By winning the Relay, Finland in Men class, and Sweden in Women class, closed in the best way its participation in the Junior World Orienteering Championships JWOC 2015. Renewal of title in the case of Swedish and a victory with a very special flavour for the Finns, something that didn't happened since... 1999!
Repeating what happened in the Long Distance held yesterday, the national anthems of Finland and Sweden were on air again during the Prize Giving Ceremony of JWOC 2015. Olli Ojanaho and Sara Hagström jumped again over the highest place on the podium, but this time within the respective teams, big winners of the Relay that took place, again, at the Skisenteret of Rauland, Norway. With teams from 36 countries competing in the Men class and from 26 countries in the Women class, the course ended celebrating the 26th edition of a Championships which will be in the memory of all, for its organizational high level and for its quality and technical challenge in spectacular terrains.
In the Men class, Finland was the winner, in part thanks to a phenomenal performance of Topi Raitanen in the first leg. The advantage of 1:15 to Sweden, seeded second, was jealously guarded by Aleksi Niemi, who also got the fastest time on the second leg. With more than three minutes to manage in the final leg, Olli Ojanaho has done its homework, offering to Finland the first title of this millennium (the last time that Finland won the Relay at JWOC was in 1999, when Mikko Heikelä, Jonne Lakanen and Pasi Ikonen imposed themselves to the French team, at the time with Thierry Gueorgiou). Norway and Sweden fought hard for the silver medal, with the outcome to be solved in favour of the "home team" by a margin of 19 seconds.
Finland dominates medal board
As in 2014, in the Junior World Champs of Borovets (Bulgaria), Sweden was the winner of the Women's Relay, thanks to a spectacular turnover operated in the decisive leg and signed by Sara Hagström. Norway had a demolishing start, throwing his two teams to the lead with an advantage up to a minute and a half over the concurrence. The Swiss Simona Aebersold, current World Champion in Sprint was the fastest in the second leg, but the truth is that the advantage of Norway over the other competitors did not cease to increase, which was then of 1:49 on Switzerland and 01:58 over Sweden. In the third leg, however, Sara Hagström showed why she is a prodigy of the world's Orienteering and one of the stars of this JWOC, despite the failure in the Sprint and Middle Distance courses. Leaving Sandrine Mueller (Switzerland) at 2:56 and Marie Olaussen (Norway) at distant 4:50, Hagström offered the gold to Sweden, which happens for the 9th time in 26 editions of the Championships.
Now that the JWOC 2015 came to an end, it is possible to analyse the medal board and found that, similarly to what happened in 2014, only five nations reached the gold in these Championships. Finland, with three titles - in addition to the Men Relay, Olli Ojanaho won the gold in Middle Distance and Long Distance -, is the big winner of the Championships, followed by Sweden with two wins - in Women Relay and Sara Hagström in Long Distance. Norway (Anine Ahlsand, Middle Distance), Switzerland (Simona Aebersold, Sprint) and New Zealand (Tim Robertson, Sprint) complete the Hall of Fame in terms of gold medals. Sweden reached three times the silver medal, while Norway and Finland did so on two occasions and Switzerland in one. As for the bronze, Switzerland reached three medals while Norway won two and Finland and Sweden one each. It only remains to refer to one bronze medal to close the medalist, which fell to Lithuania (the sixth country on this very particular board), thanks to the performance of Algirdas Bartkevicius in the Sprint.
1. Finland (Topi Raitanen, Aleksi Niemi, Olli Ojanaho) 1:36:39
2. Norway (Hakon Christiansen, Anders Felde Olaussen, Markus Holter) 01:38:02 (+ 01:23)
3. Sweden (Emil Granqvist, Erik Andersson, Simon Hector) 01:38:21 (+ 01:42)
4. France (Arnaud Perrin, Mathieu Perrin, Nicolas Rio) 01:43:30 (+ 06:51)
5. Austria (Rafael Dobnik, Mathias Peter, Matthias Gröell) 01:44:07 (+ 07:28)
6. Switzerland (Joey Hadorn, Noah Zbinden, Patrick Zbinden) 01:44:21 (+ 07:42)
33. Portugal (Carolina Delgado, Daniel Catarino, André Esteves) 2:30:01 (+ 53:22)
1. Sweden (Andrea Svensson, Johanna Oberg, Sara Hagström) 1:44:17
2. Switzerland (Sofie Bachmann, Simona Aebersold, Sandrine Mueller) 01:47:04 (+ 02:47)
3. Norway (Heidi Martensson, Tonje Vassend, Marie Olaussen) 01:47:09 (+ 02:52)
4. Finland (Niina Hulkkonen, Emmi Jokela, Pihla Otsamo) 01:49:57 (+ 05:40)
5. Poland (Weronika Cych, Maja Morawska, Aleksandra Hornik) 01:51:55 (+ 07:38)
6. Denmark (Josefine Lind, Amanda Falck Weber, Miri Thrane Odum) 01:55:07 (+ 10:50)
[Photo: JWOC 2015 / jwoc2015.org]