Orienteering World Cup events in Czechia #5 (2008, 2010)

25. 7. 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 spring and summer of 2023, we will offer a behind-the-scenes look at all of these international events. Today we move to Liberec, which hosted the World Cup in 2011, and we will touch a little on WOC in Olomouc 2008 as well.

WOC in Czehcia – 15 years ago

Since 2002, no World Cup has been held in the Czech Republic for 9 years. Although that’s not entirely true. In 2008, the World Orienteering Championships took place (with the center in Olomouc) and the races were also included in the World Cup rankings. Spectators and fans will certainly remember a whole series of great results and Czech medals. In Jeseníky, Michal Smola (silver) and Radka Brožková (bronze) succeeded on the middle distance, two days later Dana Brožková triumphed and won the gold medal for the Czechia. In addition to the OWC, accompanying races for more than a thousand runners and also the TrailO World Championship were held here. The entire championship was managed by Petr Klimpl, the technical director was David Aleš, the course setters were Jaroslav Kačmarčík, Josef Hubáček and Petr Hynek. The maps were prepared by a team led by Petr Hranička.

The trio of Czech medalists at the World Championships in Olomouc (2008). Photo: Petr Kadeřávek.

Orienteers instead of skiers

As already mentioned in the introduction, the Orienteering World Cup was held on Czech territory on the last weekend of September in 2011. The entire event was hosted by the ski area Vesec, which at that time still had a slightly bitter aftertaste from the organization of the 2009 World Cup in Classic Skiing. “I’m very glad that I didn’t have to make or pack snow this time,” said Robert Heczko, who was present for both events. After all, it was a bit of a “return to the scene of the crime” – a candidacy for hosting the World Cup was also submitted to Liberec (for the year 2007, Ukraine won the vote), a year later the Czech Orienteering Federation succeeded with its candidacy for WOC in Olomouc. On the weekend of 24-25 September 2011, the Czech TV broadcasted a total of 5 hours of live broadcasts from OWC, led by Karel Jonák, and they were also appreciated outside the orienteering community. The director of the entire race was Přemek Škoda. Only two races were run – a middle distance on Saturday and a handicap long on Sunday from Saturday’s results.

Arena in Liberec – Vesec. Photo: archive.

Phenomenal Dana Brožková

Dana Brožková had an almost fairytale turn of summer and autumn. First, in August at the OWC in France, she won two silver medals (one in the long and one in the relays), then she extended her name a bit (she married the orienteer Honza Šafka) and she was in fantastic form during the OWC in Liberec. In the middle distance race, she battled for a long time with Minna Kauppi of Finland and Sweden’s Helena Jansson. Thanks to a flawless finish, she was happy with the 1st place at the finish line, the silver left for her pursuers, or bronze. “I am very happy because I also managed to run it at the home World Cup. I took it a little more responsibly, mainly because of the parents who came to watch. I was a little surprised that I knew the people who were at the start,” Dana was heard to say at the finish line. According to her words, she lost twice twenty seconds during the race. But Dana was not the only Czech on the big podium, she was accompanied there by the sixth Eva Juřeníková. Thirteenth-ranked Iveta Duchová (now Šístková) made it to the top fifteen. In the men’s category, Pasi Ikonen won somewhat surprisingly, beating the then seven-time world champion in this discipline, the French Thierry Gueorgiou, who finished second. Austrian Gernot Kerschbaumer finished third. The Czech men’s results were a little disappointing. The best was Tomáš Dlabaja (19th place), junior Pavel Kubát made his debut in the national team and was 28th.

Dana Šafka Brožková took two medals from two races. Photo: archive.

Horse racing

The Sunday long was unconventional in its concept. The starting list was compiled on the basis of Saturday’s results, and it was run on a so-called handicap basis, as we are used to, for example, from multi-day races. The requirement of the IOF, which came up with the idea, was to test this format so that it would be actionable at future world championships and orienteering would become a spectator and televised sport. The race gradually turned into a total chase on an unpaved track. Although the forkings split up the runners, almost nothing happened when the group of ten went together. For that reason as well, before the race, nine world champions, organized by Eva Juřeníková, met to write a petition for this format. “I will do everything to ensure that such races do not make it into the WC program,” said Eva at the finish line of Sunday’s long. “Once or twice a year for the World Cup? We’ll try that. But don’t give it to us at the World Cup,” the crowd of runners shouted through the arena on Sunday.

Handicap long distance of men.

Another medal for the czech team

In any case, Dana Šafka Brožková was the first woman to start on Sunday, but Minna Kaupi started to the race right behind her with a deficit of eighteen seconds. The two women were together in the first part, but then the Finnish representative pulled Dana away and ran away for the win. Junior Tove Alexandersson chose a good choice for the first control, and she was on the heels of the Czech representative for a while. However, she managed the last stage of the track and took the silver from the race, the phenomenal Tove (in the following years) had to settle for a bronze medal. Eva Juřeníková improved by one place and took 5th place, Iveta Duchová and Míša Gomzyk Omová finished in the third ten. In the men’s race, Saturday’s winner Ikonen did not start due to intestinal problems, so Thierry Gueorgiou was the first to start. A very interesting change in the lead finally resulted in a victory for the Swiss Marc Lauenstein, who started fourteenth with a loss of 2:10. In a direct fight with the “flying Frenchman” he was better, so Thierry took home the second silver from Liberec. Topi Anjala finished third. Jan Procházka was the most happy of the Czechs, who improved by 15 places and finished twelfth. Tomáš Dlabaja also moved up three places. Štěpán Kodeda and Pavel Kubát also made it into the TOP 30.

The magazine “Orientacni beh” also chose the inspection procedure No. 1 for its column. How would you go?

In the last part, we will take a look at the last Orienteering World Cup in Czechia (2018) and also briefly look under the hood of the European Championship in Jeseníky (2016), which was also part of the WC.