World Ski Orienteering Championships: Middle distance – victories for Taivainen and Vlasova

Posted on | March 7, 2009 | Category: News

The young super-talent Olli-Markus Taivainen and the manifold and defending World Champion Tatiana Vlasova won the middle distance competitions at the World Ski Orienteering Championships in Rusutsu, Japan today. The weather conditions during the race were adverse. A blizzard broke out just before the start of the races, and many competitors had difficulty orienteering in heavy winds and snowfall.

Very tough conditions

Olli-Markus Taivainen lead the Finnish team to a royal flush. Staffan Tunis took silver 37 seconds behind Taivainen, and Matti Keskinarkaus completed the Finnish triumph by taking the bronze. “I started early in the field and made my own race. The conditions were very tough and I relied more on my orienteering skills and short cuts than staying on the tracks”, said the surprised and rather shy winner. “Physically I had a good day. My preparations went well. Nobody expected anything from me in these championships, and I was able to take some risks in my final training. It apparently paid off”, replied Taivainen to questions about his top form.

If the weather conditions in the men’s race were poor, they were even more demanding during the women’s race. Storm-force winds and heavy snowfall caused problems for many competitors who found it difficult to see the tracks and read the map and exhausting to ski against the hard wind.

Vlasova – In a league of her own

Tatjana Vlasova, defending champion from the previous Championships, was not affected by the conditions. Vlasova seemed to fly on the tracks and increased her lead when the conditions became tougher. “I was disappointed after the sprint and long distance. I knew I was in better form and could do better”, said the six-fold World Champion. “Today I performed as I should and did not mind the conditions at all.” Vlasova was in a league of her own today.

Sweden’s young Helene Söderlund took her third medal in these Championships 1.29 minutes behind Vlasova. Sweden also took the bronze when Josefine Engström achieved her best performance ever and finished third only 16 seconds behind Söderlund.

The World Championships finish tomorrow, March 8, with the relays.

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