World Ski Orienteering Championships: “This gold was ours”

Posted on | March 9, 2009 | Category: News

Finland and Sweden were the strongest in the World Ski Orienteering Championships relays in Japan on Sunday. The blizzard of Saturday had passed and the weather was sunny but windy. Pristine new snow challenged the teams’ skills in choosing the right skis and waxing.

Finland, with the team Teemu Köngäs, Matti Keskinarkaus and Staffan Tunis, took the gold medals with convincing team strength even if they surprisingly started the race without the young middle distance world champion Olli-Markus Taivainen. Norway and Øystein Kvaal Østerbø had the lead after the first leg, followed by a tight group of six nations ten seconds behind. On the second leg, Finland’s experienced Matti Keskinarkaus overtook the other teams before the first intermediate control and handed over the relay to Staffan Tunis 40 seconds ahead of Russia and Sweden. Tunis had physically a very strong day and had no contest from the others for the gold. “Today I felt very strong. I had no intensions to let the others catch me. This gold was ours”, commented the winning last leg runner at in the finish. Russia took the silver before Sweden. Norway, Czech Republic and Switzerland took the podium places behind the medal winners.

A fantastic week in Japan

In the women’s race, Sweden’s Helene Söderlund completed her championships with her fourth medal – now gold – with her team mates Marie Ohlsson and Josefine Engström. Helena Randakova (CZE) was the quickest on the first leg, followed by Sweden and Russia. On the second leg, Josefine Engström pushed her team to lead and sent Helena Söderlund to the last leg 30 seconds before Czech Republic. Söderlund had no problems on the course and took the gold convincingly. Russia’s Tatiana Vlasova did another top performance by lifting Russia from the fifth place to silver with the fastest performance of the day. Barbora Chudikova completed the excellent performance of the Czech ladies with a bronze medal. Finland, Lithuania and Bulgaria took the fourth, fifth and sixth places.

“I have had a fantastic week here in Japan with four medals. In the earlier races I made small mistakes that cost me higher positions. Therefore I am happy that our entire team made a great performance today and we can share the well-deserved gold together”, said the pleased Söderlund at the finish.

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