Episode 10: a Viennese waltz in three steps
"Rather, it is an activity to maintain shape, a fitness leisure," said Matthew Grandgirard. The Frenchman lived in Vienna for nearly a decade. Over time, he became very close to the Austrian skaters at the point of being their current coach. This year, he took three athletes in his luggage: Juniors Christian Kromoser and Tristan Ulreich... and his big brother in Senior category: Jakob Ulreich.
Ulreich brothers are not strangers on the continental scene. Jakob was a member of the Rollerblade ILA Speedodrom Team. This team has scoured the marathons in Central Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic ...) in recent seasons. The track events are not necessarily his favorite pastries: he finished 22nd in the 1000m, 15th in the point/elimination race and 16th in the elimination race.
A Parking and a bicycle path for training ...
It's not so unusual: Austria has no track to skate. All athletes train in a parking lot, like their British counterparts. They also use a bike path that passes through the center of Vienna (20km return), but it can be widely used by the "real" fitness skaters. It can become quickly crowded, especially on weekends ... So, in the Netherlands Jakob waited patiently: he knew that the road would be more favorable and that he could really shine on the marathon. At the same time, all alone, his possibilities were rather small ... Without a strong team, it was difficult to make miracles!
His younger brother Tristan was probably in a better shape in this championships. Similarly, it could only rely on himself (Christian Kromoser started the competition later). In races, he had to seek the aspiration of Switzerland Livio Wenger, because he knew that the big teams like France, Belgium, the Netherlands or Italy left him no opportunity. With a 10th place in the elimination race and a 14th in point/elimination on the track, he did good.
Tristan took bronze in the marathon!
It will be understood, Austria is not the best equipped country in Europe either ... With 70 participants in all and for all at the national championships, is barely more than a score of Sweden. The pool of skaters in Austria is not going to renew itself. Furthermore, the federal structures and the clubs are virtually nonexistent. Without federal support, young and old skaters may certainly abandon the roller speed-skating and choose another popular sport such as winter sports.
However, the last road races of the European Championships have agreed with abnegation of Matthew Grandgirard and his three skaters. Tristan has reached all the objectives and more... He took a good eighth place in the 20km elimination. Above all, helped by his experience and his coach during the marathon, he escaped with Guillaume De Mallevoue and Niels Mesu. the Vienna skater got a magnificent bronze medal! He waved his fist repeatedly on the finish line... a real achievement for this young skater!
Of all small nations present in the Netherlands, Austria is the only one, with Portugal (or rather Martyn Dias) and Switzerland (Livio Wenger not to quote him), to bring one or more podiums. Between Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and others, get a the medal is a great victory!
Written by Léa Réguer-Petit
Translated by Alexandre Chartier
Photos : Daniel Busser