Switzerland won the World Cup sprint relay by a big margin, as Česká Lípa hosted the world’s best orienteers for the second day in a row in Czechia.
The sun had replaced yesterday’s rain at the arena in Městský park, when more than 60 teams lined up for the mixed relay Thursday afternoon.
And the many spectators saw a hectic start to the relay, where Sara Hagstöm (SWE1) and Simona Aebersold (SUI1) fought a fierce battle to get first to the exchange after leg 1. Despite taking different route choices several times only one second separated the two after 16 minutes of running.
The rest of the teams were a minute or more behind after first leg.
The Swedish-Swiss battle continued on second leg, where Jonathan Gustafsson (SWE1) and Joey Hadorn (SUI1) took turns taking leads. At the exchange, Hadorn was two seconds ahead of the Swede. Behind the leaders Denmark 1, Sweden 2 and 3, Poland 1 and Norway 1 was leading the chase, now with a gap of more than a minute to close.
Yesterday’s winner Ralph Street came into the exchange in third position, but the British teams were disqualified due to a mispunch.
Third leg decided the relay
The decisive moment for the relay came on third leg, where Matthias Kyburz (SUI1) and Gustav Bergman (SWE1) took different route choices on their way to control 4. Kyburz won 20 seconds there and continued to extend the Swiss lead, so Bergman was one minute behind after third leg.
Sweden 2 and 3 followed at the exchange ahead of Norway 1 and Czechia 1 after Tomas Krivda had picked up 12 places on his leg.
Elena Roos (SUI1) kept cool during her final leg, avoided mistakes and had plenty of time to celebrate the World Cup victory with her teammates at the finish line.
Behind the winners, Tereza Janosikova (CZE1) ran an impressive final leg to the great delight of the home crowd at the arena.
She outran the competitors and caught up with Emma Bjessmo (SWE1) on the final controls to take the second place in front of cheering spectators.
Due to illness and injuries, Sweden was without Hanna Lundberg, Tove Alexandersson and Max Peter Bejmer today.
Sweden 2 was in fourth position ahead of Norway 1 and Switzerland 3.
Spain and France took the last places on the podium as the fifth and sixth best nation.
After a rest day, the World Cup continues on Saturday with a middle distance in the distinct sandstone forests south of Česká Lípa.
First start is around 8.30 Saturday morning and IOF TV broadcasts from 11.00-15.30 CEST (UTC +2).
Photo: Tomas Bubela