As many as 36 nations will be represented by more than 220 competitors in the World Cup Final, the first World Cup events ever to be held in China. There are three competitions: Middle Distance, Sprint Relay and Sprint.
The biggest interest performance-wise will be in the men’s World Cup where Gustav Bergman, Sweden leads. The scores from the two final individual races in China will both count in the overall score. Daniel Hubmann, Switzerland is currently third, but is being challenged closely by Vojtech Kral, Czech Republic and Hubmann’s compatriot Joey Hadorn, with Frederic Tranchand, France not far behind too. All top-six placings qualify for prize money. Olav Lundanes, currently second in the overall standings, will not compete in the final round.
Tove Alexandersson is already a clear winner of the women’s competition, but in particular the Swiss athlete Simona Aebersold and Russian Natalia Gemperle will be trying very hard to knock Alexandersson off her pedestal just one time in the season. Aebersold and Gemperle are just 3 points apart, so the fight for second place will be intense. Sabine Hauswirth and Elena Roos, both members of the very strong Swiss women’s team, are currently fourth and fifth, and the Finns Venla Harju and Marika Teini have 1 point between them for sixth place.
In the World Cup team competition Sweden are assured of overall victory, short of disqualification in the Sprint Relay on Sunday combined with a win for Switzerland, in which case first place would be shared. Finland is now in third place, narrowly ahead of the Czech Republic, Norway and Russia.
Special terrain, massive publicity
The events in China promise to be memorable for the terrain and the publicity as well as the competitions themselves. The Middle race will be on a mountain plateau forest with mainly moderate slopes, with very varied vegetation and some villages and parkland. Then the Sprint Relay terrain is something really special: a film studio complex with masses of replica townscapes and temples combined with city/suburban parkland. The final Sprint is in the village of Songtang with its many narrow alleys and winding streets plus some farmland and ponds.
Publicity is likely to be massive. As Tim Robertson (New Zealand), well used to running in Chinese events, puts it: “The atmosphere surrounding the competitions in China is incredible. Huge TV screens, drones overhead, banners everywhere and photographers taking nonstop pictures is just the ‘normal’ at these events.” China, an IOF member since 1992, has staged regional championships and World Ranking Events before but nothing on this scale. The TV coverage will be great to watch.
All the world’s best taking part
The world’s best will be present in large numbers here, with all the top nations bringing full teams, and entries have come from far and wide including athletes from Argentina and Nepal. You can follow all the action with IOF’s live coverage, including a curtain-raiser programme in connection with the Opening Ceremony – see separate information. Read also the article ‘5 things you may not know’, published earlier!
Programme (local times, UTC + 8 hours)
Friday 25 October, 20.00: Opening Ceremony
Saturday 26 October, 11.30 – 17.00: Middle Distance, Xiqiao Mountain
Sunday 27 October, 14.45 – 15.55: Sprint Relay, Nanhai movie and TV town
Tuesday 29 October, 13.00 – 16.30: Sprint, Songtang