Four Medals for Switzerland on the Long Distance Race
No new names on the podium for the men at their title races over the long distance: both Swiss, Joey Hadorn and Thomas Curiger won gold and silver. As on the previous day, bronze went to the Swede Isac von Krusenstierna. On the junior women’s side, the Finn Anna Haataja won her first gold medal ever in front of the two Swiss, Valérie Aebischer and Sophie Bachmann. The Swiss dominated both first days at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in their own country.
On the junior side, the Swiss Joey Hadorn prevailed for the second time at this JWOC. “I knew I had fast legs and a strong heart to run again very fast here”, said the 19-year-old double world champion in the finish. His victory was endangered only once on a short leg between controls 5 and 6 at the beginning of the race when Hadorn was holding his map upside down and could not make sense about his position in the terrain for over a minute! After having placed only 52nd in the long distance a year ago, the strong runner invested lots of time into the mental aspect. With an error-free run Thomas Curiger (SUI) could have challenged his team mate. Uncertainties approaching and leaving the 10th control cost the double silver medallist the gold. He lost 52 seconds on the new double world champion. Isac von Krusenstierna (2:04 down) complained only about a smallish mistake to the 8th control but was generally running without a mistake. Thus the highly talented Swede from Falun won already his second bronze medal at his first world championship race.
Defending champion from Finland, Olli Ojanaho, had to bury his dreams of winning another gold medal at control 22. He lost touch with his map and lost more than 5 minutes on a leg of only approximately 120 meters distance.
After winning bronze in sprint yesterday, Anna Haataja, also received her second medal at these JWOC. The 20-year-old Finn got over two uncertainties at the beginning and subsequently ran almost error-free and predominately for her first gold medal. “I was really hungry for gold at my last junior world championships“, declared Haataja in the finish. She already had received two silver medals, 2013 in the relay and 2015 in the long distance. The targeted preparation with four training camps in specific alpine areas paid off for the Finnish team. After her 10th place in the sprint the Swiss Valerie Aebischer could clearly improve. She lost almost all of her time to the winner on a significantly slower direct route to the 6th control. Small uncertainties shortly before the finish were deciding factors for not winning gold for Valerie Aebischer. The 19-year-old was 1:50 behind in the finish. Sofie Bachann showed a strong reaction after a missing control and subsequent disqualification in the sprint. Her 2:54 behind the gold medal were due to a disadvantageous route-choice from the 4th to the 5th control (+80 seconds) and a mistake at control 12.
Yesterday’s winner in the sprint and great favourite, Simona Aebersold (SUI), took over the lead at control 6 but skipped control 8 entirely and had to go back for it. This major mistake cost her unbelievable 9 minutes.
The long distance race was held at an extraordinary elevation of between 2100 to 2300 meters in Val Müstair at the border to the neighbouring countries Italy and Austria. The multiple orienteering world champions Fabian Hertner and Matthias Merz set varied and challenging courses in alpine forests and meadows for the young up-and-coming orienteering athletes. After a detailed beginning with its tricky relief followed alpine passages and interesting route-choices. Sections with short middle-distance-like characteristics challenged the athletes additionally. However, the two world-class runners were surprised mostly by the 5 minutes faster-than-expected winning time of the juniors.
The 27th junior world orienteering championships in Scuol (Switzerland) continue tomorrow, Wednesday, with the middle qualification race in Ftan. 322 athletes from 39 countries will be at the start.
Lukas Jenzer, Media Director JWOC 2016