World Cup: Switzerland won nail-biting Sprint Relay

Switzerland won the first international sprint relay in 2024, when they were the first to cross the finish line after a nerve-wracking final at the Orienteering World Cup round in Genoa.

Finland and Czechia continued to impress by taking second and third place respectively.

Strong start
Switzerland came out strong in the sun-drenched Nervi Park, which borders the Mediterranean at the eastern end of Genoa.

Natalia Gemperle (SUI) ran her first sprint relay for Switzerland’s first team and started like lightning and created a gap of 27 seconds at the changeover.

Here Great Britain, France, Norway and Sweden 2 were the closest pursuers.

Riccardo Rancan did well on second leg, but Emil Svensk (SWE) and Miika Kirmula (FIN) were running strongly behind him and halved the Swiss lead.

Sweden and Finland continued the good pace on the third leg, where Tuomas Heikkilä and Martin Regborn passed Joey Hadorn on the last half of the course and created the foundation for a nail-biting final leg.

Nail-biting finish
Here, Venla Harju (FIN) was sent out first, a few seconds ahead of Tove Alexandersson, while Simona Aebersold and Czechia’s Tereza Janosikova followed shortly after.

The leg towards control 7 close to the sea challenged several of the athletes and both Harju and Alexandersson lost time there and left the lead to Aebersold.

She kept her cool and stayed in lead all the way to the finish line and even had time to cheer with her teammates on the last meters.

Switzerland’s winning team: Natalia Gemperle, Riccardo Rancan, Joey Hadorn and Simona Aebersold. Photo: Kristina Lindgren

Behind her, Finland, Sweden and Czechia fought for second place, and it was Venla Harju who secured Finland’s second great sprint relay position in a row, after their third place at the European Championships in October.

Tereza Janosikova was also sharper than Tove Alexandersson in the end, grabbing third place ahead of Sweden with Great Britain and Norway some way behind.

Full results, GPS-tracking and maps at IOF LIVE

Regrettably, the Men’s Sprint Relay courses were leaked on the internet for a maximum of 15 minutes around 11:30 on Sunday.

IOF and the organisers proceed from the assumption that the teams have complied with the IOF Fair Play Principles and refrained from looking at the maps and courses.

The organisers rushed to inform the participating nations about the matter and held a meeting with team officials in the quarantine zone to hear the teams’ position on the topic.

Here the prevailing opinion was that the race should go on as planned.

After the consultation, the organisers and IOF decided to go ahead with the race, but not award points to the Team World Cup standings for today’s race.