European teams on the team World Championship podium: A retrospective

Since its launch in 2010, the team World Championship has been hugely popular with TIMBERSPORTS® athletes and fans alike. Victory in this event requires perfect coordination between a team of (usually) four athletes, as well as strong individual performances. The nations of Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia have always dominated this competition format – with the latter two of these having taken every title so far. The Australians, in particular, have been unstoppable in the last three editions. However, a bit further back in history two European teams have successfully stayed in the running to win a place on the podium. 

A heart-racing finale for Switzerland
At the premiere edition of the 2010 Team World Championship, in Tyrol, the Swiss national team had already made it into the history books. The team at the time, consisting of Christophe Geissler, Cyril Pabst, Thomas Gerber, Stefan Hübscher and Toni Flückiger, was showing no fear of the competition. As one of the strongest European teams, the Swiss achieved times close to the minute-mark to eliminate first the Benelux selection and then the Polish national team. Only in the semi-finals did the team which included eleven-time Swiss champion Christophe Geissler lose out, ceding victory to the eventual World Champion team New Zealand – also the only nation in 2010 to stay below a minute in all rounds. The battle for third place saw the Swiss team go head-to-head with the formidable Canadian selection. In a thrilling duel, and with less than a second between the teams, the Swiss competitors triumphed to take bronze. Record-breaking Swiss champion Christophe Geissler still remembers the strong achievements of his team very well: “After three disciplines the Canadians were clearly in the lead, as the Single Buck had not gone well for us. Canada was already in the Standing Block Chop when I caught up and secured third place by one or two hits.  An incredible moment.” Apart from Toni Flückiger, the Swiss team is still active in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series. Geissler and Cyril Pabst will be hoping to get Switzerland back on a winning track when they represent their country in the team competition again in 2023.

The short-handed World Championship runners-up
Since that first year, all medal places have been exclusively shared between the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – except in 2017. Though Sweden in 2014 and the Czech team in 2016 came close in fourth place, the next European athletes who successfully took a podium place at the Team World Championship were from Poland, at the 2017 event in Lillehammer, Norway. A still-unique detail: Teams are usually made up of four athletes, but this Polish contingent competed with only three athletes due to a sickness-related absence. The trio of Arkadiusz Drozdek, Krystian Kaczmarek and Jacek Groenwald surprised everyone by taking the fifth best time in the time trial. “Being one down is quite a disadvantage, but in training we worked out a good solution for us,” says twelve-time Polish champion Arkadiusz Drozdek about their appearance as a team of three. In this case, Jacek Groenwald took over both the start at the Stock Saw and the finish at the Standing Block Chop. They dispatched Netherlands from the tournament in the first round, and went on to knock out the strong Czech team with a time of just over a minute. Then they faced a semi-final against Australia – who were defending the title. The Polish athletes fought bravely and kept the duel open for a long time, though the “Chopperoos” eventually brought their run to an end. It was looking as though Australia had surely secured a spot in the final, until an early start at the Single Buck cost them a time penalty; the fairytale run continued for the Polish team. Even a bruising final-round defeat against New Zealand did not diminish the three Polish athletes’ joy at their accomplishments and silver medal. To this day, their performance is one of the greatest sensations in the history of the TIMBERSPORTS® Team World Championship.

After six years away, will another squad from Europe manage to reach the podium? In 2023 there are three teams carrying the greatest expectations in terms of taking on overseas teams: Poland, Sweden and Germany are expected to be among the top three nations in the world this year. Germany is banking on home advantage in Stuttgart, and hopes to fight for the top spot with home fans behind them. At the season finale in the Porsche Arena on November 3 we will find out if one of these teams will succeed in writing a new chapter in the European history of TIMBERSPORTS®.

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