photo from Competition Bulletin 3
The Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships 2021 take place from Saturday 3rd to Friday 9th July. The host town is Doksy, a summer vacation resort in the Liberec region of the Czech Republic / Czechia. The Sprint Relay is in Doksy. The individual sprint is in/around an internationally known eighteenth century fortress. The forest races are in two types of distinctive terrain: the middle on steep bouldery slopes with plenty of thick vegetation, the long and relay in the sandstone where the best route can often be a long way from the straight line.
The previous championships, in 2019, were in Norway and were in the forest disciplines. The last time the sprint disciplines were contested in a World Championship was in Latvia in 2018.
The first entry in the competition programme is that there is no O-training on Thursday July 1st - because it's the main COVID testing for entry to the "WOC Bubble". These are the times we live in, and our first thought is gratitude to the Czech organisers, for running the World Champs, a huge task of itself, but even more this year in the significant shadow of a storm of COVID regulations. Thanks to them too for adding Sprint and Sprint Relay races to the original forest championships.
All finals will be televised. In Britain the broadcasts will as usual be a paid-for service on the internet (6 Euro per broadcast or 20 Euro for all five.) IOF Web TV Broadcast Schedule.
There are 300 athletes registered for the competition.
The largest teams are those of Norway (22 athletes and officials), Sweden (22) and Switzerland (21). Coincidentally these three countries are predicted to win most of the medals. The home team is 16 strong. Finland have 19, and Great Britain and Denmark have 17. There are no athletes from Canada, Australia or Russia. There are 12 neutral athletes.
section of old map of Terezín, the venue for the individual sprint
The first weekend has the individual sprint race at Terezín on Saturday, and the Sprint Relay at the host town Doksy on the Sunday.
Terezín is a former fortress, comprising a citadel and a walled garrison town by the Ohře river just south of where it joins the Elbe. The fortress was built in the late 1700's by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as part of the Empire's defences. In World War II, after Czechoslovakia was annexed by Nazi Germany, the fortress became a prison and a crowded Jewish ghetto and concentration camp was established in the town. It was known by the German name Theresienstadt. The Wikipedia entry says about 2500 died in the prison and 33000 died in the Ghetto.
The Sprint Relay is in the small (pop. 5000) host town, Doksy - link to previous map. It will be a great sight. If the race goes to recent form the medal contests will split in two. Switzerland and Sweden deciding gold and silver, and an interesting and closely contested race for bronze between other teams.
section of map from the Middle Test Race
On the Tuesday it is over to the boulder covered slopes of the mountains on Jizerské hory, near the Polish border, for the middle distance. Like the sprint this is morning qualification and afternoon finals.
The last events of the championships are on Thursday (relays, late afternoon and early evening) and Friday (long) in the scenic continental sandstone terrain of Kokořínsko near Doksy.
section of map from the Long Test Race
World of O has published analysis of the forest test and selection races. This has lots of maps, GPS routes, and comparative timings. Despite the long break for COVID, and the uniqueness of the terrain there aren't many surprises in the top names. Spectators can pick up where they left off two years ago! So, the forest World Orienteering Rankings.
For a practical way to gain some understanding there are a couple of (not easy) online Trail-O that may be enjoyed, at the Czech website "TempO Simulator". (checkout the Better Orienteering page on TempO Simulator for guidance on online "games" including this.)
The Great Britain Team has been selected. The team includes six women and seven men, and includes five athletes making their WOC debut. As the other eight all have at least three previous WOCs, it is an easy description that the team combines a lot of experience with the several newcomers.
Four (Alice, Cecilie, Chris, Nathan) are expected to run sprint only, five (Alastair, Cat, Hector, Jo, PeterB) run forest only, and Grace, Megan, PeterH and Ralph run both.
In 2021 the World Cup will consist of three rounds: Switzerland (European Champs), Sweden and Italy. The World Champs are not included.
Denmark, who would have hosted the Sprint World Champs in 2020 are now hosting in 2022. And GB, with the Scottish Association leading, who would have hosted the 2022 Sprint World Champs, will now host in 2024.