Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tove Alexandersson: "The first thing I think every morning is what I have to do to become a better orienteer"

Simone Niggli defined her as “the girl to beat” in the future, but she doesn't seem to bother too much about it. From victory to victory, Tove Alexandersson puts the pressure on their opponents and eventually becomes the most serious candidate for the world female orienteering's sceptre, after the goodbye of the Swiss champion.

Tove Alexandersson was one year old when she made her first orienteering course. From that “miniknat” to the victory in the 10th stage of the World Cup Orienteering Ski last Sunday, goes a triumphal way that outputs in four silver medals in the Foot-O World Championships and 2nd place in the IOF's World Ranking, in addition to two world titles in Ski-Orienteering and currently the second place in the respective World Cup 2013-2014, only five points behind the leadership.

“Foot-orienteering is the most important discipline for me, but so far I feel that the ski-orienteering also makes me a better orienteer. I don't focus on ski-o during the orienteering season but I always focus on orienteering and do what I think is the best for me to be better”, says Tove about this subject.

I plan it by myself”

Leaving aside the Ski Orienteering, we focus on Foot-O and here comes the first big moment of our conversation. Can you define the moment, that “click” that led you to say: “That's it, that's my sport”, we ask. The answer, assertive, is ready: “I had always known that this was what I wanted to do!” To talk about the highest or the lowest moment of her (yet short) career is something that leaves Tove a little uncomfortable. “I don't know, I have so many good memories - and some bad ones -, but I don't like to compare them to each other”, she says.

Now, we speak about the training process and Tove surprises me again saying: “I don't have any technical or physical coach, I plan it by myself”. Having always been good technically, she focused her attentions mostly on the physical part in the last years, but refers that “I focus much on both”. She can't say that she has a typical training week: “My training weeks look very different because I'm quite often away on training camps (skiing or orienteering) and competitions. But during the winter I usually have two competitions, 3-4 high speed sessions, 2-4 long sessions and some shorter ones, depending on how many trainings I have left”, she says.

For the one who is, at the start, the big favourite to the victory, dealing with the pressure is an often complicated matter. But not for Tove: “I don't think too much about it because it's not my problem. I don't care so much about what the others have for expectations.”

I want to be the best”

And so, we arrive to Vuokatti and to the two silver medals won in the recent World Orienteering Championships: “I'm really satisfied with my WOC overall, although I know that I would have been able to do even better. But I don't know if it had been enough for taking a gold medal”, Tove comments.

Talking about the goals for the season, the athlete shows herself somewhat elusive in their definition. “I don't have any goals like that. I want to be the best, but I have no goals for every single season. I always do what I can, to be as good as possible”, she concludes.

WOC is my main goal”

The interview heads the end and Portugal is an unavoidable topic of conversation because the European Championships will be held in Palmela, from 9th to 16th April. An event that Tove Alexandersson won't miss: “I have been in Portugal on two Training Camps and I really like the terrains”, she says. But the goals remains a mystery. Tove confesses: “I don't know, WOC is my main goal but I hope to be in good shape also for the EOC.”

The last words take the form of an advice, an advice especially to the youngsters, those who dream, someday, about becoming like Tove Alexandersson: “Be focused. The first thing I think every morning is what I have to do to become a better orienteer.”

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, January 27, 2014

NAOM 2014: The protagonists

 Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti), winner in Men Elite class

  Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK), 2nd in Men Elite class

  Philippe Adamski (Kalevan Rasti), 3rd in Men Elite class

  Baptiste Rollier (Kristiansand OK), 4th in Men Elite class

  Ionut Zinca (Farra-O), 5th in Men Elite class

  Amélie Chataing (Kalevan Rasti), winner in Women Elite class

  Anastasia Tikhonova (CSP Novgorod), 2nd in Women Elite class and winner of the Sprint WRE

  Emily Kemp (OK Linné), 3rd in Women Elite class

  Céline Dodin (Team AltecSport), 5th in Women Elite class

  Andreu Blanes (Colivenc), winner of the Sprint WRE

  Tiago Romão (ADFA), 12th in Men Elite class and best Portuguese

   Patrícia Casalinho (COC), 6th in Women Elite class and best Portuguese

   Fernando Costa (Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos), the Event Director

 Póvoa e Meadas dam, place of the two Middle Distance stages

Saudações orientistas.

