GUSTAFSSON AND VON KRUSENSTIERNA CONFIRM IN FORESTA UMBRA
You read orienteering, but on Sunday 2 April of the Mediterranean Open Championships, you spell Foresta Umbra. Great orienteering returns to the terrain of the 2022 World Masters Championships with the first Italian Cup long-distance race, but although the setting is changed from the urban setting of Vieste to the primeval forest, and from sprint to long-distance, the protagonists do not change.
On the breathtaking terrain of the Gargano, defined by many protagonists as unforgettable, but from which it is almost impossible to emerge unscathed and without error (some elite athletes have described it as ‘too technical for their current possibilities’), Jonatan Gustafsson once again wins the competition by completing the 11.5 km course with a theoretical height difference of 350 meters and 21 checkpoints in a time of just over 63 minutes. Although he is described by most as a specialist athlete in urban sprint races, and we will see him again at the 2023 European Championships in the area of Lake Garda, Veneto, and Vicenza in October, his time was unapproachable even for his national teammates. The Norwegian Vegard Kittilsen, in the Swedish team of IFK Goteborg, had to be happy with second place on the stage, more than three and a half minutes behind the winner, just four seconds ahead of the other Swede Axel Granqvist. Gustafsson, Granqvist, and Kittilsen also occupied the podium steps of the overall Mediterranean Open Championship ranking in this order. World junior champion 2021 Francesco Mariani (Polisportiva Masi) was the best of the Italians, finishing the race in fourth place.
In the women’s field, Swedish sprint race winner Vilma Von Krusenstierna was confirmed in the first place, edging out teammates Frida Vikstroem and Alva Sonesson by just over a minute, who finished on the Mediterranean Open Championship podium in that order. Jessica Lucchetta (Orienteering Tarzo) was a brilliant fourth ahead of other athletes from the Norwegian and Finnish teams, taking partial revenge for the outcome of the sprint race at Vieste. The winner commented smiling at the end of the race: ‘My brother (Isaac Von Krusenstierna) was overall world champion last year. He was, I will be. Smiling and joking, yes, but really confident and aware of having mastered one of the most treacherous terrains in international orienteering.
The race took place in perfect weather conditions: rain was expected but the weather remained cool until the end of the prize-giving ceremony. Only at that point did the expected downpour break out, forcing the organizers of the Park World Tour Italia to make an extra effort to close the Mediterranean Open Championship, which certainly goes down in the books as an organizational success.