A hugely anticipated European Championships!

These Corona times demand special arrangements for holding major Orienteering events. The successful World SkiO Championships in Estonia at the end of February proved that it can be done, and a similar formula will apply to the EGK European Orienteering Championships (EOC), also World Cup Round 1, starting this week in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. “There might be some restrictions, but we will still offer thrilling competitions,” says Event Director Matthias Niggli.

232 athletes from 28 nations

125 men and 107 women have entered EOC from 28 nations, all raring to go after a pause in full international competition of more than 18 months; the last time the world’s orienteering elite gathered together was for the World Cup Finals in China in October 2019.  A good total of athletes for EOC, although some countries are depleted in numbers due to national travel restrictions. The athletes will face obligatory testing and life in ‘bubbles’. All communication with the organisers will be on-line and, the most noticeable element, there will be no spectators. But out in the terrain, on the courses, competition will be fast and furious! We anticipate a large following for the TV programmes and IOF Live streaming – see other article alongside for all the details.

Sprint is the theme here, the first time an IOF championships has a fully urban format. There are three competitions: Sprint Relay, Knock-out Sprint and Individual Sprint. Many of the world’s top sprint stars are in the entry lists, including IOF Sprint World Ranking leaders Tove Alexandersson, Sweden and Yannick Michiels, Belgium.

Most top-ranked athletes competing

In both men’s and women’s classes, 12 of the 15 top-ranked athletes will be present. In the women’s class it will be fascinating to see if Simona Aebersold, who has been close to Tove Alexandersson in speed and standard, can get the better of her on home soil. Other top contenders for medals could be Karolin Ohlsson, Sweden and Natalia Gemperle, Russia, and we should also look out for Tereza Janosikova, Czech Republic and Maija Sianoja, Finland. Sadly Maja Alm, Denmark, winner of the World Championships Sprint 4 years in succession (2015-2018) is recovering from injury and has had to withdraw.

Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Kyburz, second and third in the IOF Sprint World Rankings, will be planning on making major contributions to Switzerland success in the men’s class. Vojtech Kral, Czech Republic and Tim Robertson, New Zealand are the next in the ranking list and both are competing here. However the Norwegian Kasper Fosser, in his second year as a senior, will for sure have become stronger and may well be challenging for top honours this time, and home athlete Joey Hadorn will also have a medal as his main goal here.

The local football stadium in Neuchâtel provides the Race Centre for the Sprint Relay. Qualification for the Knock-Out Sprint finals takes place in a suburb of the town, and the KO-Sprint Final and Individual Sprint are centred on the Place des Halles, near the centre of the town and the waterfront.

Race Programme

All times below are in CEST, UTC +2. Links in the table go to IOF LIVE Orienteering where English and Russian commentary broadcasts can be watched and where all other live services are published. The Web-TV broadcast costs 12 EUR for all three competitions or 6 EUR per competition.

See full TV broadcast table here.

Thursday 13 May, Web-TV Broadcast: 1630 – 1755 : Sprint Relay

Friday 14 May, First starter: 1500: KO-Sprint Qualification (no TV or Web-TV)

Saturday 15 May, 1320 – 1500: Quarter-finals, Web-TV broadcast: 1500-1700 : Knock-Out Sprint Semi-final and Final

Sunday 16 May, First starter: 1130, Web-TV Broadcast: 1310 – 1535. Sprint