Monday, January 28, 2013

Jiří Daněk: "To be alone in deep forest? I love it!"





Behind an event - its quality, the level of competition or the athletes' performances - we will find the inescapable, odd figure of the cartographer. The first step may not be his, but he is the one who can claim to be the most important piece of this huge and exciting puzzle. The Portuguese Orienteering Blog travels today to the Czech Republic to meet Jiří Danek, acknowledging a multifaceted cartographer and with a lot to tell.


In the last interview I did, I «stole» your message on Facebook and put
the question to Thierry Gueorgiou: Who would be the entity (individual, club) worthy of "The Achievement of the Year 2012" if we extended the
contest to the entire universe of Orienteering and not only to the
athletes? And the answer was: "To all cartographers worldwide." Does the
answer surprise you?

Jiří Daněk (J. D.) - I am pleased to hear this. It was a smart answer from a well oriented person :-) Not everyone really realises the amount of effort that mappers put into their projects. Nobody is expecting that will be awarded on the podium - just that orienteering is not only about elite athletes.

Why did you embrace the profession of cartographer?

J. D. - In 1991 I saw OCAD running on a PC 286 for the very first time. In that time I was a young enthusiastic orienteer. Maps were my interest for a long time and I simply decided that this was the job I wanted to do. For the first few years I worked as an employee of the cartographic publisher "SHOCart" which specialised in O-maps at that time. Working beside experienced map makers I was able to learn a lot. However, the firm started to focus on tourist maps more and more so I established my own business in 1996.

Being a cartographer is a particularly lonely work. Is that good or bad?

J. D. - To be alone in deep forest? I love it! It is nice to be a part of nature and enjoy every detail of this never ending beauty. I try to be in the forest as early as possible in the morning when you can see a lot. I like all the noises of forest. Of course that when you do not feel particularly well, are not completely fit or after few weeks of intensive work it can be very hard, especially if you are hundreds of kilometres from home and someone from your family is sick, for example, it can be very tough indeed.

Have you had any unpleasant experience in the forest that would put your life in risk?

J. D. - Once in Switzerland I made a bad mistake. I was sitting during a short break on a small pile of timber eating my tasty sandwich or something... When I stood up the pile moved and the timber trapped my leg. I could not move and mobile phones were not so common at that time. You can be sure that it was not a situation which I enjoyed. Very briefly: I was lucky. Two young bikers found me and together we freed my leg. Later when I returned to my base I was suffering from shock. I am still very grateful to these two guys and to my guardian angel…

May I ask you, of all the works you did, the one that you keep with
greater appreciation and that you would rather forget but you can't?

J. D. - You know, I don‘t think that way. I always survey with the same attention and care – it doesn't matter if it is a map for local event or a WRE. But if I really have to choose one project it would probably be the "Västanåberget Västra" map. I have spent three amazing months in challenging Swedish terrain. On the opposite side: I have nothing that I would like to forget or erase from my life.

Can you identify the most relevant events of the last twenty years, that completely revolutionized the cartography?

J. D. - From my point of view it is the software for map making, however it is more than twenty years that you mentioned. For someone else it could be mapping with GPS. Certainly it should be ISOM 2000, ISSOM 2007, being able to use data from Airborne Laser Scanning (LiDAR in America) for the preparation of base maps, mobile mapping in terrain (using PDA, tablets, DGPS, laser distance measuring connected via bluetooth to hardware).

How do you see the present moment of the cartography worldwide? Does the ISOM remain updated or are there some necessary changes to do?

J. D. - First of all: I have a great respect for the work of Mr. Thomas Gloor who is the author of ISOM 2000 and is responsible for the new ISOM revision. It is definitely a tough task. My subjective opinion is this: ISOM and ISSOM should come closer together, some point symbol dimensions should be smaller (pit, cave, small depression, small tower, boundary stone, cross, etc.), form lines should be thinner, … the symbol for undergrowth could be improved and there are discussions about another symbol for a distinct vegetation boundary too. New mapping rules could be also more creative with the colour palette. It is definitely a topic for longer discussion.

Do you consider that the cartographers have the acknowledgement they
deserve?

J. D. - Personally I have no reason to complain. I have positive feedback from my customers and quite often I am asked to come back and work for them again but, of course, it is individual. Certainly I have also experiences from contacts with potential customers who have no idea how time consuming the work is and that there are some necessary steps to take before a map maker can begin his fieldwork. Planning is a crucial stage not just for professional mappers. Generally we all should be happy for any new orienteering map which helps to support our great sport.

One of your next works will be the mapping areas where the opening round of the World Cup 2014 will be run, in Turkey. Do you mind sharing with us your initial impressions?

J. D. - I have never been to Antalya before but I have been twice to Cappadocia during 2010 and 2011. I was simply impressed! Incredible terrain, great hospitality and friendly people - that is my impression.

Of all the maps you saw, which one did you wish that had been made by you?

J. D. - Wow, this is very difficult question. I have no idea. But I will tell you about another wish that I have. As you mentioned above, mapping is quite lonely work but I really enjoy cooperating with colleagues from other countries. Successful international cooperation is what I really like it; it has a very positive feeling indeed. So everyone who is interesting about cooperation is welcome!

