The European Orienteering Championships is now only a few days away!
The first races of the championships – the Sprint Qualification and Final – will be held this Sunday.
We asked the overall Orienteering World Cup winners of last season to share their expectations before the first start of the new season.
Tove Alexandersson aims for good performances in all races
Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) has won four consecutive Orienteering World Cups in the women’s class since 2014, and title number five is on her list of goals for this year.
Two years ago at the last European Orienteering Championships in the Czech Republic, Alexandersson won two golds in Middle and Long distances, and a silver in the Relay with her team-mates. And without doubt she will be the main contender for the medals at EOC 2018.
“I want to have good performances in all races at this EOC. The ‘forest’ competitions will be held on very steep and challenging terrain. I always try to prepare for the terrain specifically where the major championships are to be held. During the last 1½ months I have done all that I can to be as good as possible in the terrain for the upcoming EOC. And, for sure, EOC, WOC, and the World Cup are the most important races for me this season,” Alexandersson says.
Only two months have passed since the end of the Ski Orienteering season, where Alexandersson also was a dominating force and eventually a winner of the Ski Orienteering World Cup 2017-2018. Nevertheless she feels well prepared for the first major Foot Orienteering event.
Tove Alexandersson: “I finished the Ski Orienteering season only 1½ months ago. We have had a lot of snow in Falun during the whole winter and also the beginning of the spring, so there was quite a lot of skiing for me. After that I have been for a one-week camp in Spain and three weeks around Lugano, so I feel well prepared.”
Matthias Kyburz – first year as a professional
Matthias Kyburz (Switzerland) won the Orienteering World Cup overall in both 2016 and 2017. At the last EOC in the Czech Republic he won 2 gold medals, in Middle and Sprint. Now with the support of the Swiss fans he will aim for top results in EOC 2018.
– Could you tell us about your off-season and preparations for the 2018 season? Do you feel well prepared for EOC, and what are your expectations?
“I started my preparation for the upcoming season in the middle of November. It is my first season as a professional, so I took the opportunity and went to some nice training camps. The most special off-season camp for me was the three-week trip to Iten in Kenya.
In the middle of February I got an inflammation around my hip and stomach muscles. This is still not perfect. However I could always continue with my training, with some adjustments. At the moment I feel in good shape, and the recent weeks have been going according to my plan. We had some good camps and races in Ticino where I could learn a lot for EOC! I believe I am ready for an exciting week!
I will have four chances (Sprint, Middle, Relay and Long) to pick any medals. I know that if I run well I could be a medal contender in any format. I hope that I can succeed in winning an individual medal and one with the Relay team!”
– You won the overall World Cup last season and in 2016. Do you have the motivation to go for a third consecutive title?
“I am very motivated to race the whole World Cup season in 2018! Of course, the first two rounds with EOC on home ground, and the World Championships, will be more special to me! But normally I am racing really well in the autumn season. The highest pressure is gone, and I can enjoy racing a bit more in autumn than in spring. So yes, I am still motivated for the overall World Cup!”
– Last season finished with the World Cup final in Switzerland. You won the last 2 races of the season – Middle and Long. This season opens with EOC in Switzerland. Do you feel more confident, or under pressure, racing on home ground?
“I really enjoy racing in front of the home crowd! I have so many good memories and good results from international competitions in Switzerland. The atmosphere at Swiss races is generally more thrilling than at many other races in other countries. I try to take that positive energy, and that makes me feel more confident and more motivated! The pressure is anyway high, whether it’s at home or somewhere else!
There is the terrain advantage as well which makes me feel more relaxed! Even when we are competing at elite level, there is a strong ‘home field’ advantage just because you feel more comfortable with the terrain.”
– Could you describe the terrain of the upcoming EOC 2018? Does this terrain suit you?
“The individual Sprint races will be held in two places. Ticino is known for its picturesque villages with many narrow passages. But I expect a more ‘normal’ Sprint, and not a super-technical Sprint which could be possible in many small villages. I guess this is in my favour because I can race at a higher speed.
The Middle distance will be different from the Relay and the Long distance. I guess the Relay and the Long will be physically really demanding with some nice route choices, whereas the Middle will be more technical. In the last races I got the feeling that I can master the terrain pretty well. But if I could choose a terrain which suits my abilities best, I wouldn’t pick the Ticino region!”