Winners from 12 nations in World Masters Ski Orienteering Championships

Gold medals went home to 12 different nations from Austria, venue for the Winter World Masters Games (WWMG), which this year included the World Masters SkiO Championships (WMSOC) for the first time. Three competitions were held at Seefeld, where the ‘Nordic Cluster’ of WWMG events took place.

Finland was the clear leader in the WMSOC medals table, 25 of the 63 gold medals being won by Finns. The two most successful Finnish competitors were Anne Pelto Huikko in W60 and Heikki Peltonen in M60; both scored victories in all three disciplines: Sprint, Long and Middle. Germany was second in the table with 11 golds and Russia third with 8. At the other end of the table, 1 gold medal went to each of Kazakhstan and USA, and 2 to the Czech Republic, Italy, Norway and Ukraine.

Four more competitors achieved the clean sweep of victories giving three gold medals. Two of these, Stanimir Belomazhev, Bulgaria (M30) and Eduard Khrennikov, Russia (M45) were strong favourites in their classes, as both are still competing at top elite level. They are joined by two Swiss competitors: Carmen Kappenberger in W35 and Iris Bolliger in W40.

In no class were the races more fiercely fought out than in W75, a small class but where the winning margins were 33 seconds, 2 minutes 21, and 27 seconds. The very long-standing battle between Galina Vershinina, Russia and Sharon Crawford, USA ended this time with two wins for Vershinina and one for Crawford.

This event was an excellent opportunity for showcasing Ski Orienteering; 3,500 athletes competed in 12 winter sports, five of them based in Seefeld and the others in Innsbruck, where the WWMG Event Centre and Masters’ Village offered much to see and do.