Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Me and my School: Gabriella Gustafsson (Eksjö Gymnasium)

By winning the Long Distance race (class W1 School), Gabriella Gustafsson was one of the major figures of the World School Orienteering Championships ISF 2013, that took place in Algarve, in April. The athlete cames from Sweden and accepted the invitation to talk about herself, as a student and orienteer.

Who is Gabriella Gustafsson?

Gabriella Gustafsson (G. G.) - My name is Gabriella Gustafsson and I will be 16 years old this summer. I was born on 3rd of July 1997 in a quite big city called Huskvarna (maybe some of you know the brand Husqvarna). I have lived in Huskvarna my whole life, but last year I moved to Eksjö. Besides my parents, I have one little brother. My favourite hobby is, of course, orienteering but I also like to be with my friends and to practice many different sports, as cross country skiing in the winter. My favourite food is “tacos” and I don’t have any especially favourite movie or music.

Would you like to present your school?

G. G. - The name of my school is Eksjö Gymnasium and it is placed in a small city called Eksjö. The school is also quite small with about 600 students and we are 50 orienteers. Orienteering is the only sport at my school so the others students know us well.

How did you meet Orienteering?

G. G. - I have run orienteering since I was a little child. I actually don't remember the first time I was at an orienteering competition because I was only 2 weeks old when my parents brought me to my first competition. When I was about 6 years old, I started training orienteering with my club IK Hakarpspojkarna and one thing I remember from that was that the coach had a t-shirt with a map on.

Was it important in your development as orienteer, the relationship between you and your school?

G. G. - The school helps me a lot to become a better orienteer. We are about 50 orienteers in my school, divided in three different classes. We train within the school schedule and get much help from the school. For example, we get to see a doctor, a coach who helps you with the training, we have all food and much more.

When did you decide to take orienteering seriously?

G. G. - I have always thought that orienteering is very fun. But when I was about 12 years I decided to quit playing football, then I had more time to dedicate myself to orienteering. But I have, since I was very little, known that I want to become a good orienteer.

What opportunities has Orienteering brought to you until now?

G. G. - Actually I don't know what my life would be without orienteering. I would never have met my best friends and I would never have seen so many beautiful places.

Looking at your curriculum, we can see the gold medal in the Long Distance of the ISF World School Sport Orienteering Championships 2013, in Algarve. Did you expect the title?

G. G. - Actually no, because my season before the week in Algarve had not been so good. I had had bad shape and I missed a lot both training and competitions. But I knew I had the chance to win because I know that I am at least as good as the other girls from Sweden. We, Swedish girls, didn't know how good the other girls were, so we didn't have such big expectations, but of course we know we were good.

Talking about Portugal, I would like to know your opinion about the competition and how important can an event like this be in the young orienteers' life.

G. G. - The competition was really good. The terrains were nice and it was a really serious and good arrangement. I think an event like this is very important for me and for other young orienteers. You need to meet other orienteers and learn to run in others terrains, because that helps you to improve your skills and become a better orienteer.

About the future, what do you expect to be, both professionally and orienteer?

G. G. - My dream is to win the World Championships. I know it takes a long way to get there but I will fight for it. I also have a dream make a living from orienteering. Today you can't do that but I hope to be able to do that.

Would you leave a message for those who always wanted to know about Orienteering, but are afraid to ask?

G. G. - Orienteering is the best sport ever. Maybe not for everybody, but it is very exercise-friendly and good for your health and you get the opportunity to see places you would never see otherwise.

Gabriella Gustafsson in brief

Me …

  • The best definition of Orienteering is... very fun
  • To practice it you just need... a map
  • The major difficulty is... to run fast and, at the same time, find the controls      
  • Essential in my bag is... a banana
  • An extraordinary moment of joy was... the week in Algarve
  • I'm a big fan of... Lilian Forsgren
  • My major goal in the future is... to become World Champion

… and my school

  • I see my teachers as... old
  • My colleagues say that I am... ambitious
  • To combine study with sport is... sometimes hard
  • I look to the world like... a happy girl
  • The biggest social problem... racism
  • The quality I admire the most is... caring
  • In the desert island, I just needed... a water bottle

[Photo: Gabriella Gustafsson]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: (Even) more reactions!

Replying to the challenge by Portuguese Orienteering Blog, we continue to receive feedback about the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013. It is with great emotion that we share today the words of Michaela Gigon, Maja Rothweiler, Anke Danowski, Juuso Jutila, Laura Scaravonati and Davide Machado.

Michaela Gigon (Austria): Actually, I did not expect too much from the European Champs because I am working as a teacher now and in the EOC week we had the last exams and I thought I would not be able to go there at all. In the middle of May I got permission to go there. 
I am quite happy with my 5th place in the Middle Distance race, which I did after 13 hours of driving and 3 hours sleep. Even a medal was close: I was 3rd at the 2nd last control and messed it up to the last. In the beginning I was very confused by the many tracks in the forest and could not find out at all which were on the map and which not.
Long Distance was too fast for me, but I have never been a Long Distance specialist anyway.
It was a pity that I could not race the Sprint, which is one of my favourite disciplines. But the jury decided that only those could race in the second Sprint who had been on the start list for the original one on Monday. If I had known that it would be annulled I would have signed up...
The idea of Mixed Relay was fun, but the forks had too much difference in time: one minute time difference for the last control before the finish simply is too much. Generally it was too much riding and not enough orienteering involved. Even I, who did not do the two Sprints in the same terrain before, did not have to look too much at the map at the 2nd loop anymore.
The organisation was generally really poor. Jan definitely had too few people to help him. I would not even try to organize the Austrian Championships with such a small Staff. The question is if it is better to have such low quality races or no races at all. Both is bad for our sport. So I hope that we can find organizers for the next years who can do better.

