Asian Winter Games: Ski orienteers tackle any weather

Posted on | February 3, 2011 | Category: News

Bronze medallist Ja Youn Kim (KOR) finishing in the thick fog.

The beautiful sunshine at Talgar mountains turned into extreme weather conditions at the 4th competition day at the VII Asian Winter Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The long distance race in ski orienteering was held in extremely demanding conditions, where a very thick fog set on the Soldatskoe Uscheljie Ski Stadium. The visibility deteriorated to  below 30 meters, and the Biathlon competitions had to be cancelled, but the ski orienteers took on the demanding challenge to navigate through their course in the thick fog.

The favourites, Olga Novikova and Mikhail Sorokin, did not have any difficulties in the fog and both took their third gold medals with convincing performances. Both outclassed their competitors today. “Of course the visibility was poor, but it did not disturb my orienteering. I adjusted my route choices and strategy according to the conditions, but the race was physically tough because the rain had made the tracks very soft”, said the pleased and relaxed Sorokin at the finish. Another Kazakh, Alexey Netmsev, took the silver. Yet again the hardest fight was for the bronze medal. China’s Wenqiang Dong was holding on the bronze all the way until the last radio control, but lost his desired medal position in the last kilometres to Mongolia’s Gerelt-Od Bayaraa. This was Bayaraa’s second bronze in the Games.

First-ever medal to Korea

In women’s long distance, Olga Novikova took a sweeping victory and left absolutely no doubt who is the queen of the games, at least in ski orienteering. She left everybody behind already on the first radio control and just increased her speed and dominance towards the end of the race. “I had no problems with the weather, although I have myself never experienced anything like this. Actually, on the upper slopes the fog was lighter and thus easier to navigate and keep on an even speed.” If Novikova’s victory seemed clear from the beginning, it was not so for the women’s silver and bronze. Kazakhstan’s Yevgeniya Kuzmina had difficulties to orienteer in the fog and thus Korea’s Ja Youn Kim was chasing her within seconds during the entire race. In the last radio control, Kim was only 14 seconds after Kuzmina, but was not able to overtake the Kazakhstani athlete. Kim’s medal was the first ever for Korean orienteers, causing a wild celebration among the Korean team and fans.

The ski orienteering events at the VII Asian Winter Games  continue with the relay on Saturday.


Women – Long distance

1) Olga Novikova, Kazakhstan
2) Yevgniya Kuzmina, Kazakhstan
3) Ja Youn Kim, Korea
4) Xiaoting Lim, China
5) Ha Na Lee, Korea
6) Otgontsetseg Chinbat, Mongolia
7) Uugantsetseg Nandintsetseg, Mongolia

Men – Long distance

1) Mikhail Sorokin, Kazakhstan
2) Alexey Nemtsev, Kazakhstan
3) Gerelt-Od Bayaraa, Mongolia
4) Wenqiang Dong, China
5) Seyed Sattar Seyd, Iran
6) Koangmin Jang, Korea
7) Yasin Shemshaki, Iran
8) Byambadorj Bold, Mongolia

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