European Tree Climbing Championship 2019 – Belgium rocks the ETCC on the island of Rügen

The organizers of the European Tree Climbing Championships 2019 did not even bother to keep silence about the Masters Tree 2019. Everyone from the tree climbing scene who entered the area next to the Marshall Stable in Putbus immediately knew on which tree the new European champions in tree climbing would be determined. A mighty plane tree was enthroned in the middle, striking and sublime, and the pre-competitions and sponsoring tents were awestruck by her. After an exciting competition on both days, the series winner of the last few years triumphed in the women’s singles, while two Belgians won the men’s singles title at the ETCC 2019.

Picturesque castle park in Putbus

Masters Tree ETCC 2019Already in 2015, the castle park in Putbus was a dream location for the first East German tree climbing championship. The organizers of the ISA gladly accepted the city’s offer to return to a championship again. Most of the participants and guests happily endured the efforts of the journey. The wonderful trees of the park provided a worthy backdrop for the competitions of the ETCC 2019 and the weather showed itself from its best side.

Compact and without big ways, the trees of the preliminaries were close to each other. Only the Ascent event was a bit off the beaten track, which was noticeable in the atmosphere. In the Speedclimb it was up a light chestnut tree and the spectators could watch every grip of the climbers. At an old lime tree and a huge ash tree one had to hit the right tree fork. With the difficult trees of the Throwline not everyone succeeded.

In a wonderful and well accessible oak the organizers put on the Workclimb where the climbers could glide back and forth between the branches. The rescue was placed in the cooling shadow of a lime tree. In the scenario, a larger dead branch had detached itself and slew the person to be rescued. The time was as always very short. But who expects easy challenges at a European Championship?

The preliminaries at ETCC 2019

As always on tree climbing championships was also valid on Rügen: Whoever wants to enter the Masters has to convince in the preliminaries and win one or the other medal. At the Throwline 2019 there were some zero rounds and many timeouts. Boel Hammerstrand Sweden won the women’s title with eight points, while Jiri Voda Czech Republic won the men’s title with a sensational 28 points.

The Ascent Event was multiple times a close decision and the winners and places were sometimes only a few tenths of a second apart. The gold medals for the first place were won by Josephine Hedger United Kingdom and David Sedlák Czech Repubic. The Speedclimb was similarly tight. A wrong grip or kick decided about some places and important points for the masters place. In 22,6 seconds Anders Vinther Denmark won the men’s race and in 53 seconds Laura Borgonovo Italy won the women’s race.

The Work Climb at the European Tree Climbing Championships was also very competitive for the men. Between the first four places there were just 0.6 points! First place went to last year’s European Champion Romain Chignardet France. In the women’s event, the European Champion of 2018, Josephine Hedger United Kingdom, also ensured victory, but clearly ahead of the competition. Frits van der Werff Belgium and Josephine Hedger United Kingdom convinced the jury the most during the ETCC 2019.

Mixed Masters

Especially in the men’s event the medals of the pre-competitions were distributed among the starters in a wide way, which led to some surprises in the final. Frits van der Werff Belgium went to the Masters as the best performer in the preliminary round. He was followed by Peter Vergote Belgium, Johan Pihl Sweden, Björn Lüdeke Germany and Jiri Voda Czech Repubic. The guest starter James Earhart USA, who was second in the preliminaries, also qualified. The reigning European Champion Romain Chignardet and the German Champion Fafa Weber missed the Masters.

In the women’s singles Josephine Hedger United Kingdom qualified clearly ahead of Louise Grønbæck Denmark and Eva-Maria Mauz Germany for the master run through the plane tree.

The Women’s Masters

Women's Masters ETCC 2019In the women’s Masters at the European Tree Climbing Championships 2019, Josephine clearly emerged as the favourite. The four times European Champion showed her usual strong performance and used all tricks to reach the bells. The long distances of the masters tree – women and men climbed the same parcours – were also too much for her. After the third bell she had to slide out of the tree to have enough time to remove the system.

The two other starters already fought with the throw-in and Eva-Maria, as well as partly the other starters, additionally with the plane tree hairs. After two stations, she had to leave the tree in order to remove the ropes in time. Unfortunately, Louise didn’t get that far. At the throwing station she had a mishap: she forgot the warning at every throw and the jury had no choice but to disqualify her.

Thus, Josephine Hedger United Kingdom defended her European Champion title for the third time in a row. Due to her disqualification Louise was only third in the Masters, while Eva-Maria fought her way to a great second position.

The Men’s Masters

Men's Masters ETCC 2019There was a lot going on at the Men´s Masters. Six starters took up the challenge. With a total time of 37 minutes per run, this meant a lot of work for the jury and a good organisation of the event. Therefore all participants deserve a big praise for the good handling of the Masters and that the award ceremony could take place in the early evening.

James from the USA opened the Master’s Day at the ETCC 2019 as a guest starter. The 2015 World Champion showed clever and clean climbing and inspired the early risers who had already arrived at the Masters with their beach trolleys. The very first throw was done and afterwards he showed no hectic rush and climbed calmly his plan with enough time for removing the ropes.

Jiri, on the other hand, was visibly more struggling. Several misthrows and an early warning put him under pressure and in the end he had to put everything on one card because of time pressure. At the weight station he had to strike the bell quickly and then remove the ropes. With luck he finished his run with a second on the clock. Johan was fast in the tree and had almost 30 minutes for the four bells. Despite long ways he had at the end three minutes for the ropes. However the ascent rope could not be pulled out of the tree despite all efforts.

Björn scored with the first line, but had to work for a long time to ensure that the line was correctly anchored. Afterwards he showed clean and safe climbing and surprised the spectators with a traverse, which he installed by using a throwing hook. But in the end his climbing was too complicated and time consuming and he had to climb out of the tree after three bells.

MThe two Belgians Frits van der Werff and Peter Vergote convinced with unagitated, clear and fast climbing. Frits showed a long pullback and was ready 30 seconds before the end of the time. Peter, who scored with his first throw at the throwing station, provided great rejoicing. Due to the enormously high and far to throw station, almost none of the other participants was able to hit at all. With him the clock stopped two and a half minutes before the end.

The two strong performances of the Belgians were reflected in the final result of ETCC 2019. Frits van der Werff Belgium won with just four points ahead of Peter. After second rank in 2018, he is the new European Champion. Johan finished third ahead of Björn and Jiri. Guest starter James is third in the Masters after scoring points, but outside the rating for the European Championship in tree climbing.

Results and figures

Masters Baum ETCC 2019

ETCC Champions 2019: Josephine Hedger and Frits van der Werff


Specials and ETCC 2020

MichaelMichael Macan Poland received the “Spirit of the Competition” in 2019. He has already taken part in many European Championships and this time won a silver medal in the Throwline and a bronze medal in the Ascent. The host of the next European Championship could not yet be announced by the organizers locally. The organizers are talking about places in Great Britain and Slovakia. Of course Freeworker will inform about it on its channels as soon as further details are available.

The small crew of the Freeworker, who was in Putbus in 2019, thanks all participants and the organizers for the nice days on the island and congratulates the winners. Many thanks for all the good conversations and the visits at the booth. We are already looking forward to next year when the European tree climbing family will meet again.

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