Final Relays for Switzerland and Finland

8. 7. 2024

The final competition day at the 2024 Junior World Orienteering Championships in the Czech Republic traditionally belonged to the relay race, in which three-member national teams competed. Each national team could enter up to two relays, which most teams took advantage of.

A large starting field thus set off into a competition area adjacent to the forest, where the middle distance race was held the previous day. The course was meticulously forked and offered long, fast stretches followed by challenging technical sections in negative terrain features.

In the men’s relays, the Swiss, who were among the favourites, started slower, handing over in sixth place with a two-minute gap to the leading pair of Sweden and the Czech Republic. The French, the second Czech relay, and surprisingly for some, the Lithuanians, also maintained a competitive contact.

Disappointment for the home crowd came in the second leg, where the Czech relay mispunched and was disqualified. In contrast, the Swiss managed to get back into the medal race after a great performance by Loic Berger, and the second Czech relay in fourth position kept the hope alive that the Czech team would not leave the race empty-handed.

During the third leg, the race leaders split up. The increasingly faster Swiss ran to a well-deserved gold, with Matthieu Buehrer, the clear king of the championships, finishing, having won four medals, two of which were gold. The Swedes, whose finisher Svante Selin improved his mood after a fourth-place finish the previous day, came in second. The French finished third. The second Czech relay, with the medically indisposed Adam Zřídkaveselý running the third leg, finished in 18th place.

In the women’s relays, Henriette Radzikowski from Switzerland clearly dominated the first leg, handing over with a comfortable lead of nearly one and a half minutes over the Finnish and Norwegian relays. In the second leg, Viktorie Škáchová, running for the first Czech relay, delivered an exceptional performance, pulling the Czechs to a provisional second place, just under a minute behind the confidently running Finns. A major mistake by Seline Sannwald, however, caused the Swiss relay to drop to third place at the handover.

In the third leg, the Finns continued to control the race and comfortably secured the gold. The Norwegians moved up to second place with a brilliant performance by Mathey Gloeersen. The Czech chase ended with a mistake by Lucie Dittrichová right at the first control, and the home team then reliably secured a third-place finish ahead of the Swiss.