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, January 26, 2014

NAOM 2014: All the Elite Maps

Middle Distance Day 1

WRE Sprint

Middle Distance Day 2

Joaquim Margarido

NAOM 2014: Gueorgiou and Chataing wins eighth edition

The victories in the final stage earned to the French Thierry Gueorgiou and Amélie Chataing the victory overall in the NAOM's eighth edition. In the beginning of a new season, more than six hundred athletes from fourteen countries showed their qualities and capabilities, taking advantage of the magnificent event organized in Castelo de Vide by the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos.

“To lose” is a verb which doesn't belong to Thierry Gueorgiou'e vocabulary, even if we are in the beginning of the season and winning be secondary. In castelo de Vide, Thierry Gueorgiou showed the reason why he is the IOF's World Ranking leader, recovering the 22 seconds of difference that separate him of Daniel Hubmann and he get the victory both in the stage and in the overall classification. Hubmann lost 45 seconds to the French and was second overall, while Philippe Adamski could save the third position, repeating the same place today, 1:19 behind the winner.

“I think I’m in pretty good shape but I was not very happy with the race yesterday and the small mistakes. In the evening I tried to analyse what had not gone particularly well and I did a more active orienteering today, a careful reading of the map, tried to better understand the terrain and the things eventually went better. The race today was much more challenging, more demanding from a technical point of view, requiring more careful reading and to anticipate the options”, said Thierry Gueorgiou after the race. But the season has only just begun: “We are at the beginning of the season and what really counts is to realize that I'm improving little by little after each race. At the time of the Mediterranean Championships and, then, at the Portugal O 'Meeting, I will really focus on the competition so that I can reach the European Championships, confident in the best results”, he said.

Resultados Elite Masculina
1º Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) 33:17
2º Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK) 34:02 (+0:45)
3º Philippe Adamski (Kalevan Rasti) 35:13 (+1:56)

Classificação final Elite Masculina
1º Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) 1:04:50
2º Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK) 1:05:13 (+0:23)
3º Philippe Adamski (Kalevan Rasti) 1:07:43 (+2:53)
4º Baptiste Rollier (Kristiansand OK) 1:09:29 (+4:39)
5º Ionut Zinca (Farra-O) 1:12:35 (+7:45)

Amélie succeeds to... Amélie

After the second place in the first stage, Amélie Chataing knew to recover from the disadvantage, beating Anastasia Tikhonova and winning NAOM's eighth edition. A victory that is a remake of the last edition, in Nisa, commented this way: “I am delighted with these two days of excellent competition. I was quite disappointed with my mistakes in yesterday's stage, but I'm pretty happy with the race today and with this victory. It was a physically demanding race, but I liked the course, the changes of direction and the orienteering challenge in areas with a lot of detail.” A final word to Portugal and to NAOM in particular: “A large number of maps, terrains with much quality and the best training conditions we can find at this time of year, this is what causes me to often come to Portugal. And also this weather. When it is so cold everywhere, it’s always very pleasant to find this sun and these temperatures. Winning the NAOM again in 2015? If the training and races schedule permits it, I would be glad to come back to the Norte Alentejano O' Meeting and, of course, to win.”

The Russian Anastasia Tikhonova ended second, 1:42 behind the winner, and was second in the overall results. Third placed today, at 3:37 to the winner, the Canadian Emily Kemp closed this year NAOM's podium.

Resultados Elite Feminina
1º Amélie Chataing (Kalevan Rasti) 32:11
2º Anastasia Tikhonova (CSP Novgorod) 33:53 (+1:42)
3º Emily Kemp (OK Linné) 35:48 (+3:37)

Classificação Final Elite Feminina
1º Amélie Chataing (Kalevan Rasti) 1:06:32
2º Anastasia Tikhonova (CSP Novgorod) 1:07:38 (+1:06)
3º Emily Kemp (OK Linné) 1:12:22 (+5:50)
4º Kristin Löfgren (Varegg IL) 1:12:33 (+6:01)
5º Céline Dodin (Team AltecSport) 1:14:38 (+8:06)

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, January 25, 2014

NAOM 2014: Blanes, a surprising winner

After the forest and the open spaces, NAOM's tribe moved towards the narrow and hilly streets of the historic town centre of Castelo de Vide, were the Urban Sprint took place. In a race as demanding as spectacular, Anastasia Tikhonova repeated the victory of this morning, while the male winner was, surprisingly, Andreu Blanes. They are the leaders of the “newcomer” World Ranking of Sprint.

