Sweden won the #WOC2018 Sprint Relay despite a non-optimal race by Tove Alexandersson, due to excellent relay legs by second and third leg runners Svensk and Leandersson. Ohlsson on the last leg did not have a perfect race, but the 47 second gap to Switzerland and 1:40 gap to Denmark was enough to run in to a safe victory and gold medal for Sweden.
Above the key points in the relay are highlighted in a graphical representation of the relay (click here for larger illustration). Each point on the splits-graph corresponds to a common control. Below the medal and winning potential of each of the top teams is considered. In the end of the article some words and illustrations related to Sweden’s performance.
Medal potential for the other teams
Switzerland and Sweden were favourites ahead of the Sprint Relay – while Denmark, Russia, Norway, Great Britain and Czech Republic were medal aspirants.
Switzerland: Gold possible with better race by the men
Switzerland finished in silver position with half a minute up to the gold medal. Elena Roos on the first leg did a good job even if she had some small misses – and so did a chasing Judith Wyder on the last leg, bringing Switzerland up from the silver/bronze battle (starting together with Norway, Czech Republic, Great Britain and Russia on the last leg) to a very safe silver position. Still, Alm’s leg time was 38 seconds faster than Wyder’s – that’s a lot in international orienteering!
Still, Alm’s leg time was 38 seconds faster than Wyder’s – that’s a lot in international orienteering!
Illustration: Wrong routechoice for Roos at the first leg to control 6:
The two men, however, were below the usual Swiss sprint standard; Florian Howald on the second leg had only the 5th best split time, 53(!) seconds behind Kris Jones – who had a fabulous race. Fabian Hertner on the third leg had only the 7th best split time, 32 seconds behind Jonas Leandersson. Of these Hertner had the worst technical performance – a good technical performance by Hertner could have put Wyder in a position were she would have a realistic chance to give Switzerland the gold medal.
The two men, however, were below the usual Swiss sprint standard
Also, the best Swiss sprinters, Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Kyburz, decided to not focus on the Sprint Relay this year. It would have been difficult to beat a Swiss team with both Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Kyburz on the team, wouldn’t it?
Illustrations: Hertner’s routechoice-misses on the third leg to control 16 and 18/19, losing more than 25 seconds in these two legs alone.
Denmark: Very impressive with this team
Denmark took bronze after a fantastic performance by Maja Alm on the last leg. Alm closed a gap of more than a minute up the bronze position after starting from a 7th place. But would a silver or even a gold medal have been possible for the Danish team?
With only one current World Class runner on the team, the Danish success is very impressive!
Lassen on the second leg took one wrong routechoice, Edsen on the third leg two wrong routechoices, and even Maja Alm on the last leg took one wrong routechoice. With perfect technical runs by all runners, the Danish team would definitely be in the silver battle, but it would maybe have been too far up to Sweden. Still,with only one current World Class runner on the team, the Danish success is very impressive!
Illustration: Lassen’s wrong routechoice to control 6:
Illustration: Edsen’s wrong routechoices to control 16 and 19 on leg 3.
Russia: Too many misses by Khramov and Vinogradova
Russia finished 5th, but was closest of the other teams to a medal. Galina Vinogradova made a big mistake towards the end of the last leg – at that time she was together with Maja Alm, and good technical performance here would probably not have been enough for a medal. However, Vinogradova also did a miss to the 5th control, avoiding that might have been enough for a medal. Add to that three wrong routechoices by Khramov on the second leg and one by Popov on the third leg, and Russia would even have been in the battle for silver with good technical races all along.
Galina Vinogradova made a big mistake towards the end of the last leg – at that time she was together with Maja Alm
Illustration: Routechoice misses by Khramov on the 2nd leg
Illustrations: Mistakes by Vinogradova on the last leg:
Norway: Medal possible with top performance on last two legs
Norway finished 4th after good races on the first two legs by Ekroll Jahren and Kvaal Østerbø. Westergård on the third leg took the wrong routechoice twice, but still managed to deliver Norway in second place to the last exchange. However, Benjaminsen on the last leg does a mistake already out of the start point losing 10-15 seconds – and she does also not have the speed of Alm and Wyder on flat ground. But with a perfect technical performance on the last two legs, Norway would have had a realistic possibility to close the 30 second gap up to Denmark in third place.
With a perfect technical performance on the last two legs, Norway would have had a realistic possibility to close the 30 second gap up to Denmark in third place.
Illustration: Routechoice-misses by Westergård on the 3rd leg:
Illustration: Mistake by Benjaminsen at the start of the last leg, just after the start control (she starts to run the wrong way and turns):
Great Britain: Medal possible with top performance on last two legs
Great Britain’s biggest asset is Kris Jones who smashed the other runners on the second leg, winning the leg with 30 seconds even with one wrong routechoice. However, Hodkinson on the third leg does three bad routechoices and loses 46 seconds to the best split time – and Carter Davies on the last leg does one bad routechoice and one big mistake at the end of the relay. Good technical performance on the two last legs would however have been enough for Great Britain to be fighting for that medal.
Hodkinson on the third leg does three bad routechoices and loses 46 seconds to the best split time
Illustration: Routechoice-mistakes by Hodkinson on the 3rd leg to control 2 and 6
Illustration: Big miss at the end of the last leg for Carter Davies.
Czech Republic: Not fast enough for a medal
Finally Czech Republic had also medal chances after excellent races by the two Czech men (although Nykodym on the second leg lost some time on bad execution to the first leg and a wrong routechoice to the 6th leg), getting the Czech team into shared fourth position at the start of the last leg. However, with the last leg runner Janosikova not having the speed to keep with the best, Czech Republic finished in 5th position.
Illustration: Two small misses by Nykodym on the second leg.
For completeness here are Sweden’s misses:
Illustration: Misses by Tove Alexandersson on the first leg
Illustration: Wrong route by Svensk on the second leg
Illustration: Wrong route by Leandersson on the third leg
Final word about the courses
The area chosen for the Sprint Relay was not the most exciting from a technical standpoint, and we therefore saw relatively few mistakes. The focus of the course setter was on fair forking and on providing routechoices where the different forkings had different optimal routechoices. The course-setter succeeded well with this goal, this was probably one of the international sprint relays with smallest difference between the forkings (maybe around 5 seconds for control 18/19 for the men was the most) – and several runners took the wrong routechoice due to following teams who had another forking (most of the wrong routechoices discussed in this article). Still, a more technically challenging area and/or more barriers could have provided an even more interesting relay.
This was probably one of the international sprint relays with smallest difference between the forkings – and several runners took the wrong routechoice due to following teams who had another forking