Top Ski Orienteers converge on Finland

Posted on | February 5, 2017 | Category: Arena, News

The first major international Ski Orienteering event of the season, the European Championships, gets under way this week in Imatra, Finland, with 106 competitors from 16 nations competing for the European titles. The Junior World, World Masters and European Youth Championships will be held concurrently at the same venue.

Competition will be very keen between the top SkiO nations, with Russia vying with Sweden in particular for top honours. Tove Alexandersson SWE and Mariya Kechkina RUS will be renewing rivalry in the women’s races, whilst Erik Rost SWE, World Cup winner last year, will be looking to retain supremacy in the men’s. His closest challengers, apart from the strong Russian team including veteran Eduard Khrennikov, may well be fellow-countryman Peter Arnesson and Norwegian Lars Hol Moholdt and the Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev. The home country will also be determined to make their mark, and have Sonja Morsky, Mira Kaskinen and Salla Koskela in the top ten in the IOF women’s World Rankings and Ville Petteri Saarela and Janne Hakkinen in the top ten in the men’s.

All the races will use the same Competition Centre: the Ukonniemi Biathlon Stadium in the outskirts of Imatra, which provides excellent facilities for competitors and spectators alike. All the European Championships (ESOC) races will feature GPS tracking and live coverage with cameras in the stadium and out on the courses, providing exciting real-time viewing on the internet and the arena screens.

The terrain includes wild forest with no permanent skiing routes, a golf course and pine forest with cross-country ski tracks, and the area closest to the arena where there is a dense network of ski tracks and many other features. There are some steep slopes and interesting contour detail, even though the height range is only 30 metres.

ESOC commences at 11.00 local time on Tuesday with the individual Sprint competition, which always produces very intense racing. Here the women race 2.9 km direct (shortest practical distance 4 km) and the men 3.2 km (4.2 km), using a 1:5,000 map. The other short-distance competition, the Mixed Sprint Relay, is the following day at 12.30. The Long and Middle Distance races and the Relay take place on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Imatra is a modern industrial town on the banks of the River Vuoksi in eastern Finland, quite close to the border with Russia. It is also well geared up to top-class ski competitions, and a well organised and exciting set of races is in prospect.

Livestream can be followed on, which also carries all other information about the four sets of Championships taking place this week. will bring reports and leading results from the races throughout the week.


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