Just four hours after the Middle Distance course, the russian Anastasia Tikhonova showed, again, her tremendous capabilities, winning the WRE Sprint course this afternoon in the labyrinthic town of Castelo de Vide. “Fast run and no mistakes, I feel good (laughs). The last part of the map was phisically more demanding, but I did only one little mistake that costs me, maybe, ten seconds. Sprint is the distance that I like the most, but I'm trying to improve my skills in Middle Distance and Long Distance”, said Tikhonova at the end. The Russian beated Céline Dodin and Amélie Chataing, both from France, by 1:08 and 1:42, respectively.

Results Women
1. Anastasia Tikhonova (CSP Novgorod) 13:52
2. Céline Dodin (AltecSport) 15:00 (+1:08)
3. Amélie Chataing (Kalevan Rasti) 15:34 (+1:42)

A victory out of the plans

After a good start this morning, Andreu Blanes showed why he is one of the best world specialists in Sprint, beating, although by a narrow margin, all the concurrence. For the Spanish, “this victory was out of my plans”. Analysing his race, he commented: “I felt strong during all the race and the truth is that I enjoyed a lot from the first to the last control. I like all the distances but it is maybe in Sprint that I get the best results. This is a very important victory for me, motivating myself to the big goals of the season, the biggest of all the World Championships but also the European Championships, in April, here in Portugal.” Frédéric Tranchand and Daniel Hubmann were second and third, spending four and ten seconds more than the winner, respectively.

Results Men
1. Andreu Blanes (Colivenc) 14:37
2. Frédéric Tranchand (Paimion Rasti) 14:41 (+0.04)
3. Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK) 14:47 (+0:10)

Joaquim Margarido

NAOM 2014: Daniel Hubmann wins the first stage

Daniel Hubmann claimed the victory this morning in Póvoa e Meadas dam, in the Middle Distance stage that openned the Norte Alentejano O' Meeting. Under a glorious sun, the terrains were an ongoing challenge to the most of six hundred competitors from fourteen countries.

“I missed about fifteen seconds at the second control but after that it was a good race. I push hard all the time – sometimes it was much about running - but I had a good flow, good legs and it was a pleasure to run the course under this fantastic conditions. It's good to get into the rhythm, after the winter break, and it's also good to feel the pressure again and try to perform well”, commented Daniel after the course. Thierry Gueorgiou was second, twenty seconds behind Hubmann, while Philippe Adamski was third, with the time of 32:30.

Results Men

1. Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK) 31:11
2. Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti) 31:33 (+0.22)
3. Philippe Adamski (Kalevan Rasti) 32:30 (+1:19)

Tikhonova shines in Póvoa e Meadas

Second placed in NAOM's last edition, Anastasia Tikhonova showed today her potential for take the victory this year, opening in the best way. “My feelings are not bad, but I did a lot of small mistakes on the second and third controls. After that, I could run well and it was good. I liked the terrains and it's very good to have this kind of competitions in the early season, demanding enough, giving you the possibility to run at a good speed”, Tikhonova said. Amélie Chataing finished second, 36 seconds behind the winner, while Kristin Löfgren was third, with 2:16 more than Anastasia Tikhonova.

Results Women

1. Anastasia Tikhonova (CSP Novgorod) 33:45
2. Amélie Chataing (Kalevan Rasti) 34:21 (+0:36)
3. Kristin Löfgren (Varegg IL) 36:01 (+2:16)

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ionut Zinca: "Being back in 2014 stronger than ever!"

The victory in the first edition makes Ionut Zinca forever linked to the history of the NAOM - Norte Alentejano O' Meeting. After a long time, the Romanian returns to Portugal, to an event for which he has a special affection. A season full of illusion is about to begin!

In 2011, in France, you reached the best position ever of a Romanian athlete in the World Orienteering Championships so far, with a fantastic 5th place in the Sprint. The following year, you still managed to get a presence in all the three individual finals in the WOC, in Lausanne, but since then you have almost eclipsed. What is the reason for your “disappearance”?

Ionut Zinca (I. Z.) - After the WOC 2012, things didn't go particularly well and I had to change my goals when I realized that the necessary support was not guaranteed by the Federation. I was expecting more in 2012, but I couldn't prepare myself well enough due to the lack of conditions and, thus, doing better was really difficult. In 2013 I didn't exactly disappear, but I was forced to stop for four months due to an injury. In April I still got a good set of results but in early May I injured myself again in Bulgaria and the result were three surgeries and one month in the hospital. On June 15th, I was back to training but the little time that separated me from the World Championships led to giving up the idea, eventually yielding my place and providing a young athlete the chance to compete in such a great event.

