Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Medeo beckons.


Astana Expo FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship Final 3. 18/19 February 2017– Almaty, Kazakhstan.


After the excitement of Final 2, there is little time for relaxation as riders and officials move on to prepare for Final 3 when Ice Speedway returns to the Medeo stadium in Almaty for the third time at the weekend.
Immediately after the close of the meeting in Shadrinsk, machines and equipment were loaded onto trucks for transportation to Kazakhstan, a journey of around 2300km. Riders and their support teams travel a different route by road to Yekaterinburg, then fly to Astana the Kazakhstan capital and on to Almaty to await the arrival of the road convoy.
The Medeo stadium is the highest ice activity stadium in the world at 1690m above sea level and because of the altitude some adjustment to engines may be necessary to counter the effects of the thinner air. Otherwise riders and officials will appreciate the facilities available and the beautiful setting of the venue.
One rider who will not be making the journey is Jimmy Olsen who returned to Sweden on Sunday for surgery to his elbow injury, which seems likely to spell the end of his racing season. Finding a substitute rider at short notice, complicated by visa and logistical difficulties has been found impossible and Olsen’s place in this event will be taken by Track Reserve Denis Slepukhin.
The main interest will centre on the battle for the top place which is developing into a three-horse race as Koltakov, Kononov and Khomitsevich have opened a gap ahead of their nearest challengers. All were in the thick of the action during the first two rounds with rivalry between Koltakov and Khomitsevich particularly noticeable. All will be aware however that the competition is only now reaching the half way stage and with a possible 42 points available at each Final there is still scope for a surprise or two before the 2017 winner can collect his gold medal.
Austrian Franz Zorn has consistently been the closest challenger to the Russians over recent years. He slipped a little in Shadrinsk perhaps struggling a little with motor problems but he has a good record here in Almaty and can be expected to be back at his best form. His compatriot Harald Simon has not enjoyed the best of seasons so far, his progress hampered by injuries and the same could be said of the German contingent that, Günther Bauer apart, have been disappointing.    
The Swedes have reason to be satisfied with their results so far. Their young riders have shown an enthusiasm, which compensates for their lack of experience. Before his unfortunate injury Olsen was in confident form and Ove Ledström, mentored by ice legend Posa Serenius, continues to improve. Niclas Svensson became part of Ice Speedway history when he joined his father Stefan in the semi finals in Shadrinsk and these two currently head the Swedish scorers in the Intermediate Classification.
Wild Card for this event will be local rider Pavel Nekrassov who has previously ridden here as Reserve. He may not trouble the leading riders but will provide the fans with a local hero to cheer.
Current leading scorers are:1. Dmitri Kolkatov (Russia) 72
2, Igor Kononov (Russia)) 67
3, Dmitri Khomitsevich(Russia) 66
4. Daniil Ivanov (Russia 56
5. Dinar Valeev (Russia) 52
6. Franz Zorn (Austria) 38
7. Nicolai Krasnikov (Russia) 28 (Wild Card)
8. Stefan Svensson (Sweden) 26
9. Niclas Svensson (Sweden) 23

Racing in Almaty commences at 16.30 local time on Saturday evening with the Sunday afternoon meeting starting at 12.30. FIM Jury President will be Armando Castagna from Italy and Referee Ukranian Aleksandr Lyatosinskyy.

Graham Brodie