Simone Niggli, 23-time World Champion, is running women’s 21 Elite at O-Ringen Höga Kusten.
- "It's the terrain that attracts me this year," she says.
In January this year, Simone Niggli turned 40. But that is not stopping her from challenging the World’s Elite at the High Coast. And rightly so. Last summer, the 23-time World Championship gold medallist finished an impressive third after placings of 4-4-6-3-3 on the five stages.
- I have decided to run the elite class in the High Coast. It's hard, but I've said that if you place among the top three last year, you have to run the elite class again this year, Simone says on the phone from Switzerland.
It will not be the first time the star has raced in Örnsköldsvik. She ran the 2004 Swedish relay championships, which was decided in the same area as this year’s fifth stage. That time she won the gold together with her club companions Stina Grenholm and Jenny Johansson.
The terrain in the High Coast she describes as "fantastic".
- I also remember that it was quite difficult orienteering and the terrain was quite open – and actually really nice. I also remember that people ate fermented herring up there. Surströmming, is that what it’s called?
- It was an older guy who opened the can and it really smelled ... very strong. It was the first time I had smelled Surströmming, but I didn’t try it. Maybe I'll do it this time. It's like a test for me to eat Surströmming at least once in my life, says Niggli about the High Coast's local, and very smelly, delicacy.
Her husband Matthias and the couple's three children are also coming to the High Coast. The Niggli family has rented a house in Bonäset, a few kilometres outside the city centre. And although all family members are running – from the shortest youth class to women’s 21 Elite - they will not be resting on the lounge in the evenings.
- It's not like you run the races and then rest all day. With the family, there will be so much else to do, and that’s almost as important, says Simone.
The expectations for Simone to achieve results have been high for many years, both from others and from herself. And, of course, O-Ringen, together with Jukola, is the most important competition for the summer. But the results aren’t as important anymore, she says.
- It's always so much fun with O-Ringen and the kids like it too. It’s the terrain that attracts us a lot this year, and that’s a large part of why we are choosing to come to the High Coast.