Switzerland claimed the last set of orienteering gold medals at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama after a thrilling Sprint Relay on Sunday morning.
Following Saturday’s demanding Middle distance in the hills of Oak Mountain State Park, the athletes were back in central Birmingham with almost no climb at all during the fast relay courses in and around Railroad Park.
Denmark’s Ida Agervig Kristiansson set a fast pace on the first leg and went first into the exchange, with the expected favorites from Switzerland (Simona Aebersold) and Sweden (Lina Strand) right at her tail.
On the second leg, Håvard Sandstad Eidsmo ran Norway back in contention for medals, whereas Denmark dropped a bit behind.
The third leg saw Matthias Kyburz, Kasper Fosser and Martin Regborn create what looked to be a decisive lead for Switzerland, Norway and Sweden – with Great Britain in fourth position, nearly a minute behind.
Elena Roos was sent out in the lead in the battle for gold medals, with Ingrid Lundanes and Karolin Ohlsson chasing her back in high speed.
However, the Swiss anchorwoman never slowed down during the 3,3 kilometers and as Karolin Ohlsson overtook Ingrid Lundanes early on the course, the order of medals looked to be gold for Switzerland, silver for Sweden and Norway into third position and bronze.
But as Roos crossed the finish line to secure Swiss gold, Karolin Ohlsson ran past the last control and lost more than two minutes on the mistake. Suddenly, Ingrid Lundanes was running for silver medals, and a surprised Charlotte Ward went across the finish line claming the bronze.
Czechia was fourth, Poland fifth and Sweden ended up in sixth position.
A great comeback for Switzerland after the somewhat disappointing fourth place at WOC three weeks ago – and the third World Games gold medal in three days for Simona Aebersold.
The Sprint Relay concluded the first international orienteering championships on American soil in more than 20 years and saw orienteering volunteers from all over the country coming together to make it happen including the local crew.
Watch the TV stream, GPS-tracking and results at IOF LIVE.