Friday, July 07, 2017

WOC 2017: Norway and Sweden win relay

Norway defended their Relay World Champion title, and Sweden pulled off an impressive performance. Both races were dramatic, with mistakes throughout, however both Norway and Sweden were always in control, retaining the lead throughout the race.

Sweden’s team of Emma Johansson, Helena Jansson and Tove Alexandersson enjoyed a victory by 2.41 over last year’s champions Russia, holding the lead throughout.

There were no dramatic early mistakes by runners from the best teams, as happened in the men’s race, but few athletes completed the course without some distinct time loss at some point on their course. Finland (Venla Harju) kept in touch with Sweden on the first leg and were 45 seconds down at the changeover, but Jansson stretched the lead by a minute on the second leg.

However as Alexandersson completed her leg comfortably but not entirely without error – she missed her way on the spectator run-through and lost a minute between controls 9 and 13 – the Russian Natalia Gemperle was running well, and took advantage of a couple of mistakes in the middle of the course by the Finn Merja Rantanen to pull up into second place, which she held to the end. Rantanen was not pressed in bringing Finland into bronze medal position.

There was a sprint finish for fourth place between Latvia and Switzerland, just won by Sabine Hauswirth for Switzerland. The Latvian team was fourth after leg 1 (Inge Dambe) and was never below fifth – a very good team performance. Norway took the final podium place.

The Norwegian team of Eskil Kinnerberg, Olav Lundanes and Magne Dæhli ran an impressively controlled race throughout to take what in the end was a clear victory, with France getting the silver medals and Sweden the bronze.

There was drama from the start as Fabian Hertner, Switzerland’s first leg runner, could be seen on GPS making a huge mistake at control 1, losing more than 4 minutes. Great Britain, New Zealand and Hungary also faltered badly there. Sweden and the Czech Republic set the pace, but Frederic Tranchand for France was going well too. It was he who came to the changeover first, along with Lithuania and Norway, with Czech Republic and Denmark not far behind.

The decisive leg was the second one, where Olav Lundanes for Norway had a brilliant race to come back with a lead of 1.21 over France and Lithuania, with Sweden and Ukraine a little over 2 minutes down. This lead was too much for Thierry Gueorgiou to make up on last leg as Magne Dæhli continued Norway’s near-faultless progress; Gueorgiou cut the gap to 45 seconds at one point, but he was never close enough to see the leading Norwegian.

I was really nervous,” said Dæhli, “I knew Thierry is in really good shape. Yesterday I struggled at the beginning, and today I was very focused on the way to the first control. It felt really good except for the first control after the arena passage, where I made a small mistake.”

I was just focusing on my orienteering,” said Gueorgiou, “and I didn’t see Magne on the course. The second place feels like a gold for us. We are really satisfied.”

Estonia ran a good race throughout to finish fourth, to the great pleasure of the home crowd, and the podium places were completed by Switzerland, picking up well after Hertner’s early mistake, and Russia. The Lithuanian team dropped back on the final leg after being surprisingly close to the lead up to the second changeover.

For the full official results, go the WOC webpage:

[Press Release from the International Orientering Federation 2017-07-07; photo: Matias Salonen, IOF Digital Team]

WOC 2017: Master class from Thierry Gueorgiou

In his final individual WOC competition before retiring, Frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou ran a near-perfect race to take his 8th Middle Distance title at Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships.

This was a fantastic performance by Gueorgiou, once known as the ‘King of Middle Distance’ because of his string of victories in this format, the last being in 2011. Today’s is his 14th WOC gold; he also won the Long Distance three years in succession, 2013-5. Gueorgiou had some close challengers today but none were able to keep to his technical accuracy which he maintained throughout; he also showed that he has not lost a lot in speed over the years.

Gueorgiou described the day as being very tough emotionally. He has prepared only for this race this year, not competing in any other international race. “This is a dream coming true,” he said at the end, “I wanted to finish on top.”

Silver medal went to Fabian Hertner, Switzerland, who was close to Gueorgiou’s time until he made an error on the short leg to control 17. Oleksandr Kratov, Ukraine ran a very consistent race, just a shade off the pace but good enough for the bronze medal today. Defending champion Matthias Kyburz made mistakes on the course and ended 1.54 down. Norway had all their athletes in the top ten in the results, but out of the podium placings.

Johan Runesson, Sweden had a great run too but had to settle for fourth place, with Sprint champion Daniel Hubmann in fifth. The forest was very detailed and with quite low visibility in places, so mistakes were common.