Maja Rothweiler (Switzerland): I found the terrain for the races very suitable and challenging. Also the courses were interesting in general. But I didn’t like the first controls of the second sprint so much, because there were some important details missing on the map (e.g. depressions) and the fastest route was at least at the beginning off the tracks. I’m satisfied with the results of my races and I’m really happy that I managed it to get my first individual medal. In every race I did mistakes at the beginning. I would like to improve this until the World Championships in Estonia. As already mentioned, I didn’t found the quality of the maps very good, but I think it’s difficult to do good maps if there is so much woodworks. Furthermore I would prefer more details like depressions off the tracks if it’s allowed to ride there. The athmosphere under the participants was good, what I liked.

Anke Danowski (Germany): My overall impression of this Championships is good to ok, looking at my personal performance and the organisers performance. The standards of this Championships were far below a standard that I expect for events of this class. But so to say not everything was bad. I had fun during the races and that is an important aspect, speaking for the courses and the terrain. The map quality was low and the sprint map from Zamosc where it was originally planned to have the sprint race looked horrible. I'm wondering why the organisers speak with the police only two days before the race to restrict the area to the car traffic, which is a crucial point to organise an urban sprint at all. But the reaction and the new organisation of the sprint in the new terrain was good. The courses have been good and due to bad luck a gate was closed. Still the re-race was organised well as well. And it was most probably much better than to race at the bad map of Zamosc. It feels like organiser“s“ have good skills in organising events, but are disorganised and did not prepare the race week well, which is a pity and this should be avoided for future races. The maps looked like drawn in a hurry. And the few people of the very small organising team worked hard during the week, improving their skills as well. I hope there will be major changes in the organising team for next years MTBWOC in Poland.

For me personally I had fun during the races and I had partly better results than expected. In my training during the first half of the year I focussed on my riding skills. Technical riding and speed for a stage race with 3-4 hour stages, since my priority race for this year starts next week with the BC Bike Race in Canada. As expected, I made a few larger mistakes and did not do so well in route choices, however the direct orienteering in the forest went much better than expected with only a few moments where I lost concentration. Else concentration during the races was good. After the Middle race I knew that I could ride at a high level. And I could come home with a Top10 result in Sprint. For the Long Distance race I was not so well prepared in my head and made a few mistakes to much, mainly due to route choices. At the end I almost got a flat tire but came through the mass start race. However, so to say, the mass start did change the character of the Long Distance to more short routes and quick navigation, which is more typical for Middle Distance races. I prefer the classical Long Distance race with long/real route choices, although Mass Start races are pretty cool.

Juuso Jutila (Finland): Sprint and Long Distance were good races for me so I'm satisfied to my races. Specially the Sprint was an unbelievable race, I got my first medal at EOC/WOC at an almost perfect race so I'm more than happy. Now I have almost two months to practise to the World Championships which are my main goal during this season. I wait very much for the WOC races on august!
And then something about the EOC organization. The staff was too short, I guess. It makes much difficult to do all things between races and other arrangements. Few maps had small problems with descriptions of the paths so that is a suggestion for improvement in future, I guess. The organizers did their best and the atmosphere was good at all events so I had a nice week in Poland.

Laura Scaravonatti (Italy): If I have to use one slogan to sum up my twelve days at the European MTBO Championships I would use this: Less Poland for everybody! My goal was to place in the top 10 in Middle and Long Distance, the first step to achieving my ultimate goal of a good finish at the World Championships. As far as the Sprint Distance, it is not my favourite type of racing, thus I just needed to push hard and finish the best I could. With a 6th place in the Middle Distance and some struggles in the Sprint and Long Distance, my finishes throughout the week were not what I was expecting for. I have to work harder to improve my speed on the flat and to get bigger legs. Unfortunately, the results were only a small part of the "Poland Problemi!".

I am more picky and choosy than a very choosy and picky person and I know it's not easy to find organizers for international events. With that being said let me further explain the "Poland Problemi." We arrived at the official Training Camp on Wednesday and it commenced through Saturday. On paper it looked to be a great program: many courses, sport-ident but, it turned out that there would only be one map for three days and the map would be a size A, poor quality, and in three different scales. The accommodations were also less than poor. Our "hotel" was a school with dirty bedrooms, super dirty beds, terrifying bathrooms, mosquitoes nests, and food... I don't even know which bad adjective to use to explain what was supposed to be food.
We arrived at the "hotel" and were welcomed by thousands of mosquitos and an amazing Polish wedding party with the fattest groom I have ever seen! The wedding started on Saturday at 2 p.m. and did not end until Sunday at 10 p.m. (I guess that the groom was kind of Berlusconi of Poland). I think the music used the same sound system that U2 used during their World Tour: audible till Warsaw! While listening to these loud obnoxious sounds, dinner was served. Terrible is an understatement to describe the meal. Only bread, low cost ham, low cost cheese and fu**ing cucumbers. This meal, as well as all the others, were always cold and the quantity of food was not enough for us athletes. I didn't eat anything. I couldn't. However, the wedding music was much louder than my stomach rumblings so I could listen live Polish songs all night long, while I was laying in my bed. I'm still not sure if that helped my feeling to starvation or made it worse!
Sunday was my fifth day in Poland and I was ready to back home. After a night without sleeping, I spent all Sunday trying to focus on the Sprint while avoiding drunk people and still hearing music that made my ears cringe all day long. Same dinner, same bread, same low cost ham and same cucumbers. Despite the big sign written on the table, IN TWO LANGUAGES, that I cannot eat onions or garlic, every meal that was brought to me contained onions and garlic, and every meal I had to ask for a new plate without these things. Lunch with two dry potatoes saved from three meals ago, something that was fried in old oil, and an onion salad was my last Polish meal before deciding it would be better for me to live off my protein and soy milk powder.

On Monday we started with the Sprint race and at the finish I was quite happy for my 13th place, given my standards for that race being it was totally flat and extremely fast. But during cool down I found out that some girls found a locked high gate not marked on the map so the race, in the afternoon, was cancelled. Cool, so one Sprint is already too much for me and now I had to re-race it on the rest day. At this point I was definitely ready to fly home. The day after we had to race the Middle Distance. The forest this time was held in hell and by the end of the race it was game over for me. I decided not to race the last leg of men relay on Wednesday to save some mental energy and to avoid saying another thousand bad words in the forest because of their poor map quality, poorly written tracks and the mass amounts of organizational mistakes. Well, 24 hours of "rest" on Wednesday was definitely not enough to recharge my batteries. Counting the hours until I could say farewell to Poland, I re-raced the Sprint and had "to abandon" at the second control. My teammate Luca, and I, had all the problems that an unlucky MTBO biker can have in one full year (flat tire, lost rear wheel, broken frame, inversion of the control points...), all in only 50 minutes of racing.
Thank God I am back home in Italy, safe and sound, with a quiet bedroom, and GOOD food! Ciao Poland!

