The relay races on the opening day of the EGK OL World Cup finals in Davos Klosters ended with a total Swiss triumph. At Madrisa on Saturday, Switzerland won both the men’s and women’s relay races.
The Swiss women were in the leading positions throughout the race which took place in rainy and cold condition at Madrisa above Klosters. Elena Roos ran the first leg and came back only a few seconds behind the leaders. In the technically difficult first part of the second leg, her teammate Sabine Hauswirth dropped slightly behind. But, thanks to a great route choice and her good running form, the runner from the city of Bern managed to catch up the leaders again so that she was able to hand over to Simona Aebersold in second place.
Simona Aebersold started the last leg with the Swedish team, and with Norway less than thirty seconds behind. The Norwegian runner missed her tricky first control and so it was just Sweden and Switzerland in the lead from then on. Simona got a gap on the steep climb on the long leg to control 8 that the Swedish runner never managed to close.
“I was able to really enjoy the last few metres of the race,” said Simona Aebersold, just after crossing the finish line to bring Switzerland 1 to victory in the women’s race. But until the very last part, the Swiss anchor-woman had to survive a tricky moment. “I made another mistake on the final loop, and for a short time I was afraid that I might be overtaken.” But Aebersold kept the lead and Team Switzerland 1 won ahead of Sweden and Norway.
Hadorn unbeatable on last leg
The steep alpine terrain at the tree line challenged the athletes both technically and physically. “At the beginning it was important to read the map carefully,” said Swiss first leg runner Daniel Hubmann. “At the same time, on the climbs you had to be physically ready to be able to keep up with the leaders.” The veteran 39-year old gave his team the best possible start by winning the first leg.
His teammate, Florian Howald on second leg, lost one and a half minutes to the leading team but Switzerland 1 remained within striking distance of the leading teams. Joey Hadorn, the team’s anchor-man, proved he was in excellent shape. The man from Bern battled for victory with Norwegian Eskil Kinneberg and Swede Anton Johansson and was able to break away from his two competitors in the final part of the race. “My goal was to get the first section well and then attack in the second part. I succeeded,” said Hadorn. “I enjoy courses with lots of uphill and downhill running.” The other podium places went to Norway and Sweden in that order, with Switzerland 2 in fourth place.
The cool and damp weather on race day didn’t put a dampener on the occasion and neither the athletes nor the organisers let themselves be thrown off course. “The early onset of winter presented the organising committee with additional challenges,” says Event Director Matthias Niggli. “We are all the happier that we were able to organise the relay under fair conditions.”
Overall World Cup positions still to be decided in the final races
Thanks to the two relay victories, Switzerland moved up to second place in the World Cup nations ranking. However, the leading nation, Sweden, goes into the two final individual races with quite a comfortable lead.
The last two individual races of this year’s overall World Cup will take place in Davos at the EGK OL World Cup final. The final individual placings in the overall World Cup will be determined by the results in the middle distance in at Drusatschawald and in the long distance at Zugwald on Monday. Tove Alexandersson of Sweden, who did not compete in the relay, leads the women’s ranking with a lead of 90 points. Simona Aebersold and Venla Harju of Finland are her leading chasers and have a slight chance of catching Tove.
In the men’s category, the competition for the top places is still open. Norwegian Kasper Harlem Fosser leads the overall classification ahead of his main rivals – the two Swedes, Martin Regborn and Gustav Bergman. Matthias Kyburz is the best Swiss in fifth place. However, Matthias, who is the reigning middle distance world champion, is not able to improve on this position as an injury has prevented him from taking part this weekend.
On-site spectators can follow the competition live in the Höhwald finish arena near Davos.