World Ski-O Championships: Day 2 – Pursuit

US Ski-Orienteers Performances Continue to Improve on the 2nd Day of the World Ski-Orienteering Championships and European Youth Championships.

The 2022 World Ski-Orienteering Championships and European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships are taking place in the North of Finland in Kemi this week. The men’s race on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 was a long pursuit race. In a pursuit race racers start the amount of time they were behind the leader in the previous race which was a sprint. The men’s race was noteworthy for starting with skiers skiing up a downhill area, thus pulses were very high from the very first seconds of the race. The race had three loops.

The men’s race was won by Jörgen Backlid of Norway in 69:02 (his time for day 2 was 57:08) who had been in the lead of the sprint race until he made a small mistake of about 15 seconds near the end and ended up in 4th place 7 seconds behind the winner. Tuomas Kotro of Finland was second and Nicola Mueller of Switzerland had an impressive race ending third. Chris Burnham of Stowe, VT, who is coming off of an impressive 2nd place finish in the American Brikebeiner classic ski marathon which had over 1600 participants, had a solid race. Chris was 47th in the long pursuit race and the top American man with a day 2 time of 83:09. Chris commented, “I was happy that the race was longer today than yesterday as I enjoy and do better at longer races. Some of the mazes of small trails were really dense and thus quite difficult.”

American Nikolay Nachev from Seattle, WA was 52nd with a day 2 time of 102:15. The mazes also stood out to Nikolai who commented, “The gentle slope with no wide tracks was like the Bermuda Triangle. You go in there and you don’t know whether you are going to get out.” The men’s race was noteworthy for starting at the bottom of a downhill ski slope which the athletes had to ski up making a great spectacle for spectators. Many thought this was a somewhat harsh to start a race like this, but Chris and Nikolai who both like tough races were excited by this intensive start to the race. One can watch the races on web-TV at: https://orienteering.sport/event/world-ski-orienteering-championship/pursuit/

The European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships had a middle distance race today. The race was won by Pyry Riissanen from Finland in 18:01. American Erik Fey had an impressive race, especially given that he is 13 years old and racing in the 17 and under class, ending 18th in a time of 23:24. These European Championship races are Erik’s first time racing internationally for the US. Erik was excited to be solidly competitive and in front of some skiers from top nations like Sweden. Erik commented, “It has been a great experience to race at the European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships. I love the feeling of flying along the narrow trails with quick turns. I am very pleased with my race today, but I did have one 15 second mistake early in the race. Being here really motivates me to train harder for future years. I am really looking forward to racing in these races in a few years when I am 17.”

Tomorrow will be a rest day and then the races continue with a middle distance race for World Championships and a long distance race for the European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships on Friday. However, being only 13 Erik has opted not to race in the long race this year. He says he looks forward to hopefully trying that next year….

Press Release courtesy Carl Fey

US Ski-Orienteering Team opens the 2022 World Championships / European Youth Championships with Solid Performances

The 2022 World Ski-Orienteering Championships and European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships are taking place in the North of Finland in Kemi this week. In the men’s class Chris Burnham coming off of an impressive 2nd place finish in the American Brikebeiner classic ski marathon had a solid race. The race was won by Ville Petteri Saarela from Finland in 11:47 one second ahead of Tuomas Kotro of Finland and three seconds ahead of Rasmus Wickbom of Sweden. Chris Burnham of Stowe, VT was the top American finisher in 51 st place in 17:50.

When asked about his race Chris commented, “It was a solid race for me. I am happy there were quite a few wide skating trails. The terrain was not as steep as I had expected compared to looking at the old map of the area, but there were never-the-less some real hills.” Chris also indicated that he was looking forward to the longer races to come later in the week as he normally does better in longer races. When asked by the TV production crew about an interesting fact about himself yesterday Chris explained that when he is not skiing his job is computer programing of underwater robots which sounds very interesting.

Tim Lundberg of Sweden won the Boys European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships 9:23. Erik Fey from the USA was 24th in 12:22. When asked about his race Erik commented, “Since I am 13 years old and race in the 17 and under category, my coach and I decided that my main goals for this year would be to gain experience and not make any mistakes in the race larger than 15 seconds. I am happy that I managed to do that.” Erik also commented, “We came into the finish area on a huge downhill today, and it was a little distracting with people cheering, but we had discussed this would be the case. Thus, I told myself concentrate. I was right behind someone there. It was a bit confusing because the skier in front of me kept going straight into the stadium, but a much better route choice was to turn left just at the bottom of the hill before one came into the stadium. Luckily, I was reading my map and went the correct way. It really is exciting to be here and meet and race against people from all over the world. It was helpful that my father and coach [Carl Fey] has raced many times in World Championships, so he was able to explain to me what to expect.”

Tomorrow, March 16th is a pursuit race for World Championships (one starts the amount of time that
a skier was behind today’s winner). The youth class will have a normal medium distance race tomorrow.

Press Release & photos courtesy Carl Fey

US Ski Orienteering Team Heads to Finland for World Championships

Chris Burnham, Cambridge Sports Union (CSU), and Nikolay Nachev, Cascade Orienteering Club (COC), will race in Kemi, Finland March 15-19, 2022 in the World Ski Orienteering Championships. The pair will be joined by Erik Fey, of Espoon Suunta, who will race in the European Youth Ski Orienteering Championships held concurrently with WSOC.

Kemi is in northern Finland, a long way for Chris and Nikolay, but not as far for Erik who lives with his family in Espoo, a suburb of Helsinki.

The WSOC races for Chris and Nikolay will be the Sprint March 15, Pursuit March 16 and Middle Friday March 18. Erik’s EYSOC races will be the Sprint on Tuesday March 15 and the Middle Wednesday March 16.

Chris lives in Stowe, VT and competed at the WSOC in Pitea, Sweden in 2019. He has extensive Nordic experience, placing an outstanding second place in last month’s Birkebeiner Classic 55 km marathon in Hayward, WI out of 1,600 competitors.

Nikolay, from Redmond, WA, also is a top athlete, on the winning team at the North American Rogaining Championships last year in Lake Tahoe, CA. He has previously raced in World Cup ski orienteering races and at SWOC in Tanndalen Sweden in 2011.


Erik, currently living in Finland and being 13 years old, is unknown to most US orienteers, but has raced extensively in Finland, one of the world’s most competitive ski orienteering countries.

To prepare for the races during winter school holidays this year Erik went to Sweden to take part in the open youth races at Swedish Ski-Orienteering Championships and finished 1st and 2nd in the boys 14 class.  Erik commented, “It was a good experience to race in Sweden two weeks ago and see that I could do well against people there as well as in Finland.  This gave me increased confidence for the upcoming European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships.” 

Erik was 4th in a close race in H15 in Finnish Medium Distance Ski-Orienteering Championships this year.  He did not race in the Finnish Long Distance Championships as one must be turning 15 in the calendar year to do so.  When asked about his goals for the upcoming European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships Erik continued, “Since I am only 13 and my category at European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships is 17 and under my main goal for this year is to gain experience in international racing and not make any mistakes larger than 15 seconds.” 

Erik represents Espoon Suunta in ski-orienteering and orienteering and Espoon Hiihtoseura in cross-country skiing. Both clubs are among the top in Finland. Erik is coached by Carl Fey (his father and former US Ski-O Team member) and Tero Jantunen. When asked why he likes ski-orienteering Erik responded, “I love the technical difficulty and feeling of flying down hills on winding narrow trails. The steeper and bigger the better. Normal cross-country skiers don’t know what they are missing!”

Press release courtesy Ken Walker Sr.