What do you feel when you are out of the forest?

I. Z. - Being outside of the competition is really bad, at least I live very badly with this situation. I always put Orienteering above all, it has always been my great passion. But the times have changed and I also end up having limitations. Now I have a family, other responsibilities and I am no longer the “niño loco” [“crazy guy”] who did everything he wanted, when he wanted .

This participation in the NAOM indicates that 2014 is a new year, a year to reappear at the highest level?

I. Z. - During all this time I have followed Orienteering very closely, with a single purpose in mind: being back in 2014 stronger than ever! At the moment I'm physically fine, I have not touched the maps too much, it is true, but hopefully, with specific training in the next two months, I believe that I can get the conditions to achieve my biggest goals.

Which are...?

I. Z. - The World Cup, the European Championship and the World Championships. Not too much! (laughs) But well, these are the plans and I'll see how I can be able to put them into practice. At the moment, the Romanian Federation doesn't give any support, which makes me particularly sad. Much of the money for the preparation and the competitions will have to come out of my pocket, but my wife and I have decided that it is worth trying one last time and do everything to achieve a good season. It is not easy to make decisions when the money coming into the household per month is a third of what I will need until my first participation in the World Cup, in Antalya. This is how you do sport in Romania. But I can also see a positive side on this, an extra motivation and the perspective of a handful of unforgettable moments .

You've mentioned the European Championships, which will take place in Portugal. Any particular expectations?

I. Z. - The European Championships are one of the “main dishes” of the season. I expect to reach the Championships in the best shape, but there are many aspects that may influence my preparation.

For the moment we have the NAOM, defining the beginning of the preparation. Why the NAOM?

I. Z. - The NAOM is special to me. Having represented, for a couple of seasons, the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, makes this an always particular event. I have an urge to go back to being with my Portuguese friends, since we haven't been together for a long time. The terrains are beautiful and this region is charming, with great food and incredibly kind people. And finally the quality of the courses and the organization in general, always attentive and available, dealing warmly with the participants, as usual with the organizations in Portugal. I would also like to say a word of thanks to the Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, to Fernando Costa and to Orievents for their support and for facilitating me all the information.

Would you like to leave a wish to all who will compete this weekend in Castelo de Vide?

I. Z. - I wish you enjoy the nature and the beautiful landscapes that Castelo de Vide offers.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mårten Boström: A moment, a comment...

This moment was full of joy. I have gotten the prize for all the hard & fun work I have done over the years, in the form of a perfect race at the most important day of the season.

Winning the gold medal meant a longtime dream came true, but performing at my best when it mattered the most was what makes it an orienteer's perfect day.

Around me you can see the feeling of both contenders, supporters and a part of the great team behind my performance.”

Mårten Boström, Finland
[2013.07.08 – The reaction after the announcement of the Sprint world title; World Orienteering Championships, Sotkamo, Finland]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NAOM 2014: Thierry Gueorgiou & Co. towards Alentejo

The focus is more on the performance itself and not in the final result”. This is how Thierry Gueorgiou sees his presence in Portugal, to compete next weekend in Castelo de Vide, in the eighth edition of NAOM - Norte Alentejano O 'Meeting. An important event, joining in Portugal some of the world's best specialists and counting until now 640 participants from 14 different countries.

This year the NAOM will celebrate its 8th edition. For the second time in the event's history, it is in Castelo de Vide that some of the best orienteers in the World will start the season. Beautiful terrains, challenging courses, spectacular moments and an organization attentive to the detail, explain for the most the NAOM's success towards the orienteer community. Organized by Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, the NAOM 2014 will be held in Castelo de Vide. The two forest stages, of Middle Distance, will take place in Póvoa e Meadas dam, while Castelo de Vide's town centre will host the the WRE urban Sprint. This year NAOM's terrains can be characterized as open land with scattered olive trees with several details of rocks and vegetation. The visibility as well as the runnability are generally very good, providing a full speed and challenging race.

