Sunday, 14 August 2011

WOC 2011 - Long Contenders.

Qualification for the long distance took place yesterday on the Les Creusates map. Whilst still difficult terrain this area didn't seem to match the model and training areas as much as expected - rough slopes and steep open meadows more indicative of some Swiss maps.

In the 3 Men's qualification races it was the French trio of Francois Gonon, Thierry Gueorgiou and Phillipe Adamski who set the bar, winning their heats by 0:55, 6:08 and 3:12 respectively on courses which proved winning times up to 9 minutes over those expected. With 15 out of approximately 40 qualifying from each heat none of orienteering's big names missed the cut despite mistakes being made in the forest.
Men's Qualifying B - Thierry Gueorgiou's route (from
Aside from the exemplary French showing, the Russian team qualified well, all finishing within the top 5, the Swiss trio all finished inside the top 6 and the Norwegians, Swedes and Fins all qualifying well. For the Brits, Oli Johnson and Doug Tullie both qualified in 10th place, with Hector Haines missing out in 17th place by 3.5mins.
British Long Distance Champion Doug Tullie qualified in 10th place (from

You can never be entirely sure how much the top guys are holding back in the qualifiers, making picking a winner for Wednesday's final dificult. That said, I can't look further that Thierry Gueorgiou. The 'King of the Middle Distance' has made it no secret that he wants gold in the classic and he appears to have the correct technique for this terrain. As for the rest of the podium there's 6 or so who could get up there. The Norwegians Olav Lundanes (defending long-distance champion) and Anders Nordberg (2010 silver) are long distance specialists, the Fins Pasi Ikonen and Tero Fohr are experienced, as is the Russian Valentin Novikov. Swiss all-rounder Daniel Hubmann (2008 and 2009 champion) can never be discounted, along with Adamski and Gonon with home advantage and confidence from their qualifying performances.

Tero, Thierry Gueorgiou, favourite for WOC Classic (and middle) Gold (from
No surprises in the Women's Qualifying either. Smaller fields than the men's races meant all the big names qualified without major issues. With Simone Niggli not in France, and Marianne Andersen not racing the long,  Helena Jansson (Swe), Dana Brozkova (Cze), Minna Kauppi (Fin) Emma Claesson (Swe), Eva Jurenikova (Cze), Signe Soes (Den) and Merja Rantanen (Fin) are my picks for the top 6. 
All 3 British Women qualified, Rachael Rothman and Claire Ward in 6th place, with Helen Palmer squeezing in in 15th.
Signe Soes (Den) (from

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