ESOC final day: clear win for Norway in Sprint Relay

The Norwegian team of Jørgen Baklid and Anna Ulvensøen dominated today’s Sprint Relay, leading throughout and finishing 28 seconds in front of silver medallists Estonia. Bronze medals went to Sweden’s second team.

Photo: Agris Veckalniņš /ESOC 2023

On a fine morning with excellent snow conditions in Latvia, there was the usual frenetic mass start in this race format where teams of two, one man and one woman, ski three short legs each. The men’s courses here were 2.1-2.3 km and the women’s 1.7-1.9, so there was a change-over every 7-8 minutes for the leading teams. The men skied leg 1, and even by control 3 Baklid had established a 17-second lead ahead of the bunch. At the first change-over he handed over to Ulvensøen 31 seconds in front, with no significant split in the bunch behind.

The course to control 1 was very different for each of the women’s 3 legs, so comparisons were difficult, but Ulvensøen had extended the lead to 42 seconds when she handed back to Baklid. Behind this Norwegian team, at that point and for the rest of the race, there were many changes in position between teams from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Switzerland; each nation could field up to 3 teams.

The Norwegian lead never got below 39 seconds until the final leg, where Daisy Kudre Schneider, Estonia benefitted from skiing the leg with the shortest splits to come in 28 seconds down. It was only on this leg that Kudre Schneider got away from two Swedish teams, and these finished third, 52 seconds down on the winners, and fourth. The Finnish teams dropped back a bit towards the end and their leading team finished seventh in the race. Switzerland and Czechia completed the podium positions.

So ends a championships well-organised by Latvia, based on a fine Ski Centre at Madona and blessed with good snow and weather conditions. Now the senior elite ski orienteers move straight on to Beitostølen ski resort in Norway for Round 3 of the 2023 World Cup, incorporating the U-23 World SkiO Championships 2023, taking place from 9th to 12th February. The 2023 World Masters SkiO Championships runs concurrently.

Leading results, Sprint Relay

  1. Norway 1 (Jørgen Baklid and Anna Ulvensøen) 43:03
  2. Estonia 1 (Mattis Jaama and Daisy Kudre Schneider) +0.28
  3. Sweden 2 (Linus Rapp and Elin Schagerström) +0.52
  4. Finland 3 +2.55
  5. Switzerland 1 +3.31
  6. Czechia 1 +4.20