On the European Trail Orienteering Championships ETOC 2016's rest day, we seek to thoroughly understand the TrailO Relay competition's progress, which ended with the victories of Italy and Sweden, in the Open Class and Paralympic Class, respectively.
Italy and Sweden were the great names of the ETOC 2016's first day, by winning the TrailO Relay competition in the Open Class and Paralympic Class respectively. Looking on the moments that led to the final outcome, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog analyzes the course step by step, sharing some interesting facts. But before proceeding with the analysis itself, let's see the “game rules”. In the competition, every Federation was allowed to enter two teams in each class, each consisting of three competitors. Only the better-placed team would count in the prize list. The result was a combination of a PreO-part and a TempO-part where each wrong answers (or points deductions for exceeding the maximum time) in the PreO-part resulted in a 60 second penalty time. The end result consisted of the PreO penalty time, TempO answering time and TempO penalty time. The three legs of the competition were forked and there was a Mass Start. Every fork consisted in a 9 controls course (in fact, 8 controls, because one of it was voided), having in the end two TempO stations with four tasks each. Every team's last competitor had additionally an extra (spectator) TempO station, with four more tasks.
The TrailO Relay joined 34 teams from 16 countries, 26 in the Open class and 8 in the Paralympic class. This was the first-ever official relay competition at international level, following a trial competition at last year’s World Championships in Croatia. The 34 competitors in the first leg were distributed by the three forks, the same happening in the two remaining legs. Looking on the PreO-part overall, one can notice that V1 Fork was quite easier than the others. Fourteen competitors (one of each in the Paralympic class) hit the eight tasks in the V1 Fork, but this number falls to one competitor in the V3 Fork and none of the competitors did a clean race in the V2 Fork. It's worth looking on the overall results after the PreO-part, with Latvia leading with a 60 second penalty time in the Open Class and the Czech Republic being first with 240 seconds of penalty time. In the Open class Italy had a 60 second disadvantage and was the second placed, but the other teams were facing now the challenge of recover from a huge disadvantage of 180 seconds (Sweden, Norway, Great-Britain and the Czech Republic) or even more. In the Paralympic class, the advantage of the Czech Republic on Russia and Sweden, second placed, was of 180 seconds.
The TempO-part brought some important changes to the standings. The Finnish Jari Turto, Pinjä Makinen and Lauri Kontkanen were the most accurate in the two clusters with four tasks each, getting 23 right answers out of 24 and the correspondent 30 second penalty time. With this performance, they jumped up nine places in the standings, taking the 9th position. The second team of Finland performed also quite well, with 90 second penalty time. With 120 second penalty time there was Italy, now in the lead, Portugal and Ukraine, in the Open class, and Sweden, in the Paralympic class. Latvia got 360 second penalty time, losing by far the leadership and falling to the 8th place.
Looking on the board after the TempO-part it's easy to realize that only a disaster would move Italy away from the highest place of the podium. Sweden and Slovakia were in the fight for the silver. Separated by 33 points, Norway, Portugal, Latvia and Finland still had a little hope on the medals. In the Paralympic Class, Sweden took the lead, 18 seconds before Czech Republic. Fighting for the bronze, Russia and Latvia were separated by 22,5 seconds. There's still the final TempO cluster to play just once, by the last competitor of each team. Who is going to lose? Who is going to win?
The final act
The last Cluster will be decisive. Four tasks and lots of precious seconds to play should made the difference for some. In the Paralympic class, both Ola Jansson, Sweden, and Jana Kosťová, Czech Republic, performed similarly and could keep the relative positions. Inga Gunnarsson, Michael Johansson and Ola Jansson were the first-ever TrailO Relay winners in this Class, while Hanka Doležalová, Bohuslav Hůlka and Jana Kosťová got the silver. Dmitry Dokuchaev, Dmitry Kucherenko and Pavel Shmatov could manage to keep the bronze to Russia.
In the Open Class, the three third placed had a 60 second penalty for two wrong answers and the short answering time between them didn't change anything in the final standings. With Remo Madella, Michele Cera and Alessio Tenani in the last leg, Italy saved the gold. Sweden, with Stig Gerdtman, Martin Fredholm and Marit Wiksell got the silver and the bronze went to Slovakia, with Marián Mikluš and the brothers Ján and Dušan Furucz. After Inês Domingues and Grigas Piteira, Edgar Domingues had just 30 seconds penalty and Portugal would rise up three places, overtaking Norway and getting the fourth place. Norway and Finland finished fifth and sixth, separated for close four seconds. Hungary got the seventh place, with Zoltán Miháczi winning two positions on Latvia and Croatia in the decisive cluster. Luis Gonçalves, from the Portuguese second team, was brilliant in the “final act”, winning seven places and finishing tenth overall. One last note to the Czech Pavel Kurfürst: He was the only competitor clearing the final TempO cluster. Twenty four hours later he would be on top again, getting the European gold in the TempO competition!
To see the complete results and for further information, please consult the (unofficial) event's webpage at http://www.etoc2016.cz/.
[Photo: Skogssport / facebook.com/Skogssport]