All favourites mastered the challenging Middle Qualification race predominately

With Olli Ojanaho (FIN), Joey Hadorn (SUI) and Isac von Krusenstierna (SWE) the three top favourites won their qualification races over the middle distance in Ftan. On the women’s side, the two Swiss Valerie Aebischer and Simona Aebersold as well as the Swede Johanna Öberg won their respective heats. Team Norway and Switzerland succeeded in placing all their runners into the A-Final, whereas for the two other big orienteering nations, Finland and Sweden, 3 competitors failed to clear the hurdle qualifying.

The favourites on the junior women’s and men’s side had no difficulties with the challenges in the rocky and rich with detail terrain on a slope near Ftan. The Finn Olli Ojanaho (19), who had won 2015 in Norway both the long and the middle distance title, prevailed in his heat without a problem. Isac von Krusenstierna (18) and Johanna Öberg (20, both Sweden) were winning their heat. Joey Hadorn (Switzerland) the new double world champion and his team mate Thomas Curiger (double silver medallist) had convincing performances with a great lead for Joey and a good 2nd place for Thomas in his heat. Long distance champion Anna Haataja (Finland) came in 5th place having not an error-free run. Simona Aebersold the sprint champion won her heat with a convincing performance after her disappointing 12th place in the long distance.

The goal for all big orienteering nations is to succeed in qualifying as many as possible of their athletes for the A-Final. On average over the last 15 years, Sweden succeeded in qualifying the most runners in the A-Final (5.3 per class), Norway and Finland each 4.8, and the Czech Republic and Switzerland each 4.6 thus placing second to fifth respectively. This time only Norway and for the first within the last 15 years the host country, Switzerland, succeeded in placing all 12 starters into the A-Final. For Norway it was a close call, but now they managed for the second year in a row to qualify all their runners for the A-Final. No luck today in Ftan had the two big orienteering countries Finland and Sweden. Three of their runners did not make the cut and have to put up with running in the B-Final (Oscar Leinonen was not able to start today due to sickness.

Smaller nations usually consider it a success if one of their team members qualifies for the A-Final. For the first time ever starting in a middle A-Final in the area of Susch-Lavin will be the Turk junior Orhan Kuflu who came in an excellent 9th place in the 3rd heat. Moldavia made the cut twice already with Anatoly Fomiclov. The USA surprisingly succeeded in qualifying three runners for the A-Final with Michael Laraia, Asne Skram Troemborg and Amanda Johansson. Equally successful was Hungary with 3 men and 3 women in the A-Final, two of these were on the lucky 20th spot. On the other hand, Hungary also had two unlucky runners placing 21st. Still, this was the best result for Hungary in the Middle Qualification race over the last 10 years. Poland had only three women at the start, but all three finished in the top 8 of their heats.

The Middle Qualification race of JWOC 2016 was held in a relatively steep alpine area with lots of cliffs and a detail-rich contour relief above Ftan between 1700 and 2000 m altitude. The two course-setters, both participants in multiple junior world and world championships, Sophie Tritschler and Sara Lüscher were responsible for the six qualification courses  Many short legs with changes of direction and a somewhat longer leg with route choice problems were characteristic of the courses..

The 27th Junior World Orienteering Championships in Scuol (Switzerland) continue tomorrow, Thursday, with the finals over the middle distance in an area that had been mapped for the first time near Susch-Lavin. The 60 best athletes from the qualification races will be at the start fighting for medals. 322 orienteering runners from 39 countries are going to the start this entire week.

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Olli Ojanaho

Joey Hadorn

Anna Haataja

Simona Aebersold

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