Sprint Qualification – Report
Michiels and Alexandersson impress
The World Orienteering Championships began this evening in Forres with the Sprint Qualification race. There were big victories for some of the pre-race favourites, with Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) and Yannick Michiels (Belgium) winning by significant margins, while two previous Sprint bronze medallists – Lena Eliasson (Sweden) and Venla Niemi (Finland) – missed out on a place in the Final. Last year’s gold medallists Judith Wyder (Switzerland) and Søren Bobach (Denmark) finished 2nd and 4th respectively in their heats.
The courses offered lots of route choice, with even small decisions about which way to go around a building being important. Many runners chose routes that cost them some time, including heat winners Michiels and Jerker Lysell.
There were at least three distinct routes for the long leg on each course, with athletes having to choose between twisting and turning on the more direct routes and taking a smoother but longer path to the left or right.
Perhaps the most significant casualty of the day was Lena Eliasson (Sweden), who tried almost every dead end on leg 6-7 of Heat 3 before finding a way through, losing at least 90 seconds in the process.
Tove Alexandersson will go into the women's Final on Sunday as the favourite, while Maja Alm (Denmark) ran strongly to beat Wyder by 14 seconds. Minna Kauppi (Finland) continued her return to form after a difficult 2014 with victory in Heat 3.
Michiels was the most impressive of the male runners, while Jerker Lysell and Mårten Boström tied for the fastest time in Heat 3, and Kris Jones delighted the home crowd with a win in his heat.
The host nation had a fantastic set of results, with all six athletes qualifying for the final. As well as Jones's victory, World Championships debutante Charlotte Ward finished third in her heat, only four seconds behind Kauppi.
Other countries who saw all of their runners safely qualify were the Czech Republic, Denmark – excluding Emma Klingenberg, who withdrew before the race with an achilles injury – France, and Switzerland.
|Women – Heat 1||Women – Heat 2||Women – Heat 3|
|1||Maja Alm||12:44||1||Tove Alexandersson||13:31||1||Minna Kauppi||13:45|
|2||Judith Wyder||12:58||2||Cecilie Friberg Klysner||13:54||2||Silje Ekroll Jahren||13:47|
|13:03||3||Galina Vinogradova||13:55||3||Charlotte Ward||13:49|
Maja Alm of Denmark recorded the fastest time, ahead of reigning Sprint champion Judith Wyder (Switzerland) and her Swiss teammate Sara Lüscher. Australian Hanny Allston, 2006 Sprint World Champion, finished fifth.
Wyder said that she had been suffering from a back problem that she was hoping wouldn’t affect her for the rest of the week, and added
You have to focus all the way in this terrain – you can easily lose yourself if you don't focus, because it's really fast orienteering.
Tove Alexandersson won by an impressive margin of 23 seconds. Danish Cecilie Friberg Klysner, competing in her first senior World Championships, came second, one second ahead of Russia’s Galina Vinogradova. There was also an impressive run from another WOC debutante, Laura Robertson of New Zealand, who finished fourth.
Minna Kauppi (Finland) recorded a narrow win, two seconds ahead of Silje Ekroll Jahren (Norway) and a further two seconds in front of Charlotte Ward of Great Britain. Lizzie Ingham from New Zealand finished fourth, with last year’s Long race gold medallist Svetlana Mironova (Russia) in fifth.
|Men – Heat 1||Men – Heat 2||Men – Heat 3|
|1||Yannick Michiels||11:48||1||Kris Jones||11:44||=1||Jerker Lysell||12:28|
Øystein Kvaal Østerbø
|3||Jonas Gvildys||12:11||3||Martin Hubmann||11:57||3||
Belgian Yannick Michiels won, 17 seconds ahead of Andreas Kyburz (Switzerland), with Jonas Vytautas Gvildys (Lithuania) third. Michiels commented that the race had been trickier than he expected. Tue Lassen (Denmark), last year’s bronze medallist, and Scott Fraser (Great Britain), who came second in the 2013 Sprint, also qualified in joint fourth and joint seventh respectively.
Kris Jones (Great Britain) won Heat 2 ahead of Øystein Kvaal Østerbø (Norway) and Martin Hubmann (Switzerland) and fifteen seconds in front of last year’s gold medallist Søren Bobach (Denmark), with R
ussia’s gold medallist from 2008 and 2009, Andrey Khramov, in joint seventh place. Jones praised the atmosphere in the race arena, saying
The home support was a bit crazy in really good way! It doesn't hit you until you get to the arena, and then you think "Oh my god, this is really loud!"
Jerker Lysell (Sweden) and Mårten Boström (Finland) took joint first place, with Czech Jan Petržela four seconds behind in third. Daniel Hubmann (Switzerland) was fourth, and the New Zealand athlete and reigning Junior World Sprint Champion Tim Robertson finished in seventh. “The course was tricky,” Lysell said,
I found it quite easy but I needed to keep focussing on the map until the end.