Until when are we going to see you making maps?

J. D. - This is much easier to answer for me: whilst O-clubs, regions or O-federations still have an interest in my cartographic service, whilst I am still healthy enough to survive in a forest and whilst there is still a consensus in my family accepting that I am away from our sweet home from time to time...

Enjoy your sport!

[Photo by Jiří Daněk. To know more about Jiří Daněk, please see www.orienteeringmaps.eu and www.facebook.com/orienteeringmaps.eu]

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, January 25, 2013

NAOM 2013: Seven... and go!




Nisa prepares to host the 7th edition of NAOM, Norte Alentejano O' Meeting. The prestigious event returns to the place were it was born, with the same spirit: welcoming more than 800 participants!


Famous for its pottery and tasty cheese, the village of Nisa franchises, once again, its doors to Orienteering. The Norte Alentejano O' Meeting returns to one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal, revisiting the iconic places of the inaugural edition, back in 2007. Comprising two stages of Middle Distance and one Night Sprint (extra-competition), the event promises to draw a number of participants up to eight hundred, including close to three hundred from outside Portugal, representing twenty countries.

Organized jointly by the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, the Municipality of Nisa and the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, the NAOM 2013 will take place on the first weekend of February, opening a cycle of major events. In the Schoolar Sports, the event is part of the qualifying series for the ISF World Schools Championships Orienteering 2013, which will take place in the Algarve, from 15th to 21st April. It is also the start of the Foot-O's National Cup - Level 1. Finally, in the international field, it's part of the three World Ranking Events, preceding the journeys of Idanha-a-Nova and Pombal, in two immediate weekends.


''Back to Nisa is always a thrill! ..''

Event Director from the first moment, Fernando Costa appeals to his memories and tell us how everything started: "In 2004, Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos organized in Nisa the National Championships of Sprint and Relay. There was an excellent relationship with the local authority and the event went very well," he explains. By then, it was urgent to find a place for the annual application to the National Cup and the solution of the problem was found. From there to the first NAOM was a brief step: "In the preparation, I remember the great floods because it was an incredible winter, good level of participants, the presence of the runner Fernando Mamede as ambassador and the discovery of Orienteering by Joaquim Margarido'', says Fernando Costa, reviving some moments.

«Back to Nisa is always a thrill! …", continues Costa, whose family is originally from a little village of the county (Amieira do Tejo). Indeed, "this fact was important in this choice, as I consider this as my region, despite not being born here," he says. But Orienteering cannot cover just one municipality, hence the name 'Norte Alentejano O' Meeting' have been adapted to an entire region, being since then an intermunicipal project. After having been disputed in Castelo de Vide, Alter do Chão, Crato, Portalegre and Marvão, the NAOM returns to its roots, opening a new cycle full of promise and hope for the future: "In my opinion this region will live of their Tourism of Nature. We want Orienteering to be part of this larger project which is the InMotion: Alentejo Tourism and Sustainability", Costa says.


"Difficult to repeat!"

Reviewing the six previous editions, Fernando Costa admits that "with more or less difficulty, all organizations have its big moments. Despite the editions of 2007, 2010 and 2011 having been scoring for the World Ranking, they all leave us pleasant memories because in all of them we knew new people, highly professionals and with a major sense of responsibility." But, if he had to choose the most remarkable moment... "it would be the WRE of the Entre-Ribeiras' map, in 2011, by the place and the athletes present. Difficult to repeat! "

To an athlete who had been in Nisa in 2007 and only now returns to NAOM, Fernando Costa enumerates the differences that he will find: "The program is very similar to 2007, with the difference that both races are of Middle Distance, the Cartography has a very different criteria and the terrain of WRE race escape a bit to the usual, having a little slope and being extremely fast. But the spirit of the event and the region will have the same motto: welcoming the participants!


Dmitriy Tsvetkov and Maja Alm, the stars

With the entries closed, the participation rate stayed slightly below the expectations. Fernando Costa confesses: "We aimed to reach the thousand participants. This value was not achieved, but we can consider very good the number of entries for the event at the end of the first term of inscriptions – 823." In terms of big names, already signaled its presence in NAOM 2013 a total of 13 athletes in the world's top- 50. The Russians Dmitriy Tsevkov and Valentin Novikov, ranked, respectively, 8th and 10th, are headliners in the male sector. In the female sector, the stars come from Denmark, Maja Alm and Ida Bobach, ranked 10th and 11th.

But this ''short list'' also includes names such as the French Frédéric Tranchand (13th), Philippe Adamski (24th) and Amélie Chataing (24th), the Danes Emma Klingenberg (23th) and Tue Lassen (26th), the Russians Svetlana Mironova (33rd ) and Natalia Vinogradova (47th), Kiril Nikolov from Bulgaria (27th) and the Czech Vojtech Král (43th). From Spain comes the winner of the men's ranking in 2012, Antonio Martínez Pérez and the second places, Andreu Blanes Reig and Anna Serralonga Arqués. Brazil brings to Portugal its largest delegation ever, with a total of 18 athletes, among whom is the National Champion and South American Champion 2012, Mirian Pasturiza.


