Following on from the first sprint WOC July has been another month dominated by sprint orienteering at the international level. The devastating forest fires in Portugal reduced JWOC to also being a sprint only event, making it the third JWOC for which NZL athletes have missed out on the full experience. Be that as it may, this disappointment was first alleviated by Tim Robertson’s first major international title in winning the sprint at the World Games in the USA, and then obliterated late in the month by Penelope Salmon landing the W20E sprint at O-Ringen in Uppsala. All is not lost.
Malcolm Ingham (email@example.com)
JWOC2022 – fire and sprint
After 2 years with no such experience a relatively young New Zealand team returned with anticipation to JWOC2022 in Portugal. Unfortunately, once again nature intervened, this time in the form of the fires that caused the closure of all Portugese national forests and forced the cancellation of all the middle, long and relay races. The organisers made the best of the circumstances by putting on what became the first ever JWOC sprint relay and an additional “unofficial” urban relay, but for many, presumably not only from New Zealand missing the forest races will have been a big disappointment. Additionally, it appears that covid reared its ugly head affecting some of the later performances, as well as the high temperatures impacting some. Credit must go to Jenni Adams, Carsten Joergensen and Briana Stevens, as well as the several accompanying parents, for keeping spirits up.
Even with the reorganization of the programme, the sprint was first up, largely in the narrow and hilly streets of Carapito. Even without the extensive use of artificial barriers that was seen at WOC there was significant route choice, starting from the very first leg. With only Will Tidswell, Kaia Joergensen and Penelope Salmon having previously experienced this level of competition it was always going to be tough for the Kiwis and, in general, so it proved. Penelope was the best chance for a strong performance, and after a cautious start she had moved into 8th place by control 11. A 30 second error on the complicated short leg to 12 put her back a little, but she was still on the verge of the top 10 when at the end of the long leg back towards the arena she mis-punched at control 16. Ironically, Will also suffered a mis-punch at a control 16 (not the same one) mid-way along a similar long leg. This left Zara Stewart as the top Kiwi in 58th place in the women’s race, narrowly ahead of Kaia, although both dropped about a minute’s worth of time without which a highly commendable top 30 would have beckoned. In the men’s race Ryan Moore and Felix Hunt stood out among the
New Zealanders although they were some 2 and a half minutes back on Swedish winner Axel Elmblad.
Men: 1. Axel Elmblad (SWE) 13:45, 2. Tobias Alstad (NOR) 14:11, 3=. Mikkel Holt (NOR) 14:13, 3=. Ilian Angele (ITA) 14:13, 3=. Basile Basset (FRA) 14:13, 63=. Ryan Moore (NZL) 16:16, 68. Felix Hunt (NZL) 16:18, 82. Fergus O’Neill (NZL) 16:56, 86. Cameron Bonar (NZL) 17:02, 105. Zefa Fa’avae (NZL) 17:45, Will Tidswell (NZL) mp.
Women: 1. Elisa Mattila (FIN) 14:57, 2. Lilly Graber (SUI) 15:10, 3. Anna Karlova (CZE) 15:16, 58. Zara Stewart (NZL) 18:08, 67. Kaia Joergensen (NZL) 18:43, 90. Tessa Burns (NZL) 19:25, 117. Rachel Baker (NZL) 21:20, 130. Katherine Babington (NZL) 24:10, Penelope Salmon (NZL mp.
Specialization between forest and sprint orienteering has not yet permeated down to JWOC, although it is a moot point that when the balance of races shifts from 1 sprint and 3 forest races to 2 sprint and 3 forest races whether or not this will change. In any case the first ever JWOC sprint relay, originally set down for 2023 in Romania, was no doubt an unexpected bonus for any specialist sprinters. With each country allowed only two teams in the official sprint relay, a B relay was also run for the teams made up out of the 2 men and 2 women from full overall teams who missed out.
The relay provided the most excitement of the week for New Zealand as Penelope was in the lead pack all the way, coming home in a superb 3rd place 25 seconds behind the leading Czech team. From there on, however, things went backwards for the Kiwis despite good legs from Cameron Bonar for NZL2 and Felix for NZL1. Zara, who had shown covid symptoms after the individual sprint, but tested negative, clearly struggled and Tessa Burns pipped her to the line by 11 seconds as NZL2 came in ahead of NZL1. At the front of the field there was the threat of a sprint finish until Norway pulled 2 seconds ahead of the surprise package of Hungary, with the early leaders of Czech Republic 3 seconds further back.
