At the end of the Day 1, Elvio Cereser and Michael Johansson are in the lead of PreO competition of the XI World Trail Orienteering Championships WTOC 2014. A day that has been marked - again - by several protests, one voided control and the Portuguese João Pedro Valente and Ricardo Pinto close to another historic result!
The PreO competition of the XI World Trail Orienteering Championships WTOC 2014 did't have the best start. With no plan B for the harsh consequences of the stormy weather the day before, the organization found itself forced to cancel the last section of the course (seven controls altogether), offering almost a Model Event again, with only twelve controls and a timed station, with an extra of two controls. As if that wasn't enough, the three protests at the end of the first day lead the organization to void the 10th control, which would cause a very large turn in the provisional results, especially in the Open Class, where the Italian Elvio Cereser won sixteen positions to settle in the lead with 11/11 points. Confusion aside, eight is the number of athletes who share the lead in terms of the number of correct answers in the end of Day 1, with Swedish Marit Wiksell closing a group in which, strangely, she is the only representative of the Nordic “triumvirate”. With 9/11 points, European and World PreO Champion, the Finnish Jari Turto, couldn't go higher than the 36th position, while the Norwegian Martin Jullum and the Finnish Antti Rusanen, respectively World TempO Champion and European TempO Champion, stayed one point behind the leading group.
Instead of what happens in the Open Class, the Paralympic Class was dominated by the Nordics, with two Swedish in the lead. Thus it is no surprise that we see there the European Champion Michael Johansson, alongside Inga Gunnarsson, both with 11/11 points. Following them are four athletes with 10/11 points, while Ola Jansson (Sweden) and Pekka Seppä (Finland), names that we used to see on top of the board, follow in the group of nine athletes who achieved 9 correct answers. Further back, it's still possible to see the World Champion, the Czech Jana Kostova, in 23rd place with a modest amount of 7/11 points.
"This was the result I hoped for"
With 10 points out of 11 possible and a great time of 16 seconds in timed controls, João Pedro Valente finished the first day of the competition in 12th place. A result that seems to have not left surprised the Portuguese athlete: “I was expecting this result, since I have great confidence in this kind of terrain and course. On the other hand, I wasn't expecting that other athletes failed so much”. Leaving some critics at the cartography and the fact that “some of the mapped elements do not comply with the rules”, the athlete confesses, however, that “I could understand what the mapmaker intended”. As for the course, Valente was very satisfied: “It's the kind of course where all the classical techniques of orienteering are applied, in which I usually have my best results”. For the second and decisive day of competition, “managing the time a little better and not failing” is now the major goal of the athlete. “I won't think of anything else”, he concluded.
Who also did a great job, achieving 9 points from 11 possible and 75 seconds in timed controls, was Ricardo Pinto. Arriving at the end of the first day in 11th place in Paralympic class, Pinto assumes that he knew he would do well, but “I didn't suspect that my performance would correspond to such a good position”. The most international portuguese athlete ever in this discipline, Ricardo Pinto confesses not to have significant difficulties from a technical point of view: “I was able to identify very well all the elements on the terrain, except for controls 5 and 11 where I couldn't see very well either the spur or the stone”. Confessing that “this is sort of course that fits quite on my profile and the kind of challenges that I like the most, based on the interpretation of the terrain and less from alignments”, the athlete mention as the only less positive aspect the progression: “It was very complicated due to climb, but the mechanical part helped and I was able to progress.”
"We had two great results"
Not as good as his colleagues, Luis Gonçalves did “only” two wrong answers and 77 seconds in the timed controls, ending in the 43rd position. The athlete analyses very objectively his performance: “I wouldn't say 'only' two wrong answers because, in fact, they were too many wrong answers for such a short course. Today I failed technically at control 5 and at 12th was a matter of time management. This had already happened in previous courses in Portugal, and today it was very penalizing because the course was too short and the last two controls were done under pressure”. Rookie at World Championships, Gonçalves admits that “if more concentrated, I could have hit at least one of the two points that I've failed, but in the second part of the course the clock weighed too much”. He also said that “this is not justification for everything and I have to learn to gain confidence in the easier controls, better manage my time and be faster.” Now the athlete expects things to run much better on the second day and hopes “to achieve a top result, although aware that reaching the top25 is a very difficult task”.
