Making the most of competing at home, Finnish skiers showed an overwhelming superiority on the opening day of the World Masters Ski Orienteering Championships 2017. In Imatra, they achieved 19 gold medals, with the remaining three titles being reached by Russia.
The Long Distance that filled yesterday's European Ski Orienteering Championships 2017's program also stretched to the World Masters Ski Orienteering Championships 2017, bringing together in Imatra, northeastern Finland, 399 veteran competitors representing 19 nations. Competing at home, the Finns were a strong presence, represented by 251 athletes. Russia followed with 66 representatives, Latvia with 13 and Sweden with 11.
In the 12 Men competition classes, the highlight goes to the eleven gold medals achieved by Finnish athletes. Ilya Gusev, Russia, was the great outsider, becoming World Champion in the Men 45 class. Finnish domination extended to the rest of the podium, with ten silver and nine bronze medals, against only one silver and one bronze for Russia. Individually, it's important to mention the victories of Finns Mika Häkkinen (Men 40) and Heikki Saarinen (Men 65), revalidating the world titles reached in 2016 in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, and the triumph of Arvo Majoinen, Finland, in Men 90 class. The Men's competition registered the biggest difference between the top two, with the Finn Pentti Pelkonen being stronger than his compatriot Eero Liski by 11:04, in Men 85.
The women's competition was distributed in ten categories and had the participation of 129 athletes. Also here, Finland showed itself in a plan of evidence, reaching eight world titles, against two of Russia. It was also possible to see the colors of Sweden in the World podium thanks to Carina Sandberg's third place in Women 50. In addition to the eight world titles, Finland also won nine silver and five bronze medals, while Russia joined to the two gold medals, one silver medal and four bronze medals. The Finn Pirkko Tahavanainen, in Women 75 class, was the only athlete to reach the World title for the second year in a row. One last note as a curiosity, since it was in the women's competition that there was the smallest difference between the winner and the runner-up. This happened in Women 50 class, with the Finn Arja Lotvonen winning on her compatriot Vuokko Suutari by narrow 21 seconds.
Complete results and further information at http://skiofinland.fi/en.
[Photo: Malin Fuhr / IOF / facebook.com/IOFarena]