First of the three training camps planned by Thierry Gueorgiou in Portugal this year, NAOM attracts the Frenchman's attentions for several reasons: “The Portuguese organizations, in general, have a great reputation nowadays and I am expecting an event to be also World class, in terms of terrains and courses”, he says. The main goal for NAOM is “to get a good feedback and see if my technique is working well at racing speed”, says the leader of the IOF's World Ranking, concluding: “The focus is more on the performance itself and not in the final result”. Another strong presence in Castelo de Vide is Daniel Hubmann. Placed second in the IOF's World Ranking, Daniel considers that “it's always nice to start competing again and I hope the races will be challenging”. “To work on the Middle Distance skills” seems to be the goal of the Swiss, concluding that “NAOM will be a good test, just at the end of the camp.”

As for the women, Anastasia Tikhonova is very well placed for taking the final victory. The Russian was one of the stars of the last edition, finishing 2nd, and returns to Portugal: “I really liked this competition and this year we'll have a WRE Sprint which is very attractive.” For the first international competition of the season, Anastasia will try “to see how am I ready and which aspects I need to work harder to improve”. And concludes, expecting “good organization, interesting distances and good mood”. Finally Emily Kemp, usual presence in Portugal this time of the season: “I'm super excited to be racing in NAOM but I have no specific goals since I've just been coming back from a few long lasting injuries”, says the very young Canadian. And concludes: “I'm just happy to be training and racing on some new terrain in Portugal and hopefully with a bit of sunshine”.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lizzie Ingham: "If you love what you do, you make it work no matter what the challenges"

From the other side of the world comes today the words of Lizzie Ingham. The 9th place in Sprint WOC 2012, makes her the most valuable athlete from New Zealand so far, but a new season is about to start and the expectations and ambitions go far beyond this result. Let's see what says and thinks a Kiwi orienteer living, studying and training in Australia.

The first question is always the easiest: Who is Lizzie Ingham? What a Kiwi orienteer living, training and studying in Australia looks like?

Lizzie Ingham (L. I.) - I was born and raised Wellington, which orienteers now know is the most beautiful city in the world! My childhood was spent training by running up hills and trying to stand up in the Wellington wind. Both of which were invaluable in the development of my infamous game face... I first tasted European orienteering when I traveled with my parents to WMOC in 2004. From there I raced 4 JWOCs from 2005 to 2008, with good results for a Kiwi (at the time!), but nothing spectacular. I made the move over to Australia and what is now my second home, Canberra, in 2011. Primarily the move was to study towards my PhD at the Australian National University, but also for the great orienteering community in Canberra, and the increased level of competition that living in Aussie offered. The move has helped me make great improvements in my orienteering, and slight improvements in my game face, leading to top 20 results at the last 3 WOCs and hopefully better to come!

How old were you when first met orienteering? Why orienteering?

L. I. - Haha, I was taken to my first orienteering event at the tender age of 3 days, on my way home from the hospital for the first time! That was just to be shown off to my parent's clubmates, but yeah, I've been orienteering practically since I could walk. Both of my parents were, and still are, keen orienteers. My Mum (Gillian) represented New Zealand at WOC in the 80's, and my parents get to WMOC once every 2 years or so. So I didn't have much choice in whether I took up orienteering or not! What's kept me in the sport, however, is the all round challenge that it offers - physically, mentally and technically, every time you head out on a map. That and the immensely supportive and friendly global community.

I believe that you're about to finish your PhD in an academic area related to geology. How do you combine your studies with orienteering on high level?

L. I. - Well, I'm meant to finish by the end of this year, that's the aim anyway, but we'll see about that! I'm a geophysicist, and study geomagnetism in particular - how the Earth's magnetic field behaves. It's a tricky balance between full time study and training. It's much the same as having a full time job, although the hours are a bit more flexible thankfully. However it's often impossible to fit in all the training I'd like, so it becomes about deciding which sessions are the most important and I'll get the most benefit from. During the week, training gets fitted around university work anyway possible, be it in the morning, lunch break, or the evening. During the weekends I try and leave work behind if possible and focus fully on training. I try to get three quality training days during the week, and two big days at the weekend. The other two days are easier training wise, but with a heavier work load at university! I love what I do with my PhD, but I can't wait to finish and see what I can do with more time to focus on orienteering!

In July 2012, you achieved in Lausanne the best result ever of an orienteer from New Zealand in a World Championship. Would you like to tell me something about your 9th position in Sprint?

