The Middle Distance final competition at the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships was contested in the very challenging terrain from the arena in Smrzovka in the Liberec region of the Czech Republic. The courses offered very technical orienteering where it was necessary to navigate the best routes through the cliffs, boulder fields and broken ground while keeping direction through areas where visibility dropped due to thicker vegetation. It was obvious from the TV pictures and GPS tracking that maintaining focus while dealing with effectively moving through the terrain was a real challenge.
Matthias Kyburz strongest among the men
The mens race saw several position changes among the top competitors, but it was Matthias Kyburz (SUI) who had the best speed and navigation and won the 5th World Champion title of his career. This was also the second title at Middle Distance, adding to his gold from Sweden in 2016.
He started the race very strong and was obviously faster than his fellow competitors in the beginning of the course, building a lead of 26 seconds over then 2nd placed Ruslan Glibov (UKR) at the first TV control. However, he made the competition exciting for awhile when at the 2nd TV control after 30 minutes he dropped into 2nd place, 3 seconds behind Gustav Bergman (SWE) who was fastest in the middle sections of the course. Kyburz set everything straight again over the last 10 minutes, constantly increasing his lead over Bergman who waited nervously at the finish. In the end his very strong and fluent finish meant a winning margin of 40 seconds. Gustav Bergman held on to the silver medal and Ruslan Glibov the bronze another 7 seconds behind. Lucas Basset (FRA) and Kasper Harlem Fosser (NOR) looked like they might challange for the medals in the early parts of the course, but lost time after the first TV control and finished in 4th and 5th respectively. Eskil Kinneberg (NOR) finished out the top 6 after having been caught by Kyburz who started 2 minutes after him.
Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships – Middle Distance Men
|5||Kasper Harlem Fosser||Norway||41:38||+2:07|
Another dominating performance from Tove Alexandersson
Among the women it was gold again for Tove Alexandersson (SWE). Although she had a rough start with errors on the 2nd and 4th controls losing a little more than a minute and passing the first split time in 6th place. From there she started navigating smoothly and picked up the pace showing a speed which none of the other women have at the moment. This was the 13th gold of Tove’s career, the 3rd in a row this week and in fact the 7th in a row dating back to the Long Distance at the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships in Latvia in 2018.
Behind Tove, the fight for the silver and bronze medals was exciting with Kamilla Steiwer and Andrine Benjaminsen (both NOR), Simona Aebersold (SUI) and Sara Hagström (SWE) changing positions several times. Kamilla Steiwer had the early lead, but made a small error at the second TV control allowing Andrine Benjaminsen to pass into 2nd place and win her second silver medal of the championships. Simona Aebersold was also able to close the gap over the last 2 controls and the finish chute, taking the bronze 2 seconds ahead of Kamilla Steiwer. Sara Hagström (SWE) and Lisa Risby (SWE) finished out the top 6.
The most heart-breaking moment of the day was when Jana Knapova (CZE) finished in front of an excited home crowd in the leading position and what appeared to be a medal-winning time. However, it turned out she had skipped the 5th control of the course and was disqualified.
Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships – Middle Distance Women
The Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships has a rest day tomorrow and returns with the Relay competitions for Men and Women on Thursday July 8 and concludes with Long Distance competitions for Men and Women on Friday July 9. The event can be followed on the IOF Live page.