World Ski Orienteering Championships: favourites Sweden win Mixed Sprint Relay

Posted on | March 7, 2013 | Category: News

Today’s gold medals went to the strong favourites for victory, Sweden, in a very exciting and close-fought race, but it wasn’t easy! In difficult conditions with rain and wind, it was only on the last two legs that Sweden got in front. Finland took the silver medals and, to their great joy, it was bronze for Bulgaria.

Tove Alexandersson and Peter Arnesson had won three gold medals between them up to this point, and they were never too far from the front, but Tove came in 6th at the end of the first of the six legs of the race, which were skied by the woman and man alternately, the woman starting first.  At that point Norway led, and they also led after the second leg, but the home team was in close touch and to great jubilation from their supporters, it was Kazakhstan in the lead at the half-way point of the race.

Finland had started slowly but Staffan Tunis was the first to appear in the finish arena at the end of the fourth leg, closely followed by Peter Arnesson. Then on what was perhaps the decisive leg of the race, Tove Alexandersson came in with a 26-second lead over Finland at the end of the fifth leg. Arnesson was able to extend the lead to 47 seconds by the finish.

Behind the two leading teams in the second half of the race there were many changes of order. Bulgaria appeared to be right out of the running at the end of the fourth leg when they were placed 8th, but a fine performance from the experienced cross-country skier Antoniya Grigorava-Burgo brought them up to third place after the fifth leg, and Stanimir Belomazhev was able to hold this position to the end.

Switzerland ended in a very creditable fourth place, only 10 seconds from the bronze medals and beating two teams that were initially fancied for medals – Russia and Norway. Russia took fifth place just ahead of Norway after a frantic sprint finish from the last control.

The race provided a strong technical as well as physical challenge; a cool ahead was needed as well as very good fast skiing technique. This format, still relatively new, is proving a hit in terms of providing intense excitement throughout the hour or so of competition.

Friday is a rest day, which will be much appreciated by competitors after two days of demanding weather conditions. The men’s and women’s relay races, for teams of 3, take place on Saturday.

Leading results

  1. Sweden (Tove Alexandersson & Peter Arnesson) 58:33
  2. Finland (Mervi Pesu & Staffan Tunis) 59:20
  3. Bulgaria (Antoniya Grigorava-Burgo & Stanimir Belomazhev) 59:58
  4. Switzerland (Ladina Lechner & Gion Schnyder) 1:00:08
  5. Russia (Anastasia Kravchenko & Andrei Lamov) 1:00:26
  6. Norway (Anna Ulvensen & Hans Jørgen Kvåle) 1:00:27
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