L. I. - The sprint in Lausanne was a new experience, and pretty special for me. I topped my qualification heat, so was second to last start with just Annika starting behind me. That was something different, being about the last person left in quarantine! The race itself was pretty average, I missed seeing a gap in a wall, so took the much slower route choice on the long leg. Then started cramping and leaked time in the second half of the course. By the time I finished, all focus was on Simone, so it wasn't until well after I finished that I found out my actual result - off the smart phone of one of the Americans as the results weren't easy to get in the athletes area! So it was a little anticlimatic, but very satisfying to squeeze into the top 10 despite what was an average run. It was only afterwards that I realised it was a NZ best. But with the upcoming group of kiwis, hopefully my record won't last long anyway!

Your start of the last season couldn't be more promising, even more because you achieved the 3rd position in a World Cup at home ground. What meant to you the result, of course, but also the World Cup in New Zealand?

L. I. - That day in Wellington was simply amazing. My goal was always to make the podium, but I never dared to hope too much that it might happen! To pull it off at home was pretty perfect, 3rd place has never felt so good! The best feeling was standing on the podium and seeing the massive grins on all of the kiwi's faces. It definitely wasn't just me up on the podium, but all NZ orienteers. Over all, having the World Cup races in New Zealand was just awesome, I think we really did ourselves proud. It was invaluable in showing our juniors just what there is to aim for, and motivating them. And it was nice to see how the Europeans coped with having to travel across the world and then race!

And what about the rest of the season? Was the 14th position in Sprint WOC too far from your goals?

L. I. - Yeah... the rest of the season didn't really go as I'd have liked! I had a great first half of the year in the Australian National League, and was feeling in good form heading to the World Champs. However, as with 2011 and 2012, I could only afford a week and a bit off university work before WOC to prepare in local terrain. Added onto that, the three girls in the NZ team were asked to run all three individual distances and the relay to try and ensure us maximum points for the new WOC qualification scheme. It completely backfired. WOC 2013 was pretty much a disaster, not just for me, but for the entire NZ team I think. We were under-prepared and over pressured. The sprint day was the exception to a bad week. I was comfortable in the qualification and then had a good first half of the final. But as with my previous two WOC sprint finals, I chose the wrong route choice on one leg, and it cost me. That and missing the entrance to the stadium on the last leg! So 14th was a little disappointing, but I know that if I get the right route choice, and can hold my nerve to the finish, I'll be in that top 6. Hopefully that will come with more experience in high pressure races, something we just don't get down here in Australia and NZ.

Orienteering in New Zealand: What to say?

L. I. - I think elite orienteering in New Zealand is looking the strongest that it has in a long time. We have some really promising juniors coming through, and have highly motivated groups of both juniors and elites training together in different regions. And there's some exciting plans in the pipelines to get a better structure and mentoring system going within the different levels of our national squads. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, orienteering is a very minor sport in New Zealand, and pretty well out of the public eye. The main sports in NZ are rugby union (obviously!), soccer, cricket and netball. Those sports, and olympic sports that we do well at as a nation, such as cycling and rowing, suck up the vast majority of government sports funding. So, as a small sport in a small country, NZ orienteering really is run on a shoe string budget. Even seeing what support the Australian team gets makes me green with envy! But everyone has their hurdles to overcome, be it work, distance, family commitments or money. If you love what you do, you make it work no matter what the challenges. And I think NZ's improved results on the world stage prove that it is possible, even if you're entirely self-funded and on the opposite side of the world!

As for some name dropping?! Matt Ogden is in good form, and looking to move to Europe this year, so keep an eye out! Nick Hann is going from strength to strength following a year living in Norway, and will be one to watch at JWOC this year, alongside Tim Robertson who still has a year or three left at JWOC to improve on his bronze medal last year! His sister, Laura, makes the move up to elites this year, and has been beating me in recent Sprint races. So chances are she'll be racing come July and WOC. And this year sees the exciting return of Greta Knarston, who's been saving her pennies the last couple of years for a move to Europe and a WOC campaign. It's shaping up to be a good year for NZ orienteers!

Living in a country so many thousands of miles far away from Europe, having to face trips often lasting more than 24 hours, suffering the effects of the jetlag and still be able to perform highly. Where is the secret?

L. I. - Haha. Well, the thing is not to dwell on it, just take the travel as an extra challenge and get on with things! But having said that, any extra day you can give yourself to get over the flight is invaluable. I've been lucky that I've managed to fit WOC trips in with work trips a couple of times, which is a different sort of challenge, but means at least your brain and body is in the right time zone come race week. I think it's important to not expect too much of yourself while you recover from the travel- something that can be very tricky when you're trying to overcome jetlag, accustom yourself to terrain, and taper for WOC, all at the same time! Is there a secret? I don't know. Experience I guess?

