Simona Aebersold: changed country, just right for JWOC

Posted on | July 14, 2017 | Category: Arena, News

For most of the last year, Simona Aebersold has been living in a country far from home. The main reason has not been to become better using map and compass, but it has also been a part of it.

When father and Relay World Champion Christian Aebersold was at the top of his career, he was running for Tamperen Pyrintö and made good friends in Finland, and daughter Simona has for a while also been running for the Finnish club. Last autumn she and her friend Valerie Aebischer settled down in a flat in the Finnish city, and lived in the Nordic country most of the time from October to April.

The young Swiss star has won all three individual titles at JWOC in Finland. On the Long it was a winning margin of 3.14.

– How important has the move to Finland been for your success in recent days?

“The reason for the move was not to be good at JWOC! It was mainly for enjoying the club and getting experience for the future, but I also see that it has been very good for my performance at this JWOC. I have got great experience from Nordic terrain that is very valuable,” the 19-year-old says.

Photo: Erik Borg

During last winter there wasn’t much snow, so there was a lot of forest training with map.

Her standard in this kind of terrain has risen a lot, as she has shown many times, such as at JWOC and also at Jukola, when she took part in a young Tamperen Pyrintö team with three juniors and one young senior and finished as number four.

The biggest of all

She is taking part in her fifth JWOC. In her third, as a second-year junior, in Rauland in Norway, she won the Sprint. In her own country she won Sprint, Middle and Relay last year. This year she started with winning the Middle.

“This gold feels in some way bigger than the previous ones in forest, since I am now taking it in a terrain outside Switzerland,” she said after the triumph.

It was an exceptional performance. She uses these words on her Facebook page: “I am still amazed that it’s possible for me to run such a clean race in such difficult terrain. I guess I have never run such a good race in Tampere or even the whole of Finland before. I never lost concentration from the beginning to the end, and was totally focused on orienteering. To get a gold medal in Tampere terrain means a lot to me!”

At the Sprint it was also gold. “It was quite a clean race, but I had to stop a bit to look at the map to take the right decisions.” Her flat-sharer Valerie Aebischer was in fifth place. On the Long she again ran a perfect race.

The best ever juniors

In the whole of JWOC history, Simona is one of the best ever. In number of golds it is Ida Bobach (25) who is the best with seven golds in orienteering, but in total for both foot and ski orienteering it is Tove Alexandersson (24) who is number one, with five in foot orienteering and eight in ski orienteering, in all thirteen.

Simona now has seven, and she has still one year left as a junior. There is also a chance to get one more gold in Finland.

– So ten JWOC golds are the goal now?

“That’s not my goal at all,” she smiles.

A similar name

If you think Simona’s name has a connection with the name of the best orienteer in the world, Simone Niggli – you are wrong. Simone wasn’t yet at her best when Simona was born, on April 13th 1998. “Her name was chosen since we just liked it,” Christian Aebersold tells. The father is also her coach. It was in 1991, 1993 and 1995 that he became World Champion in Relay.

Simone’s first WOC gold was taken in Finland. Where? It was in Tampere, just where JWOC is now.

The future country

After a year off studies after finishing grammar school in June 2016, Simona will start studying in Bern, just 30 kilometres from her home in Brügg bei Biel. “I will study sport and biology.” She hasn’t yet decided how many per cent to study. In Bern there’s a national centre for training and improvement. Simone Niggli is one of the trainers. Simona has great opportunities for new steps into the senior age.

Simona has by the way her own website,

Just the same for the men

Olli Ojanaho has also won three golds this year, and has six in all after the Long Distance. He lost some seconds during the race. “There was a 10 seconds mistake already on the first control. Then it was 30–40 on the seventh control and I didn’t do all things right on the long leg, but I am very satisfied to keep the good level going on,” the Finn says.


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