Lots of non-optimal routechoices by the top runners made this an extremely interesting sprint. Even if Alm won with 37 seconds, her technical performance had enough holes that three other runners – Natalia Gemperle, Galina Vinogradova and Anastasia Denisova – would have had the possibility to beat Alm’s time with perfect execution. In total 8 runners had the potential to beat the silver medal time of Gemperle on a good day.
However, Maja Alm showed again that she had a different speed than the others in the field. With a fantastic physical performance her winning margin was 37 second – this win could have been even bigger with a perfect technical race. On one 400 meter long leg (to the 6th control, see above) she beat everybody with 7 seconds or more – that shows what the others are up against. On three legs she took wrong route choices which normally should have cost significant time, but she still won the legs.
The following analysis goes through the decisive points in the course – showing where the victory or medal chance was lost for the runners who had the speed for a top result. For maps, GPS-tracking and results from the race, see this summary article.
The course is very similar to the men’s course, and thus there will be some references to the analysis from the men’s race throughout the article. The analysis of the women’s race will have more focus on the decisions and where the runners loose time to avoid to repeat all the information in the men’s analysis on legs which are equal.
Who had the speed for a medal?
One woman was in a separate class physically – Maja Alm. On the other hand both Galina Vinogradova, Natalia Gemperle and Anastasia Denisova seemed to have the speed to challenge Maja Alm’s current time on a perfect technical day. But this was not a course were it was straightforward to have a perfect day.
Here are the results for Top 15 (times rounded to whole seconds) with the runners with the speed which would have been good enough for a gold on a perfect day (with the other runners having their current performance) marked in red – a medal in black.
|7.||Cecilie Friberg Klysner||DEN||14:58||(+1:02)|
|9.||Ida Marie Naess Bjoergul||NOR||15:04||(+1:08)|
Leg 1: Many medal chances lost already here!
Already to the first leg several of the medal candidates take the wrong route choice and loose significant time – even more runners take the wrong route in the women’s class than in the men’s class – but time losses are in the same range.
Anastasia Denisova loses most time of the top runners – 23(!) seconds – by taking the route to the left. Denisova finished only 19 seconds behind Natalia Gemperle’s silver medal – a good route choice and execution here would have given Denisova her second Sprint WOC medal in two years – despite the injury trouble she has had in the preparations. Venla Harju also lost her medal here: The Finn was 16 seconds from a silver medal and lost 20 seconds on this leg. Going right here is longer and gives more climb. Cecilie Klysner was 25 seconds from a silver medal and loses 22 seconds on this leg – almost all of the time up to the medals lost on one leg for the Danish runner as well. Finally Elena Roos looses 17 seconds – also having 25 seconds up to the medals in the end.
In conclusion: A very decisive leg in the women’s class! Many other runners lost 15-20 seconds or more on this leg only!
Leg 2: Alm win leg without optimal choice
On this leg Maja Alm takes the wrong choice along with Gemperle and Vinogradova, although the differences are not very big. Going down the stairs to the left is some seconds slower than going either straight or to the right around the house. Alm’s running speed is however so much higher than the rest that she still wins the leg.
Leg 5: Wrong choice for Alm
This is the leg where Maja Alm looses most time throughout the course – 10 seconds – due to a wrong route choice. Alm runs in an S-shape (one of the red lines above), and it is the extra length combined with the uneven ground which makes her lose so much time. Denisova goes all the way around to the right, and looses 9 more seconds to the best split of Venla Harju (but gains one second on Alm here). Ursula Kadan takes Alm’s route and looses 12 seconds – thus Alm’s time loss here is not only the routechoice, but also execution (as Alm should be some 5-6 seconds faster than Kadan here based on running speed alone).
Leg 6: Maja Alm really shows her physical class
Leg 6 is where Maja Alm really shows her physical class. The Dane wins the 400 meter long leg with 7(!) seconds – that is very impressive and just show the speed reserve Alm has compared to the others. This is a small labyrinth constructed by the course setter through some artificial fences – and he manages to get several of the runners out of balance. Denisova, Vinogradova, Roos, Volynska and Strand are among those taking the wrong route and running left. Note that this is a leg where running speed is highly exposed, and some runners also loose time due to more mapreading and unsecurity; Denisova loses only 9 seconds even if she takes the wrong route (going left), while Gemperle loses 12 seconds although she takes the correct route.
Leg 7: Mostly about running
Time losses here are mostly about running, but note that Teini loses 11 seconds and Klysner 4 seconds by taking the slightly slower route to the left.
Leg 10: A place to really loose time!
This was the most decisive leg in the men’s class, and also in the women’s class we see that this is very decisive. Alm again takes the wrong route choice to the right which should have given her a time loss of 10-12 seconds if she was on the level of the other medalists – but she still wins the leg! Of the top runners only Gemperle and Denisova see the best route to the left, and beat all the other Top 10 runners except Alm with 10 seconds or more on this leg due to the route choice. There are others who spot the route to the left, but these are not in the Top 10.
So 13 seconds lost for Vinogradova, 18 seconds for Harju, 18 seconds for Klysner. Harju and Klysner already lost a medal on the first control – here they do it again. They definitely had the speed to get a medal with good technical execution. Teini looses another 19 seconds here – of those 34 seconds she had up to a medal.
Leg 11: Another big time loss for Denisova
Leg 11 is another interesting route choice leg where a few top runners loose significant time. The best choice here is going around to the right – but you only lose a few seconds if you go to the right. However, Denisova goes more straight, taking the downhill on the stairs instead of gradually on the road – and loses 15 seconds here! Bjørgul goes first right and then into Denisova’s route – and also loses significant time (14 seconds). Bjørgul actually had quite good speed, and could have been fighting for the medals with perfect execution.
Leg 13: Course setter trap
The course setter had used the opportunity to make a small trap at the very end of the course – a new olive green area not on the old map which made it impossible to just continue straight out of the control – instead you had to be prepared and turn around. Many runners went in this trap and lost 3 -10 seconds (but none were disqualified as the forbidden area was clearly marked in the terrain). Vinogradova lost 6 seconds and the silver medal here (probably due to this “trap”, but could also have been other reason). Klysner loses the 6th place through an 8 second time loss.