You've finished a Training Camp in Tasmania, with the New Zealand national team, closing to the place where World Cup 2015 will be. Can you tell me something about it?

L. I. - The camp was actually run by Orienteering Australia for their high performance squad, and they very kindly let a few of us kiwi's tag along! Given our remoteness from Europe and the rest of the orienteering world, shared NZ-AUS camps are vital I think, so hopefully we'll see more of them from here on! The camp was really great. The terrain in Tassie is something special, and very varied - gold mining, granite, spur-gully. It's also very physical, even more so than say Norway I reckon. So it was invaluable to get a solid week of training in it prior to World Cup 2015. It's also Matt Ogden's new favourite terrain in Australasia - that's a pretty high accolade! I know it's a long way for Europeans to come, but I hope the national teams do make the effort to make it to Tassie 2015, as even the terrain alone will be well worth it.

How is it going your preparation? What are your projects and main goals for the season?

L. I. - The camp in Tassie was the kickstart to my preparation for the season. A bit later than most start, I know, but following WOC 2013 I had a glute injury which laid me low for a few months. Since then I've been focusing on my PhD, and then in December I got pretty sick... So I'm rearing to get back into proper training now! The main project this season is of course WOC. The difference this year is that I'm suspending my PhD for a couple of months, and will be in Europe from late May, along with Greta Knartston, to prepare. My last two WOCs have been pretty disappointing, so I've decided to take the time out from work to focus on getting it right this year. While I'm over I'll be looking to race Venla/Jukola, and hopefully I can find a suitable club and plan for a full time move to Europe in 2015. The goal for WOC would have to be a podium finish, middle or sprint, I'll take either! On a team level, the sprint relay holds a great opportunity for NZ, I think we could do really well there. More important however, is supporting each other, and performing as a team, to get ourselves up into the tier two nations for 2015.

The Orienteering Achievement of 2013: What was your choice? And what will be in 2014?

L. I. - Surely I voted for myself?! I can't remember! No, it had to be Simone. To dominate a sport so comprehensively, for so long, and be just a great person all round. Watching her finale in the World Cup final was emotional - and that was just watching from a couch on the other side of the world! I can only imagine how amazing the atmosphere was to be there in person. Similarly Marten Bostrom, gold medal at a home WOC. The baseball stadium just went off! For 2014, I can't wait to see how the Swiss girls go stepping out of Simone's shadow. I'm not really one for picking ones to watch - but I'd love to see some more surprises in the results as we've seen the last couple of years with the likes of Novikov and Bertuks, and the Austrian sprint team.

In the beginning of a new year, I would like to ask you to make a wish.

L. I. - Clear and smart decision making, be it by athletes on the course, or governing bodies in the board room. And perhaps for the Australian summer to cool down a bit so I can get out and train more!

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Two or three things I know about it...

1. After Finland, it is now the turn of Norway and Sweden to held the Ski Orienteering World Cup 2013-2014, for its secound round. With the next year's World Championships on the horizon, the Norwegian town of Hamar gets, the 18th and 19th January the stages 5 and 6, then following, from Wednesday to Sunday, another four stages in the Swedish town of Orsa Grönklitt . Six races in nine days and a rather demanding program, is what can expect the almost 100 competitors from 15 countries. The Russians Andrei Lamov and Tatyana Rvacheva fight for maintain the leadership in the World Cup, but they have to count on the strong opposition of the Nordic athletes, the Norwegian Lars Hol Moholdt and Hans Jørgen Kvåle and the Swedish Tove Alexandersson, with the same points as the Russian Yuliya Tarasenko. Access the webpages of the events at and

2. The numbers are there and don't lie. In 2013, in the Nordic Countries, were held 129 SkiO competitions, 89 TrailO competitions and 54 MTBO competitions. We present this numbers because of “a very slow running 'discussion' at Twitter” - – between the Norwegian Martin Jullum and “the one writing at the official IOF account (probably the president?)”, regarding the World Ranking in TrailO. The IOF's idea of “commissioning a new service provider for the IOF World Rankings in all disciplines” was the discussion's starting point. “Unfortunately not ALL disciplines I guess? Still no World Ranking in TrailO for some reason...”, claimed Martin. After a brief change of messages, the IOF's responsible admitted that, facing the numbers, it would be “interesting and useful to know the numbers for the rest of the World.” Let's help Martin in this task, providing the official numbers for each country and, thus, helping to justify the interest of all Trail-orienteers. You can access to the subject at

