Junior World Championships, part 2: races in the forest start on Friday
Postponed first because of the Covid and again in July because of the danger of fire, the three races in the forest of the Junior World Championships (JWOC) will now take place on weekends: Middle distance on Friday, Relay on Saturday and Long distance on Sunday. Three very close and exciting races!
Hanna Lundberg big favorite
All eyes will be on 20-year-old Hanna Lundberg of Sweden, who is already established as a senior and is ranked IOF world number 11. She won an intermediate World Cup race on home soil in 2021, and followed that up with 3rd place in a sprint World Cup this year. She picked up the injury in midsummer but was back in action in the World Cup final last month, finishing 7e in the middle race and run the 5e-the fastest first leg of the relay.
Hanna Lundberg during the World Cup final in Switzerland Photo: Erling Thisted
At JWOC 2021 in Turkey, Lundberg won the intermediate race and also upped his relay team by 4e winning gold, on a final run that was best by more than 2 minutes; she finished second in the Sprint.
She will have strong competition among others the Swiss athlete Lilly Graber, long distance winner and 2n/a in the middle at the 2021 JWOC. Graber came second to Finland’s Elisa Mattila at the JWOC Sprint held in July. Another athlete with strong results in all disciplines in 2021 who will be competing again this year is Pia Young Vik from Norway.
Axel Elmblad the strongest man – but outside the JWOC
One of the big favorites among the men, Axel Elmblad from Sweden, is unable to compete in the JWOC after suffering from atrial fibrillation (an irregular pulse). He receives special treatment to enable him to return to training. He and Norway’s Tobias Alstad were respectively gold and silver medalists in the JWOC summer sprint. The latter was a member of the victorious Norwegian Sprint Relay team, along with Sprint bronze medalist Mikkel Holt.
Alstad made a splash at JWOC 2021 in Turkey, where he was 4 years olde in the Sprint. But there are others to watch as serious medal contenders this time around, such as Basile Basset, France who won the long distance in 2021 and 3rd tied in the Sprint this summer with Mikkel Holt and Ilian Angeli, Italy. Angeli is also very skilled over all distances, ranking 4e9e and 13e in the 2021 individual races. The competition in each race is sure to be intense, with athletes from multiple nations hoping for medal chances.
32 participating nations
127 men and 117 women from 32 nations have signed up for the races, which will be held near Aguiar da Beira in the northern part of Portugal. This is only a small drop from the 37 nations that took part in the Sprint races in July. There is also a revamped “JWOC Tour” of spectator races. The competition areas are mostly pine forests with lots of open areas of bare rock and plenty of mapped boulders and boulders. Runnability is variable, partly due to dense vegetation in deeper valleys. The same arena will be used for the intermediate and relay races.
All three races can be followed live on the IOF website, and reports and key results will appear here each day. The first race is on Friday morning, the middle distance with courses of 3.5 km for women and 4.1 km for men.
JWOC Competition Program
Middle distance, Friday November 4, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Relay, Saturday November 5, women’s start 10 a.m., men’s start 12 p.m.
Long distance, Sunday, November 6, 10 a.m. – 3:20 p.m.