And to finish ...

A little over a week, it is still important to know what is done and what remains to be done. «Some passages in a few fences, a work that is only possible to run even at the last minute", says Fernando Costa, adding "the printing of maps and - of course! - assemble the logistics structure in the day before the event." Finally, a wish: that "the participants, when they finish their races, feel comfortable returning to the 2014 edition, in Castelo de Vide.''


To know all about NAOM 2013, see the webpage on http://www.gd4caminhos.com/en/naom2013.

Joaquim Margarido


[Sponsorized by Orievents and SERI]



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Riina Kuuselo: "[New Zealand]... a wonderful experience"




This time, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog follows Riina Kuuselo and the start of her season. Here we talk about Portugal, Finland and New Zealand, "a wonderful experience".


The season started in New Zealand with the World Cup's first round. Was it too late for such an important event or every occasion is fine to compete?

Riina Kuuselo (R. K.) - It was a bit strange to run the World Cup in the middle of winter in Europe; otherwise, it was a wonderful experience and the races were very well organized. I was really happy to be part of it.

Talking about New Zealand, how did you feel?

R. K. - It was my first time in New Zealand. It's an exotic country, with its volcanic and geothermal areas, but the terrains where we ran weren't that different from Europe. Sand dunes are found in many countries and the last World Cup event, on open hills, reminded me of Wales. The organization was relaxed but they put together excellent events with really good courses.

Were the results what you expected?

R. K. - I was just recovering from an injury and hadn't orienteered for a while so my expectations weren't that high. But it was nice to see that I wasn't totally out of shape. I had hoped to get a few top 10 places, which I didn't achieve, but I was nevertheless pleased to make it twice among top 15 (12th and 15th). It was very good, considering where I came from.

I'm going to «steal» the question to Jan Kocbach and I would like to know what do you think about the chasing start format? Is this the future format of orienteering?

R. K. - Oh, I really hope that chase start will not be the future of orienteering (I wouldn't want to see it in WOC program) but I think it's okay to have it once in a while in the World Cup. I know that many orienteers don't like it at all, but I understood it was really entertaining and exciting for the crowds. It favors, of course, strong runners but everyone needs to gain their starting place by orienteering well in the prologue. It's a way to make orienteering more sexy & visible.

What's next in your agenda? Portugal?

R. K. - I have just decided to come to Portugal and run both POM and MOC, like many others. I have very good memories from the first edition of NAOM and that's why I keep coming back to Portugal :)

For the first time ever, we'll have in Portugal three major races (WRE) in three consecutive weekends. What's your opinion?

R. K. - I think it's very good and they seem to attract many orienteers all over Europe. They are great events and many Scandinavians want to escape winter and travel to south to be able to orienteer. When some of the races are WRE events it makes them even more attractive.

Finally, the big competition of the year will take place in your country. What WOC can we expect?

R. K. - I'm sure WOC in Vuokatti will be a great event in every aspect. It's very beautiful there and it's the best time of the year to go there. For me, as an athlete, it's a wonderful opportunity to have WOC in my home country.

And what about yourself? Do you think it's possible to repeat 2010 and be there representing your country?

R. K. - I really hope I will make it to the Finnish team. It's my biggest dream to be able to compete there.

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, January 20, 2013

EYOC 2013: Portugal between the five applications to organize the event




The European Working Group (EWG) has decided, for safety reasons, to withdraw Israel of the organization of the European Youth Orienteering Championships EYOC 2013. The new application's process started immediately and now the International Orienteering Federation has announced the new batch of five candidates for the organization of the competition: Hungary, Italy, Poland, Serbia and ... Portugal!


In its page - http://orienteering.org/five-applications-to-organise-eyoc-2013/ - the International Orienteering Federation has announced the list of applications to organize EYOC 2013, between which is Portugal. After the World School Sports Orienteering Championships ISF, to be held in the Algarve next April, and the World Masters MTB Orienteering Championships / World Cup MTB Orienteering, which will take place in the Alentejo Coast in October, portuguese orienteering opens a new international front.

Augusto Almeida, President of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, said to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog that the idea for this application "came immediately after we learn that Israel would not organize the EYOC 2013, either for security in the region, whether by poor adherence manifested by the European countries."

"This is a winning application, so the IOF decide to give us the event," says Augusto Almeida, basing its belief in a substantive number of strengths: "Interesting terrais, proximity to the Lisbon International Airport, adequate infrastructure - the central issue is the limitation that forces costs to have a low cost accommodation – and good quality maps, which in the past five years have not received competitions."


Event Center designed to Foz do Arelho

The responsible for the Portuguese Orienteering Federation recalls that "the fact that we are near the beach is certainly an advantage," since the event is designed for the western region, based in Foz do Arelho. "In this area, we have the INATEL's Holiday Centre for the accommodation and Event Center, which can be complemented by the Alfeizerão's Youth Hostel and several other solutions. This aspect will be better positioned than proposals that presents the accommodation in military barracks, for example. Regarding the maps, they can go from Peniche, Óbidos and Caldas da Rainha to the terrains of WMOC'08", concludes.