Davide Machado (Portugal): The expectations for the European MTB orienteering Championships were high. Physically I felt fine and the good result with Top-7 on Middle Distance left me confident for the Long Distance (queen race and my favourite). Unfortunately, it wasn't my turn and, after a good start, but at the same time very hard, I started to feel a strong stomach ache and I had to stop. After “throw away”, I decided to go and see what I could do, I managed to recover much of the lost time and consequently many positions, reaching the final in 27th position. Given the situation, this place has always been better than giving up, but at the same time left me disappointed because I expected something better.

Given the great experience that Poland has at the organizational level, theoretically we expected a good competition and without mishap, although some previous negative opinions for this organization. As for myself, I expected something better. It was my third time competing in Poland, however not everything went well. Logistically we noted a lack of support (material and human), but the biggest failures fell on the technical part, with major flaws in the maps, poor quality of the Middle Distance's map, and others. It somehow clashed a bit the quality of the event, particularly the cancellation of the women's sprint that was scheduled for the same day as the originally planned rest day. But there's more, the course changes in Relay's maps, changes they made “by the pen” over the maps previously printed and left some parts confused, and whose most notable case was the map of Denmark in the Relay race. Generally the courses were good (both physically and technically, as it should be), but the maps have not been mapped nor utilized as they should. The accommodation' standards, and talking about our case,was anything but perfect, the house where we stayed in wasn't even clean and we had to clean it up after travelling a full day. At least the organization did its best in the banquet, provided us a good time for socializing. However, we were there mainly for the competition.

Now is time to continue to work. These Championships are history and even with the disappointments, the Top-7 on Middle Distance left me confident for the World Championship, competition in which I will focus now.

Joaquim Margarido

Cecilia Thomasson: "The good results come with the happiness of doing the things you love"

Cecilia Thomasson is one of the names that makes the history of the recent European MTB orienteering Championships, which took place in Poland. To the European title of Long Distance, the athlete joined the silver medal in Middle Distance, winning in one shot the first medals of Sweden in major international MTB orienteering competitions.

How did you start in MTB Orienteering?

Cecilia Thomasson (C. T.) - The first time I tried MTB orienteering was at two competitions in Mora, in the summer of 2010. Since I had been an elite foot-orienteer earlier, to compete in mountainbike sounded really interesting with the mix. The first day Tove Alexandersson beat me by one minute, the second day I beat her by one minute.
I was really hooked then! But there were no more competitions in Sweden that year. I had to wait until the next year when Sweden arranged the World Cup event in Rättvik, which was my second competition! But I knew about MTB orienteering a long time ago, when I worked with Ingrid Stengård at a mountain lodge in northern Sweden, in 2003. Then, she told me about the sport and that it was quite big out in Europe, but at that time I lived another life.

What do you see in this discipline that makes it so special?

C. T. - It's the challenge of having high speed still having to read the map. I love to bike and the speed and flow that you get from biking. The mix is a perfect challenge for me.

After a couple of good races last season, we could see you in great shape in these European Championships and, after the silver medal on Middle Distance, you achieved the gold on Long Distance. How do you feel right now?

C. T. - I'm very very happy! I really can't understand that I was first and it's a unbeatable feeling that I want to feel again.

Can you tell me a little bit about your golden course?

C. T. - The feeling I had before the start was “today everything is possible, just take the chance if it's there!”. But it was a warm and quite easy course, so I had to focus on having a good pace and the navigation since I didn't feel very alert in the legs. In the end of the first loop I took a bad route choice and I thought that in the next loop I would have to do perfect navigation in that area if I wanted to be in a good position. On the last loop I got contact with Camilla Sögaard who came from behind. She was very strong and I couldn't get on her wheel. But I had read the last controls in advance and I knew where I should go. When Camilla did a mistake I overtook her and tried to push hard and it worked! I took the chance and I'm very satisfied that I dared to do it.
I must say that Long Distance is not my favourite distance; it may be the distance I'm best at, but it's only because of the easy orienteering at which I'm stronger. I like Middle Distance best, because of the mix of long and short legs and that you need to be focused all the time.

How important could the gold (and silver) medal be to the Swedish MTB orienteering?

C. T. - I hope that it will inspire some people to try the sport! In Sweden we have a very strong connection to Foot-O and, in some way, I like the navigation part in Foot-O more than in MTB-O. When people try MTB-O they get disappointed because the navigation is too easy and their biking skills are too poor. When you realise that it's another kind of navigation and don't compare it to Foot-O I think people can appreciate it more.

And what about the future? What are your main goals for the rest of the season?

C. T. - I will try to have as much fun as I can in the rest of the season. I love to bike and to compete and as long as I have these feelings I will continue with this kind of living.

Would you like to share with us your biggest dream?

C. T. - It's nothing big actually. I want to be a good doctor in the future and make difference for the people I help. In sports I want to have fun and to do MTB orienteering is a quite healthy way of living your life, meet new people and travel. I think that the good results come with the happiness of doing the things you love.

[Photo: Cecilia Thomasson]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, June 24, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: More reactions!

The European MTB orienteering Championships ended last saturday but we are still receiving some opinions from the participants. We are proud to present you some final words from Kevin Haselsberger, Tõnis Erm, Jiří Hradil, Luca Dallavalle and Emily Benham.

