Record number of nations at World Championships

Posted on | August 6, 2011 | Category: News

This coming weekend sees the start of the 28th World Orienteering Championships (WOC) and the 8th World Trail Orienteering Championships (WTOC) in the Savoie region of France – ‘between lake and mountain’. It is France’s second World Championships – they were also in France in 1987. At least 50 nations are expected to take part in WOC and 21 in WTOC, both new records.

Four finals days

The four finals days are of course the highlights of the Championships. The sprint finals take place in the city of Chambery on the afternoon of Tuesday 16th August; these are followed by the long distance finals the day after, the middle distance on Friday 19th and the relays on Saturday 20th. WTOC competitors on their final day will share the arena for the long distance final.

All the races apart from the sprints will be held on the Savoie Grand Revard plateau between 1200 and 1500 metres above sea level, limestone terrain which will provide a severe technical and physical challenge, especially where rock, vegetation and intricate contour detail coincide. Some of the terrain is expected to be difficult to cross and therefore quite slow.

Many nations have taken advantage of training camps in the area and have become well acquainted with the nature of the challenges ahead. So far this season the Swedish women and Swiss men have excelled in the World Cup, but there is no doubt that strong challenges will come from all the Scandinavian nations as well as, in particular, Switzerland, Russia and the home nation France.

Names to look out for

Simone Niggli SUI, expecting her second child shortly, and Anne Margrethe Hausken NOR, who gave birth in mid-June, are two star names missing from the women’s ranks. It will be fascinating to see if experienced seniors such as Helena Jansson SWE, Marianne Andersen NOR and Minna Kauppi FIN – all with considerable past success – take command, or if the outstanding juniors Ida Bobach DEN and Tove Alexandersson SWE can already do well enough for a podium place at WOC. Ida Bobach won a medal on all distances at this year’s Junior World Championships and now holds the record for the number of junior medals won.

Matthias Müller SUI, Carl Waaler Kaas NOR and Olav Lundanes NOR were the individual gold medallists last year, and all will fancy they have a good chance of retaining their titles. But the likes of Thierry Gueorgiou FRA, Daniel Hubmann SUI and Anders Nordberg NOR will have other ideas. Gueorgiou is always extremely well prepared for a WOC and on home ground he will be particularly motivated. Switzerland and Norway both have strength in depth right now and could well be fighting for the relay gold medals this year.

Special support for new nations

This year’s WOC will see a number of nations present who will be participating for the first time. These include Barbados, Cyprus, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia,  Serbia and Uruguay. A special programme is being laid on to provide training, aid and support for these nations to help them in their future development.

Follow the action on the internet!

Live coverage of WOC in various forms will be provided on the organisers’ website www.woc2011.fr, and reports, pictures and leading results will appear here, and in the ‘Around the Arenas’ section at the foot of this page, each race day.

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