The issue of timings (31st October to 3rd November), immediately after the World Masters / World Cup MTBO doesn't seem to be a concern for Augusto Almeida: "Not at all. We have the human resources in quantity and quality to hold the event which is estimated to involve about 350 to 400 young people." Based on his optimism is, among other important and motivating aspects, "the enthusiastic response of the local authorities contacted to ensure the availability of the project."


Decision will be published in February

Asked to comment on the fact that Hungary, Italy, Poland and Serbia being our 'rivals' in the EYOC 2013's organization race, Augusto Almeida replied: "I think that the initial idea of IOF was to invite only the countries who had compete when assigning the EYOC'14 and were unsuccessful. After that, it was decided to open the applications to the European universe. It is a good sign to know that there are five countries available to organize such an important event in about ten months, so we can only wait for the decision and, in the case of being chosen, to start immediately the conduction of the project as planned."

The decision is now in the hands of the European Working Group and the final verdict will be announced on the first week of February. Until then, we can only wait.

[Photo of the Obidos Lagoon and Foz Arelho, extracted from the Blog ''The Third Dimension - Aerial Photography'', in http://portugalfotografiaaerea.blogspot.pt/]

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marco Giovannini: Trail Orienteering with mind... and heart



Maybe he hasn't the projection or the media attention of the top athletes in the international Orienteering scene but he is, on his way, a distinct personality in the small world of Trail Orienteering. Dedicated athlete and passionate blogger, Marco Giovannini is one of the big names in the promotion of this as interesting as challenging discipline and he is our guest today.


I hesitate between you and your blog for the first question, but let's leave the 'creature' for later and take a look now on the 'creator'. Who is Marco Giovannini?

Marco Giovannini (M. G.) - Joaquim, the first words are for you: your guests are usually great orienteers or personalities of Orienteering’s World, whereas I’m one of the many people who lives orienteering like an entertainment. I was born 45 years ago in Trento (among the mountains) and I have been living in Milan since 1990 (among the buildings). I discovered orienteering 23 years ago and during this time I often travelled in Europe to take part in many competitions (O-Ringen, WMOC in Portugal, 5 Days of France,…).

How was your passion for Trail Orienteering born?

M. G. - In 2008, during a multidays of Orienteering in Asiago, I entered in a competition of Trail Orienteering (TrailO for friends); immediately I liked it because my brain often needs new challenges. TrailO was the perfect discipline because I walked alone in the forest with my thoughts, listening to the birds’ sound and the nature’s aroma. The result of my first competition was DISQ because I didn’t wait for my turn at time controls (I remembered a long queue of competitors in the middle of competition).

Have you ever organized or planned a competition?

M. G. - Yes, here (http://www.trailo.it/Gare.asp?ID_MANIFESTAZIONE=20) you can find all the news. I remember that, one year before the competition, I went on terrain in the same week of the year to study vegetation and natural light and, I thought, the controls; I was the last one to use four different time control places! I have explained it in a separate document for competitors, how you could solve every control; this was not appreciated and after that experience I lost my passion due to not competent people. Sometimes I wouldn’t find the same diligence in other competitions and this has created discontent in the movement. In 2013 I’ll help my team to organize OOCup of TrailO (Slovenia); I can say the terrain is very suitable for my style of planning and my friends are waiting for this competition to solve my controls.

And what about your results?

M. G. - Only this season I begun to train my Trail Orienteering skills; in the past years, I used the competitions to improve my experience. Despite that, sometimes I have got on the podium; I had the bronze medal at ITOC 2010 (in 2012, I was 4th but I couldn’t win the title because my club is Slovenian), sometimes I won Italy cup rounds….. but the result is not all! After a competition and before to see the classification, I ask to myself: “Are you happy? Have you done your best?”. My personal philosophy is to enjoy myself after a week of work, to challenge the planner’s problems, to find new stimulus, to meet the TrailO friends. I hope that some of your readers, after this interview, will spend some time to taste Trail Orienteering.

What do you see that is so appealing in Trail Orienteering?

M. G. - I believe that you make a big mistake if you think that Foot Orienteers are attracted to TrailO; usually, a runner likes the fatigue, the strain, he trains his body to run faster and faster. TrailO is a discipline for people who want to use their brain, to overtake their mental limit, to win a match without physical skills; I compare it to chess, cards or puzzles. When I stay two hours in a park or in a forest, I come back very happy, relaxed, until I see the solutions: in that moment, my answers find the official decisions and sometimes I don't agree with them.

In March 2010 you've create the 'trail-O', a blog that appeared immediately as "a meeting point for all those who see themselves on this discipline." Can you tell me something about this adventure?

M. G. - In 2007 I created a blog (http://mary-marco.blogspot.it) where I wrote my adventures after every competition; I closed it when my dog Rusky died (Rusky is my nickname too). When I began to play with TrailO, I searched for news, rules, experiences but all material was scattered in internet’s world. So I thought to create a web site where I would have put all news. Unfortunately, like in a small family, somebody in Italy didn’t like it because they saw this site like a competitor and not like an useful vehicle to expand this discipline.

Do you want to make us a 'guided tour' through your blog?

