SWEDEN WINS IN VIESTE BUT IT’S GREAT ITALY
Swedish victories in both the women’s and men’s classes in Vieste (Foggia) in the first stage of the Italian sprint orienteering cup held on 1 April on the same scenario of the sprint finals at the 2022 World Masters Championships.
More than 500 participants from all over the world (representatives from Japan, Hong Kong, Taipei and the United States were present), attracted by the positive comments following the 2022 World Championships, competed on the courses designed by Finnish orienteering legend Janne Salmi and finished by Tommaso Scalet who, together with the entire team of the Park World Tour Italia, staged another great day of sport in the picturesque historic centre of Vieste, with the finish line on the seashore.
In the women’s field, victory went to the Swedish national team athlete Vilma Von Krusenstierna, who will be among the protagonists of the 2023 world-orienteering season. An athlete from a family of great orienteers (her brother Isaac was the overall world champion in 2021), she was the last to start and her best time at the finish line ensured her victory. Behind her, the Italians were the last to give way: Viola Zagonel (Polisportiva Masi) returned to the splendour of her three consecutive Italian sprint titles and came in second just a short distance behind, while the still junior athlete Annarita Scalzotto (PWT Italy) had thrilled by reaching the finish line with the best overall time, then third at the end, undermining the leadership that seemed to have been consolidated by the sisters Elsa and Alma Sonesson, also from the Swedish national team.
In the men’s field, the favourite was the Swedish Jonatan Gustafsson, reigning world bronze medallist, who lived up to the predictions made on the eve of the race, but was forced to squeeze every possible effort out of his engine to win on Francesco Mariani (Polisportiva Masi), world junior champion in 2021, who was the first to fall under the 13-minute wall on the more than 3 km with 130 metres of altitude difference of the demanding Vieste course. Mariani in turn edged out another favourite, Sweden’s Avel Granqvist, who finished third at the end.
Tomorrow the long-distance race will be repeated: from 9.30 a.m. athletes will be engaged in the beautiful scenery of the Foresta Umbra for the first stage of the Italian Cup “forest”. In addition to the coveted stage victory, the sum of the times will define the ranking of the Mediterranean Open Championship (MOC). Only at the end of the 12-kilometre course with a theoretical altitude difference of 350 metres will we know who will succeed in the roll of honour of the great champions who over the past two decades have stood on the top step of the podium.