World Cup Sprint Relay: master class from Sweden

Sweden’s team of four produced a flawless perfomance today to win the Sprint Relay in Helsinki centre by a clear margin over Switzerland, with the Czech Republic taking third place.

Tove Alexandersson for the favourites Sweden showed her superior speed and strength straight from the start, setting up a several-second lead in no time and coming to the change-over 23 seconds ahead of the Swedish second and third teams. Next nation was Switzerland, 40 seconds down, followed closely by Russia and Finland.

Next out for Sweden was sprint specialist Emil Svensk and he too made no mistake, holding off the chasing Matthias Kyburz, Switzerland who nevertheless reduced the gap to 25 seconds. Norway with Kasper Fosser pulled up to be third nation at the end of this leg, followed by Finland and the Czech Republic.

Leg 3 saw Gustav Bergman, into the Swedish first team after Jonas Leandersson’s retirement, demonstrate that he is indeed up to the task. Daniel Hubmann worked very hard to try to bring Switzerland back into the reckoning, but the gap at the final change-over was 26 seconds. This leg was notable for a fine run by the Czech Vojtech Kral, who had the fastest run on the leg and came in just 10 seconds down on the Swiss.

Karolin Ohlsson set off on the final leg with Hubmann not yet in sight, and like all the other Swedish runners she powered round the course without mistake, with Elena Roos – her equal in running speed – unable to make any real headway. A good battle developed between Czech Republic and Norway for third place, and although the Czech runner Tereza Janosikova made a small mistake on the town hall steps in front of the big arena crowd, she came to the finish 15 seconds ahead. So Norway finished fourth, then Russia fifth and Finland (their fourth team!) sixth.

Sweden 2 was the only second-team to break into the top six standings, finishing the race in third place. Seventh nation was Great Britain, thanks to a fine run – fastest of all on the last leg – from Megan Carter-Davies.

There was huge interest in the race in the centre of Helsinki and a superb atmosphere in the arena, where the majority of the crowd was seated on a huge bank of steps, with the middle bit roped off as it was the passage out of the arena to the final loop of the course. The steps were many and steep! The weather was calm and sunny, just right for the occasion.

Now the teams disperse, and meet up again for the first-ever forest-only World Championships, in Sarpsborg, Norway starting on 12th August.

Leading results, Sprint Relay

  1. Sweden (Tove Alexandersson, Emil Svensk, Gustav Bergman, Karolin Ohlsson) 50:53
  2. Switzerland (Simona Aebersold, Matthias Kyburz, Daniel Hubmann, Elena Roos) 51:24
  3. Czech Republic (Denisa Kosova, Milos Nykodym, Vojtech Kral, Tereza Janosikova) 51:43
  4. Norway 51:58
  5. Russia 52:08
  6. Finland 52:11

Photo: World Cup Round 1 Organiser