M. G. - Before I explain how my site works, I want to tell you that my next task is to restyle some pages of www.trailo.it. Here, I want to thank two friends of mine: the webmaster and my teacher (Giuseppe Russo) and the interviewer (Stefano Galletti). The site was born to help the Italian newcomers in the TrailO world. After some years I have to admit that my readers are more foreigner than Italian people; so, since last year, I decided to write in English rather than in Italian. I have a “News” page where I write some news about competitions or other interesting events; “Rules” is a page dedicated to the rules about ISSOM, guidelines, ranking formula, symbols. “Competition” is a box where I put the results of Italian competitions (in 2012 I stopped this work because it’s not appreciated);”Ranking” is similar to previous page but the results are Italian ranking or Italy cup final classification. “Stories” explain, in Italian language, a typical competition of PreO for beginners; on the right side there are some interviews to great European athletes. The last page contains some links to others PreO blogs or websites. After the restyling, I think of inserting the “TempO Game” and a database of international competitions (World Champs, European Champs).

You've mentioned 'TempO Game'. What is it, precisely?

M. G. - During these years, my passion about my site has decreased because my efforts weren’t appreciated; The “TempO Game” is a new idea for my free time: to study computer language and to create a game for my friends. I remembered Libor’s site (http://www.yq.cz/trail-o/TempO/): the problem was to find real tasks, maps, competitions. I have decided to create new games: if I find a good place, I use it to build a new task… I draw a map using the photo; I don’t use the real scale because the picture is too small for a scaled map. TempO is a discipline where the mental speed is the primary skill; for this reason I'd rather highlight the objects visible in the photo. The tasks are a mixture of TrailO situations: I don’t want to create too difficult tasks because the stress of the clock (near the image) is enough to make a mistake. When I begin the game’s creation, I didn’t suppose how many people would have played and their level of tempO’s knowledge. The first step was to create only four games to test this idea; now my passion has grown and I put on 20 games. I invite everybody to try the game – at http://www.trailo.it/Presentazione.asp - and to send me their opinions; after this “beta test” version, I work on the final game. My idea is to organize some competitions on line. You have asked me “what is it?”: to solve some tasks as fast as possible without mistakes….and then to compare your score to the best elite Trail Orienteers! I’m very happy because the Norwegian Federation has linked the game on its site: more than 300 Norwegian people have played in the first week of the year!

I must ask you, based on your personal experience: TempO or TrailO?

M. G. - I compare these disciplines with Foot Orienteering: TempO is like the Sprint, TrailO is like Long Distance. I like TrailO because, after a week of my job (in office), I need to walk and to relax in the nature; TrailO is a myriad of thoughts, solutions, hypothesis: your brain has to choose the right answers using the sight, geometry. I like tempO because it’s intuition, adrenaline, mental training to decide fast; it’s just the reverse of TrailO! TempO is the real discipline where everybody (elite, paralympic) plays starting on the same level. In my opinion, younger Trail Orienteers like the TempO discipline because they love exciting games and their brain seems to help them. The limit of TrailO is the leveling of competitors: often, the final result is decided after time controls!

How do you see the current moment of the Trail Orienteering all over the world?

M. G. - I believe that Trail Orienteering is a young discipline and it’ll continue to change every year; it was born for Paralympic people but year after year the Open Class became larger; some years ago, the Trail Orienteering movement was only a large family. Now, new countries have discovered this discipline and the old rules are obsolete because terrains, local rules, different type of planning have created new situations. I hope the new generation of Trail Orienteers (Marit, Lauri, Antii, Martin, etc…) is able to bring new ideas to attract other young athletes. I know that a Commission is working on technical rules: this work is very important because old rules are not clear for the same situations (for example: I have never understood why single contour line excludes some kites in the real reentrance or spur). Otherwise, it’s not easy to involve new paralympic people: in Italy we only have three paralympic people: I have spoken with some disabled people but the equation “Disable = TrailO” is wrong! These people think like the common people and it’s difficult to find somebody who wants to travel for a TrailO competition…

Italy, Croatia and Slovenia formed a very interesting and dynamic regional block. Is this an attempt in order to create an alternative to the Nordic hegemony?

M. G. - I think this cooperation was born spontaneously because North-East Italy’s Regions, Slovenia and Croatia are close on the map: instead of creating three micro TrailO’s schedules, these Countries have organized an interesting Trophy. In the last period, I have often travelled to Slovenia and now my Club is Ok Trzin (Slovenia). Be careful: behind the words “Slovenia” and “Croatia” there isn’t a large movement, but some small clubs. The number of competitions is not yet adequate to create an interesting activity. I wait for the multidays competitions: in the past summer, I stayed in Czech Republic for 5 days and then a week later in Slovenia, for 3 days! After these competitions my feeling about TrailO’s practice has improved.

Italy will receive, in 2014, the World Trail Orienteering Championships but, before that, in Portugal, we'll have the European Championships. To finish this Interview, I ask you a preview of the two events.

