In a course which offered many interesting routechoice legs, there were only three women with the speed for victory in the women’s class in the WOC 2018 Sprint: The three medalists Maja Alm, Tove Alexandersson and Judith Wyder.
The following analysis goes through the decisive points in the course – showing where the victory and 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. Please refer to the men’s analysis article for further analysis of many of the interesting legs – except for the three last legs the courses where identical.
Who had the speed to win?
Looking at the split times (see graphical representation below), only the three medalists had the speed to win the race – with Alm, Alexandersson and Wyder being within 5 seconds a few controls before the finish with a gap of another 10 seconds down to Karolin Ohlsson. Natalia Gemperle also had quite high speed in parts of the course, but lost significant time (more than 30 seconds) on the leg to the 6th control.
Where was the race decided?
The race was decided towards the very end of the course where Maja Alm simply increased her speed one extra notch as you can see from the below graphical illustration – like we have seen the strong Danish runner do before. This combined with some technical errors by Wyder and Alexandersson made the gaps quite big in the end – with a confortable victory margin of 16 seconds to Alxandersson and 27 seconds to Wyder in the end. More details about what happened in this area based on the GPS-data is provided below.
Leg 1: Alm has her worst control
Already to the first control several of the top women take the wrong routechoice – losing some 5-10 seconds. Here left is faster by some seconds – and both Maja Alm (loses 7 seconds, her worst control), Elena Roos (loses 9 seconds, her worst control) and Karolin Ohlsson (loses 5 seconds) lose time by going right. Note that also Tove Alexandersson and Anastasia Denisova run right here, but she they limit their losses to 2-3 seconds.
Leg 4: Many non-optimal choices
The next interesting leg on the course is the leg to control 4. In the men’s class it is clear that you lose several seconds by going right here. In the women’s class, however, Judith Wyder has a lot higher speed than the others and is actually faster on the rightmost variant here. Add to that that three other Top 6 runners run to the right – Tove Alexandersson, Lina Strand and Karolin Ohlsson, and the picture is much less clear than in the men’s race. Still going left should be faster also for the women on this leg.
Leg 6: Several take wrong route, no big timelosses in the top
The leg to the 6th control is a routechoice leg where right is significantly faster, and a few women lose 10-15 seconds or more. However, execution of the leftmost route is just as tricky, and several women lose time also on the left route due to uncertainties on the last half of the leg. Natalia Gemperle actually loses half a minute on this leg, even with taking the correct routechoice to the right.
Leg 7-8: The “Queen leg” of the course
Similarly to the men’s race, several women lose significant time here by taking the wrong route -although less of the women do this mistake compared to the men. Timelosses for going to the right are big, though, with nearly 30 seconds or more lost. Of the top runners Alexandersson and Strand take to the left and lose some 8-9 seconds to the best split. Denisova also goes left and loses 11 seconds – while Vinogradova goes straight and still loses 11 seconds. Both Alm and Wyder take the fastest route through the narrow alley – so does Roos and Ohlsson.
Leg 12-13: Wrong routechoice for Alm and Alexandersson
Both Alm and Alexandersson run to the right on the leg to control 13, a route which is 40 meter longer and should normally be 8-10 seconds slower than left, according to the analysis of the men’s race. However, as Alm and Alexandersson run so fast, they manage to limit their losses to 5 seconds. Many women do however lose significant time by going to the right.
Leg 14-15: Wyder makes mistake and loses the lead
The leg to control 15 has a small “course-setter’s trap” built in with an artificial boundary just ahead of the control. Wyder runs into this alley and has to run back again. At this point in the course she is in the lead – and this makes her lose 10 seconds and this lead. Alexandersson now takes over the lead, some 5 seconds ahead of Alm. Karolin Ohlsson does not see the best routechoice to the left and runs to the right, losing 12 seconds.
Leg 15-16: Alm speeds up
The leg to control 16 is where Alm decides the race. From being 5 seconds behind Alexandersson, she win the leg with 8(!) seconds, simply accelerating away from the rest of the field. Many runners take the wrong routechoice (either right or left), but even the runners who run straight lose time. Alexandersson runs straight, but with a small error (takes a wrong alley once) and with some hesitations. 13 seconds lost to Alm, but still 6th fastest on the leg. Many lose 20-30 seconds, including Strand, Denisova, Ohlsson who all take the wrong route.
Leg 16-17: Some runners miss the last control
Finally, a small mention of the last control should be included. Several runners missed this control, running to the start control instead. Towards the end of the race some runners got help from the spectators finding the control – Maja Alm had a spectator “guiding” her to the control. Luckily this did not influence the final result, even though Alm got an advantage of several seconds due to this helping hand.
It’s hard to get all the tourists out of the way for the competitors in sprint,
— Nicolas Simonin (@nick_simonin) August 4, 2018