It is difficult to compare the medals and I have won many medals in Middle, it is my favourite distance,” said Gueorgiou. “This medal is very special and of course when you become a world champion for the first time it is a life changer. And for me also the Relay medal with my team-mates was special. My plan was to stay focused for the whole race, but also to smile and enjoy the moment.” And that he most certainly did, along with his many friends and admirers throughout the world of orienteering.

WOC 2017 website:

[Press release from the International Orienteering Federation 2017-07-06. Photo: Matias Salonen, IOF Digital Team]

WOC 2017: Outsanting win by Tove Alexandersson

Tove Alexandersson, Sweden took her second gold medal in three days with an outstanding run in the Middle distance at the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships. Her winning lead was 2.10.

The very strong Swedish athlete showed from the start that she meant business today, setting new fastest times at every control and making only small hesitations. She continued in the same vein throughout, gradually building up an unassailable lead and taking sound routes all the way, to make a successful defence of her title won on home ground last year.

Silver medallist today was the very experienced Norwegian Marianne Andersen, one of only two of the current leading athletes to run in Estonia in the European Championships 11 years ago. She too ran a very good technical race, but could not match Alexandersson’s speed through the forest. “I made only some small errors, never more than 30 seconds,” she said. “My tactic was to stop, and continue very carefully, when unsure. This silver is like a gold for me!”

There was a close fight for the bronze medal, which was won by Finland’s Venla Harju who just missed a medal in the Sprint, after a strong challenge from Svetlana Mironova, Russia. Emily Kemp, Canada excelled to get a top six placing for the second year running.

Alexandersson said she was really satisfied with her race, and took her time on the few occasions she lost concentration slightly and was uncertain of her position. “I was running the shortest way and trying to be focused all the way reading the details. It is almost a clean race. I had good focus all the way and didn´t make any mistakes at the controls.”

Tomorrow the final races of the Championships take place, the relays.

WOC 2017 website:

[Press release from the International Orienteering Federation 2017-07-06. Photo: Matias Salonen, IOF Digital Team]

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

World Orienteering Championships 2021 awarded to the Czech Republic

At today’s IOF Presidents’ Conference, the organisers of several IOF Major Events were announced. Most notably, the Czech Republic will host both the World Orienteering Championships in 2021 and the World MTB Orienteering Championships in 2020.

The World Orienteering Championships 2021 will be in the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia for the fourth time (1972 Czechoslovakia, 1991 Czechoslovakia, 2008 Czech Republic). In 2021, the city of Mladá Boleslav will host the championships. The World MTB Orienteering Championships 2020 will be hosted by the city of Jeseník, Czech Republic.

World championships

World Orienteering Championships 2021 Czech Republic
World MTB Orienteering Championships 2020 Czech Republic
Junior World Orienteering Championships 2020 Turkey
World Masters Orienteering Championships 2020 Slovakia
World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships 2019 Germany

Regional championships

Asian Orienteering Championships 2018 Hong Kong
European Youth Orienteering Championships 2019 Belarus

[Press Release from the International Orienteering Federation 2017-07-05]

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

WOC 2017: Alexandersson and Lundanes retain Long distance golds

Both Tove Alexandersson, Sweden, and Olav Lundanes, Norway won the Long distance at Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships for the second year in a row.

Tove Alexandersson, Sweden, ran a near-perfect race in the difficult Estonian terrain of the Long distance today, with only Sprint champion Maj Alm, Denmark, able to come anywhere near challenging her time.

- It was a good race and I was fighting all the way. I am very satisfied with the race and the gold, she said.

For Maja Alm, this was far and away her best result in a forest race, although she has shown on many occasions that she is a very good runner and navigator in forest terrain. Three days of sprint racing appeared not to have affected her performance. Natalia Gemperle, Russia, proved yet again that she is becoming one of the strongest and most consistent performers at world level in taking the bronze today, 5.36 down on Alexandersson.

In the men’s class, Olav Lundanes showed his determination in the way he set out from the start – almost a sprint down the run-out route. He posted fastest times throughout the course, but his run was not faultless. About making a mistake:

- I know I was close to the control, but it is difficult even if you are close to it in the green Estonian forest, he said.

This was his fifth individual WOC gold, and just like Tove Alexandersson he retains his Long distance title from last year.

- I am really really happy I managed to win two years in a row, and also get my fourth Long distance gold. They are all completely different and I am proud I have been able to win in different terrains, he said.

Silver medallist and closest contender throughout was Russian Leonid Novikov. The bronze medal went to the Swedish athlete William Lind, his first individual WOC medal. Norway’s strength in depth in this kind of race showed as they took fourth and fifth places.

For the full official results, go the WOC webpage:

[Press Release from the International Orientering Federation 2017-07-04; photo: Malin Fuhr]