Ski-O season 2020/21 has started! At least in Russia. Nearly 300 athletes got together in the Perm region, in the city of Gornozavodsk, to take part in the first ski-orienteering races of the season – “Ural Patterns”. Participants were challenged by cold weather (up to -20 degrees), lack of snow, and an extremely challenging ski-orienteering network.
The competition program consisted of long distance, sprint, and middle distance. In men’s elite, Aleksander Pavlenko was victorious in the first two distances, followed closely by Eduard Khrennikov in long distance and Egor Zorin in sprint. Vladislav Kiselev took a close win over Pavlenko in the middle distance.
In the men junior category, long distance and sprint were won by Artemiy Dorma – a 2020 Junior World Championships’ silver medalist in the respective distances. Dorma was very satisfied with his races, noting after the races:
“The map in Gornozavodsk is really tough, I think it’s the toughest map where I have ever been skiing. Gornozavodsk doesn’t forgive any mistakes – if you make it you will relocate yourself in the map very long. A year ago I made many mistakes here and showed bad results, but now my orienteering was quite good. However, there are many things that I should improve.“
Dmitriy Rakovitsa, who positioned second on the first two days, took a victory in the middle distance:
“These competitions were great. It was my debut in a new group and I’m happy that I performed so well. I worked really hard during the summer season and the result was not slow to come.”
In the women’s elite category, Mariya Kechkina did come back after giving birth to her second child last winter. Her shape seems to be, however, on top, as she took a clear win over Tatyana Oborina – last year’s World cup winner – in long distance. Tatyana showed her strength by winning the sprint; the middle distance was won by Anastastiya Glukhikh.
Surprises came from the junior category who had the same course as elite. Olesia Riazanova, Junior World champion in 2020, beat elite class women by more than a minute both in the long and middle distance. Her preparation for the season has gone well and she is excited about the season:
First starts are always exciting. At the beginning of the season, the question arises: where to find snow for the first camp. This time I chose Khanty-Mansiysk, where the ESOC was held. There are good ski tracks and a lot of snow. I came to Gornozavodsk to improve the technical work and take part in the first competitions. I see that I am in good condition as I show good results at the elite level.
Impressed by the races of Riazanova, we (skiOinside) tried to take a deeper look from the outside to compare the elite and junior women’s sprint race. In elite class, the race was won by Tatyana Oborina ahead of Kechkina and Rusakova on the third.
In junior class, two athletes are standing out: Riazanova and Ermolaeva.
That’s why our attention in this analysis is given to figure out how they managed to keep up with the women elite?
In a sprint race, we are working to have the seconds on our own side. Every little time loss is on the finish line collected on our shoulders. A lighter it is as better. In a technical sprint under pressure, it is a tricky challenge. So after all it isn’t just about skiing fast but about skiing and navigating on the optimal line and navigating fully focused on a fluent rhythm without hesitation.
In terms of the flow of the race of each athlete, we generated a graphic which tells us how many percentages got lost to the fastest split time to each control.
The “phantom time” – the sum the fastest split by control is almost one minute faster than the winning time of Oborina.
0% 00:16:10 Phantom
5.8% 00:17:06 Oborina
6.4% 00:17:12 Riazanova
7.3% 00:17:21 Kechkina
8.0% 00:17:28 Ermolaeva
8.1% 00:17:29 Rusakova
Let’s focus first on Oborina’s performance – the red line here in the graphic. We spot a bigger time loss to the 6th control but on the other hand also the performance closest to the bottom-line. Therefore, Oborina performed this sprint at higher physical speed than others, which paved her the way to the top of the podium. Oborina explained her time losses:
To the 6th control I made a mistake in execution, to control 9 I did not choose a winning route choice, and I passed my turn to control 10. However, I tried to go as fast as possible that day! We have cold weather.
Now Riazanova’s performance – the red line on the second graphic below. We face a performance a bit further from the baseline but without any big time loss. It seems from this analyses that Riazanova’s secret to success was very confident and solid choices and navigation. This is remarkable for a first competition in a new season.
In W17 class, in the concurrence of more than 50 athletes, multiple times European Ski-orienteering champion Yulia Khrennikova was victorious in all three days. She tells about her races:
I’ve already forgotten how you feel yourself before the start. All this stress is killing me and giving me unforgettable emotions. If we are talking about this first competition, we had a small sport camp before. That’s why we felt a little tired. We’ve worked a lot on skiing technique and orienteering technique. I will do what I can next time. Will ski really quickly. And do orienteering great. At this competition, Olesia Riazanova impressed all of us. She is really strong.
In M17 class, long distance was won by Mihail Rubtsov, sprint and middle distance by Aleksandr Kvitov.
In less than two weeks, Gornozavodsk will host Russian Cup and Russian Championships, which will also be the first selection races for World Ski-orienteering championships – probably selection races with the highest concurrence for national team spots.