Sweden won its first ever European Championships Sprint relay gold by a big margin Friday afternoon in the historic city of Soave, where the second race of the 2023 European Orienteering Championships and World Cup Round 3 was held.
The Swedish team with Tove Alexandersson, Jonatan Gustafsson, Martin Regborn and Sara Hagström beat Switzerland by more than half a minute, while Finland claimed the bronze medals.
Sweden and Switzerland’s first leg runners Tove Alexandersson and Simona Aebersold took on their favorite status by setting a high speed from the very start of the relay and distancing themselves from the rest of the 25 teams.
Alexandersson created a small gap early on, but Aebersold took a shorter route in the slope terrain beneath the scenic Scaligero Castle and caught up with the Swede.
Eventually Alexandersson was the fastest and went into the exchange 15 seconds ahead of Aebersold.
Behind them Viktoria Mag (HUN) showed great form and was 45 seconds slower in third position.
Jonatan Gustafsson extended the Swedish lead in the beginning of his second leg, but ended up losing time and Joey Hadorn (SUI) minimized the gap to only 5 seconds at the exchange.
Teemu Oksanen (FIN) and Eirik Langedal Breivik (NOR) climbed to third and fourth position in a Nordic duel, that would go on to the end of the relay.
Norway and Finland joined the fight for silver
On third leg, Martin Regborn (SWE) kept cool despite having the newly crowned European sprint champion Matthias Kyburz (SUI) on his heels.
The Swede took clever route choices all the way through his leg, while Kyburz lost time already to the long leg to control 1.
挪威海柯拉卡斯帕”丛书和图(FIN) ran impressive legs for their team and caught Kyburz during the short, tricky legs beneath the castle.
Regborn gave Sara Hagström a gap of 33 seconds before her final leg and now with Finland, Switzerland and Norway within seconds in the fight for second place.
Sweden’s gold medals were never in danger during Hagström’s race and she even extended the lead with a few seconds during the 3,7 kilometers under the Italian sun in Soave and had time to cross the finish line with her teammates.
Elena Roos (SUI) took the lead in the group of three, where Finland’s Venla Harju and Victoria Hæstad Bjørnstad (NOR) struggled to follow the retiring Swiss’ runner, who ran her last sprint relay of many for Switzerland today.
Roos proved to be the strongest and took Switzerland’s title defenders to silver medals, while Venla Harju ran Finland to its first ever sprint relay championship medals. Norway was fourth and France and Great Britain claimed the last places on the podium.
In the Team World Cup standings, Sweden jumps nearly 600 points ahead of Switzerland before the last race of the season, Sunday’s Knock-Out Sprint in Vicenza and seems impossible to catch.
Norway is third with Finland way behind in fourth place.
Sunday’s Knock-Out Sprint kicks off with qualification from 8.30 (UTC +2) in the morning and the broadcast from the semi-finals begins at 14.00.
Top 6 results:
1. Sweden (Alexandersson, Gustafsson, Regborn, Hagström) 1.02.35 minutes
2. Switzerland (Aebersold, Hadorn, Kyburz, Roos) +0.36
3. Finland (Nurminen, Oksanen, Heikkila, Harju) +0.53
4. Norway (Olaussen, Langedal Breivik, Fosser, Hæstad Bjørnstad) + 1.02
5. France (Basset, Delenne, Capbern, Calandry) + 2.14
6. Great Britain (Ward, Lawson, Street, Carter Davies) + 2.34
Photos: IOF / Kristina Lindgren