Kevin Haselsberger (Austria): It was a good week, with a lot of challenges during and beside the races. I'm satisfied with the 6th place in the Sprint Mixed Relay together with Michaela Gigon. The results in Long Distance (13th place) and Middle Distance (15th place) are ok, but could be better. With the 7th place in the Relay race we are not satisfied, but the Austrian team will try the best to improve at the World Championships in August, in Estonia. Summa sumarum, let's say there is a lot of space for improvement during the next races.
In my opinion quite a lot of things went wrong during the organization of the EOC. But as Ingrid said [see Ingrid Stengard's Interview at], the reason for this mistakes are maybe in the small organisation committee. I believe that it is important to think in athletes ways when organising events. There are not so many things that should work really well, but these are crucial for the event. For example courses, maps, safety, accommodation and food. Furthermore, I think that the IOF should support more the organizers of such events. It's very important for a sport discipline that there are enough and well organized events. Hopefully we will have four World Cup rounds again in the future.
As I wrote on my Facebook page, I'm not fully satisfied with my results. I know that I can do better and I had chances for better results.
I will train hard to get better and hopefully I can reach my goals step by step.

Tõnis Erm (Estonia): To sum up briefly: my races and results were ok, not excellent, but not bad either. The European MTB orienteering Championships organisation was very-very poor and I did not like these competitions in general.

Jiří Hradil (Czech Republic): The European MTB orienteering Championships were my first goal of the season and my wish was to by on top-3. So, two medals was a very good result for me. In the Sprint I had good feelings, but I made a big mistake on 13th control losing more than one minute. The Middle Distance was a very peculiar race, because on first control I caught Anton Foliforov and Samuli Saarela. So we're riding together until the 5th control. Until the 14th control I ran alone and then again with Anton and Jussi Laurila. So I was lucky, because it was a very fast group.
At the Long Distance, my legs were really heavy and I felt myself too tired. I was riding with Jan Svoboda, František Bogar and Martin Ševčík but in the end I made a better route choice (together with Anton Foliforov), I could take an advantage of 5 or 10 second advantage and I spent all my energies in the last three minutes.
The organization was very very bad. I liked the Sprint and Long Distance's terrains but the Middle Distance's terrain was bad for MTB orienteering. Every stage of Czech Cup is much more well organized than this EOC in all aspects!

Luca Dallavalle (Italy): In the Middle Distance I got nervous in the first part of the course, where the map was not so clear, and I made a big mistake of two minutes. After that, my race went quite good without big mistakes but I couldn't keep the high speed because I was alone all the time. Anyway with such a race I didn't expect to end on the 12th position. 
I liked so much the map, the terrain and the course of the Long Distance race. It is a pity that soon after the start I had mechanical problems with the rear wheel and the frame and I could not ride at full speed and with the concentration high. About the
Sprint Mixed Relay, I have to say that I like a lot this kind of format.
About results I, m not totally happy as I train more than previous year technically and I expected a little bit more. Now I 'm focused on WOC, my next goal.

About the organization, I think the accommodation and food were good and the races not so far. The only problem were the mosquitos. The maps were weak, especially on the Middle Distance, but I think that a good orienteer has to have mental flexibility and be able to ride also on this kind of map. I have a big respect for the winners.
The atmosphere among the riders was really friendly. I liked it.

Emily Benham (Great Britain): Generally, the quality of the races was good. The efforts of the organisers were thwarted by farmers felling trees and make new tracks in places. Some map printing problems led to less than optimal maps, but the athletes are experienced enough to deal with this.

About the organization, I spoke to Jan [Cegielka] at the banquet, and it sounds that the whole event was plagued by many many problems. This came across poorly to athletes, but from what Jan said, we were lucky to have an event to race at! I think we should offer constructive advice to make the World Champs in Poland next year a high quality event, rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of this event.
Personally, I like the Polish terrain. It suits my navigation and map reading style. The terrain is unfamiliar to most athletes so the top 6 places are unpredictable and open to more nations! This makes the competition more exciting for us athletes!

Joaquim Margarido

Ingrid Stengard: Looking forward to the World Championships

Ingrid Stengard was one of the athletes present in the European MTB orienteering Championships, in Poland, who agreed to share their opinion about the event. A short Interview with the Sprint and Middle Distance's bronze medalist, and also winner of the Relay with the Finnish team.

I would like to have your opinion about the European MTB orienteering Championships this year, in Poland?

Ingrid Stengard (I. S.) - There are a lot to say about the event, especially when we're talking about the organization, but I think it’s better to try to be constructive rather than just pointing out negative things. When nobody seems to want to organize MTB orienteering races, we need to help those who still try. I think one of the main problems now, in Poland, was that there were not enough people in the organizing committee. Things were not checked and double checked and many things were done in the very last minute or not at all, hoping that “it works even without”. It’s a shame, because the terrain was good (we can’t complain if it has been raining a lot) and also the courses were good and challenging, but due to organizers mistakes, not so good maps, lack in safety, overprice on accommodation and food, etc., the overall opinion about the Championships easily becomes negative. In the end, I don’t think that would be necessary to do much more to making things work better if focus on the right things.

Despite this...

I. S. - Despite of the problems - or maybe due to them - I felt that the atmosphere among the racers were very close and friendly. It felt like the athletes were going to have fun and make good races, no matter what the organization comes up with.

And what about your races? Did you expect these results?

I. S. - I think that my results were much better than the races should have allowed for. I made quite a few small mistakes in all races, but when everybody seemed to make mistakes, the question is more about not making big ones. In the route planning way, it helped that in Finland we are also allowed to ride anywhere and used to think about shortcutting options. So I’m satisfied with my start of this year’s World Cup and looking forward to the World Championships, in Estonia.

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, June 22, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: Finland ends with another gold

Jussi Laurila and Marika Hara signed again on gold letters the name of Finland in the book of honor of the European MTB orienteering 2013 Championships, that ended today in Zamosc. An historic victory in what was the Mixed Sprint Relay's debut in the Europeans.

It was in a festive atmosphere that cames to the end the sixth edition of the European MTB orienteering Championships, with the feast of the Relay winning a new élan in this variant of Mix Sprint. The model has already been tested in previous occasions, particularly in precedent World Cup races, having now arrived to the European Championships where it puts an ending to the present edition. [Only in 2014 - and “unofficialy” - the Mixed Sprint Relay will be present in the program of the World Championships, to be held in Bialystok, Poland.]

