Today, on March 9, it’s crowdy at the Winter Sports Center. Athletes, who came from 15 countries to participate in the European Ski Orienteering Championships and World Cup Final, have started the model event. Today is the only day they can explore the competition venue, because later on they will be here only during official competitions.
According to the ski orienteering rules, all the athletes were not allowed to visit the competititon venue before today’s model event. The trainings took place at the tracks of “Dolina Ruchyov”. Finally, the day before the first race, here they are, at the Winter Sport Center. Model event is a competitions rehearsal. Athletes are given maps and chips and there are control points on the track. The only difference from the real event is that nobody gets anti-cheating control. Tomorrow athletes won’t be allowed to bring any recording devices or other gadgets to the track.
Participants don’t use Google maps to see the venue before the model event, but everyone is given some summer and winter maps from previous ski orienteering competitions. Athletes don’t have the exact routes drawn for them but they can have a look on the tracks and have a brief idea what to expect during the competitions. As admitted by athletes, they are not so sure about their ideas and the model event is a chance to put everything together – guesses, maps and location of the stadium.
Norwegians Synne Strand and Marit Melby Jacobsen had been to Russia before. They are the perticipants of the Winter Universiad in Krasnoyarsk. “During the model event, it is important to figure out the conditions of the snow. It could be different from home. And to see how the mapping is, to get a feeling how tracks will be at the competitions. Maybe to try and go off the tracks to see if it is possible to make short-cuts”.
Marjut Turunen from Finland places fourth in the World Ranking list. She’s been to Russia twice, but as for Khanty-Mansiysk, this is her first time here. “Model event is important. I can see what they will do to the map and what the routes will look like. And then I can try the snow and decide what skis I’m gonna use tomorrow. I hope to place in top-6 but we’ll see what will happen”.
The world champion Sergey Gorlanov is hoping to show his best in Khanty-Mansiysk after not so successful perfomance during the World Cup in Sweden. Sergey placed seventh in sprint and that was his best result. “Today I’ll see how the routes look like, how they are prepared, what is the height of the snow cover, if it’s possible to make short-cuts, because it’s very important. You need to get used to the map, because each map designer has his own vision. We easily get used to different terrain, but it takes a little time”.
The first race of the European Championships and the World Cup final will be held tomorrow, March 10, at 14.00 local time. On the same day the official opening ceremony of the competitions will take place at 19.00 in the concert and theater center “Ugra-Classic”.