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2010 World Orienteering Championships wrap up

A fantastic World Orienteering Championships is now over. The last day of competition, as always, was the women’s & men’s relay. These races were filled with great performance, high drama, and a few tears.

The women were first and Canada did fantastically well. Carol Ross, showing she is maturing quickly ran a strong first leg, keeping her head in the chaos of the mass start. She handed over to Louise Oram in 17th position. Louise showed her growing confidence in her abilities with another strong run (following her great 28th place in the middle distance final) and handed off to Sandy Hott, still in 17th. Sandy, running on almost no sleep thanks to a feverish baby, ran an astonishingly fast race and pulled the team up two positions into 15th. A great result for the team, that will only get stronger as the confidence and experience continues to grow.

At the head of the women’s race it was high drama, with Finland and home-team Norway dropping the rest of the teams on the last leg and battling it out to the final control where finally the Finnish runner escaped with an unmatchable final sprint – to win with just a few seconds.

Then it was the men’s turn. Canada was led out by Patrick Goeres who ran just 5 minutes slower than the first place teams – handing off to Mike Smith in 22nd place, just in front of Brazil, New Zealand, and USA. Mike ran another good leg for Canada, but was passed by the Irish, Spanish, and Belarus teams, dropping Canada to 25th. Nick Duca ran the anchor leg for Canada, dropping two more spots to Brazil & Belgium, but most importantly keeping in front of the USA to make it a double victory in the relay for the Canadians over the USA!

At the front of the men’s relay it was again high drama. The final leg saw seven teams starting within a few seconds. The French were first off, with the Russians just one second behind. The Norwegians, Great Britain, Switzerland, Czech, and Swedish teams were all chasing, less than 15 seconds behind. Gueorgiou for France was pushing hard and soon the lead pack was just France and Valentin Novikov the Russian. They had built a small gap over the chase pack. But just as they approached the stadium the “Curse of Henri” struck unexpectedly – just when it looked as if the French were in control we could see something was going strange on the tracking. Gueorgiou was taking some crazy route to control 17. Then it became too crazy and we all realized he was not going to #17. He had not seen this control and was in fact running toward control 18. A hush fell over the arena as the speaker had to be more silent so that he would not alert the Frenchman to his mistake. Finally Gueorgiou realizes when he does hear the speaker, but by now it is too late – he returns to punch the control but now can do no better than 8th place, while Novikov finishes comfortably in first place. The battle for the other medals is won by Norway, and with Merz out-sprinting Fraser (GBR) to win the bronze for Switzerland. For the fans it was tragic to see Gueorgiou miss a relay medal again – the third time running. Two years ago he was stung by a bee when he was leading with just a few controls remaining; last year (I hope you all remember) he lost a medal when he stopped to help an injured competitor, and now for the third time in a row something bizarre stops him from winning. As the arena announcer said, “Perhaps WOC Relay is not Gueorgiou’s cup of tea”.

Congratulations to the organizers and to all of the competitors. It was a tremendous week for orienteering. The event set new standards in live coverage, and the atmosphere was superb everywhere. And for me it was very inspiring – I had a blast running in the public races. What a great sport when I get back from my own race, bleeding, sweating like crazy, and covered in swamp mud, and all I want to do is go back out for some more!

Submitted by Adrian Zissos, FWOC

1 comment to World Orienteering Championships wrap up

  • As a Norwegian, I am very glad that you had a good experience here at the WOC!

    Congratulations on once again beating USA. :-)

    PS. I’m the same age as Ted de St Croix, we have competed many, many times since he first started to come to Norway for Sørlandsgaloppen. I hope you get another runner at his level soon!

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