Thirteen teams with two members each, in a four legs running, two legs each member, alternately (women – men – women – men), that is the model. Formed by Jussi Laurila and Marika Hara, the team of Finland confirmed all the favouritism, winning the race with a record of 57:12. Ruslan Gritsan and the very young Svetlana Poverina finished second with more 1:51 than the winners after Gritsan entered the decisive leg in fourth place, 15 seconds behind the Czech Republic and 13 seconds from Switzerland. The Swiss team, with Ursina Jäggi and Christian Wuthrich, would be the third ranked as the Czechs dropped to 5th place after the unhappy Frantisek Bogar's leg in the final. On the edge of the medals were Anna Kaminska and Maciej Gromadka, offering to Poland the 4th position, the best achieved by the "home team" in the Championships. Sweden, with the Long Distance's European Champion, Cecilia Thomasson and Anders Frisk, was disqualified by "mp" that Frisk did already in the last leg.

Finland dominates European Championships

Taking a look at the Championships medalist [see image above], it's notorious that the fifteen medals had addressed to eight countries. With three individual gold medals and one victorious“full” in the Relay races, Finland was the great dominatrix of the Europeans, followed by Russia, Sweden and Britain, all of them with a gold medal. In individual terms, one name stands out from all the rest and that is to Jussi Laurila, with four gold medals (Sprint, Long Distance, Relay and Mixed Relay Sprint). The Finnish Marika Hara (gold in Sprint, Relay and Mixed Relay Sprint) and Ingrid Stengard (gold and bronze in the Relay Sprint and Middle Distance), the Russians Valeriy Glukhov (gold in the Middle Distance and silver in Long Distance and Relay) and Ruslan Gritsan (silver in the Sprint, Relay and Mixed Relay Sprint), the Swedish Cecilia Thomasson (gold in the Long Distance and silver in the Middle Distance) and British Emily Benham (gold in the Middle Distance) are also names that makes the history of these European Championships.

However, if we extend the scope of places of honor to the 6th position, it is possible to find in the individual races other countries such as Italy (Luca Dallavalle was 4th in the Sprint and Laura Scaravonati finished in 6th place in the Middle Distance) Estonia (Tõnis Erm was 5th in the Middle Distance and finished 6th in the Sprint) and even Austria (Michaela Gigon, major name in the MTB orienteering's world, finished 5th in the Middle Distance). Already in the Relay, France was ranked 4th in the men and Lithuania concluded in 6th place, both in men as in women. Already in the Mixed Sprint Relay, Poland has achieved its best result thanks to the 4th place in the end, as has been mentioned before.

The MTB orienteering at the highest level will return on August 26th to the dispute of the Sprint race in the opening of the competitive program of the World Championships 2013, to be held in Rakvere, Laane-Viru County, Estonia. The latest results of the Europeans can be checked on

Joaquim Margarido

Valeriy Glukhov: "I wasn't expecting such good results!"

With a second place on the Long Distance, Valeriy Glukhov finished at the highest level his presence in the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013. A presence marked by two silver medals and one gold, turning him into one of the men of the moment.

About to turn 25 years old, Valeriy Glukhov became the star of the very strong Russian team in the European MTB orienteering Championships, that came to the end today in Zamosc, Poland. Opening his participation with a 7th position in the Sprint race, the Russian would reach the European Middle Distance's title on the second day of the competition. After that, he could win two silver medals, the first one with the Russian Relay and the other in the Long Distance course.

Analyzing his participation in the European Championships, Glukhov starts by the Sprint distance. He confess: “I had a good orienteering, without mistakes. But my speed wasn't higher than it should be and it wasn't good enough to achieve a better result.”


Better result that would appear on second day, at the Middle Distance race: “Two mistakes on the 4th and the 6th controls made me lose about two minutes. After that, I realized that if I wanted to be among the best, I should ride as fast as I could. I was lucky - on the last part of the race I didn't find problems with my orienteering and I caught the Czech, Portuguese and Finnish athletes. But, anyway, I'm still surprised to know that I finished with the best result. And I'm very happy, of course, because we are talking about my first individual victory on a high-level competition.”

About the Relay, Glukhov notes “positive and negative moments.” He explains: “Each one of us tried to ride carefully and each one of us did some small mistakes. So, at the end, we get the second place.” Finally, the Long Distance: “It was a very difficult race because it was too hot for me and my legs were heavy. I did a lot of mistakes on the first part of the race. I think that one of the reasons were the big uphills in that part of the course because, after that, I did no mistakes. In fact, on the second loop, I concentrated myself and I did my best. And I'm so glad that it allowed me to get the silver medal.” The final results - one gold and two silver medals - led him to ensure that “it is amazing and I wasn't expecting such good results!” About the next goals, Valeriy appears to be parsimonious on his words: “I have a new training system this year and we'll see... I'll try to reach a good performance at the World MTB orienteering Championships next August.” And a few words more: In my opinion, this Championships' distances required very good both orienteering and physical skills, but mainly the technical ones. I like when the result is determined by orienteering but not by mountain bike race. But I also think that EOC's organizers have something to improve, and I hope that the next MTBO WOC in Bialystok [2014] will be held on a high level.

A successful career

We would like to remember that Valeriy Glukhov premiered in European MTB orienteering Championships with a 6th place in the Middle Distance race that opened the competition in North Zealand (Denmark, 2009). Before that, the athlete has represented the Russian national team for the first time in the World Championships in 2007, in Nove Mesto na Morave (Czech Republic), reaching the 19th place in the Middle Distance. So far, the best individual result achieved by Valeriy Glukhov in European Championships or World Championships was the 5th position (Middle Distance WOC 2010, Portugal; Sprint WOC 2011, Italy; and Sprint EOC 2011, Russia), despite the world title achieved at the World Championships' Relay in Portugal (2010), alongside Ruslan Gritsan and Anton Foliforov.

