The first ever sprint-only World Orienteering Championships are about to start in Denmark, with the Sprint Relay in Kolding on Sunday, June 26 coming up first.
In total, five sets of medals will be handed out. Knock-Out Sprint debuts as a WOC-discipline on Tuesday, June 28 in Fredericia and the Individual Sprint will complete the championships in Vejle on Thursday, June 30.
With arenas in the centre of the three cities, it’s fair to expect flat and fast urban terrain with tricky, decisive route choices in the narrow streets.
But who are the favorites ahead of the WOC-races among the women – and can anyone beat Tove Alexandersson?
The Swede swept five gold medals in Czech Republic at WOC 2021 last year and made an impressive start to the international season by winning both the Sprint and the Knock-Out Sprint in the World Cup Round 1 in Sweden a month ago. The championships in Denmark will be her 11th WOC and she has won 26 WOC-medals – 15 of gold. She has been the favorite of every WOC-race she has entered in recent years and will take on that role again in Denmark.
Last year’s runner-up in the women’s World Cup, Simona Aebersold (SUI) has been struggling with an injury in her pre-season training. Nonetheless she showed at the World Cup, that she is picking up speed again by finishing third in the Individual Sprint. Simona Aebersold runs all three competitions at WOC.
Andrine Benjaminsen (NOR) played a key role in Norways impressive Sprint Relay-performances in 2021. She overtook Switzerland at the WOC Sprint Relay to secure a silver medal and kept her opponents behind her in Italy when Norway won its first World Cup Sprint Relay in October. Finished third in the Knock-Out Sprint in Borås in May and will compete in every competition.
Megan Carter Davies (GBR) made her best international performance so far at the same KO Sprint in Sweden. She led most of the race after a clever route choice in the beginning and finished second – and thereby occupying the overall third place in the World Cup. Made her first WOC-podium last year, when she was sixth on the long distance.
Both Lina Strand (SWE) and Hanna Lundberg (SWE) showed great performance in Borås as well. Strand was second in Sprint, fourth in Knock-Out Sprint and paved the way for victory for Sweden 2 in the Sprint Relay by being first to the exchange after first leg. And she has experience from eight WOC’s in the past. Lundberg won the Swedish Championships in Sprint ahead of Tove Alexandersson in May, was third in the WC Sprint and made it to the Knock-Out Sprint-final as well.
All photos: IOF/William Hollowell