Austrian rower Christoph Seifriedsberger tragically passed away on Friday the 6th of January. He sustained fatal injuries in a cycling accident while on camp in Sabaudia, Italy. The 26 year-old was cycling with teammates when the driver of an oncoming car lost control and collided with Seifriedsberger.
In a statement the Austrian Rowing Federation (ORV) said, “The rowing family is in shock due to the indescribable tragic accident and wants the privacy of relatives to be respected. The athletes and supervisors there are being treated psychologically”. The Federation described Seifriedsberger as a role model, a man of action, and a lovely person who “leaves a deep void that cannot be filled”.
Seifriedsberger made his international debut at the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It was the start of a longstanding rowing partnership with Ferdinand Querfeld, the duo featured in many Austrian fours and pairs. They won a junior world bronze medal in 2014, were A-Finalists at the Youth Olympic Games and won gold and bronze Under 23 medals before competing together at college in the United States.
“Two days ago I lost one of the most important people in my life,” Querfeld posted on Instagram. “Christoph was my brother, my partner in rowing and a very good friend. He was there when I took my first strokes in a rowing boat and he was there when I raced my last race. And he was there for all of the happy, sad and important moments in between. He was strong, kind and one of the smartest guys I knew. You are leaving a big void in my life and I miss you very much. You’ll be in my heart forever. We love you Christoph.”
Seifriedsberger and Querfeld missed Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification when their men’s four finished fourth at the 2021 World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland. “Just before the decisive race in Lucerne, one athlete after the other dropped out due to illness – a catastrophe. Christoph caught it last. Typical for Christoph: despite illness, he delivered his top performance,” said ORV.
Seifriedsberger’s passing reaches across the international rowing family. A Political Economy graduate from The University of California, Berkeley, Seifriedsberger made the Cal varsity eight in his first year, in 2017. The crew were undefeated in the regular season and won silver at the Pac-12 Championships and fourth at the IRA National Championships. In 2018 Seifriedsberger made the varsity eight again and took third at nationals.
“It’s been a tough few days for the team and our entire Cal Crew community as we struggle to deal with the news of Christoph’s passing,” said Cal head coach Scott Frandsen via a statement from Cal Rowing. “My thoughts are with his family as well as the 100-plus fellow student-athletes that trained and raced with Christoph. He was a great leader on our team and set the example for commitment, hard work, compassion, and being there to listen to and support your teammates.”
At the time of his passing Seifriedsberger maintained his Olympic ambitions. His goal was to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“I am incredibly proud I could be part of your journey!” posted teammate and Tokyo 2020 medallist Magdalena Lobnig on Instagram. “Christoph, we the @austrianrowing Team miss you terribly, but for now it’s time to say goodbye to an outstanding athlete, teammate but most of all incredible human being. We gonna catch up again some day, somewhere…but not yet now…we can’t await to meet you again!”