Organiser photo from preparations in Sarikamiş.
In a week’s time the European Ski Orienteering Championships get under way in Sarikamiş in north-eastern Turkey, with some 80 athletes from 10 nations taking part. All the top-ranked ski orienteers will be present, including Tove Alexandersson, Sweden and Andrey Lamov, Russia who head the IOF SkiO World Rankings lists by 115 and 57 points respectively.
They will be hard pressed for sure by the likes of Russian Mariya Kechkina, Finn Salla Koskela and Swede Magdalena Olsson amongst the women, and Erik Rost (Sweden), Lars Moholdt (Norway), Vladislav Kiselev (Russia) and the steadily improving Gion Schnyder (Switzerland) in the men’s entry list. And we must not forget the amazing Russian Eduard Khrennikov, winner of 8 world championship gold medals, now aged 45 and still going strong.
High altitude terrain
Sarikamiş is a well-known high-altitude ski resort in Turkey which will provide excellent terrain and facilities for the Championships. The terrain is 95% open pine forest between 2100 and 2300 metres above sea level, with competition height differences of up to 100 metres – so some of the races are guaranteed to be physically demanding. There are plateau areas with smaller hills too, and overall a good network of ski tracks and paths. The terrain is generally quite open in nature, so good visibility.
The competition programme starts on Wednesday 6th February with the Sprint, and runs through to 11th February. However many teams will arrive earlier to become acclimatised to the high altitude. This is also the coldest region of Turkey, with average temperatures well below zero at this time of year.
This is the most prestigious IOF event so far for Turkey, one of the younger members of the IOF – Turkey jojned in 2004. Turkey organised an IOF FootO World Cup event in 2014, and is due to host the Junior World Orienteering Championships in 2020. It is now a very active orienteering country with some 4,500 registered orienteers and 112 clubs.
Full details of the European Ski Orienteering Championships are on the event website esoc2019.net.
Tuesday 5th February – Opening ceremony
Wednesday 6th February – Sprint
Thursday 7th February – Mixed Sprint Relay
Friday 8th February – Middle Distance
Sunday 10th February – Long Distance
Monday 11th February – Relay