The international Ski Orienteering season kicks off this week with the World Masters SkiO Championships (WMSOC) near Innsbruck, Austria. For the first time the Championships are a part of the Winter World Masters Games (WWMG), with 3,500 athletes competing in 12 sports.
249 competitors from 28 different nations are entered for the three WMSOC races – Sprint, Long and Middle. Classes are the usual 5-year age groups, with the addition of M & W30 just for WWMG medals. The oldest competitors are the Finns Veikko Suutari in M85 and Pirkko Tahvanainen in W80. Well-known names in the start lists include the Russian Eduard Khrennikov in M45, who is still competing at the highest elite level, and ever-green Sharon Crawford, USA who competes annually in Masters FootO, TrailO and SkiO, in W75.
Seefeld, 30 km from Innsbruck, is the SkiO Event Centre. Seefeld is hosting 18 finals in the ‘Nordic Cluster’ of 5 sports: Biathlon, Cross-country Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping and Ski Orienteering. The SkiO terrain is described as “typical alpine valley with forest, marshes and open fields.” The terrain is situated between 1200m and 1400m.
The first race is the Sprint, with courses from 2.2 km (shortest viable route 2.6 km) to 3.8 (5.0) km in intricate terrain. The Long race courses are between 3.7 (5.9) and 12.2 (15.7) km, with plenty of climbing. Middle Distance courses range from 3.8 (4.6) to 6.4 (9.8) km. The Masters medals will be hard won!
Other age groups enter international action in early February: World Cup Round 1 together with the Junior World and European Youth SkiO Championships are in Madona, Latvia in the period 2-8 February.
WMSOC race programme
Wednesday 15th January Sprint
Friday 17th January Long Distance
Sunday 19th January Middle Distance
All you need to know about Winter World Masters Games is found here