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Nordic runners under pressure

Open Nordic Championships - prediction

The first big individual event of the international season is just around the corner. The Open Nordic Championships- and the first two World Cup races of the season. Will the Nordic athletes be able to strike back against the ever more dominant middle- and eastern European stars?

First of all it will be interesting to see how many of the best runners we will find on the start line also on the long distance. So far it seems like the best athletes will do a full programme.

Some of the favorites
Daniel Hubmann, Switzerland
Pushed Thierry Gueorgiou down from the World Cup throne last year. Strong in all distances and seems to be strong in all terrains as well. Knows the finnish terrain well from his time in Turun Suunnistajat. Showed pure class in Tiomila. Hubmann has spent the last few days at home in Switzerland resting up after a long training camp in Norway. The top shape is not far away. A medal contender in all races.

Daniel Hubmann.

Thierry Gueorgiou, France
Beaten more times last year the than the three years before all together. And the great Frenchman did not like it. Seemed to struggle a little bit with his motivation after the fantastic 2007. As Hubmann he has spent a lot days on training camps this winter and spring. Used the French military championships to prepare for NOC. Finally Tero’s turn on the long?

Thierry Gueorgiou.

Andrey Khramov, Russia
The very fast Russian is getting better and better in finnish terrain. But his performances is still up and down, as his results from the finnish Huippuliiga shows. Two middle distances this year, Khramov wins the first- in the second he is dead last…A clear favourite for the sprint. On the rest it is a medal- or nothing…

Andrey Khramov.

Tero Föhr, Finland
Is Finlands own Tero the best of the home runners at the moment? Finland have a strong team without a clear captain. Föhr got his first WC-victory last year, and in home terrain he will be up there again- as long as courses are in the forest.

Tero Föhr.

Anders Nordberg, Norway
Surely the captain of the Norwegian mens team. The only male medallist from Norway in the last two WOCs. Likes the terrains where the runners must stay in contact with the map at all times. Sounds like Finland’s a good place to be…

Anders Nordberg.

Emil Wingstedt, Sweden
The King of sprint from the last championships gave everybody a great drama at WOC in Olomouc by running straight past a control and getting him disqualified. Surely he wants to take the throne back- but most of all Wingstedt want to win something on another distance. But can he go all the way?

Emil Wingstedt.

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Outsiders
Valentin Novikov, Russia

Good shape in Huippuliiga, middle distance his best chance.

Matthias Merz, Switzerland
Knows the finnish terrain. Can he find the shape from 2007?

Francois Gonon, France
Running for a finnish club also. Improved a lot last year.

Peter Öberg, Sweden
He will love the middle distance race. But is he back in shape after his injury this spring?

Jörgen Wickholm, Finland
The best Finn together with Föhr in the spring. Is the shape still there when it really counts?

Pasi Ikonen, Finland
Still no compass, some illness lately- but never write him off at home.

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Results - tip
Long
1. Föhr
2. Gueorgiou
3. Novikov
4. Hubmann
5. Nordberg
6. Gonon

Middle
1. Gueorgiou
2. Novikov
3. Ikonen
4. Öberg
5. Föhr
6. Huovila

Sprint
1. Khramov
2. Hubmann
3. Wingstedt
4. Merz
5. Johansson
6. Gueorgiou

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Orienteering.is will be back with further expert comments (relay) from Jørn Sundby.

Open Nordic Championships - 6.-10. June - Finland, Salo.

All pictures: Geir Nilsen / OPN.no.