M. G. - The approval of competitors is often the key of success; for this reason is very important to choose the right planners and to draw good maps. In 2008 I stayed in Portugal to run WMOC; it has been a good experience to run in beautiful forests and to visit the Country. I think you and your Federation could show your quality. In Italy I don't have news about planners or terrains where the competition will be. I believe that the Italian movement has good individuality to manage the WTOC but often political interest ruins these opportunities. My favorite planner is Guido Michelotti but I don’t know if he’s the planner of PreO; I call some of his controls “Upper level” because nobody is able to teach this type of controls.

[Photo by Marco Giovannini]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, January 14, 2013

World Cup 2013: Tove Alexandersson shines in New Zealand




The World Cup 2013 started in New Zealand and the Swedish and Swiss power came on top in the three stages of the opening round. Among the achievements of the competition, there is one name that stands out above all the others: Tove Alexandersson!


In Great Britain or in Portugal, the term “Antipodes" is often used to refer to Australia and New Zealand, and "Antipodeans" to their inhabitants. It's a word that comes from the Greek, meaning literally "foot opposites" (people who inhabit the antipodes would walk "with their feet growing out of their heads, pointing upward"). It was precisely for the Antipodes, in this case for New Zealand, who headed many top world orienteers, looking for the opening round of the World Cup 2013.

The reward of a particularly long and tiring journey would come in the way of ten days of competition, three of them at the highest level, with the dispute of the first stages of the World Cup. The remaining days would be a 'Carnival', with sun, beach, stunning sceneries and even more races, in a program with everything to please everyone.


Simone Niggli out

We have to go back to 2000 to see the opening round of the World Cup appear on the calendar outside the traditional months of May and June. In that year, the competition pluck in Japan on April 15th, following to Australia, to end there more to the middle of October, in Portugal. In 2005 the World Cup would return to the country of the Rising Sun, to the WOC. And we have to wait eight more years to see the competition leaving Europe again, this time in a particularly early period in the season.

This is perhaps the reason for the absence of a significant number of top elite runners. With the major targets aimed for July and the WOC in Vuokatti (Finland), the French Thierry Gueorgiou (3rd in the world ranking) and Frédéric Tranchand (13th), the Russians Dmitriy Tsvetkov (8th) and Valentin Novikov (10th), the Latvian Edgars Bertuks (11th) or the British Scott Fraser (13th), preferred to maintain their regular training programs, whose coordinates pointed, mainly, to Portugal, with Training Camps and the three World Ranking Events in the next month of February. In the women class, things came up differently, and among the first 12 athletes in the World Ranking, the only absent was the super-champion Simone Niggli, throwing for the secondary plan a competition that she won for eight times in the last ten editions.


Hertner and Jansson, the first winners

The Middle Distance race, on Manga Pirau map at Waikawa Beach, opened the hostilities. Sandy terrains and a lavishly detailed micro-relief were the perfect test to the technical and physical qualities of 111 athletes (62 men and 49 women). In men class, the Swiss Fabian Hertner reached his third victory in a World Cup stage, spending 32:58 for 5.3 km of race, less 0:57 and 1:33 than the Swedes Johan Runesson and Jerker Lysell, respectively 2nd and 3rd. The Swedish and the Swiss, who monopolize the top eight places, mostly by the fault of the Norwegian Olav Lundanes and a completely needless 'missing point', blocking a clear victory to the World Champion of Long Distance.

In the women class, the Swedish Helena Jansson was the most regular, returning to the victories in the World Cup a year and a half after his triumph in the Middle Distance final at WOC France 2011. Jansson finished the 4.3 kilometers of its course in 33:31, with the Danish Ida Bobach being second and the Russian Tatyana Riabkina being 3rd, with more 1:23 and 1:50, respectively.


Matthias Kyburz, of course!

The second stage of the World Cup, took place in the gardens of New Zealand's Parliament and the Governor's house, in Wellington. Disputed in the morning, the qualifying series of the Sprint showed again a Fabian Hertner in excellent shape, taking place with the Swedish Tove Alexandersson on top of the list of forty male and female athletes who reached the final. Final in which Alexandersson had to give her best, beating the Swedish Annika Billstam for barely three seconds, 19:32 to 19:35 of her compatriot. The NZ Lizzie Ingham, one of the leading Sprint experts and ranked 9th in the last WOC in Lausanne, gave to their hosts a moment of joy, finishing in the third place, just twelve seconds after the winner.

As in the women class, also the male winner, the Swiss Matthias Kyburz, stood well beyond the fifteen minutes recommended for a competition with these characteristics. The World Champion of Sprint and winner of the World Cup 2012 overall, won comfortably in 17:52, with his compatriots Matthias Merz and Matthias Muller in the third and fourth positions, respectively, with further 38 and 49 seconds to the winner. This fantastic trio - the “Mathiases” -, was broken by the Swedish Jerker Lysell, with a time of 18:27 and the corresponding second place.


The 'bis' of Tove Alexandersson

The opening round of the World Cup 2013 had its epilogue in the sandy map of Rotonui, near Puketapu, in Hawke's Bay. The course was held in an unusual format, the Start Chasing - in fact, over the past twelve editions of the World Cup, this model has only been used three times and all of them in Norway (O-Festivalen 2008 and 2009 and NORT 2011) - with a prologue bonified for the winners. The decisive race was a Middle Distance which consecrated the Swedish athletes Tove Alexandersson and Jerker Lysell.

