WOC is over for another year, and Australia has finished on a high note, following a week of solid performances. The Women’s relay was a tight race, in which the leading Swedish team was caught on the final leg by Norway and Finland; Minna Kauppi (FIN) prevailed to win the gold medal ahead of Norway’s Marianne Andersen.
Australia’s race started with a solid 1st leg from Grace Crane in 19th. Vanessa Round immediately made up time on surrounding teams, at one stage up to 15th and finishing in 17th. Kathryn Ewels, who missed out on qualifying for finals this week, came good at the right time as she caught, and then outsprinted, Poland and Estonia to bring the team up to a solid 13th place.
The Men’s race immediately followed. Much was hoped for from an Australian team who qualified well this week, and Simon Uppill didn’t disappoint, finishing 11th on the first leg and still in touch with the leading pack of runners.
The pack was slowly whittled down to 7 runners after the 2nd leg and, while David Shepherd held the Australian ship steady to hand over to Julian Dent in 12th. The race didn’t break apart until half-way through the final leg, when France (Thierry Georgiou) and Russia (Valentin Novikov) edged away. But an uncharacteristic mistake from Georgiou (who didn’t punch control 17, costing him 6 minutes) left Russia the eventual victors from Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain. Meanwhile, Australia’s Julian Dent started the final leg well, up to 11th at one stage, but faded to finish in 17th.