Another Swedish double in the WOC Relay

The Swedish orienteering team seems to be nearly unbeatable at the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships in the Czech Republic. In the forest relays they once again managed double gold medals winning both the womens and mens class. The relay featured dramatic sandstones features with challenging route choices to find the best passages and minimize steep climbs. The weather turned out to add to the challenge with a couple of heavy rain showers during the womens race and thunderstorms and constant rain over the mens. The dark clouds reduced the available light on the final leg of the mens relay with several teams used map-reading headlamps.

Dominating performance by Sara Hagström (SWE) in the womens relay

Among the women it was the Swiss team with Elena Roos on the first leg that started best, and exchanged to the second legs Sabine Hauswirth with a 36 second lead in front of Lisa Risby of Sweden. At the first exchange the race for the medals was still tight with 10 teams within 2 minutes.

The second leg of the relay saw the time gaps expanding, mostly due to the incredible leg by Sara Hagström (SWE). She caught and passed Sabine Hauswirth in the first 3rd of the course and increased her lead at each split time to finally send out triple gold medallist Tove Alexandersson with a lead of 3:39. Switzerland and Hauswirth in second had only an additional 11 seconds down to Denisa Kosova (CZE) and it looked like the home nation might be headed for its first medal of the championships. However, starting with the team of neutral athletes from Russia, 5:40 back in 4th position, the teams from Finland, Norway, Poland, Estonia and Great Britain were all within 1 minute 20 seconds of each other and chasing hard for the medals.

Tove Alexandersson ran a controlled leg and the winning margin for Sweden was a comfortable 2:33. Simona Aebersold of Switzerland ran a solid final leg, closing the gap to Sweden slightly and winning the silver medal. Jana Knapova (CZE) started well but made an error costing about 2 and a half minutes at the 5th control. The mistake allowed Svetlana Mironova, neutral athlete, to pass her into the bronze medal position at that point in the race. Just behind them, Andrine Benjaminsen of Norway was approaching quickly and was able to pass both in the final 6 minutes of the course and win the bronze medal for Norway. The neutral athletes from Russia came in 4th, the host nation Czech Republic in 5th, and a strong final leg by Aleksandra Hornik brought Poland the final podium place 9:55 behind gold medallists Sweden.

Gustav Bergman repeats his performance from the 2019 relay among the men

The mens relay was not decided until mid-way through the final leg when Gustav Bergman, in a repeat performance from Norway in 2019, passed the Norwegian mens team and cruised to victory and the gold medal. The key to victory seemed to be finding the best route choices as the routes chosen by Bergman and the Norwegian anchor-leg runner Eskil Kinneberg were quite different.

This was a very exciting relay with several lead changes throughout the 3 legs. On the first leg it was Ruslan Glibov (UKR) and Mika Kirmula (FIN) that had the best speed finishing within 3 seconds of each other and about a minute ahead of Mattieu Perrin (FRA) and Wojciech Kowalski (POL). The eventual medallists were further back, Sweden in 5th 1:35 behind, Norway 9th exactly 2 minutes back, and Switzerland 6th and 1:41 behind. 10 teams were within 2:07 of the lead.

On leg 2 it was Kasper Harlem Fosser of Norway with as dominant a performance as Sara Hagström among the women. Starting 2 minutes back he charged through the field taking the lead at the 12th of the 19 controls on the course, and then constantly expanding the lead to send Eskil Kinneberg out with just under a 1 minute lead ahead of Finland with Elias Kuuka handing off to Olli Ojanaho, Sweden with William Lind handing off to Bergman and Ukraine with Oleksandr Kratov handing over to Artem Panchenko. Florian Howald of Switzerland was another minute back in 5th position.

The 3rd leg battle turned quickly into a 2 man race with Kinneberg initially increasing the Norwegian lead, but then seeing Bergman pass and go on to win. Behind them Matthias Kyburz of Switzerland had the highest speed and half-way around the course moved into the bronze medal position then effectively defended it coming to the finish exactly 2 minutes back and 22 seconds ahead of Ojanaho and Finland in 4th place. Vojtech Kral of the home nation Czech Republic ran a strong leg and advanced from 7th to 5th position, just over 4 minutes behind Sweden, and Artem Panchenko of the Ukraine was able to hold on to the final podium position 8:50 behind, and just 5 seconds ahead of Frederic Tranchand of France.

Results Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships – Relay Women

1 Sweden 1:45:45
Lisa Risby
Sara Hagstrom
Tove Alexandersson
2 Swizerland 1:48:18 +2:33
Elena Roos
Sabine Hauswirth
Simona Aebersold
3 Norway 1:52:46 +7:01
Marie Olaussen
Kamilla Steiwer
Andrine Benjaminsen
4 Neutral 1:52:58 +7:13
Anastasia Rudnaya
Tatiana Ryabkina
Svetlana Mironova
5 Czech Republic 1:53:14 +7:29
Adela Indrakova
Denisa Kosova
Jana Knapova
6 Poland 1:55:40 +9:55
Ewa Gwozdz
Hanna Wisniewska
Aleksandra Hornik

Results Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships – Relay Men

1 Sweden 1:53:06
Albin Ridefelt
William Lind
Gustav Bergman
2 Norway 1:53:57 +0:51
Gaute Steiwer
Kasper Harlem Fosser
Eskil Kinneberg
3 Swizerland 1:55:06 +2:00
Martin Hubmann
Florian Howald
Matthias Kyburz
4 Finland 1:55:28 +2:22
Miika Kirmula
Elias Kuukka
Olli Ojanaho
5 Czech Republic 1:57:25 +4:19
Pavel Kubat
Milos Nykodym
Vojtech Kral
6 Ukraine 2:01:56 +8:50
Ruslan Glibov
Oleksandr Kratov
Artem Panchenko

The Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships concludes with the Long Distance competition for women and men. Among the things to watch will be if Tove Alexandersson can sweep all 5 gold medals available at this years championships. The competitions can be followed on the IOF Live page.