Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ultimate Orienteering: The end or just a break?

Launched four years ago, the prestigious Ultimate Orienteering does a break. Is this the ending of the webpage or just the time to take a breathe? Niels-Peter Foppen, the soul of the project, answers to this and other issues.

How did Ultimate Orienteering appeared and what do you had in mind at the time of its creation?

Niels-Peter Foppen (N-P.F.) - Ultimate Orienteering was launched because of our true passion for the sport and the belief that Orienteering is not only an exciting and enthralling sport to be practiced, but also to be followed and told about. All the way back in 2007 I discussed with my brother, Wouter Foppen, the plan to launch an international Orienteering news website. In the landscape of Orienteering news websites I missed a website focussing on an international audience. Most websites focused on national news. We aimed at bringing orienteers world wide closer to elite orienteering through rich articles and image reports.

Before 2007 I managed a small Orienteering news website, which provided me with the necessary confidence to take the step. In those days I was injured and almost not able to train nor to compete in Orienteering; I had thus plenty of time to spend on the launch of a website. During the winter of 2007 I worked on the concept and website. In February 2008, the launch became reality. I realized that we needed a team of contributors in order to get news from around the globe: people sharing the same passion for Orienteering. I had to search for contributions in the beginning, but after the first months a first contributor, Lucie Babel, applied. Over the years that followed a group of contributors and reporters joined the team. I, again, would like to thank all of them. I was always proud when describing this team, made of people from all over the world, writing for Ultimate Orienteering by passion for Orienteering.

What is your evaluation of almost four years of life of the site?

N-P.F. - I am proud of what we achieved over the past four years. We delivered a lot of quality articles and we build a nice photo gallery covering major Orienteering events. It was by the quality of our articles and photos that Ultimate Orienteering made itself a name in the landscape of Orienteering news websites. Ultimate Orienteering was recognized by elite orienteers who always appreciated to collaborate with us for interviews and articles. The interest from a variety of magazines and websites to use our photos is nice as well.

What moments do you remember in particular as the most significant and grateful?

N-P.F. - I loved the moments spent waiting with my camera in the field, or in the finish area, waiting for the runners to arrive. I cherished the cooperation with my team during multi-day events and championships (O-Ringen, World-Cup, (J)WOC). I feel privileged to have met a lot of nice people over the past years of which some became dear friends.

Why did you decide to take a break on Ultimate Orienteering?

N-P.F. - In January I decided to take a break because of some changes in my personal life. Since 1.5 year I am able to train and compete again after a long period of injuries. Now I want to focus more on training and races. In combination with a full time job, one has to set priorities.

How do you see the present moment of Orienteering at the level of Communication and Media?

N-P.F. - Over the past years I have seen a big development in media covering events. New media and technologies, live-streaming, GPS tracking, head-camera's, etc, make it possible to cover an event in multiple ways and in better quality. The future will be bright and exciting I think. This development however means that journalists have to adapt their articles. Online coverage for instance means that spectators at home in front of their computer have seen already a lot of information about the race. This means that, as a journalist, you can not only provide results in your article. You should find ways to give your readers the information they did not get by the online coverage.

Do you agree with the proposals of IOF’s project “WOC in the Future”, as a way to mediatize Orienteering?

N-P.F. - Personally I have doubts about the "WOC in future" project. I fully support the protest as initiated earlier by Eva Jurenikova. I don't think this project is the right way to make orienteering more visible and global. A sport needs to be 'anchored' in a country first and you have to reach a certain level of popularity before media will pay attention. If the IOF wants to raise the “market share” in media they should first help federations by providing tools to develop the sport in their countries.

Ultimate Orienteering will return or we face the end of a beautiful experience?

N-P.F. - I will take a break with Ultimate Orienteering, in the function it had over the past years. The website and photo gallery on Flickr will however remain. I don't exclude that we'll have a re-launch someday… I am thinking about a new, smaller initiative but is is too early to tell anything about it.

Joaquim Margarido

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