In the female sector, Tove Alexandersson seized the best time in the prologue and the resulting bonus to start with an advantage of 38 seconds over the Finnish Minna Kauppi and 2:11 over the Norwegian Anne Margrethe Hausken-Nordberg. Although pressed by her more directly opponents, Alexandersson would manage to keep the first position throughout the race, concluding with the time of 37:09. Anne Margrethe Hausken-Nordberg would change places with Minna Kauppi, staying in the second place 1:23 up to winner, while the Finnish would be ranked third with a gap of 1:43 to Tove Alexandersson.


Clash of titans

Peter Oberg would be the first to start in Men Class, with an advantage of 31 seconds over Fabian Hertner, 53 seconds over Olav Lundanes and 1:14 over Jerker Lysell. A sequence of small mistakes and hesitations relegate Oberg and Hertner to a secondary plan, showing Lundanes and Lysell fighting hard for the victory. As for the Women Class, the Swedish prevailed over the Norwegian with 40:33 against 40:38, thanks to a tip end absolutely overwhelming. This was the third victory of Jerker Lysell in a World Cup stage. Oberg would have to settle for third place, 41 seconds after the winner.

The World Cup 2013 has now a long pause, only to return on the first day of June, with a Sprint on Norwegian soil, included in the Nordic Orienteering Tour. Learn more about the opening round and its developments at http://news.worldofo.com/ or watch the event webpage at http://www.oceania2013.co.nz/.

[Photos by Jan Kocbach, at www.worldofo.com]

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thierry Gueorgiou: "We can always learn something with anyone"




Thierry Gueorgiou is in Portugal preparing himself for the coming challenges and the Portuguese Orienteering Blog went to meet him. After a frustrating season, the French athlete bets on "turning it up" and points out the major goals for 2012.


The first days of the year you are spending them in Portugal. How are things going?

Thierry Gueorgiou (T. G.) - Since the end of 2012 I'm training in Portugal and I will stay here for a period of 20 days. My "map" covers several areas, from the sandy terrains along the coast of Figueira da Foz, the mountais of the last Portugal O' Meeting, in Viseu, and also a few days in the Alto Alentejo. So far, everything is going fine and for the first time after my fatigue fracture, I am able to train regularly 30 hours a week.

In the beginning of the season, how do you manage your trainings? Is it more the technical way or you dedicate mainly to the physical aspects?

T. G. - I have always considered that, as an orienteer, my main goal should lie in improving my technique and that is my priority all the time. I felt a little frustrated seeing so much snow in Sweden and therefore took the direction of Southern Europe to continue to work on my technique. Initially, I had planned to stay one week per month in the South, but finally I end up staying for three weeks, at least in January and February, trying to escape the snow.

It was very interesting to see you in the photo of Miguel Reis e Silva [see HERE], after a night training. Do you want to tell me something about this training and your occasional companions?

T. G. - We did together a night course and a 2-men relay. It was a real pleasure to train with them and my trainings are always open to all enthusiasts of Orienteering. A month ago I trained in Alicante with Chris Terkelsen, Andreu Blanes, Antonio Martinez and others. This is particularly rewarding since I like to see how they prepare themselves, how they heating, how they focus. Although the Orienteering and the training methods may be too standardized nowadays, we can always note some interesting regional and cultural differences. And we can always learn something with anyone.

If we walk a year back, we see a Thierry Gueorgiou full of strength and confidence, preparing a season promising the greatest success. 2012 is a year to forget or a year to remember?

T. G. - The last year, my winter season was very good, perhaps one of the best ever. In terms of results, the beginning of the season was also really promising, but everything started to fall apart a few days before Tiomila, when I started feeling a pain in the tibia. Unfortunately, in this time of the season, it's always very difficult to slow down with the prospect of the important events approaching. The rest of the time was very frustrating, it seemed that I fought without my weapons. A season without a title of World Champion has always been seen by me as a failed season, but I always found in it, also, an incredible source of energy for the coming season. I fully share the view that "defeat is innovative, victory is conservative." We'll see if that is the case this season.

Speaking of athletes that marked 2012, we can see Simone Niggli and Matthias Kyburz, of course, but also names such as Edgars Bertuks and the youngsters Matt Ogden and Emily Kemp. How do you see this "mini-revolution" of the smaller countries?

T. G. - This is something really positive for our sport. Orienteering should grow up and globalize itself, and it's exciting to see new flags on the podium. It is worth saying, again, that the desire to achieve something and the attitude are more important than everything else, including the place where someone else lives.

Following a curious exercise by Jiri Danek, I dare myself to ask you who would be the entity (individual, club) worthy of "The Achievement of the Year 2012" if we would extend the contest to the entire universe of Orienteering and not only to the athletes?

T. G. - I'm not sure who would assign the prize, since there are many who certainly deserve it. Jan Prochazka, in the last leg of the Czech Relay at WOC, is perhaps one of the most deserving because, at that moment, he went beyond his own limits, transcending himself absolutely in the moment that really counted. However, finally, I give it to all cartographers worldwide who, alone in the forest, build the works of art that give us the greatest pleasure in practicing our sport.

