The FIM Ice Speedway World Championship for 2022 will begin on Saturday 15th January with the Qualifying round in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Sixteen riders will compete for a place in the Finals with the top eight riders joining the seven already seeded from last year’s championship.
Travel problems and a limited number of meetings have caused some riders to suspend the 2022 season, but the starting list and draw has now been announced and an interesting meeting looks likely.
Hosts Sweden will have three representatives with Ove Ledström, Jimmy Olsén and Jimmy Hörnell. Ledström, runner up in the recent European Championship has experience in this competition, but his compatriots might find it harder to qualify. Olsén was 10th in his last appearance in the 2018 championship and Hörnell has shown impressive form for OMK Rundbana in Sweden.
Reserve Niclas Svensson is another who could be a contender if he has the opportunity to ride.
MFR have a long history of producing champion riders in this discipline and the latest candidate is Nikita Bogdanov. The 20-year-old has come quickly to the top securing the European Championship in Poland in December followed by winning the national championship in his home country, beating his fellow competitor and former world champion Dmitrii Khomitsevitch in a race off for the title. It would be a surprise if either fail to be in the top eight.
Michał Knapp nephew of the late Grzegorz Knapp continues the family connection as Poland’s only nomination. His relative inexperience may make qualification difficult, but he does not lack enthusiasm and could surprise some of the more fancied riders. Lukáš Hutla leads the Czech contingent as, along with Andrej Diviš he continues to head the resurgence of his country towards the top level.
Harald Simon is another who could expect to move into the Finals stage. The Austrian was unhappy that the European Championship was held in early December when riders lacked match fitness, but he has since been performing well in the Swedish League this season and seems to have recovered his enthusiasm.
Franz Mayerbüchler and Benedikt Monn will be the only German entries. Monn is a newcomer to ice racing but is rapidly gaining experience having raced in Swedish League and the European Championship this season. Mayerbüchler had an unhappy meeting here in 2020 when he failed to qualify but will hope for a better result this time.
The remaining riders may find their progress harder due to limited training and competitive racing so far this year. Some may lack experience but not enthusiasm and cannot be overlooked as surprises often occur at this stage of the competition.
Practice in Örnsköldsvik on Thursday was cancelled due to warm weather conditions but the track should be in good condition for the meeting which starts at 12.00 CET and the forecast is good. The FIM Jury President is Jouni Seppanen with Referee Mika Laukkanen.