddenly some standout moments. The Latvians had clearly decided that being in Pool J to determine 13-17 place was an affront to their National Identity. Here was Estonia and Lithuania doing well for their seeding and making semi-finals and there they were second in Pool J looking at 14th! Not to be -they took the Australians 8-0 and overtook the Americans in the fast lane heading for the border!
The medal matches in the afternoon had some highlights and some interesting permutations. All the scores were being uploaded to DiscGolfMetrix.com and were followed on the course, across the country, Europe and the World. At one time there was a huge intake of breath as it looked like the German Team might actually be challenging the impoermeab le Finns in three of the four matches! Only Niklas Anttila and Janne Jirsimaki started strong – 3 up arter 4 holes they eventually won 2 and 1 – while all the other games were close. But the Finns were too strong. Sini Lindholm won 5 and 6 but not before Ann-Katrin Semert had made a big impression on the gallery following their Singles match. Lindholm eventually ran out a 6 and 5 winner but the entertainment value watching these two women throw so far was worthy of a Final round. One British Team member was reduced to tears – he certainly couldn’t drive as far as either of these impressive women.
Dominic Stampfer put up a low key resistance in his match against Jesse Nieminen. He uncharacteristically missed putts he would normally get in his sleep and seemed to be affected by the way in which Nieminen approached his game – focused and relentless in his self-criticism (thought he might hurt himself when he missed a putt and hit his leg) Jesse proved too much and Dominic fell 5 and 4.
The Estonians were too much for the Austrians – despite taking 2 points from the very spirited Estonian Captain Raimo Kimmel the home country won all three other matches – but three were close – only winning in the last hole. Only Maris Perendi had an easy time of it against Lea Schadenhofer but though there was resistance the Estonians took their first medal at the World Team Championships. Though they might have wished they could have played Finland in the Final this is a good result fore the home team and will lead to more success for the individuals as well as the team in the future.
In the meantime the medals have been awarded. Finland are World Champions – Hirsimaki gave a very moving speech about his team and the event (an almost emotional speech one might say for which we have great respect); everyone said thank you to everyone else; the sun was shining; teams were already congratulating each other and looking forward to the evening party with memories to last a life time. Friends have been made and experiences cherished – and all we have to do is say goodbye and thank you for following us these last four days. Ut has been extraordinary in many ways!
Oh – and WFDF 2021 World Team Disc Golf Championships will be in CROATIA – See ya there!!!!!