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Another day of hot competition in Portugal at the Skyrunning European Championships. Again, records were crushed and international stars shone at the SKY discipline with the Pisão Skyrunning – 35 km long with 3,500m of rugged vertical climb.
The men’s race favorite was Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik who lived up to expectations, and more, by closing in 3h42’45” – 58’ under the record time and another gold medal for his collection. Just two minutes later, an outstanding Cristian Minoggio from Italy crossed the finish line to take the silver. The bronze medal went to Spaniard Jordi Alis Sanchez, just over 8’ behind the winner.
Angermund-Vik knows the punishing terrain here well after participating twice and setting the record in 2019 in the longer Pisão Extreme, Friday’s SKYULTRA discipline. “It was a much tougher race that the previous times I’ve been here and much faster than expected. Today I wasn’t so fast on the downhills, so I tried to get on the leaders’ heels on the uphills. Towards the finished I pushed to put in a gap and succeed. It was a tough one!” he commented.
Another favourite, Zaid Ait Malek from Spain, finished fourth without a medal. “I tried my best, but today wasn’t my day. I suffered a lot in the second half but I’m so happy that Jordi Alis got the podium. He did a great race and I’m so happy to help my team, which is a great team!”
The Spanish team proved as strong as ever. Apart from the men’s bronze, they took a gold and a bronze medal in the women’s race. Race winner Patricia Piñeda took almost two hours off the previous race record and three minutes off the previous men’s record (!). The silver went to Italy’s Fabiola Conti and the bronze, Mireia Pons.
Crying with joy, Piñeda exclaimed, “I’m so happy! I still can’t believe it. I was ready for a tough race, but this was the toughest race I’ve ever done! Fabiola Conti was so strong at the beginning. I tried to stay with her and when I passed her, I never looked back, trying to focus on my race and my pace. It’s incredible, I’m European Champion!”
The Skyrunning European Championships, despite being an end-of-season event counting a number of athletes with injuries acquired over the year, the incredible number, strength and enthusiasm of the ISF members and their teams proved an enormous success. No less than 19 men and 12 women thrashed the previous course record today, while yesterday’s SKYULTRA race record was beaten by nine men and 13 women.
The Skyrunning European Championships country ranking sees Spain, Italy and host country Portugal heading the medal count, followed by Russia, Netherlands and Norway. It’s interesting to see the Netherlands rise to such a high ranking, considering the completely flat morphology of the country.
Counting a top-ten position in the SKYULTRA yesterday and an eighth position in the SKY today, one of the Dutch athletes, Ewoud Laudy, who placed 22nd in 4h53’26”, explained how they did it. “We do a lot of hill repeats. We have a hill in a nearby forest, it’s 30m high and we run up fifty times, or whatever our goal is. We do a lot on the treadmill with 18% incline.” Skyrunning is not just about the vertical up and down climb but the tough terrain and loose rocks. “We tackle that by taking a lot of vacations in mountains!” he concluded.
2021 European Skyrunning Championships – SKY discipline medallists
Gold: Stian Angermund-Vik – NOR – 3h42’45”
Silver: Cristian Minoggio – ITA – 3h44’52”
Bronze: Jordi Alis Sanchez – ESP – 3h51’08”
Gold: Patricia Piñeda – ESP – 4h37’46”
Silver: Fabiola Conti – ITA – 4h56’55”
Bronze: Mireia Pons – ESP – 4h57’55”
The National titles are based on the best four results scored by Official National Team members in each race, counting at least one per gender.
Gold: Spain – 678 points
Silver: Italy – 550 points
Bronze: Portugal – 474 points
Countries in ranking order:
Spain, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Netherlands, Norway, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, Montenegro, Denmark, Ukraine, Sweden, Kosovo.
The Skyrunnng European Championships, celebrating their tenth edition, were open only to official national teams and had a separate start from the event open to the public.
Fifteen medals across the two disciplines were awarded together with the Skyrunning European Champion titles.
WADA anti-doping tests were carried out by the Portuguese member, FCMP and the International Skyrunning Federation.