The world orienteering champion, Jorgen Baklid, adapted brilliantly to the fresh challenge of multiple transitions between the repeated two-lap 3km run and 2-lap 5km ski to be crowned the men’s Winter Duathlon World Champion while last year’s U23 World Champion, Julie Meinicke, was crowned the women’s Winter Duathlon World Champion. Still only 20-years-old, Julie Meinicke pulled clear over the final stages to take the tape in style and make it a Norway one-two for the elite golds.
“That was a great race, a lot of fun — it’s my first time doing this but I also do orienteering so I’m quite familiar with running and skiing,” said a delighted Baklid afterwards. “It suited me well out there, and I have a cabin here in Skeikampen so I’m very familiar with the place. I’ll definitely be back for more!”
“It was a real battle,” admitted Julie Meinicke. “I had good ski legs and put all my energy into those, it’s a fantastic feeling to win here. I love this sport and want to keep competing as much as possible.”
A misty morning greeted the athletes, the overnight snow leaving the course looking pristine as they lined up for the first races of the weekend, Sweden’s Albert Askengren and Marin Gautier of France the fastest out at the horn and up the hill of lap one. Mexico’s Allan Daniel Corona Rodriguez was off quickly too, but by the end of that opening lap, Franco Pesavento (ITA) had made his way to the front along with Norway’s Fredrik Schwenke, Baklid in third.
Things shuffled further over the second run lap as Baklid found his flow, teammate Hans Christian Tungesvik and Viorel Palici just a few seconds back.
Tungesvik looked to use his considerable skiing speed to haul himself back into contention, but the debutant Baklid was looking very much at home as he pushed on, Pesavento struggling to keep the pace with the Norwegian trio and Palici.
By the time he was out of the skis and back onto the run course, Baklid had suddenty put 17 seconds into Schwenke, Tungesvik moved into third 30 seconds back, Pesavento struggling to keep pace on the skis as he fell 50 seconds back.
The second 2km run only saw the Norwegians consolidate their positions, Pesavento and Palici locked in battle, and Schwenke was unable to make up any ground on the marauding leader, leaving Baklid able to soak up the final few hundred metres of his golden World Championship debut, Schwenke with silver, Tungesvik easing off the throttle to take bronze and eye up his triathlon chances the following day.
The men’s U23 title went to another Norwegian, Petter Myhr, and compatriot Edvard Fossum Olstad was crowned the Junior World Champion.
Mexico’s Adriana Fabiola Corona showed her intent right from the start as she led the women’s field up the first hill, but Carina Wasle (AUT) was soon out in front, the athletes staying together for the first run loop of two.
Wasle was lightning up each of those climbs, only for Maria Luisa Rasina (ROU) and Julie Meinicke to gain ground on the descents, and into the first transition and onto the first ski segment it was Rasina giving chase to the Austrian.
The Romanian was into the lead after the first ski lap, Wasle right with her, Meinicke staying in touch as Ine Skjellum (NOR) fund herself 30 seconds off them in fourth, but the Austrian then lost ground, having to chase hard once again up the hill as Meinicke hit the front.
Wasle again took to the front by the top of the hill, but from there on it was the Meinicke show, the 20-year-old showing composure beyond her years as she hit the front and held off the experienced Rasina and Wasle over the remaining 5km on the skis, taking the tape and the cheers of the crowds with her first elite title as well as the U23. A dominant performance from Sweden’s Ella Ohlsson saw her crowned 2023 Junior World Champion by a margin of over 6 minutes.