He will look for tomorrow in Vitoria against Ezkurdia the pass to his sixth final, which will be held in Bilbao, 24 hours after the Laso-Peio Etxeberria semifinal
Jokin Altuna has started the approach maneuvers to the Ogueta de Vitoria and the weather is not helping him. The wind blows cross and makes landing difficult. From the cockpit of the plane, he sees Joseba Ezkurdia arrive from the side, the first obstacle he will have to face a few kilometers from the Foronda runway. He knows him, he has given him a hard time on more than one occasion. Having solved the problem, especially the last year and a half, gives the Amezketarra rider confidence. On the horizon, further east, through Pamplona, he sees another wild current of air in which the faces of Unai Laso and Peio Etxeberria can be seen.
Altuna III knows that it has enough to get around Ezkurdia tomorrow and drive its plane undamaged, with the least possible scratches, to the hangars of the Gasteiz airport. Only then will it be time to think about the next landing, that of Sunday the 14th in Bilbao’s Bizkaia, which will only be reached by one of the two young and fearsome winds that hit the Labrit area this afternoon, near the Noain aerodrome.
Jokin Altuna is coming off several turbulences, although he was able to straighten the course against Oinatz Bengoetxea in time to get closer to his destination. He is looking for his sixth consecutive final in the Four and a Half Championship, retaining the txapela he won in December against Jaka, and the threat comes from Navarra, where quality persists despite losing a leading role in recent times that was absolute for many years.
It is nothing new for the current double manomanista and limited champion, aware that continuing at the top requires directing the best aircraft with the skill reserved for the great figures, in a combination of study, learning, common sense, work, qualities and the ability to solve setbacks in the blink of an eye.
Enter the Ogueta
The semifinals of the Four and a Half Championship are here, the first competition with a professional audience after the companies were forced to finish the 2019 Couples behind closed doors and schedule the next four competitions without being able to open the frontons to the spectators.
Pelotazale, by the way, has responded. Encouraged by Aimar Olaizola’s retirement tour, he has attended in good numbers and notable assists have been registered during the tournament. The semifinals this weekend are the confirmation of this positive trend. There are barely 75 seats left for sale for this afternoon’s Laso-Peio Etxeberria at Labrit in Pamplona. The reservations for tomorrow’s Altuna III-Ezkurdia already exceed a thousand in an Ogueta that will register an entry.
New Navarrese airs
Unai Laso and Peio Etxeberria decide this afternoon in the Navarran capital one of the two finalist places. New sap of the Navarrese ball, they are called to discuss the hegemony of the Gipuzkoans in individual competitions. Both are on the verge of their first grand final. Only one will achieve this honor.
Laso, overcoming the outrage suffered at the hands of Ezkurdia at the start of the quarterfinal league in group II, has confirmed all the good things pointed out since his reincorporation to Baiko in the second half of June. First of all, he has shown the sporting unreason of a decision that still hangs in the minds of many. He has beaten pelotaris with whom he struggles to be at the top of the squad’s forward ranks. And it has emerged as the main alternative to the dominance of Aspe’s pelotaris in the Manomanista and the Cuatro y Medio. The rhythm, the speed of his ball and the variety of postures are part of his list of virtues.
Peio Etxeberria, who already fell 21-22 in 2020 against the then runner-up Jaka, has confirmed the most promising expectations about his performance, has finished leader of group I ahead of Altuna III and does not renounce anything despite leaving as an alleged victim in today’s tie. Correcting the lack of reliability when subtracting serves is the subject that will have required the most study time in his last training sessions. Once in the rally, command respect.
Tomorrow’s Altuna III-Ezkurdia at the Ogueta de Vitoria has hung the early end sign since the Amezketarra defeated Bengoetxea VI at the Beotibar on Monday and the crossing was confirmed. Their trajectories have crossed a number of afternoons and nights on large-scale appointments. The one from Arbizu has won in the two finals of the Four and a Half that they have starred in, in 2018 and 2019. However, the one from Amezketa in the last four semifinals including the Navarrese distance championship. Altuna III has also cut off Ezkurdia in the Manomanista three times (2018, 2020 and 2021). There are reasons to trust one as well as the other.
At the moment of form, Ezkurdia seems to have an advantage. He has lost five or six kilos in weight and has not lost that gas that distinguishes him. He dismantled Laso, a complicated task. Subtracting his serve in the best possible way and slowing his starts from both will surely figure in Altuna III’s plans to plant his feet as close to the center of the court as possible to start his operations. Landing, no matter where you look, is complicated.
Peio Etxeberria Vittorini
Unai Laso Lizaso
24 years old (13-5-1997)
Four and a Half Shares:
Joseba Ezkurdia Galarraga
Favorable bets for Laso and on par for Altuna III-Ezkurdia
The chair leans towards Unai Laso this afternoon at the Labrit in Pamplona with starting odds of 100 to 60 that will become forty to one hundred below. The difference is notorious despite the fact that Peio Etxeberria’s career in this edition has been similar in terms of results to that of the Bizkarreta striker. The supposed greater difficulty of his group and his remarkable summer weigh in the prognosis.
More uncertain is tomorrow’s semifinal at the Ogueta between Altuna III and Ezkurdia. “The money is on par,” say the bookies. “They like the two colors in equal parts.” The amezketarra is a sure value and Arbizu’s, who has already won him two distance finals, has exhibited a great moment of form.