1. Norway 1 57:50, 2. Hungary 1 57:52, 3. Czech Republic 1 57:55, 26. New Zealand 2 (Kaia Joergensen 16:50, Cameron Bonar 15:20, Fergus O’Neill 16:07, Tessa Burns 17:04) 1:05:21¸ 27. New Zealand 1 (Penelope Salmon 15:08, Ryan Moore 16:22, Felix Hunt 15:30, Zara Stewart 18:32) 1:05:32.
The B Relay did not go well for New Zealand with Rachel Baker unfortunately mis-punching on the first leg. Without this a respectable 11th place would have achieved.
1. Norway 1:00:10, 2. Czech Republic 1:01:14, 3. Sweden 1:01:50, New Zealand (Flying Kiwis) (Rachel Baker mp, Zefa Fa’avae 16:06, Will Tidswell 17:03, Katherine Babington 19:28) mp.
The urban relays (men and women with 3 person teams) took place in Dornelas and it is great credit to the organizers that they managed to put this together at such short notice. Again, New Zealand had 2 teams in each of the races. The men ran first and Fergus O’Neill brought NZL2 in in 38th place. Unfortunately, NZL1 suffered another mis-punch, with Cameron Bonar the victim this time. Thereafter the two teams were never far apart with Fergus, Will and Ryan finishing in 30th position and Cameron, Felix and Zefa just in front of them across the line. France was the slightly surprise winner, ahead of Switzerland and Norway. Through the first two legs the two women’s teams were never more than a few seconds apart. On the 3rd leg, with both Penelope and Zara suffering a bit of a gap developed with the two finishing 22nd and 24th. Hungary, following their strong sprint relay took the women’s race with Finland and Sweden in the minor placings.
Men: 1. France 1 49:15, 2. Switzerland 1 49:32, 3. Norway 1 50:23, 30. New Zealand 2 (Fergus O’Neill 19:02, Will Tidswell 19:19, Ryan Moore 20:55) 59:26, New Zealand 1 (Cameron Bonar mp, Felix Hunt 18:59, Zefa Fa’avae 19:03) mp.
Women: 1. Hungary 1 57:41, 2. Finland 1 57:44, 3. Sweden 1 58:58, 22. New Zealand 2 (Katherine Babington 23:52, Rachel Baker 23:07, Penelope Salmon 24:02) 1:11:01, 24. New Zealand 1 (Kaia Joergensen 23:47, Tessa Burns 23:11, Zara Stewart 25:16) 1:12:14.
So, a somewhat unusual JWOC came to an end, with team members heading either home or on to O-Ringen. As a point of note, had things turned out differently JWOC2022 is the one that New Zealand applied to host – what a long time ago that now seems!
World Games – Tim at the top
The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama was always going to be a completely different experience from WOC and JWOC for Tim Robertson, with the orienteering being only a small part of a multi-sport event. As he said in a pre-World Games interview, his main aim in the two weeks since WOC had been to recover and ensure he maintained the form that he showed in Denmark where things had not quite gone to plan, although that recovery included a sub 14 minute 5000m along the way!
Outside of the sprint relay for which there was no New Zealand team, the Oceania place having gone to Australia, there were only 2 individual races to deal with. The sprint was first up on the extended University campus. With heat and humidity both high, Tim ran what was certainly the race of his life. Quite remarkably he had the fastest split to the first control and led for the entire race, having a winning margin over Martin Regborn of Sweden of 9 seconds. As Tim commented afterwards “It was a really tough race on a map that felt like a stretched out New Zealand university campus. I started very hard and managed to keep high enough speed to hold on at the end. 34 degrees and high humidity made the course very physical.” Although Tim has previously won the two JWOC sprint golds and a World University sprint title (not to mention to WOC medals) this, undoubtedly, ranks as his biggest win yet.
Behind Regborn in 3rd was Tomas Krivda of Czech Republic, with the two gold medallists from WOC, Kasper Harlem Fosser (sprint) and Matthias Kyburz (KO sprint) tied in 4th place. Women’s silver medallist from WOC, Simona Aebersold went one better in Birmingham, holding out another Czech, Tereza Jansikova, and fellow Swiss Elena Roos. Australia’s leading man Aston Key, after a podium finish at WOC, again showed his future potential with 7th place.
