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EOC Sprint 2014 Preview: Who takes the Gold?

EOC Sprint Final - demo course on old map

EOC 2014 starts for real with the Sprint Final this Sunday at 17:30 CET. GPS-tracking, live results and a video feed is promised – and from the old map it looks like we should get very interesting and challenging sprint orienteering in this first EOC final. With the finals approaching, technical problems are hopefully part of the past, and both athletes and spectators can start to enjoy nice courses and interesting terrain in Portugal.

As you can read below, there are clear favourites – but on the other hand sprint is the most open discipline – especially for the men – with 10-15 athletes who can take the gold. Above you see some legs on the old map of the area – it surely looks like it is possible to make interesting challenges for the athletes here!

The time schedule for the A-finals is as follows:

  • A-final women: First start 17:30 CET – last start 18:20 CET. Winner expected around 18:35 CET.
  • A-final men: First start 18:45 CET – last start 19:36 CET. Winner expected around 19:50 CET.

Start lists are available here (Revised startlists were published Sunday morning as of Sunday evening it looks like the start lists are not the correct ones; heat winners are not last starters there). The organizer’s live coverage will be available here (including live results, live GPS-tracking and live Tweets). There will also be live coverage from the WorldofOLive Twitter account which you can follow at the WorldofO.com frontpage.

Men

eoc2014sprintmen

Even with 12 men of the favorites and outsiders pictured above (from the top of the World of O Sprint ranking with a few runners pushed up), there are several others who might also get the perfect race at EOC 2014 sprint and travel home with the Gold medal. Even though Mårten Boström won a very popular Gold medal at home ground in Finland at the World Championships sprint last year, it is the Swiss men with Matthias Kyburz in the front who are the main favourites.  Below you see that top 10 in the World Championships in Finland along with their results in the qualification in EOC sprint this year:

. Mårten Boström (7th heat 2)
. Scott Fraser (16th heat 2)
. Jonas Leandersson (6th heat 1)
4. Fabian Hertner (DNS, not running sprint)
5. Matthias Kyburz (1st heat 3)
6. Rasmus Thrane Hansen (DNS, illness)
7. Øystein Kvaal Østerbø (2nd heat 3)
8. Jerker Lysell (3rd heat 2)
9. Murray Strain (11th heat 1)
10. Jan Prochazka (Winner heat 3)

The main favourites and outsiders in this EOC sprint are as follows:

  • Matthias Kyburz (SUI) is the main favourite; except for the miss at WOC in Finland last year the Swiss overall World Cup winner has shown again and again that he can deliver excellent performances in sprint even when the pressure is high. Being strong both physically and mentally, he always has very good finishes were he dares to push all the way to the finish. The other five Swiss runners are also capable of taking a medal – but the main gold favorites among them are Daniel Hubmann and Martin Hubmann. Also look out for Matthias Kyburz’s brother Andreas Kyburz.
  • Mårten Boström (FIN) is in good shape – and could very well repeat his race from WOC in Finland. Not the biggest favourite today, though.
  • The Swedes Jerker Lysell and Jonas Leandersson are both among the main favourites. Leandersson was a the big surprise winner at EOC 2012 in Sweden – and showed another excellent performance at WOC 2013 with a bronze medal. Lysell is probably stronger in a flat sprint – but can still perform well also in these hilly sprints.

There are many outsiders who can take a medal – or even win – on a perfect day – at least if none of the runners above get the perfect race. Look out for runners like the World Games surprise Jonas Vytautas Gvildys, Øystein Kvaal Østerbø who finished 2nd in the qualification, Scott Fraser (4th in last year’s WOC – nearly failed in the qualification with a 16th place), Murray Strain (stable top 10 – can make it far higher up on a good day), Jan Prochazka (winner of a heat in the qualification) and finally Yannick Michiels – the Belgian sprint specialist who is moving slowly towards the world elite.

Tip:

  1. Matthias Kyburz
  2. Jonas Leandersson
  3. Daniel Hubmann
Women

eoc2014sprintwomen

With Simone Niggli retired, some of the most experienced Swedes not on the start line – and four of the Top 10 in last year’s World Championships not starting, the race for the medals is more open than it has been for years in the women’s class. Will the other Swiss women take over after Niggli? Will the Swedes climb all the way to the top of the podium even with some of the best not starting? Or will the fast Danish women who have been focusing on sprint for years take it home? Or ….

Below you see that top 10 in the World Championships in Finland along with their results in the qualification in EOC sprint this year:

. Simone Niggli (DNS, retired)
. Annika Billstam (DNS, not focusing on EOC 2014)
. Venla Niemi (10th heat 3)
4. Maja Alm (3rd heat 3)
5. Tessa Hill (7th heat 2)
6. Galina Vinogradova (11th heat 3)
7. Emma Klingenberg (4th heat 1)
8. Merja Rantanen (DNS)
9. Heidi Østlid Bagstevold (6th heat 3)
10. Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg (DNS, expecting child)

The main favourites and outsiders in this EOC sprint are as follows:

  • The Danish women Maja Alm (4th WOC 2013 sprint, 2nd WOC 2012 sprint, 3rd EOC 2012 sprint) and Emma Klingenberg (3 times Top 3 in the World Cup in sprint 2013 – one of them victories) are the biggest favourites due to their ability to perform when it really counts – but only with a small margin.
  • Nearly as big favourites are the Swiss – Judith Wyder (Twice Top 3 in the World Cup sprint in 2013) and Rahel Friedrich each winning one heat in the qualification – although they have not got the same top results from earlier as the Danish. Also count in the other Swiss women among the outsiders.
  • Venla Niemi won Bronze at the World Championships sprint last year – and finished 6th in WOC sprint 2012 – showing that she can perform at her best at big occasions. Not a main favourite – but an outsider.
  • Tessa Hill finished 5th at WOC sprint last year – and has had a very good early spring season. Sprint traditionally being her strongest discipline, the EOC sprint can get very interesting for Hill.

Galina Vinogradova should also be counted among the outsiders – 10th in the World of O Sprint ranking – and 6th at WOC 2013 sprint. Also count in Lina Strand among the outsiders – a third place in one of the World Cup races in 2013. And don’t forget Nadiya Volynska – although best performances in middle the Ukrainian has an 11th place from WOC sprint last year. Other medal outsiders are Ines Brodmann, Karolin Ohlsson, Julia Gross, Amelia Chataing, Lilian Forsgren and Catherine Taylor.

Update 13/4 12:45 CET: The author of this article was tricked by the Sprint Qual live results which this article was based on – where Lena Eliasson was 12th. Lena Eliasson was however not running the sprint qualification (see comment below: “Lena Eliasson did not take part in the sprint qualification. She was entered by mistake and substituted by Helena Karlsson”) – and is therefore obviously not one of the favourites. Sorry for the wrong information – and thanks a lot to Lindström for the update. Good for the Danish women with one less to fight against, Lindström!

Tip:

  1. Maja Alm
  2. Lena Eliasson
  3. Judith Wyder
  4. Emma Klingenberg
Live coverage

Follow the EOC 2014 Sprint live here:


About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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2 comments

  1. Lena Eliasson did not take part in the sprint qualification. She was entered by mistake and substituted by Helena Karlsson.

    • Thanks a lot for the info – I missed that as I prepared my article based on the live results from the sprint qualification. I have updated the article above.

      Good for the Danish women, though. Good luck today!