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The Finns had a plan for success

The Finns were the favourites, and they had big plans on how to get their first victory for some years in the JWOC Relay.

Topi Raitanen had the first leg and already out from the start he was some metres in front of the other teams! There was no plan to escape from the other ones already from the start, but he wanted to set up a gap, and he did that just before the arena passage after about two-thirds of his race. “I ran carefully when I had done that and it was tricky, but pushed I hard in the marshes”, he says.

The 19-year-old Finn managed to stay alone in front. There was a gap of 1.15 at the change-over. Raitanen is from Tuusela, just outside Helsinki, and has one year left as a junior.

Aleksi Niemi continued the same way with controlled running and when the double individual champion, Olli Ojanaho, started the difference was 1.08.

“I knew I had a minute and could run calmly and safely”, Ojahano said. This was his third gold medal of the Championships. A couple of weeks ago he won three gold medals at the European Youth Championships. “I am pretty good at always doing my best and avoiding mistakes”.

For the silver it was a big battle. Andreas Sølberg on the Norwegian first team was in front to the 15th control on the last leg. Then he made a mistake, and Sweden’s Simon Hector and Markus Holter on the Norwegian second team caught him up. In the climbing to the last couple of controls Holter was the very strongest and secured silver for the second team. “A really nice run at the end”, Holter says.

On the first two legs the courses were 5.5–5.6 kilometres in length with 19 controls. The last leg was 5.9 kilometres long and the number of controls was 21.



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