Heimdal and Benjaminsen take the lead in orienteering

Norwegian champions

orienteering

Photos: Norges Orienteringsforbund
[LEFT] Andrine Benjaminsen won the women’s long-distance race in the Norwegian Orienteering Championship in Malvik, outside Trondheim, Sept. 12. [RIGHT] Audun Heimdal won the men’s long-distance race in the Norwegian Orienteering Championship in Malvik, outside Trondheim, Sept. 12.

JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Oslo

Audun Heimdal and Andrine Benjaminsen won the long-distance race in NM-uka (the Norwegian championship week), the last part of the Norwegian Orienteering Championship, held in Malvik, outside Trondheim, in mid-September.

Orienteering is a sport in which the participants use their navigational skills, a map, and a compass to navigate from point to point in cross-country terrain while moving at speed. The participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find different control points spread around the terrain. The sport originally developed from a military exercise and is found in many variations: on foot, on skis, and even in canoes.

The Norwegian championship in orienteering is an annual event held in various locations around Norway. The sprint and sprint relay races are most often held in the spring, while NM-uka is usually held in September. The week consists of three races: long distance, middle distance, and the regular relay race. There is also a long-distance race held at night and an ultralong race.

The long-distance race has been held since 1937 while the middle and short distances and the relays were added later to make the sport more audience-friendly. 

Benjaminsen expectedly won the women’s race with a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 5 seconds, with Victoria Hæstad Bjørnstad trailing 3 minutes, 51 seconds behind in second place. Marie Olaussen came in third, 5 minutes, 58 seconds behind Benjaminsen.

“It was a good race, but I felt uncertain at times and had to use extra time heading into the control points. My focus was not lacking,” Benjaminsen told Orientering.no.

In the men’s race, Audun Heimdal won his first senior gold medal at 1:27:19. He crossed the finish line 2 minutes, 2 seconds in front of the silver medalist, Jon Aukrust Osmoen. Reigning world champion Olav Lundanes from Halden, the big favorite with five consecutive titles under his belt, lost the finishing sprint to Osmoen and came in third, 2 minutes, 6 seconds behind Heimdal.

“This was my main goal this season, so it feels great to succeed. I made a small mistake before I passed the arena, but other than that I feel I made a solid performance,” Heimdal told Orientering.no.

Marianne Andersen, 40, won her sixth King’s Cup.

While having a faithful following in Scandinavia and in some parts of Europe, the sport has struggled to compete with other endurance sports in popularity. This might be due to the fact that it is not particularly audience-friendly. As the athletes don’t follow a set path and move over such a big area, it’s been difficult to put the viewer in the middle of the action. NRK, the Norwegian national broadcaster, has tried to broadcast some of the national and international championships without notable success.

Orienteering is traditionally dominated by Northern European athletes. Since the first World Championship in 1966, Sweden has won the most gold medals with 59, while Norway, in second place, has won 50. The United States has never won a medal.

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Jo Christian Weldingh

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

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