The middle distance final was held today on the northern section of the ridge from yesterday’s qualification race. It was another super technical area, with a lot of rock detail. Today’s race differed slightly from yesterday’s in that there was a long leg in each race with an interesting route choice decision, and also perhaps less downhill controls on vague hillsides.
The arena was set up really well today, with athletes running through a long passage alongside the finish chute before the final loop of their course. It was a bit of a brutal run-through with a nasty hill at the end. The terrain seemed very physical, with runners all looking tired on their way through the arena.
The men started first today, with Simon off as second starter. We were all happy to watch him hit the controls cleanly on the GPS, and stick to his own race even when he was passed by Valentin Nobikov (RUS) and Tue Lassen (DEN). He held on to take 33nd place, with some faster early runners falling to pieces at the end. He told me his run was consistent with no big errors.
Most of the spectators assumed that Theirry Gueorgiou would come through to take his 7th gold medal in the middle distance, so we were all surprised when Leonid Nobikov (RUS) ran in to take a narrow win! Theirry said that a big mistake near control #2, where he had misread a track, cost him the race. Gustav Bergman (SWE) was well ahead for most of the day and eventually took bronze.
Jas was the first starter in the women’s race, so we got to see quite a bit of her in the beginning! Sadly after a very clean start she made an error on the radio control at #6 and couldn’t recover, finishing 43rd.
Hanny started next and had a few wobbles on the first 2 before settling down and gaining back a lot of time. She was disappointed with her mistakes but took a very good 33rd!
After Vanessa’s start, we didn’t get to see very much of her as the focus had turned to Kauppi and Niggli. I haven’t had a chance to chat to her yet but it seems she lost some time out there, finishing 42nd.
Niggli made some errors early and it looked as if Kauppi would come very close to her. Minna must have felt the home crowd pressure though, making big mistakes later in the course. Simone ran in to a clear lead, and the exciting race was then between Tove Alexandersson (SWE) and Merja Rantanen (FIN). Tove was challenging Simone early in the course before a strange route choice and error on 7. She eventually took Silver, with an ecstatic Rantanen 3rd.
Tomorrow is the relay, which is in the same arena as today. The men start at 1 55 (Simon 1st, Josh 2nd, Bryan 3rd) and the women at 4 (Vanessa 1st, me 2nd and Hanny 3rd). I am quite nervous and hope I can conquer this difficult terrain!
Wishing you all well,
(Ed: Men start at 8.55pm and Women at 11pm. Good luck Aislinn!!)