Athletes to watch in 2021

With most of the international events in 2020 cancelled or postponed due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we thought it would generate some much needed New Years enthusiasm to look forward to the 2021 season. As part of that we asked the orienteering community to nominate and then vote upon who they thought would be the top candidates for Athlete of the Year 2021 when the seasons are finally summarized. The voting is now closed and the predictions are set. Here are the early candidates for Athlete of the Year 2021.

Foot Orienteering – Kasper Fosser (NOR)

MTB Orienteering – Marisa Costa (POR)

Ski Orienteering – Daisy Kudre (EST)

Trail Orienteering – Marit Wiksell (SWE)

The engagement of the international orienteering community fans has been impressive. 124 nominations for 69 different athletes were received. In the first round of voting over 6500 votes were received, and in the final voting which was organised as knock-out rounds among the top candidates in each discipline over 41 500 votes were received.

From the final voting we of course also need to make a few Honorable Mentions.

Kasper Fosser edged out Tove Alexandersson (SWE) in the final vote, so fans of orienteering are predicting that Tove will continue to dominate the orienteering scene. Note though that she barely defeated Simona Aebersold (SUI) in an earlier round so Simona is also a favourite contender for the coming season. Kasper Fosser also succeeded in gathering more fan votes than Gustav Bergman in the semi-final round of voting so expect continued strong performances from the 2019 Orienteering World Cup winner.

If enthusiasm and support from fans is a predictor of having a great 2021, look out for Turkish junior athletes Aziz Kiziltas and Orkunt Tek in 2021. Both athletes went far in the voting, carried by strong support from their home fans. We will look forward to seeing them in action at JWOC 2021.

In MTB Orienteering Marisa Costa had a close race with multiple World Champion Emily Benham Kvåle (GBR) so we expect to see both of them with strong performances during the year.

In Ski Orienteering it seems Daisy Kudre was carried by strong performances in a shortened 2019/2020 season and the home field advantage of a World Ski Orienteering Championships in Estonia in 2021, but watch out also for Gion Schnyder (SUI) who ended up second in the voting.

This is of course all just predictions and it is fun to speculate about the season to come. We are optimistic about organising events in 2021 so hopefully we can see if these predictions come true.