The World Orienteering Championships 2023 in Switzerland got well underway on Wednesday with the middle distance qualification.
After heavy rain early in the morning, the sun came out over the forest east of Flims, where the qualification races took place.
And the athletes were met by a tricky terrain with lots out contour details to tackle during the 3,2/4,2 kilometer courses for women and men respectively.
Sweden and Switzerland took three heat wins each. Hanna Lundberg (SWE), Tove Alexandersson (SWE) and Simona Aebersold (SUI) won their heats, while Joey Hadorn (SUI), Albin Ridefelt (SWE) and Matthias Kyburz (SUI) dominated the three men’s heats.
The fastest 15 runners in each heat qualifies for the middle distance final on Saturday.
WOC Clinic-athletes tried their hand in mountain terrain
At the same time, the middle qualification races were the first chance for the athletes participating in WOC Clinic to use what they have learned about the special Swiss terrain.
11 athletes take part in the 12th edition of the clinic, which is dedicated to athletes from national federations which are IOF members but cannot send athletes to WOC 2023 due to financial challenges.
Participants are provided accommodation, transport, meals and high level coaching before and during WOC.
One of the participants is Marko Radovanovic (SRB), who finished 31st in his heat today.
– We have had six trainings are and really learned about this terrain. How to find the controls and look through the terrain to make it easier for us to race during WOC, he said after his race.
Gerardo Garcia (ARG) takes part in the clinic as well and was 40th in his qualification heat.
– It’s a dream to be in Switzerland – one of the top countries in the world in orienteering. And I knew they really wanted to make us think today. It was amazing.
– We’ve had 3-4 days to adapt to the terrain (in the clinic). Without that I couldn’t even have made it. It’s some great people we have in the clinic, Gerardo said.
Long distance final Thursday
Thursday is time for the long distance final, where Tove Alexandersson. (SWE) and Kasper Fosser (NOR) are reigning world champions.
It will be a spectacular day with orienteering in mountain terrain between 1000-2000 meters above sea level.
Women’s class starts at 9.00 CEST (UTC +2) and the TV broadcast begins at 12.00.
Photo: WOC2023/Remy Steinegger