The biennial European Championships came to a close in Toplice Sveti Martin, Croatia, Saturday, as the continent’s finest disc golfers battled for gold, silver, and bronze. While Finland led the medals table with 10, there were six different nations that tasted victory, and all told players from 10 countries were called to the podium. Following the Suomi horde’s domination on their home soil at the 2016 EDGCs in Oulu, it was a marked difference to see such a geographical spread of talent, including the first ever medals for Estonia, Czech Republic, and the Croatian hosts.
Tournament favorite Simon Lizotte took down his second European title in Open, surviving the mostly tight and forested first 11 holes, where his lead dropped from six to four and his putter was glancing off metal more than sticking in the chains. The momentum swung back in the German’s favor on hole 12, when he nailed a downhill, 11-meter (36-foot) putt for the lead card’s only birdie. Lizotte then proceeded to crush his drive and approach on the 300-meter (990-foot), par-5 13th. When he drained his third eagle of the week on the sloping green, it was game over. Finland’s top dog Seppo Paju birdied out from hole 14 on to claim second, with his compatriot Väinö Mäkelä Finnishing comfortably in third place.
It was a similar story in the Open Women’s division, where 18-year-old Henna Blomroos extended her lead to six before teammate and traveling partner Eveliina Salonen whittled the advantage down to two. Blomroos, though, kept her cool down the home stretch, matching Salonen par for par before smoking a perfect turnover way down 18’s fairway. From there, she left her approach four meters from the bucket for birdie and the title.
France’s Sylvain Gouge survived a twisted ankle and a two-hole playoff to take the Masters crown over Finlander Janne Hirsimäki. Sweden’s Hasse Tegebäck cruised home in Grandmasters by 10 throws, with Spain’s Carlos Rio taking silver. Fellow Swede Olle Samuelsson and Switzerland’s Natalie Holloköi came from behind to lay claim to the titles in MP60 and FP40, respectively. Finland’s Maria Asikainen ran away with FJ18, and – in one of the feel-good surprises of the week – young Czech Bohdan Bílek held off Finland’s Oskari Vikström by averaging sensational 1018-rated golf to take gold in MJ18.
As the sun sets, all of us who had the privilege of being here extend our sincere thanks to Tournament Director Dinko Šimenc and his deep cast of volunteers from the emerging disc golf hotbed of Croatia for organizing and running this terrific event. Hvala vampuno! Lastly, kudos go out to Jussi Meresmaa and The SpinTV, who live-streamed the final holes and are now busy working on post-production videos of Saturday’s MPO and FPO lead cards. Wherever you are in the world, you’ll soon be able to see how it all went down at the 2018 European Championships.
Dobra noć i sigurna putovanja kući. (Good night and safe travels home.)
Report from PDGA: Brian Hoeniger #4022