jk :: elite sprint tips

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Sprint specialists Daniel Hubmann & ystein Kvaal sterb are just two of the much fancied foreign contingent expected to do well in Friday's Sprint race, and this week we've been catching up with them, and some of the other elite competitors, to see what they have to say about this year's JK.

Today we'll get some tips from some of the best sprinters, take a look back on the World Cup qualifying here in 2005 and pick out a few of the names likely to be near the top of the results come Friday afternoon.

Day 1 of the JK will see 1500 competitors racing at high speed around the grounds of the University of Surrey in Guildford, making it the largest sprint orienteering race held in the UK. It is also likely to be the most closely fought of the races, with the potential for fractions of seconds separating the leaders, especially over the sub 12 minute Elite courses.

We've been here once before, the World Cup qualifying back in 2005, which proved to be a day of mixed emotions for the British team in their first outing in front of home fans since the World Championships in 1999.

Graham Gristwood was Britain's only male qualifier that day at the University of Surrey and, perhaps unsurprisingly, is looking forward to Friday's race, saying: "I am excited about the sprint race at the University of Surrey. It is a fantastic venue, with possibilities for really interesting courses and challenging route choices. Looking back, I just remember concentrating hard on the orienteering - there is so much twisting and turning, that you don't often get up to full speed. Staying in control and looking ahead will be vital - every second will count."

Jenny Johnson was another of Britain's qualifiers, and said of the 2005 race: "Looking at the map has really brought the memories back to me. I was really nervous before the start as it was a couple of years since I'd competed internationally and that actually helped me to focus during the race. I think I got the pace right for once and concentrated so hard that I thought my head might explode at the end! Looking back at the results (1st Simone, 2nd Minna, 3rd Me!) I just wish it had been the final!!"

Many of the runners who competed that day, and across the week of World Cup races, will be competing here again this weekend. In the sprint final, held at Battersea Park in London, GG finished joint 14th alongside Damien Renard of France, one of a number of Kristiansand's runners competing this weekend. Renard's clubmate, Daniel Hubmann of Switzerland, won his debut senior gold at Battersea, prior to picking up two silver medals in the Sprint distance at the World Championships in 2005 and 2006.

Speaking of his memories from that day, and tips for this weekend, Daniel said: "I can remember that it was difficult to orienteer in the narrow streets, between buildings which all look the same. Therefore it is important to orienteer carefully and to know where you are all the time, but if you want to be as fast as possible, you have to find the right mix between risk and control."

Holgar Hott is another Kristiansand runner competing this weekend, but he didn't manage to qualify back in 2005, saying: "I remember that I ran a decent race, but made a few smaller mistakes and did not run hard enough on the easy legs. The area is fairly easy technically, but still hard when you run fast."

ystein Kvaal sterb, last year's JK Sprint victor, was another qualifier back in 2005 before finishing 3rd in the final behind Hubmann and, then Australian now Britton, David Brickhill-Jones. ystein too offers up more tips for readers: "Because it was a qualification race at that time I was not running for full speed, but tried to have a safe race. But it was a tricky area so I still made some small mistakes. I think it is important to read the map the whole way, and to take out the route choice before you start on a leg, because it is not possible to run straight on all places."

So aside from those mentioned above, who else are likely candidates to watch out for in the Elite Sprint? Britons Helen Bridle and last year's JK Sprint victor Pippa Whitehouse, along with Wing OK's Elise Egseth who shared 2nd place in the JK Sprint last year with Jenny Johnson. In the men's class Oli Johnson was 2nd last year, just ahead of GG, with Matt Speak and Scott Fraser not far behind and well in with a shout.

So, Sprint tips from the stars:
- Concentrate hard
- Stay in control, but find the right mix between risk and control
- Look ahead
- Orienteer carefully and know where you are all the time
- Familiarise yourself with the old map

Click here to make your predictions on who's going to win, and now you know of some of the talent taking part in the first UK Cup race of the year, select your team for the Compass Point Fantasy UK Cup 2008 before it is too late, every entry not only lets you put your orienteering knowledge to good use, you're also donating to the GB Squad Support Fund and have the opportunity to win great prizes.

Click here to delve into the nope archives and read about that World Cup qualifying race, while you can read about the final here.

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Expect GG & OJ to be close (Photo: Ben Roberts)

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