98 days of SkiO

Posted on | December 3, 2016 | Category: News, Newsletter

The SkiO season 2017 is upon us. An intense season lies ahead, with three major events within a little more than a month.

As a ski orienteer, you need to peak at the exact right time. The season is short and the major championships are compressed into a short period. The three highlights are considered the European SkiO Championships (ESOC) in Finland, CISM World Winter Games in Russia and World SkiO Championships (WSOC), also in Russia.

Since the European Championships in the beginning of March this year, SkiO has been dormant. On 4 December, it wakes up with a long distance in Finland being the first WRE in the 2017 season. 98 days later, it ends with the WSOC Relay in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

For Russian Mariya Kechkina, the season starts in the Ural Mountains at the Russian Cup. The cup is of greatest importance for the Russian skiers with ambitions of participating in this season’s major events:

– The first competition for me this season will be in Zlatoust 7 December. There will be six races and after the end of the competitions, the Russian team will be selected to participate in ESOC in Finland and WSOC in Krasnoyarsk, says Mariya Kechkina, who is reigning champion in ESOC Long and Middle distances.

Mariya Kechkina had a great individual ESOC 2016 in Austria with two gold medals and one of bronze.

The first major event will be ESOC in Imatra, Finland 8-12 February. In connection, both the World Junior- and Masters SkiO championships will take place. Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev will spend the months leading up to this on training camps:

– The last few years I have spent my time in the beginning of November until end of December in Scandinavian countries. I have not done any specific training camps towards European Championships in Imatra. Instead, I will look at old maps of the terrains and prepare for the challenges it will offer, says Stanimir Belomazhev, who has a bronze medal from ESOC Long distance 2016.

Based on the results from last year there is a good change Mariya Kechkina will make it to the Russian team. When that is confirmed, she will intensify her preparation for February and March’s major events:

– This season includes many different events and I think all competitions will be interesting for me. I am planning to visit Ski-O Tour [in Switzerland and Austria 7-14 January] and I hope this event will be a good preparation for the main competition of the season, Mariya Kechkina says.

Following ESOC, the second major event is CISM World Winter Games in Sochi, Russia 21-27 February. The event is a multisport event held every fourth year for military personnel and of great importance for many of the ski orienteers:

– As I am a part of the Bulgarian forces, the CISM World Winter Games are extremely important for me. I expect the organizers will offer some challenging courses and interesting terrains, Stanimir Belomazhev says.

Stanimir Belomazhev won his first ESOC gold medal in 2013 at the Sprint distance. He repeated the victory at ESOC 2015, from where this picture is taken.

The season finishes with the WSOC in Krasnoyarsk, Russia 7-12 March. Both CISM World Winter Games and WSOC will offer the Russian skiers home ground. Mariya Kechkina looks forward to participate in front of the home crowd but is aware of the extra pressure:

– CISM World Winter Games and WSOC in Russia will be the most important competitions in 2017 for me. When competitions take place on home ground, it is an additional support but it is an additional psychological stress too. Many friends, relatives and those who love orienteering will watch, so I will try to give them the maximum results, Mariya Kechkina says.

The 2016 World Cup standings were very tight. In the men’s, only four point separated winning Erik Rost and Lars Moholdt in second. In third position, Eduard Khrennikov had 25 points to victory in the overall World Cup. Wins in three World Cup races and stable races in the rest was enough for Erik Rost to take the victory even though Lars Moholdt did an incredible performance at ESOC 2016 with victory in all three individual distances.

In the women’s, Tove Alexandersson secured a win of 20 point ahead of Mariya Kechkina, with Tatyana Oborina in third after a larger gap. With victory in five out of the nine World Cup races, Tove Alexandersson could keep the opponents behind though it got tight in the end with Mariya Kechkina’s victories in ESOC Long and Middle.

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