Ralph Street finishing in an urban area at a Swiss World Cup race, 2017
The three days racing of World Cup Round 3 are in and around Laufen, Switzerland this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is televised with English language commentary on the internet at Live Orienteering.
The middle distance is between 400 and 700m above sea level, in a mixture of deciduous and coniferous forest. It's hilly, with moderate to steeper slopes and a network of forest roads and hiking trails. The vegetation is moderate to dense, and there's some contour and rock detail. There's a short urban area near the finish - as is common in Swiss World Cup Races as the cameras and crowd need somewhere suitable.
The areas are rather steep and the main decisions are which roads and tracks to take.
The Knock-Out Sprint is three parallel simultaneous qualification races in the morning. This determines 36 runners to contest quarter-finals, with half of them making the three semi-finals, and a six runner final. The semi-finals and finals are televised.
The Sunday division into A and B finals is governed by this rule:
There will be an A race and a B race. The A race will have a quota of 40 runners, to be filled as follows: (a) the six fastest (plus ties) from each of the three qualification races in the knockout sprint (b) any remaining runners in the top 10 of the Sprint World Ranking as of 26 September (this may well qualify Kris Jones, should it matter) (c) remaining places to be filled in order of the World Cup standings after the previous day's knockout sprint.
For many watching this Knock-Out Sprint will be the first one of the format they've followed. Will it be as exciting as hoped? The format features in next year's World Championships for the first time. The balance to sprint racing rather than forest orienteering we see here will continue in the World Cup until next year's World Championships.
On The Red Line view
The focus in the Knock-Out is on the 18 runner semis and final. And there's a good chance it'll be the same runners making the core of the A finals on Sunday. We certainly hope some GBR runners will be in that group.
As regards the wider measure of progress: the Knock-Out quarter finals and the rest of the runners who run in the A Finals, we might hazard there wil be more GBR runners in the former set than the latter. We may be cheering runners doing well in the B finals.