Preview – World Ski Orienteering 2004: Tracking with GPS at World Championships

Posted on | January 8, 2004 | Category: News

In the 2001 World Orienteering Championships in Finland, every step taken by the runners in the forest was for the first time tracked with GPS, providing a fascinating picture of the races as they progressed. The second use of this technology will be at this year’s World Championships in Ski Orienteering, when a number of the best athletes will carry a small transmitter so that their position at any instant can be shown on a competition map on a big screen in the arena and on the internet.

Athletes No Longer Hidden in the Forest

This is one of the ways in which the 2004 World Ski Orienteering Championships aims to outreach all previous international ski-o events in bringing the races closer to the spectators. The Championships will also feature mid-race spectator controls in the arena, a mass start for the Medium Distance race, and a spectacular sprint event in an area just 900m x 600m in which the crowd will be able to wander freely. The athletes are no longer hidden in the forest, and the 1,000 spectators expected each day (and perhaps up to 10,000 for the sprint race) will be able to experience the thrill of competition in the hilly terrain from start to finish.

The Championships take place in Sweden from 10th to 15th February at Åsarna and Östersund, 500km NW of Stockholm. Teams from some 30 nations on 4 continents are expected to take part.

Khrennikov Firm Favourite
In the men’s competitions the firm favourite for medals is the Russian Eduard Khrennikov, who dominated the World Cup in the 2003 season and has already won four World Championship golds. Sweden’s Bertil Nordqvist, very consistent and highly successful, second in the World Cup standings last year, will be on home terrain and determined to be at the top. Jukka Lanki and Arto Lilja (Finland) along with Tomas Löfgren and Peter Arnesson (Sweden) and Tommy Olsen (Norway) will also have medal ambitions, and will have to contend with a Russian team which has strength in depth, shown by their clear lead in the World Cup Relays in 2003.

Broad Scandinavian Challenge to Russians
Norway’s Stine Hjermstad Kirkevik, back in elite competition after becoming a mother last year, has set her goal to take over the women’s crown from Sweden’s Lena Hasselström who has now retired. She will be challenged by home athletes Stina Grenholm, current world champion at Middle Distance, and Marie Lund, who won a World Cup race in Östersund last year, and by Finland’s Salla Lehto and Hannele Valkonen. But the biggest favourites must be the two Russian girls Natalia Tomilova and Tatiana Vlasova, who finished first and second respectively in last year’s World Cup.

Junior and Masters Championships in Finland
This year’s Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships (for up to 20-year-olds) and World Masters Championships (open to ski orienteers aged over 35 – there are even classes for athletes aged 85 and over!) will be held at Vuokatti in Finland from 20th to 24th January. The juniors have races over Long and Short distance plus a relay, whilst the veterans race over 2 Long Distance courses with the medals decided on the sum of the two race times.

Results, Reports and Live Action on the Internet
For the Junior and World Masters Championships and for the World Championships, a results and report service supplemented by pictures from the races will be provided on the IOF website www.orienteering.org. In the World Championships, the progress of the best runners can be followed in real time on the internet (see above) – just log on to www.asarna.com/skiwoc2004 and you will feel as though you were there yourself! The key dates are 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th February.

For more information including the dates and times of the races and details of media arrangements, visit the websites for the Championships – they can all be accessed directly from the IOF website Home Page.

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