Switzerland wins tight sprint relay at World Games

Switzerland won the latest set of orienteering gold medals at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama after a thrilling sprint relay on Sunday morning.

After Saturday’s demanding middle distance in the hills of Oak Mountain State Park, the athletes were back in central Birmingham with almost no climbing during the fast relay courses in and around Railroad Park.

Denmark’s Ida Agervig Kristiansson set a fast pace in the first leg and came on top in the exchange, with expected favorites Switzerland (Simona Aebersold) and Sweden (Lina Strand) right behind her.

In the second leg, Håvard Sandstad Eidsmo brought Norway back into medal contention, while Denmark fell a bit behind.

Leg three saw Matthias Kyburz, Kasper Fosser and Martin Regborn create what looked to be a decisive lead for Switzerland, Norway and Sweden – with Great Britain in fourth, nearly a minute behind.

Elena Roos was sent ahead in the battle for the gold medals, with Ingrid Lundanes and Karolin Ohlsson chasing her at high speed.

However, the Swiss presenter never slowed down during the 3.3 kilometers and as Karolin Ohlsson passed Ingrid Lundanes early on the course, the order of medals seemed to be gold for Switzerland, silver for Sweden and Norway in third place and the bronze.

But as Roos crossed the finish line to secure the Swiss gold, Karolin Ohlsson passed the final check and lost more than two minutes on error. Suddenly, Ingrid Lundanes was racing for the silver medals, and a surprised Charlotte Ward crossed the finish line claiming the bronze.

Czechia finished fourth, Poland fifth and Sweden finished sixth.

A great comeback for Switzerland after a somewhat disappointing fourth place at the WOC three weeks ago – and the third gold medal at the World Games in three days for Simona Aebersold.

The Sprint Relay wrapped up the first international orienteering championships on American soil in over 20 years and saw orienteering volunteers from across the country come together to make it happen, including the local crew.

Watch the TV stream, GPS tracking and results on IOF LIVE.

Dino J. Dotson