Reigning champ Wijler sublime, wins indoor season opener in Lausanne

Steve Wijler celebrates win at the Lausanne Challenge.

Mike Schloesser, Paola Natale, Denisa Barankova and reigning Indoor Archery World Series Champion Steve Wijler won the senior titles at the first international event of the 18-metre season at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne.

Wijler, who also won the series crown in 2019, was superb throughout the tournament.

He topped recurve men’s qualifying with a 595-point 60-arrow round and didn’t lose a set in matchplay. (He drew two, both 30s.)

“I feel really excited. This is the perfect start to my indoor season,” said Steve after beating Jerome Bidault in a straight-set final.

“I was nervous. I’d never shot against [Jerome]. He told me it was his first time shooting in an event like this, so it was exciting for him, too. I think we did a nice show.”

Wijler shot 51 match arrows in Lausanne and only three of them were nines. His scoresheet in the last-16, quarterfinal and semifinal were all spotless – 10s and nothing else.

It’s a standard he’d be thrilled to mantain.

“I’m just going to take it event by event and do the best I can. Hopefully, I can remain in the form I ended up with last year,” he concluded.

All three of the four at the Lausanne Challenge were decided in tiebreaks.

Denisa Barankova shot a left 10, upsetting top-seeded left-hander Laura van der Winkel’s nine to the recurve women’s win, while Paola Natale shot a better nine to beat Italian teammate Marcella Tonioli in the compound women’s final.

The compound men’s title match was tightest, Mike Schloesser and Nicolas Girard tying at 149 at the end of regulation.

Mister Perfect shot first in the decider – and delivered an inside-out 10, a touch high.

Girard’s arrow was also a 10, but outside-in and barely clinging to the line, low and left.

“I just kept fighting for it. I’ve felt really good all weekend,” said Schloesser. “I’m super happy, super proud of the first tournament of the year, to come away with a win feels really good.”

Runner-up Girard hails from a French town not far from Nîmes, which will host its traditional penultimate leg of the Indoor Archery World Series in January 2024 and crown the circuit’s youth champions for the second consecutive year. 

This weekend was also an opportunity for youth archers to pick up points towards the elite ranking.

Matija Smaguc, Quinty Roeffen, Lorenzo Gubbini and Lea Tonus lead after the first event, having won the under-21 categories.

Every archer who shot qualifying in Lausanne is now also listed in the open ranking.

Luxembourg hosts the next event on the Indoor Archery World Series, the GT Open, on 17-19 November 2023.

Winners: Lausanne Challenge