Men: 1. Tim Robertson (NZL) 14:17, 2. Martin Regborn (SWE) 14:26, 3. Tomas Krivda (CZE) 14:29, 4=. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 14:32, 4=. Kasper Harlem Fosser (NOR) 14:32, 6. Joey Hadorn (SUI) 14:33.
Women: 1. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 14:52, 2. Tereza Janosikoca (CZE) 15:18, 3. Elena Roos (SUI) 15:21, 4. Aleksandra Hornik (POL) 15:36, 5. Karolin Ohlsson (SWE) 15:37, 6. Ingrid Lundanes (NOR) 15:39.
The middle distance was held in Oak Mountain State Park – mainly a single steep hillside with multiple perpendicular spurs and gullies running down to Double Oak Lake. This time, perhaps not surprisingly after the high of the sprint, Tim was a little down in 14th place with Fosser, Kyburz and Regborn taking the podium places. Aebersold did however back up her sprint win with a second title to add to her increasing list. The minor women’s places went to Karolin Ohlsson of Sweden and Ingrid Lundanes of Norway.
Men: 1. Kasper Harlem Fosser 33:45, 2. Matthias Kyburz 33:52, 3. Martin Regborn 34:42, 4. Ruslan Glibov (UKR) 36:02, 5. Gernot Ymsen (AUT) 36:30, 6. Joey Hadorn 36:58, 14. Tim Robertson 39:35.
Women: 1. Simona Aebersold 35:12, 2. Karolin Ohlsson 35:57, 3. Ingrid Lundanes 39:14, 4. Victoria Haestad Bjornstad (NOR) 40:16, 5. Aleksandra Hornik 40:51, 5. Hanna Wisniewska (POL) 41:19.
With no New Zealand team Kiwi interest in the sprint relay was minimal although Australia came in 9th of the 14 starting teams.
1. Switzerland 46:02, 2. Norway 46:41, 3. Great Britain 47:16, 4. Czech Republic 48:08, 5. Poland 48:19, 6. Sweden 48:48.
Moving on from JWOC and coming just prior to World Cup Round 2 and the World University Championships, O-Ringen 2022 in Uppsala had a decent contingent of Kiwis. Three of these, Gene Beveridge (M21E), Imogene Scott (W21E) and Penelope Salmon (W20E) were accepted into the restricted elite classes. Penelope, like Tim at the World Games, achieved the biggest result of her career by winning the W20E sprint on day 3, beating 3 of the top 5 place getters from JWOC into the bargain. Again, as for Tim at the WG, the course was somewhat campus-like and was even planned by the resident Kiwi in Uppsala, Kate Morrison! Gene and Imogene also had good results in the elite sprint, coming well into the top half of their highly competitive fields.
Others at O-Ringen included 4 of the men’s JWOC team: Ryan Moore, Fergus O’Neill, Cameron Bonar and Will Tidswell, all competing in M20, and Rene Beveridge, Briana Steven and Amber Riddle in W21. Of the men the top result was a 4th place by Cameron on the last day, although Ryan, until mis-punching in the last race, was very well placed overall and also had a top 10 placing.
New Zealand Cross-Country Championships
The NZ X-Country Championships took place at Spa Park in Taupo on Saturday 30 July and provided a wonderful showcase for orienteering as Tim Robertson, back visiting after WOC and World Games, and Ronan Lee finished 3rd and 6th respectively in the senior men’s race. The live stream provided a wonderful advert for how orienteers can compete with the best and, hopefully HPSNZ will have taken note.
While there seems to have been a never-ending succession of major international events since the end of May it is not yet over. The second round of the IOF World Cup, which is also the European Championships, starts this week in Estonia. With WOC2023 being a forest WOC, this year the European Championships are also entirely forest. They start with the middle distance qualification (3rd August), followed by a long distance (4th), middle final (6th) and culminating on 7 August with a relay. New Zealand has only 2 entrants – Toby Scott and Briana Steven, so will be without relay teams. The races can be followed on IOF Live at https://orienteering.sport/event/orienteering-world-cup-round-2-with-european-orienteering-championships/welcome/ .
Following shortly on from WC2 (16-21 August) will be the World University Championships in Switzerland where New Zealand has large contingent. Again, this can be followed on IOF Live.
Locally the next event of interest will be the CUOC Long O based at Castle Hill on the first Saturday in September and, a little further afield, the Australian Championships Carnival and Southern Cross Challenge at the end of that month.