Glukhov is currently the 11th in the IOF's World Ranking, 25 points above the 10th placed, Davide Machado (Portugal). As for the World Cup 2013, he follows in the second position, immediately behind the Finnish Jussi Laurila. In seven years of participation on highest level, the athlete registers in its private account 41 events. See the full record of results in

[Photo courtesy by Valeriy Glukhov]

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, June 21, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: Portuguese modesty in the farewell to Zamosc

Behind the expectations. Thus Portugal concluded its presence in the sixth edition of the European MTB orienteering Championships, that take place in Poland until tomorrow. The results of the Portuguese team in the Long Distance race proved somewhat modest, with João Ferreira being our best athlete. As for gold, it was to the chest of the Finnish Jussi Laurila and the Swedish Cecilia Thomasson.

Raced this morning in Krasnobród, next to the Event Centre of the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013, the Long Distance course was the last act of the Portuguese representation by lands of Poland. A farewell something forsaken and behind the expectations, particularly respecting to Davide Machado in which the National Technical Director, Daniel Marques, bet for a place in the top six. Finishing in the 26th place with a record of 1:57:00, João Ferreira turned out to be our best representative. Davide Machado placed in the immediate position over 1:03 that his teammate and Carlos Simões closed the trio in the 29th place with a record of 2:00:31. Participated in the race only 44 athletes of the 53 initially set.

Today Davide had physical problems, he felt sick to her stomach and was quite conditioning”, began by noting Marques. He continues: “Carlos and João did much of the course together, went very well at the spectators' point, but at the end of the race Carlos had physical problems (cramps) and João lost more than three minutes in a control point. However João was our best athlete today and the 26th place corresponds to the best result Portuguese ever in the Long Distance in the European Championships.” And make a final assessment in what was, from his point of view, the participation of the three Portuguese athletes in the Europeans of Zamosc: “Although the results were below my expectations, I'm glad that all athletes get a score in the first half of the table. Portugal got two of the four goals that I set for this tournament. The 7th place of Davide Machado (top-8) and the 14th place of Carlos Simões (first third of classification) in the Middle Distance were our highest moment. The objective of a top-6 in the Relay eventually not materialized due to bad luck and mechanical problems, and João Ferreira couldn't get the first third of the table. Altogether, the results are satisfactory and give me good signs for the World Championships which will be played in Estonia between 24th and 31th August.”

Jussi Laurila's “tri”

Looking now at the top positions in the Elite Men class, the highlight goes to the Finnish Jussi Laurila, join to the titles already achieved in these Europeans (Sprint and Relay), a new gold medal in what is almost universally considered the “queen race” of any major competition. With output system "Mass Start", Laurila had a full supply of regularity, strength and intelligence, controlling the race almost from its beginning and ending with the time of 1:37:02. In the second position we can see another of the great figures of the Europeans, the Russian Valerii Glukhov with over 2:29 than Laurila, while the Czech Jiri Hradil was third in 4:11 behind the winner. Anton Foliforov (Russia) reached the fourth position, while the Czech Republic has placed three athletes in the immediate positions: Frantisek Bogar, Vojtech Stransky and Jan Svoboda, respectively 5th, 6th and 7th placed. Ruslan Gritsan (Russia), the current World Champion in the Long Distance, takedown by the 9th position with more 6:47 than Jussi Laurila.

In the women's sector, the victory of the Swedish Thomasson Cecilia can only be a surprise to those who are inattentive. The athlete had already shown highest level performances in these European Championships, winning the silver medal in the Middle Distance, and confirming the good shape with a 5th place in yesterday's Sprint. Today, Thomasson put in evidence the "guts" of the true champions, achieving a remarkable triumph in the time of 1:15:10 and offering to Sweden its first major international title in this emotive and fascinating discipline. In second place was ranked the Danish Camilla Søgaard, she who also is a rising star in the MTB orienteering world, only 48 seconds afetr her opponent. The third place went to the Switzerland Maja Rothweiler with the record of 77:25. Olga Vinogradova (Russia) finished fourth in 2:34 over the winner, while the best Finnish athlete was Stengard Ingrid in the 5th position, 2:41 beyond Thomasson.

All to check at

[Photo: Daniel Marques]

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, June 20, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: Marika Hara, queen of Sprint

Shattering. It was in this way that Marika Hara attacked the Sprint race of the European MTB orienteering Championships, crushing their rivals and leaving clear the intention of returning quickly to the world ranking's leadership.

After the cancellation, last Monday, of the W21 Class' Sprint race of the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013, the “rest day” saw the athletes back to the forest to fight for the third title of these event. In a very fast race and without too many route choices, the Finnish Marika Hara proved to be in spetacular shape by imposing a demolishing rate and eventually meet the 5.8 km of his course in 25:23. Taking the control of the race almost from the beginning, Marika Hara was unstoppable specially in the second half of the race, where she won six of the eight split times. A clear victory that is mostly a prize for the athlete who would have more to lose by repeating this race, once she already has been the best time last Monday. And the second gold in a row, after the European title in 2011 (Leningrad, Russia).

In the immediate positions was possible to watch an intense dispute between four major world-class athletes. The Swedish Cecilia Thomasson had a very strong start, still got to roll on the podium for much of the race but a larger error at control 11 would eventually proved to be fatal, causing her to fall to the fifth position in the end with a record of 28:53. Emily Benham (Great Britain), the major figure of the Middle Distance race last Tuesday, was also on a great level, winning quickly one minute to the Finnish Ingrid Stengard, caughting after the third control. But a bad option for the control 8 would eventually tear up the aspirations of the British, causing it to lose a minute and, consequently, a medal seemed easily to reach. In the end, Emily Benham would register 28:29, and 3:06 behind the winner.

Titanic struggle for 2nd place

Ingrid Stengard and Ursina Jäggi (Switzerland) catch a particular duel especially in the last four points of the course, afetr Stengard recovering from a disadvantage for her opponent that reached 34 seconds, to put just a second at the "200" (that in this case, casually, was the "46") and arriving at the Finish with a record of 27:49 against 27:47 to the Swiss athlete. The Russian Ksenia Chernykh had a tremendous setback in control 7, where she lost more than six minutes, ending it by quitting. As for Anna Kaminska, the "Athlete of the house" in which the Poles expected on a podium at the end (she achieved the bronze in the Sprint of the last World Championships in Hungary, after being World Champion in 2010, in Portugal), had an unfortunate entry in the map, losing nearly five minutes in the second point, early ending to dream with a medal.

