/Photos by Reigo Teervalt/
The Estonian Orienteering Federation and organising club Värska OK Peko faced multiple challenges in staging this year’s World Ski Orienteering Championships (WSOC). The Covid-19 pandemic situation required many hours of extra preparation and much-increased control of activities. And the weather didn’t help, becoming quite warm just at the start of WSOC so that snow levels in places became very marginal. Not only were they putting on the World Championships, but also the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships and the European Youth Ski Orienteering Championships. And finally, the World Anti-Doping Agency had a say in things as they required that Russian athletes participate under a neutral designation which meant special handling at accreditation and ceremonies.
But the outcome was a huge success, so congratulations go to all the organisers, athletes and team officials who combined together to make it happen.
The host nation saw a fantastic performance from 27-year-old Daisy Kudre. She had shown great improvement last season and prepared perfectly, winning a medal in each of the 4 championship competitions – 2 individual World Championship gold medals in Sprint and Middle distances, a silver in the Pursuit, and a bronze medal in the Sprint Relay. This is by far the best performance from an Estonian in IOF Ski Orienteering history. But it was Sweden that took the biggest medal haul with 6 in all, followed by Norway and the group mof neutral athletes from Russia. Estonia was fourth in the medals list and Switzerland fifth after a bronze in the men’s Middle race.
Among the juniors, Hanna Lundberg and Jonathan Ståhl, both of Sweden were dominant with each winning 3 golds and 1 silver medal over the 4 competitions. And in the youth categories Estonian Olle Ilmar Jaama was another bright spot for the home team with 2 golds and 2 bronze medals. He was bested though by Russian Iuliia Khrennikova who won all 3 individual gold medals and added a bronze in the relay competition.
Interesting to note is that athletes from 8 different nations took medals home with them from the event.
All the races provided good levels of excitement with excellent course planning and helped by a cosy arena and very good TV pictures. Perhaps the most dramatic event was the final one, the Sprint Relay, where 6 legs were completed by the winning teams in a total of just over 42 minutes. Here, the TV and GPS coverage picked up perfectly the parallel-error mistake by Alena Trapeznikova (NEU) that led to the frantic sprint finish between three teams, all given the same finish time. The TV team used a drone to cover the mass start, and as on other days, a skillful skiing cameraman followed competitors on sections of the course. The live stream of this and the other races can be viewed in the WSOC Live section of the website.
The event also marked an important return to sport for the IOF. The work on planning, creating and maintaining a Covid-19 safe environment gave excellent results and showed that major events can be organised with the close cooperation between organisers, local health authorities, participating teams and other interested parties like the media. Albeit without spectators and the social interactions we are accustomed to but with the competitions and sport central. The IOF will use the experience gained in Estonia in the approach to upcoming major events.
It was great to experience elite-level competition again and follow it live, and we look forward to the upcoming World Championships in Orienteering, MTB Orienteering and Trail Orienteering. But first up is the European Championships and Orienteering World Cup in Switzerland in May. Planning of the Covid-19 precautions for the event are already well advanced and confidence about being able to hold the event is rising.
Best athletes (individual medals and top-6 positions):
Daisy Kudre EST – 2 gold, 1 silver
Audun Heimdal NOR – 1 gold, 1 silver (+ 4th place in Middle)
Jørgen Baklid NOR – 1 gold, 1 bronze (+ 5th place in Pursuit)
Vladislav Kiselev NEU – 1 gold, 1 bronze
Anna Magdalena Olsson SWE – 2 silver (+ 5th place in Pursuit)
Lisa Larsen SWE – 1 gold
Andrey Lamov NEU – 1 silver (+ 4= in Sprint)
Markus Lundholm SWE 1 silver
Alena Trapeznikova NEU (+ 2 4th placings), Anna Ulvensoen NOR, Evelina Wickbom SWE (+ 6th place in Sprint) and Nicola Mueller SUI all won 1 bronze medal.
Norway – 2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze
Estonia – 2 gold, 1 silver plus Sprint Relay bronze medal
Sweden – 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze, plus Sprint Relay silver medal
‘Neutral athletes from Russia’ – 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze, plus Sprint Relay gold medal
Switzerland – 1 bronze
The Web-TV stream was produced in three different languages, English, Russian and Estonian. The top interest was shown on the first competition day, Wednesday’s Sprint, with 4323 concurrent followers (ENG: 2000 RUS: 2323). The Live Orienteering pages were followed by more than 20 000 users that had 127 075 pageviews during the 5 day period the championships were staged. The English Web-TV stream was also published on IOF Facebook page (Pursuit, Middle and Sprint Relay) and the live posts reached far more Facebook users than any IOF post ever had before. Compared to WSOC 2019, the online following statistics showed a 30-50 % increase in interest from our online audience.