You will end your stay in Portugal soon, but I know that you will return for the Portugal O' Meeting. What does this competition mean to you and what do you expect from this POM?

T. G. - The Portugal O 'Meeting will be my first competition of the year and this is always something very special. Maybe last year I was already in great shape by this time, too early I guess. This year I will try to be a little more patient and base my season better. But the Portugal O 'Meeting is one of my favorite events, I believe that the terrains this year will be very interesting, so I will try to do good performances.

What are the major goals of the season that starts now? Will this be your last season?

T. G. - I'll focus on the World Championships' Middle Distance and the O-Ringen. But there are also other events in which I will try to do my best. I don't know yet if this will be my last season. I really like this way of life and I know that it will be very hard to stop. Let's see!

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Tobias Breitschädel: "I got better fast"




Originally a runner, a double victory in the ISF World Schools Orienteering Championships 1993 in Belgium seemed to open the doors to a successful career. But injuries came one after another and, four knee operations later, his ambitions of in Foot Orienteering were completely destroyed. Then in 2006 he changed to MTBO and the big goals reappeared. Meet Tobias Breitschädel, the new World Champion of Sprint.


We all know that “time is money”. With Tobias Breitschädel, two single seconds were enough for a taste of gold. A nail-biting wait at the finish, that's for sure!

Tobias Breitschädel (T. B.) – Certainly! To tell the truth, waiting in the finish while you are currently leading a World Championship race is not nice, especially when lots of competitors ride the same speed as you do and you are watching them on live tracking. Marek Pospisek's brutally fast sprint to the finish line nearly made my heart stop beating, but I managed to punch the finish control faster than him. But compared to last year, when I had to wait more than two hours to be sure about my bronze medal, this gold was quite "pleasant" to wait for.

For someone who hadn't expected to win a race in the World Championships, this was really a “dream goal”. So after winning the race, we could see Tobias pinching himself, scarcely believing that his dream had become reality. But “the show must go on”...

T. B. – Very tricky was the fact that, the next day, there was another race. I was totally divided between celebrating and really enjoying what I had just achieved, and proper preparation for the Middle Distance on the next day which, actually, was supposed to be my “target race”, where I thought I'd have the biggest chances. In fact, this preparation really kicked me out of enjoying the gold in an appropriate way. Even our first ever medal in the Relay (bronze) was covered with the preparation for the Long Distance. It might sound a bit weird - “suffering on a high level”, we call it in Austria -, but when you take the things seriously and you do everything to reach good results, you don't have the time to celebrate a medal within a WOC week.

Tobias's first World Championship was five years ago, in Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic. Since then it has been preparation for “the big moment”: a time full of hard races, fun times and some frustration. At the end, the question is: How do you prepare to be a world champion?

T. B. – In my opinion, there is no recipe for how to become a world champion. Maybe the only thing that all champions can tell you is that you have to be ready when it counts, and not be afraid of losing. To be ready means having the best possible physical and mental shape at that specific day or period. That's what you learn during the years: How your body reacts to different kinds of training and how the months, weeks, days before an important race should look like. In my particular case, my time came when I found out that I am actually a better biker than runner, regarding my physical abilities. I got better fast but my biggest advantage was my orienteering skills from Foot-O, which helped me a lot. This was crucial in the gold medal race, which I didn't find very difficult. But if you ask me what is most important to prepare a world champion, I would say two things: “never give up” and “do it 100%”.

Looking back at this season, absolutely nothing pointed to the gold medal. A tooth injury culminated in an operation and an absolute training ban for almost three weeks, Tobias was extremely frustrated seeing his condition going steadily downhill. And he couldn't do anything about it.

T. B. – I missed the World Cup races in the Czech Republic and after that it was too hard to get back in shape because nothing “fitted” anymore. After the World Cup in Poland, I fell in a very deep hole motivation-wise. Work, family and training got hard to coordinate and extremely stressful. Honestly, I even wanted to stop my career. During a training session alongside the River Danube I couldn't define my goal for 2012 any more. World Champion? It was anything but realistic. I believed then that my Middle Distance bronze medal in 2011 was the peak of my career. I had no goals to fight for anymore. I actually stopped my bike and wanted to turn back home to let it be and then, suddenly, my goal popped up: four diplomas in Hungary. That's it. It sounded realistic, so I got new motivation and power not to give up, to subordinate everything to that goal and to “do it”.

This was a historic title for Austrian MTB Orienteering. For orienteers in general but especially for an Austrian MTB orienteer, it's impossible not to think of Michaela Gigon and in her seven gold medals. And Tobias certainly doesn't put aside the possibility that this is the first of many titles.

T. B. – I hope so, I'll do my best. I know there will be ups and downs but in the end, at least, I want to say that I have tried everything to win more medals and titles. But it was not only my title that was special; also the Relay medal together with Kevin Haselsberger and Bernhard Schachinger was historic for us, the first one ever for Austrian men at a World Championships. Our goal now is to win the gold in the Relay. We have the potential and the will to do it!

[Photo by Tobias Breitschädel]

Joaquim Margarido