Tomorrow the great competition returns with the Long Distance titles in dispute. Everything to follow at

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: A dream delayed!

A broken chain, a dream delayed. So it was with the Portuguese Team this morning in Zamosc, on the European MTB orienteering Championships' third day. A full day for Finland, reaching the gold in both male and the female races.

On the third day of the European Championships MTB orienteering 2013, in Zamosc (Poland), the bad luck knocked at the door of the Portuguese national team. The Relay saw João Ferreira to break the chain of his bike, the master link lost and the athlete forced to retire even before the third control. “Backfire”, claims Daniel Marques, the Portuguese Technical Director, mainly because “we were confident in our abilities and surely that, without this mischance, we could achieve our goal, a place in the top six.” To those responsible, “now is the time to raise our heads and do our best on Long Distance on the farewell to the competition.”

Those who closely follow the high wheel of MTB orienteering, knew beforehand that the fight for the victory would lock up between Finns and Russians, both in the male as in the female class. After the European titles of Leningrad in 2011, both teams of the Czech Republic would certainly have a word to say, but it seemed clear that his task was everything but easy. And the predictions were fully confirmed, with Finland to demonstrate a huge advantage before their opponents and imposing themselves in both sectors.

Finland recovers title seven years later

Forest quite dense, significant slopes and soaked terrain by the heavy rains that recently left the Central Europe "under water", to the athletes were required maximum concentration, since a mistake in these conditions are usually expensive. The truth is that the Finnish performed at a higher level and flawless, imposing to Russia by a comfortable margin. The Russians started better, with Valerii Glukhov overcome Pekka Niemi by “skinny” 18 seconds, in what was a remake of yesterday's Middle Distance race. But then Ruslan Gritsan did not "ride" to Samuli Saarela, ending Jussi Laurila by firming the victory with a record of 2:05:40, against 2:08:53 to his direct rival.

In third position stayed the second team of the Czech Republic with more 4:45 than the winners, while France achieved a surprising fourth place with a record of 2:19:00. Finland thus achieves the European title of Relay for the second time in its history, after a long fast of seven years since the first edition of the Championships, back in 2006, played... in Poland!

Clearly superiors

As for the women's race, the superiority of the Finnish team asserted itself forcefully, with the final difference for the Russia team, second placed, being of 7:13. Ingrid Stengard opened the hostilities on the best way and Marika Hara managed to extend their lead at the entrance to the decisive leg of 3:29 over Russia. But Susanna Laurila was largely responsible for expanding the difference, beating Ksenia Chernykh for a margin next to four minutes. It was consummated the fourth gold medal for Finland in six editions of the European Championships, interestingly also the fourth medal achieved by Ingrid Stengard, true mainstay of this Finnish team.

The Czech Republic was soon out of the race for the medals (Martina Tichovska been particularly unfortunate in the first leg) and eventually be Slovakia, even without the big star named Hana [Bajtosová] Garde, to win the third place and, with it, the first medal ever at the European Championships (having already reached twice the Bronze at the World Championships, in Italy 2011 and Hungary 2012). Stanislava Fajtova would like to be the other major figure of the day, she who left for the last leg in the 5th position with a handicap of four minutes to Switzerland and five minutes to Denmark, but eventually register a remarkable recovery, providing to Slovakia a victory with a special taste indeed.

Rest day ... but only for some

Tomorrow is the rest day ... but only for some. In the women's class, we'll watch the re-race of female Sprint, canceled on last Monday due to a default on the map. Follow the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013 at

[Photo: Daniel Marques]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

EMTBOC 2013: Reactions!

After two days of competition, here you are the reviews of some of the main protagonists so far in the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013.

Davide Machado (Portugal): "The second race of these Championships is done. Today was Middle Distance's day and the result was an amazing 7th place. After the less good race yesterday, today a very technical race but more to my liking (more physical), managed to make a good performance, above the expected in this kind of terrains. Main goal achieved, now it's time to try to do better, but let's say that, at least, it has relieved some pressure. Tomorrow we'll have the relay and now it's time to relax a bit. Thanks for your support .... is crucial!"

Pekka Niemi (Finland): "Today course was difficult to orienteer and also difficult to ride. I am pretty good rider in difficult terrain, so the course was good for me. 
I did´nt do any big mistakes today. Just some thirty seconds mistake and some smaller.
The course was really difficult and many competitors did lots of mistakes.
So I had a really good race today."

Ksenia Chernikh (Russia): "I am a little sad because I didn't get a medal. I didn't like the terrain - very slow riding. I like high speed MTBO."

Cecilia Thomasson (Sweden): "It was a good race today. Good route choices and quite fast biking in the mud. I like the hilly terrain and when its some difficulty in biking. On the three long routes I took the strait on choice. In the end I didn't want to miss any control so it was really low-speed biking. I think I lost a lot of time there on Emily. But I'm really happy, anyway."

Juuso Jutila (Finland): "I have to tell that the Sprint bronze medal was a little bit surprise for myself. A top 10 position was my goal. I pushed very hard all the time and I didn't any mistakes. I think that the different times to the gold medal came from different route choices. Tomorrow Finland has two good relay teams so I really expect what will happen tomorrow."

Luca Dallavalle (Italia): "For me, [the Sprint] was a great race, only three mistakes of ten seconds. Anyway, I liked a lot the course. I've trained a lot on urban areas and so for me was not so difficult to keep the concentration. Maybe I could be faster but I didn't want to take any risk."

Tõnis Erm (Estonia): "Middle distance today consisted of two parts. First part was open beech forest with good visibility, but relatively simple orienteering challenges. I was just waiting for the first part to end. Then, in the second part, the terrain was amazing - about one square km of extremely dense track network in dense forest. And all the tracks with similar size, so everything looks the same. It is comparable of what I have experienced in some of the most technical international ski-O races. I managed to get through the second part with two short stops and no mistakes. This was the place where I made my result today."

