Wednesday, August 05, 2015

WOC 2015: Switzerland and Denmark get the gold in Relay



Confirming their favouritism, Switzerland and Denmark, respectively in Men and Women classes, achieved the World titles in the Relay. The Portuguese presence has resulted in the 26th place in the Men class and the 25th position in the Women class.


After having received, yesterday, the Final of Middle Distance, the Scottish town of Darnaway became again the stage of another big moment of the World Orienteering Championships WOC 2015, with the Relay finals. With 36 teams competing in the male sector, the victory of Switzerland started to build up on the first leg, with Fabian Hertner reaching the best time. More important, the weak performance of Jonas Leandersson left Sweden out of action, while other big opponents, such as France, the Czech Republic, Finland, Norway and, above all, the home team, the Great Britain, finished at distances greater than one minute and gave some “peace” to the Swiss team at the departure for the second leg. One day after his World title of Middle Distance, Daniel Hubmann proved once again being in great shape, ending his course as he had begun, ie in the lead. The Switzerland, with Matthias Kyburz in the field, started for the decisive leg with a lead of 1:34 over GreatBritain, 1:55 on France and 2:25 over Norway. In a race where the physical component was revealed more important than the technical part, everyone knew that a mistake, by little it was, would pay dearly. Ralph Street? Frederic Tranchand? Magne Daehli? Who of them would be able to steal the title to Switzerland?

The truth is that the margin of error was revealed too short and, while Kyburz was going away from their adversaries, the time intervals between British, French and Norwegian were reduced significantly, so that everything was preparing for a final dispute “at three”, fighting for two medals, the silver and the bronze. Kyburz finished first with a time of 1:41:40, recovering to Switzerland a title that was escaping since 2009. Ensuring the best time in the last leg, Magne Daehli was unstoppable in the final part and Norway kept the silver medal. Frédéric Tranchand, in turn, offered to France a very welcomed bronze medal while the British team concluded in a “disappointing” fourth place, 37 seconds away from the medals. Czech Republic in fifth and Estonia in sixth (their best result ever) closed the podium.


Historical gold to Denmark

The women's competition was the first to start, took part on it a set of 30 national teams. Pointed, together with Sweden, as big favourite for the victory, Denmark was made worth the extraordinary shape of Maja Alm, Ida Bobach and Emma Klingenberg, to reach the victory in a very clear way and achieve a title unprecedented, after last year, precisely with this same set, to have been placed second, at 11 seconds to the winner, Switzerland. The Danish began in a unstoppable way, with Maja Alm to fulfill her course with the time of 35:40, leaving the Russian Natalia Vinogradova at 1:09 of distance. In the immediate positions, separated by just 10 seconds, and at roughly two minutes from the leadership, rolled the teams from Switzerland, Hungary, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The race was virtually decided in the second leg, thanks to the phenomenal performance of Ida Bobach. Avenging the disappointment of her fourth place in the Sprint, the Danish outdo all the times in this leg, giving to Emma Klingenberg a lead of 4:11 over Russia and about five minutes on a quintet composed by the teams of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Only a major disaster would steal the title to Denmark, but who does not remember what happened in 2011 and 2013?

This time, however, there was no earthquake. Klingenberg rolled quiet and gently until the end, holding the precious advantage and finishing with a time of 1:49:06. In the great struggle for the silver medal, the Czech Jana Knapova, the Swiss Sara Luescher and the Russian Tatyana Riabkina surrendered helplessly and offering the big decision to the Swedish Emma Johansson, the Finnish Minna Kauppi and the Norwegian Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg. A luxury trio, displaying unique credentials and making impossible any predictions in terms of final results. In the final moments, Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg proved her most experience and cool head, imitating the extraordinary performance in the Sprint Mixed Relay and offering to Norway the second silver medal of the Championships. Sweden was ranked third, with Emma Johansson in the last leg collecting the second bronze medal in two consecutive days. Finland finished fourth, while Switzerland, here defended the world title, finished in the fifth place and the Czech Republic closed the podium. Finally, a curiosity: To see a difference of more than 3:02 between the top two in the women's Relay, we have to go back to 2001 (Tampere, Finland), at a time when Finland (with Reeta Kolkkala, Liisa Anttila, Marika Mikkola and Johanna Asklöf) won over Sweden by a margin of 3:59.


Results

Men
1. Switzerland 1:41:40 (+ 00:00)
2. Norway 1:43:30 (+ 01:50)
3. France 1:43:52 (+ 02:12)
4. Great Britain 1:44:29 (+ 02:49)
5. Czech Republic 1:45:25 (+ 03:45)
6. Estonia 1:45:39 (+ 03:59)
7. Sweden 1:46:28 (+ 04:48)
8. Lithuania 1:46:31 (+ 04:51)
9. Bulgaria 1:46:59 (+ 05:19)
10. Austria 1:47:15 (+ 05:35)
(...)
26. Portugal 2:04:07 (+ 22:27)

Women
1. Denmark 1:49:06 (+ 00:00)
2. Norway 1:52:08 (+ 03:02)
3. Sweden 1:52:17 (+ 03:11)
4. Finland 1:52:41 (+ 03:35)
5. Switzerland 1:54:14 (+ 05:08)
6. Czech Republic 1:57:49 (+ 08:43)
7. Latvia 2:02:59 (+ 13:53)
8. France 2:05:07 (+ 16:01)
9. Great Britain 2:05:43 (+ 16:37)
10. Hungary 2:07:18 (+ 18:12)
(...)
25. Portugal 2:52:54 (+1: 03: 48)

Full results and all information on www.woc2015.org.

[Photo: World of O / facebook.com/WorldofO]

Joaquim Margarido

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