Young blood on top in World Ski Orienteering Championships

Posted on | March 22, 2011 | Category: News

Photo: Erik Borg

The 19th World Ski Orienteering Championships kicked off today with Sprint races in Tänndalen, Sweden. The younger talents showed sharpest performance and took the desired gold medals in both classes. Sweden’s 18-year-old Tove Alexandersson surprised the more experienced co-competitors by taking the gold with only a 3 second’s margin to Helene Söderlund. Söderlund, who started as a favourite, had the lead all the way to the third last control, but lost it because of a small mistake and had to settle for her second consecutive sprint silver. A right route choice to the second last control and a strong finish enabled Alexandersson to take over the gold medal. The experienced Liisa Anttila from Finland took silver only 10 seconds behind the winner.

In the men’s race, another young orienteer, Olli-Markus Taivainen took his second senior world championship’s title with the same tight 3 seconds distance to his compatriot, Staffan Tunis. Taivainen was in the lead already on the first leg and had a clear 15-second lead in the first intermediate times, but a strong finish took Staffan Tunis very close to winning the gold. Sweden’s Peter Arnesson had a good race, but couldn’t match the speed of the Finns today. Alexandersson and Taivainen are both junior world champions in foot orienteering and considered among the most talented orienteers of the coming generation.

“I did my own race today. All the way to the last control I focused on my own orienteering and skiing. Only at the last control was I able to stop concentrating and put all my energy into skiing”, said the surprised Swede. “I expected to do well in the race today but had no real pretension to take gold.” Alexandersson took two gold medals also at the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships in February in Norway and also has a gold medal at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.

Taivainen started his race at high speed and had a clear lead in the first physically demanding part of the race, but lost a little bit of time in the end. “If you want to win, you just have to give it all and take some risks”, said the winner. “I started off very strong but had my race under control all the way to the finish. The only major loss of time I had when I fell in a difficult downhill section. Otherwise, a standard performance from me. I am still more focused on winning the Long distance. That’s why I came here.”

The World Championships continue tomorrow with the Middle distance races.

Results:

Women

1) Tove Alexandersson  SWE 15:11
2) Helene Söderlund SWE 15:14
3) Liisa Anttila FIN 15:24
4) Tatyana Kozlova RUS 15:26
5) Barbro Kvåle NOR 15:39
6) Stine Olsen Kirkevik NOR 15:44

Men

1 Olli-Markus Taivainen FIN 18:04
2) Staffan Tunis FIN 18:07
3) Peter Arnesson SWE 18:27
4) Hans Jörgen Kvåle NOR 18:45
5) Matti Keskinarkaus FIN 18:51
6) Erik Rost SWE 19:01

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