João Ferreira (Portugal): "No coments... too many errors... bad day... tomorrow relay day..."

Emily Benham (Great Britain): "I had a really great race. It was almost perfect. I lost 30 seconds in the muddy section in the middle of the long route to the 4th control, and I stopped twice in the technical section to confirm my place. But these stops only lost 2 seconds. I knew to have a good race I had to be really accurate in the last part I the course. Not try anything special, just plan ahead, know where to go at the next junction and find the controls. I caught Scaravonati early in the course, and it was reassuring to know she was behind, hopefully also knowing where we were going! When I later caught Kaminska and Barlet I knew it was a great race, but I couldn't let it distract me. Instead I spent more time looking at the map to make sure I maintained focus. I had a small miss on the path to the last control, but I straight away knew the direction was wrong, so cut back to path I needed. I must have taken the long shortcut as I came out at the last control. To be honest I can't believe its the gold today. I had a great race and kept focused all the way, but there's usually someone faster! It's been a long time to wait for a gold, so I'm really pleased with the result. To be 2 mins 19 clear of 2nd and more than 3 mins ahead of 3rd is an added bonus!!"

[Photo: / Emily Benham]

Joaquim Margarido

EMTBOC 2013: Davide was 7th in the Middle

By winning the Middle Distance's courses, Emily Benham and Valerii Glukhov were the biggest protagonists of the second day of the European MTB orienteering Championships 2013. Portugal was also big today, with Davide Machado and Carlos Simões registering top-level results.

Portugal did a great presence on the second day of the European MTB orienteering Championships in Zamosc, Poland. Today's program consisted on a Middle Distance race, in Panska Dolina's map, in forest terrains with good road network, moderately hill and muddy here and there, with 17.6 km to M21 Class and 14,1 km to W21 Class.

João Ferreira was the first portuguese to start and the final result was something less than expected, standing in 40th place among 61 athletes, with a time of 71:41. Daniel Marques, the National Technical Director, said that “João [Ferreira] was unlucky, entered baddly on the map and losing more than two minutes for the first control and at the middle of the race had a string of fatal errors in a particularly technical route.” Asserting that João Ferreira is on a good shape”, Marques don't hesitate in stating that “João will redeem himself from this less positive day to make a contribution to the team tomorrow in the Relay race and then doing his best on the Long Distance.”

To make history

Carlos Simões should be particularly pleased with his performance, especially for someone who brought modest expectations, without putting the bar too high but with “the goal of entering the first third of the table at one race”. Well, this was the race and the result was a fantastic 14th place with a time of 58:18 and less than one minute from the top-10. A record that leads Daniel Marques stated that it was “a world-class results and that comes reward the dedication of this veteran athlete to the sport.” In a difficult terrain, Marques reveals that “Carlos had the company of the Lithuanian Petras Andrasiunas and Regimantas Kavaliauskas during a large part of the race, circumstances which do not affect his performance and he could managed the effort very well, after a regular race that led to an excellent result.” In conclusion, Daniel Marques says that “the aim of the first third of the table was reached with tranquility.”

Finally Davide Machado, the last portuguese athlete to start today and who, on arrival, recorded the 7th fastest time among all, with 53:55 and more 4:02 than the winner, the Russian Valerii Glukhov. One historical result for the portuguese MTB orienteering in the European Championships as the best ever achieved in this important competition. On the performance of Davide Machado, Daniel Marques stated that “it was a race at his level, with two or three controls where he lost some time, but always keeping the concentration and enforcing a very strong pace from the start until the finish.”

On his last words, Daniel Marques reveals "satisfaction with the behavior and performance of the team, even more that knowing there is still much European to do and we all are committed to continue giving our best.” Tomorrow, in the Relay, Portugal will present the following order of athletes: João Ferreira (1st leg); Carlos Simões (2nd leg); Davide Machado (3rd leg). The goal, Daniel Marques does not hide, “is to make history and reach the 6th position.”

It's been a long time to wait for a gold”

With a high level performance, the Russian Valerii Glukhov was the big winner of the men's competition, recording the time of 49:53. Ranked 11th in the world, Glukhov rises for the first time the podium of a major international competition and then with a gold medal on his chest. The Finn Pekka Niemi was second with more 1:38 than Glukhov, while the 3rd and 4th positions went to athletes from Czech Republic, Jiri Hradil and Marek Pospisek, 1:53 and 2:22 over the winner, respectively. The World Champion of Middle Distance in title, the Finnish Samuli Saarela, settled in the 13th position. At W21 Class, the British Emily Benham was absolutely unstoppable, hitting the Competition by a comfortable margin. On arrival, the athlete would register a time of 47:43, against 49:56 of the Swedish Cecilia Thomasson and 51:07 of the Finnish Ingrid Stengard, the former European Champion of Middle Distance and Vice-World Champion in the same distance.

To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, Emily Benham did not hide his satisfaction: “I had a really great race. It was almost perfect. I lost 30 seconds in the muddy section in the middle of the long route to the 4th control, and I stopped twice in the technical section to confirm my place. But these stops only lost two seconds. I knew to have a good race I had to be really accurate in the last part of the course. Not try anything special, just plan ahead, know where to go at the next junction and find the controls.” As the conduct of the race, Emily remember: “I caught Scaravonati early in the course, and it was reassuring to know she was behind, hopefully also knowing where we were going! When I later caught Kaminska and Barlet I knew it was a great race, but I couldn't let it distract me. Instead I spent more time looking at the map to make sure I maintained focus. I had a small miss on the path to the last control, but I straight away knew the direction was wrong, so cut back to path I needed. I must have taken the long shortcut as I came out at the last control.” And the last – and very emotional! – words: “To be honest, I can't believe its the gold today. I had a great race and kept focused all the way, but there's usually someone faster! It's been a long time to wait for a gold, so I'm really pleased with the result. To be 2 mins 19 clear of 2nd and more than 3 mins ahead of 3rd is an added bonus!!”

[Photo: Daniel Marques]

Joaquim Margarido