With Rahel Friedrich, Martin Hubmann, Matthias Kyburz and Judith Wyder, Switzerland was the winner of the Mixed Sprint Relay that filled the program of the XXXI World Orienteering Championships WOC 2014's second day of competition. A victory which contradicted the favouritism of Denmark, raising the Swiss flag to the event's stardom and, in particular, the name of Judith Wyder.
When the start list was published yesterday afternoon, the name of Denmark came even more insistently. The demonstration of class of its male and female athletes in the Sprint Final last Saturday and the three medals won - in particular, the unexpected and sensational Søren Bobach's gold - has lent them a huge slice of favouritism with regard to the victory in the Mixed Sprint Relay, a model that made the premiere in the program of the most important event of the Foot Orienteering's international calendar, having the participation of 34 teams of four elements each (two female and two male). But taking a look to the list and realize the absence of Daniel Hubmann in the Swiss Team or Tove Alexandersson in the Team of Sweden has further reinforce the idea that Denmark would have a race apart, leaving the fight for silver and bronze medals to Sweden and Switzerland, with Great Britain and Russia or even Finland, Ukraine and Australia waiting for a stumble. The deploy of the race would confirm that “predictability” is a term not reportable to “orienteering”.
On the rainy afternoon of Trento, began in the lead the Denmark, precisely, with Emma Klingenberg doing the first leg in 14:32, leaving immediately behind her, with more 3 and 8 seconds, respectively, the russian Anastasiya Tikhonova and Rahel Friedrich, from Switzerland. But with less than one minute between the first 19 teams, absolutely nothing was defined. The second leg had in the Belgian Yannick Michiels the great protagonist, after receiving the testimony of the hands of Miek Fabre in 12th place, 33 seconds of the lead, and being the first at the end of his course, with a total time of 29:50. Tue Lassen would lose 37 seconds to Michiels and Denmark falls to the second position, while the third and fourth positions were for Russia and Switzerland, at 15 and 21 seconds of leadership, respectively.
The course enters then in its decisive moment and it competes to the current World Sprint Champion, Søren Bobach, to recover the leadership. The Belgian Tomas Hendrickx quickly becomes an easy prey, but it's especially now that the majority of teams play their jokers. Far from the glorious journey of Saturday afternoon, Søren Bobach crashes unexpectedly and, instead, the Swiss Matthias Kyburz makes a sensational leg. In the boot for the decisive leg, Switzerland is in the lead with a total time of 44:58 and 18 seconds over Russia and Sweden, 19 seconds over Denmark and 20 seconds over Austria. Judith Wyder, current World Champion in Sprint wants to make history and secure the first title of Mixed Sprint Relay of the World Championships ever. It will be the thrilling reissue of the World Games of Cali, in 2013, but now with an even more special flavour.
And so it will be, although the conquest of this gold medal will prove to be not as easy as we could imagine. Judith Wyder started, as said before, with an advantage of 18 seconds over her more direct opponents, extending this advantage to 28 seconds over Sweden in the first half of the decisive course. Everything seems to be under control, but the Danish Maja Alm Moeller start to show her strehght, recovers meters after meters and is now very close to the lead. In the final meters, Wyder showed again why she is the World Champion, winning by the safe margin of three seconds after a vigorous sprint. Galina Vinogradova also did a sensational race, winning the particular match with Lena Eliasson and giving the bronze medal to Russia.
Portugal finished in 21st place
Portugal also attended this final, finishing in 21st place with the time of 1:05:05. Mariana Moreira completed the first leg in 15:39, taking the 21st position. Tiago Romão has a good start on the second leg, the colours of Portugal still came running in 16th position, but in the end João Mega Figueiredo received the testimony of the hands of his compatriot in 22nd place. In the third leg, Mega Figueiredo regained yet a position, and with it, the hope in finish the race into the top-20, but Vera Alvarez would prove unable to do it. The Portuguese athlete still managed to overcome the German Sabine Rothaug but Ewa Gwozdz was stronger, securing for Poland the 20th place.
1. Switzerland 59:04
2. Denmark 59:07 (+ 0:03)
3. Russia 59:15 (+ 0:11)
4. Sweden 59:25 (00:21 +)
5. Ukraine 1:00:15 (+ 1:11)
6. Great Britain 1:00:24 (+ 1:20)
7. Czech Republic 1:00:32 (+ 1:28)
8. Finland 1:01:29 (+ 2:25)
9. Lithuania 1:01:44 (+ 2:40)
10. Australia 1:01:45 (+ 2:41)
21. Portugal 1:05:05 (+ 6:01)
Full results and other information at http://www.woc2014.info/woc.php.
[Photo: © Jan Kocbach / twitter.com/WorldofOLive /]