The fourth edition of the Youth Skyrunning World Championships saw a record number of nearly 200 young athletes from 28 countries compete in L’Aquila, Italy on Friday, August 2 and Sunday, August 4.
Future champions aged between 16 and 23 from four continents assembled here to dispute the 54 medals at stake and showed that they’re ready by breaking barriers and records in an incredible display of top performance skyrunning.
Thirteen countries took home medals, including new entry Netherlands. Spain was awarded the gold for the fourth consecutive time. The silver went to Switzerland for the second time, and Norway took their first medal, the bronze.
The 54 medals were distributed in three age group categories across the Vertical and Sky disciplines. Individual medals were awarded to the winners of each event and the Combined title was based on the sum of VK and Sky times.
Marino Giacometti, President, International Skyrunning Federation, commented, “These young skyrunners are incredible – records all round for this year’s Championships with 28 nations, 13 of which got medals, new entries, fantastic performances…what else? These young skyrunners are growing ‘fast and light’. They represent the future of our sport.”
Athletes from 28 countries registered for the event, although India and Iran were unable to attend due to last-minute visa issues. The countries represented were: Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and USA, while new entries competing for the first time were Australia and New Zealand, Belgium, S Korea and Slovenia.
The Vertical and Sky disciplines are split into three age categories: Youth A (16-17 years), Youth B (18-20 years) and U23 (21-23 years).
Friday’s inaugural race started with sunshine and finished with a full-on hail storm, contributing to the challenge. The Gran Sasso Vertical Kilometer® valid for the Vertical discipline featured a 3.5 km long race rolling out under the cable car, with 1,000m vertical climb summiting at 2,022m altitude. The driving hail and strong competition brought out the best of the young competitors who smashed not only the race record but delivered a record 11 countries pocketing the 18 medals at stake.
New Spanish star in the U23 category, Daniel Osanz won in in 34’52”, beating the overall previous record set by Italian Hannes Perkmann in 2016. “We started with the sun and very hot temperatures and while going up we got wind, rain and hail, but I was able to push really hard. I’m so happy about this medal and for the new record,” said an ecstatic Osanz proudly displaying his gold medal.
Russia’s Ekaterina Osichkina racing in the B Category, turned 20 on Sunday. She was the fastest woman overall and her time of 45’46”, although far from Paula Cabrerizo’s standing record, sliced one minute from the previous Youth B record. Both Youth A records crumbled thanks to Norway’s Live Sollid and Andorra’s Oriol Olm.
“Last year we came full of confidence but got no medals because the competition was harder than expected,” declared Katrine Villumsen, Nordic Countries representative. “This time we came knowing what we had to face, and we started great! Two medals and astonishing performances!”
Gran Sasso Vertical Kilometer® results
On Sunday, August 4, it was the turn of the Gran Sasso SkyRace®, valid for the Sky discipline, which saw some confirmations from the VK champions…and some surprise results.
Switzerland’s Roberto Delorenzi in the U23 category, wanted to vindicate last year’s gold medal lost to fellow countryman Pascal Buchs. He started off hard, chased by VK gold medallist Daniel Osanz. The two exchanged positions halfway, but the sprint left Osanz drained for the demanding downhill. Delorenzi gave it all, crossing the finish line after 22 km and 2,226m vertical climb in 2h22’22” – one second off the previous record and a gold in his pocket. Osanz settled for silver and Italy’s Mattia Bertoncini, the bronze.
The female U23 race was riveting right to the end with Alessandra Schmid from Switzerland and Italy’s Cecilia Basso sprinting for the gold in the last metres. Ultimately it was the Swiss runner to take the gold, closing just one step ahead of her rival, leaving the silver to the Italian.
Again, replicating the VK, the fastest woman was a Youth B runner, in this case, America’s Sofia Sanchez, who conquered a well-deserved gold, closing 10’ over Ana Iturria of Spain and Gabriela Veigertova from the Czech Republic. Second man overall was Nicolas Molina from Spain who took home the gold for the category. The silver went to Italy’s Mattia Tanara and bronze to Spain’s Albert Perez.
The Youth A category (16-17-year-olds) was run over a reduced course 16 km long. Norwegian Live Sollid, Friday’s VK category winner, also dominated the SkyRace® and she demolished the previous record by an incredible 15’. New entries, Hungary with Luca Nemeth, and the Netherlands with Luna De Bruin, completed the women’s podium. Italy triumphed with Marco Salvadori, who also set the new record for the category, while Spain took the silver and the bronze with Aitor Ugarte and Jon Baz, respectively.
The Combined title is based on the sum of VK and Sky times.
Check out the full medal count here
Laura Orgué, former skyrunning world champion and world class athlete, now a coach for Andorra, declared, “After I retired from competing, I decided to try to teach what I learnt in my career to the young runners. It’s amazing to see these youngsters compete at this level at this age. When I started 15 years ago this was unimaginable and to have such an important event is the best motivation for the new generations.”
The Youth Skyrunning World Championships are held annually with a view to developing and promoting the sport for the future and are supported in part by contributions from ISF members. The 2019 Championships were organised by the Italian Skyrunning Federation (FISKY).