Finally, Nuno Pires finished the first day of competition with 7 correct answers and a provision of 19.5 seconds in timed controls, giving him the 59th place overall in 64 competitors. A situation that the athlete and Team Official of the Portuguese delegation fails to explain: “It was a very large degree of mismatch. Although I started quite well, to miss the last three controls has no explanation. I think I accused the pressure too much, lost my focus and, from point 9 until the end of the course, nothing went well. Afterwards, at the timed controls, I relieved the pressure and was even able to make a good time but it was not, in fact, the best of the days.” Complex but good reading cartography and classical challenges lead the athlete to admit that he really enjoyed the course. This is not a good result but Nuno Pires knows that “the second day of PreO is a new day”. Will it be the reliving of the emotions of the European Championship, but now with a really better second day? “I really hope to come to have a smooth second day, since at the moment I do not feel slightest under pressure by results”.
In relationa to the team's performance, Nuno Pires seems to be quite satisfied: “I think my wishes came true. Yesterday I wanted a great result and we had two. Gonçalves had his moment of glory in TempO, but I am confident that he will rise a lot in the rankings. The challenges of the second day will be more difficult, there will be a lot more points on the terrain and this will cause many athletes who are ahead of him may be surpassed. In relation to João Pedro Valente, I wasn't expecting anything but that, because he is one of the best national athletes in PreO and is clearly delivering what I expected of him. Ricardo Pinto was an excellent surprise and resisted the first assault of a very strong competition. This kind of terrains fits a lot on his profile and, with one or another failure of his closest opponents, maybe we will have a huge surprise”.
1. Elvio Cereser (Italy) 11 points (74 seconds)
2. Dusan Furucz (Slovakia) 11 points (75 seconds)
3. Koji Chino (Japan) 11 points (79 seconds)
4. Guntars Mankus (Latvia) 11 points (84 seconds)
5. Kreso Kerestes (Slovenia) 11 points (90.5 seconds)
6. Sharon Crawford (United States) 11 points (101 seconds)
7. Aleksei Laisev (Estonia) 11 points (103 seconds)
8. Marit Wiksell (Sweden) 11 points (144 seconds)
9. Antti Rusanen (Finland) 10 points (5 seconds)
10. Geir Myhr Øyen (Norway) 10 points (9/2)
11. Marko Määttälä (Finland) 10 points (12 seconds)
12. João Pedro Valente (Portugal) 10 points (16 seconds)
13. Maria Krog Schulz (Denmark) 10 points (20 seconds)
14. Martin Fredholm (Sweden) 10 points (21 seconds)
14. Vitaliy Kyrychenko (Ukraine) 10 points (21 seconds)
14. Eduard Oginskiy (Russia) 10 points (21 seconds)
43. Luís Gonçalves (Portugal) 9 points (77 seconds)
59. Nuno Pires (Portugal) 7 points (19.5 seconds)
1. Michael Johansson (Sweden) 11 points (74 seconds)
2. Inga Gunnarsson (Sweden) 11 points (92 seconds)
3. Kari Pinola (Finland) 10 points (75 seconds)
4. Egil Sønsterudbraten (Norway) 10 points (77.5 seconds)
5. Arne Ask (Norway) 10 points (81 seconds)
6. Bohuslav Hulka (Czech Republic) 10 points (90.5 seconds)
7. Pavel Dudik (Czech Republic) 9 points (10 seconds)
8. Yegor Surkov (Ukraine) 9 points (17 seconds)
9. Ola Jansson (Sweden) 9 points (18 seconds)
10. Marina Borisenkova (Russia) 9 points (35 seconds)
11. Ricardo Pinto (Portugal) 9 points (75 seconds)
12. Andrejs Šulcs (Latvia) 9 points (77 seconds)
13. Pekka Seppä (Finland) 9 points (19.5 seconds)
14. Nobuyuki Takayanagi (Japan) 9 points (85 seconds)
15. Iryna Kulikova (Ukraine) 9 points (103 seconds)
Complete results and much more at http://www.woc2014.info/wtoc.php.
[Photo: © Newspower Canon / woc2014.info/woc.php]