Charlotte Ward, interviewed after her terrific run
A GB team of 12 athletes, six men and six women, is in Borås, Sweden for three races forming World Cup Round 1. The races are the sprint disciplines: individual sprint, knockout sprint and sprint relay.
The individual sprint was on Thursday 26th May, and Kris Jones and Charlotte Ward both finished with a "top 10" result.
Thanks to Rob Lines for the excellent photos.
The races were won by last year's World Cup winners, Tove Alexandersson of Sweden and Kasper Fosser of Norway.
It was 1-2-3 for Sweden in the women's race, with Simona Aebersold of Switzerland also getting a medal for joint 3rd. Tove won by a big margin of 29 seconds, showing impressive speed particularly on the second part of the course. She was just behind her young teammate Hannah Lundberg (3rd equal at the end) at the control after the arena passage, and five seconds ahead of eventual second place Lina Strand. From then on she powered away, with fastest leg times more often than not and the result was a convincing win. Fifth was another Swede Emma Bjesmo; she was a minute down on Tove.
The men's race, by contrast, was very close with Kasper having a margin of just six seconds over Tim Robertson of New Zealand at the end, which was as big as the gap between them ever got. Yannick Michiels of Belgium was third, five seconds behind Tim, and Gustav Bergman of Sweden just one more second behind.
Kris Jones was in the lead at the arena passage, but strayed into the parallel finish chute and both his SIAC cards turned off, so he manually punched the remaining 14 controls and finished 8th.
Kris caught the athlete who started ahead of him, Maxime Rauterier of France (who was second in the World Cup Final Sprint Race in 2019)
Kris Jones Photo Credit: IOF / William Hollowell
There was an outstanding run from Charlotte Ward in the Women's Race. Charlotte came ninth. It is a clear best ever individual result in full internationals (note "individual" - a World Universities Relay Gold and 4th in a WOC Sprint Relay are also outstanding). For geeks her next best run in terms of World Ranking points was the 'B' final in Laufen in 2019 a full 61 points less - and this run would have scored more if Tove had eased off!
The start order in the races is determined by World Ranking position. The higher a runner's ranking the later they start. Most runners in the large fields for both races ran at one minute start intervals. The final 40 men then ran at one and a half minute intervals, and then the final 40 women. It's a good way for the spectators, both at the event and watching on television. Charlotte's World Ranking position was not amongst the best 40 of those starting so she ran before the final hour of the men's race - throughout which time she was "current leader" of the women's race!
Charlotte Ward on the run-in
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Generally the British performances were strong. The courses were complex and offered almost no chance to relax concentration. Also bear in mind that in a World Cup the strong nations field eight athletes in each race, rather than the three of a World Champs, so there is a section of the results where there are a whole lot of good international athletes, and small amounts of time means a lot of places. There were six Swedish women in the women's race top 10. Charlotte, Megan and the Polish runner Alexandar Hornik were the only runners to finish in the top 20 who weren't from one of the "Big Four": Sweden, Norway, Switzerland or Finland.
Looking at Winsplits for World Cup Round 1 Sprint you can see that a few of the British athletes made costly mistakes.
Megan was 16th, 1:42 behind the winner. She was fifth at the arena run-through but lost some time at some controls in the second half.
Grace was 23rd, 1:49 down on the winner. Her early splits are probably a bit too steady by her standards, and she picked up from 37th at the arena pass-through.
Alice was 46th and finished in the same time as Cecilie, two and a half minutes down on the winner. She was in the top 10 until approaching the arena run-through, but then slipped back.
Cecilie was 46th and finished in the same time as Alice, two and a half minutes down on the winner. She had a consistent race.
Fiona was 63rd (out of 104 runners). Her split times have the same pattern as Grace's - a steady start, and then picking up for the later controls.
Nathan was the second British man in 37th, 1:17 down on Kasper. He started steadily, picked up 9 places on the arena run-through leg 12-13 (see mapclip below) and then continued to climb the results.
Ralph was the third British man, 43rd and 1:20 down on Kasper. He was 21st at the arena run-through but lost time therafter, particularly on 19-20.
Jonny was 56th, 1:39 down on Kasper.
Will was 69th, 1:56 down on Kasper.
It was a race to forget for Chris, who never really got going again after a mistake to control 3. He finshed 3:31 down on the winner.
The Arena Run-through and Final Run-in began with the same control
World Cup races have an arena run-through to bring the athletes close to the main crowd. This commonly begins in the same place as the run-in so spectators can see both the finish and the run-through from the same place. In this race both began at the same control - it was number 12 in the men's race as shown on the mapclip above. Those doing the run-through are beginning an important route choice leg and need the left lane; those finishing need the more obvious (it was wider) chute to the right. If you look at the big screen that is in the background of the photo of Chris Smithard, you can see the two paths (with Chris visible on the run-through one). The bulletin and the pre-race officials' briefing had explained this, but it is not so easy to recall this in the heat of competition, so a few of those wanting the run-through went some way down the finish chute instead, before correcting. Kris Jones was one.
Your reporter remembers the same happening with Tove Alexandersson in the WOC Middle Final in Estonia. She continued on the wrong line for some way despite shouting from the crowd and the arena announcer Per Forsberg announcing "no, go back Tove, wrong way". There was later consideration as to whether there should be a disqualification for leaving the competition area by crossing the finish line.
Anyway the consequence for Kris of the mistake was that as well as a few seconds it stopped both his SIAC cards (runners carry two) from operating in contactless mode. So he punched the remaining fourteen controls by dibbing.
Possibly an accident to outdo running into someone's kitchen in Riga or losing one's SI card whilst running well in the British Long Champs at Balmoral?
You can see a video of the situation from the athlete perspective, courtesy of Rob:
The spectator run-through from the athlete's perspective. Orienteering World Cup Borås. pic.twitter.com/3tYitF4Bqa— Robert Lines (@Roberto_Lines) May 26, 2022