WOC: LIVE Orienteering expert’s expectations

LIVE Orienteering expert Jonas Merz’s expectations:

It is going to be a special World Orienteering Championships – the last one with both sprint and forest disciplines.  But already this year, we will have the world championships divided into two parts – the urban part in Riga with the sprint and sprint relay in the beginning of the WOC week, followed by the forest disciplines in Sigulda.

The sprint final will be held in the Old Town of Riga (UNESCO World heritage site). Personally, I expect it to be a typical sprint race as the runners know it from other old town sprints from the continent: small alleys and an asymmetrical arrangement of the road network and therefore hopefully some tricky route choices. I am convinced that we will see very tight races in both classes.

The sprint relay will be a bit different from the sprint final when it comes to the terrain: Business and residential buildings as well as a park area are to be found in the embargoed area. The big challenge will, as usual, be the contact with the opponents and the tight forkings. For me, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark are the big favourites, but there are many other teams which can fight for the medals: Great Britain, Czech Republic, Norway and Russia for example, to name some of them.

The forest disciplines will be held in the forests around the city of Sigulda. A short look at the older maps from the area gives the impression of quite typical continental terrain: Many paths, rather large contours instead of small detailed terrain and many green areas. The Gauja River and the associated terrain, however, make interesting route choice problems possible. An additional challenge is the limited forestry work in the area. This leads to both lowered visibility and increased difficulty when it comes to keeping direction.

When I look ahead to the competitions, I am especially looking forward to getting the following questions answered:

  • Will Alexandersson / Lundanes get their 3rd long distance gold in a row and thus strengthen their positions as the queen and king of long distance?
  • Will Maja Alm take the 4th sprint victory in a row?
  • Who will be the first runner to win gold in every discipline? There are two runners who have won 4 out of 5 possible gold medals so far: Helena Bergman and Matthias Kyburz
  • Who will be the big rising star of this year’s WOC?

Together with Katherine Bett Jonas Merz will be commentating the races at LIVE Orienteering.