Orienteering World Cup events in Czechia #4 (2002)

2. 6. 2023

The Orienteering World Cup will again be hosted by the Czech Republic after 5 years. At the same time, this year marks exactly 40 years since the first unofficial edition of the Orienteering World Cup. Let’s take a look at the history of these races in the Czech Republic in the series by O-News.cz. During the winter and spring of 2023, we will offer a behind-the-scenes look at all of these international events. Today we move to Brno, which hosted the World Cup in 2002.

For 8 years, Czech orienteers had to look forward to the next round of the Orienteering World Cup in the Czech Republic. In 2002, a new discipline was added to the World Cup – middle distance, and a total of 17 races were run. But what is important from the point of view of a Czech fan: the final round took place in Brno. The Santon hotel near the Brno dam was chosen as the center of the race, which offered all the facilities for both the organizers and the competitors. The Senior Event Adviser (SEA) was Leho Haldna, the current president of the international federation IOF.

Official logo of OWC 2002 in Czechia

Two rounds of sprint

The first discipline, scheduled for October 2, was a two-round sprint. The semifinals took place in the morning in the city park Wilsonův les, on the slope above the river Svratka. Most of the course was downhill. The finish area, where it was not so crowded with spectators, was located on the Rosnička field. Of the twelve Czech representatives, nine competitors make it to the afternoon final, Martina Dočkalová and Míša Przyczková even from 3rd place. The trio of Michal Smola, Tomáš Dlabaja and Luboš Matějů did not succeed.

Start of the sprint race.

The afternoon final sprint was right in the center of Brno and took place in the vicinity of Špilberk Castle. The original plans of the organizers were to place the center on the busiest square in Brno, Freedom Square. However, after many negotiations, the organizers had to abandon this plan, because the authorities did not allow the closure of the busy Husova Street, which the competitors would have to cross. The courses of 3 km long (125 m elevation gain) for men and 2.4 km (115 m elevation gain) for women were prepared by Libor Zřídkaveselý. The best Czech result was the 8th position of Zuzana Macúchová. At the time, she said: “I expected to place around fifteenth place. I didn’t have a running crisis, but I encountered a problem when choosing to proceed to Špilberk Castle, when I chose a worse route choice. Otherwise, I ran without map errors.” The teenager Míša Przyczková (11th place) also did excellently for her age, while Bohdana Térová was two places back in thirteenth place. Among the men, Rudolf Ropek was the best eleventh, losing 45 seconds to the surprise of the race, Frenchman Renard Damien. “It was one of the nicest parks I’ve ever run in,” confided as “Mr. Park” in the Orienteering magazine. Petr Losman and Jaromír Švihovský placed in the top ten of the results list.

One of the semifanl courses (left), final map (right).

May during October

The WC individual final, long distance race, took place one day later, on Thursday, October 3. The finish area was located in a meadow near the village of Žebětín and was run on the “May Tale” map. Course setter Jan Skrička (now participating in the successful biathlon WC in Nové Město na Moravě) prepared an attractive race with an arena passage and a severalof radio controls.

The top 40 men and the top 40 women of the WC standings competed at the start of the final A. Rudolf Ropek was also in the starting line-up, but he did not start the race due to ill health. Michal Horáček (14th place) made it into the top fifteen and was thus the best of the Czechs. Bohdana Terová (today Heczková) finished the race in 23rd place (she was also the best Czech woman in the World Cup standings during the season). We can also find Dana Brožková and Zuzana Macúchová in the fourth ten of the results.

Long distance men

Karst relay

After a day off, the last race of the Orienteering World Cup 2002 took place. The organizers prepared a different terrain near the village of Březina, which contained a number of karst formations (the map was called Křtiny). The Finns won the men’s race, but only 16 seconds ahead of the Danes, the third place was occupied by the Swedish trio. The Czech relay team consisting of Jaromír Švihovský, Tomáš Dlabaja and Petr Losman moved around the medal positions for a long time, they finished inf the fifth place. “It was a very fast race. It’s a shame about the mistake at the seventeenth control, it could have been better,” said finisher Losman after the finish. The interesting thing is that it was the B relay, the Horáček-Smola-Ropek A team was seventeenth.

The Norwegian trio triumphantly won the women’s race with a three-minute lead over the Swiss and Swedish relay teams. Czech women did not run so well. Both Czech women’s relays finished at the beginning of the second ten (A team Macúchová-Térová-Brožková twelfth, Przyczková-Fialová-Dočkalová fourteenth).

Tomáše Dlabaja and Michal Smola in the finish.

An interesting point at the end

The first and last problem that appeared during the final series in Brno was right at the beginning of the sprint semifinal. The Swedes were preparing a protest against the location of one of the controls, which they said was at another footpath. However, the jury rejected this objection before the Swedes could officially file it. According to the jury, everyone had the same conditions, so there is nothing to complain about. Who knows if the extra footpath that was missing from the map was not stepped on by the competitors themselves during the race…

In the next part of the series, we will look at the World Cup in 2011 in Liberec, in July we will also commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the World Cup 2008, which took place in Olomouc and was also included in the results of the World Cup.