3. It began to be made public the results of the Internet TempO Game's third edition, an initiative of the webpage and his mentor, the Italian Marco Giovannini. Consisting of eight stations with five problems each, the 3rd ITT Game reveals already a record of participants in relation to the previous two editions. Russia was one “notorious” absent from this edition, while seems to be undeniable the growing interest in countries such as Portugal (9 competitors) and Spain (4 competitors). Between the names that accept the challenges of this third edition, we can see the top six of World TempO Championships 2013, which speaks by itself about the interest and value of the initiative. After two station, the Italian Raus leads with 103 points, followed by the Czech Flynt with 133 points and the Italian Mamma Susy with 141 points. Xeriph, with 181 points, is the best Portuguese, occupying the 18th place. Everything to follow at

4. Just a little tiny question: Have you voted for Matthias Kyburz today? If not, go to and do it. And do not forget to do it again tomorrow, and after tomorrow, and after after tomorrow...

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Susy De Pieri:"To love Trail-o that it matters"

Susy De Pieri was one of the greatest performers of the last World Trail Orienteering Championships, in Vuokatti (Finland). Participating at the TempO competition only, the young Italian athlete embraced the opportunity with both hands, reaching a brilliant 13th place. She is our guest today and talks about her experience.

For how long do you practice trail-orienteering?

Susy de Pieri (S. P.) - I met orienteering at school. I started by doing Foot-o but, after a few years, I tried Trail-o and ended up to embrace this discipline. In the beginning, it wasn't really interesting, the guidelines did not exist or simply did not work and we didn't know how to do the things. But we are improving slowly and there is a clear evolution since those early days.

Can you remember your first experience in Trail-o?

S. P. - I think it was in Verona, in the town centre, but it was a very easy course. I must admit that I like difficult challenges - also in Foot-o - and Trail-o wasn't, exactly, love at first sight. But it was important to realize the essence of the technical challenge for staying connected with Trail-o and doing it increasingly.

Looking to the evolution of Trail orienteering in italy, what is your oppinion?

S. P. - I joined the italian Trail-o Commission in 2007. It was a time with a special meaning for us, a real party with the world title won by Roberta Falda, in the Paralympic Class. But a medal is only a medal and we couldn't see a particular increase of Trail-o in Italy, in spite of the gold medal. We are a small group but a strong group and we fight for the development of the disciple.

And to develop it, what is missing ?

S. P. - At this time we try to find paralympic athletes. We promoted some competitions directed to this particular class of athletes and I hope the results of this effort can begin to emerge. The truth is that you need to understand the sport, to see Trail-o as a game. When I compete, I do it for the game, for fun. But people can always find obstacles here and there, that they don't want to get tired and things like that, whether or not paralympic.

How do you see the present moment of Trail-o? Are we going in the right way?

S. P. - At the moment I think that Trail-o is going in the right direction. There are a lot of peculiarities in a competition that are not regulated on guidelines, and we're trying at the moment to discuss it on the “Bearing Towards the C-Flag”, on Facebook. Athletes from different countries explain different point of view on different tasks and I think this is the first step to create a big movement.

The WTOC 2013, the organization, your performance... how do you analyse Vuokatti?

S. P. - The organisation was OK, I think. My performances?... I was so nervous, I was always talking with someone, trying to relax myself a little. It was my first World Championships and, finally, I wasn't ready for this type of terrain, I did a lot of mistakes. Honestly, I wasn't expecting the 13th position in TempO, for me it was very good. After the competition, Guido Michelotti and Remo Madella said to me that they were talking and they would be happy if I could reach the final... Fortunately, I've been better than they expected...

What about the next World Championships, which will be held in Italy?

S. P. - I don't have many information about the next WTOC, so... I know that we can find some good terrains in the region, the course planners are athletes from the Italian National Team... And that's all.

In the meanwhile, Portugal will receive the European Championships. Isn't it a little bit “strange” to see a very young country in Trail-o organizing such important event? What do you expect from ETOC 2014?

S. P. - It's not important that the competitions are organized by a novice country. It can be more important the spirit which you put in the organization, your capacity to “put youself on play” and to learn together.

TempO or PreO?

S. P. - I like Temp-O but... my love is Pre-O!

Still one question about Marco Giovannini and his Internet TempO Game. How do you see this chance of sharing a challenging time, being together with many other orienteers from a lot of countries, all of this staying at home, in front of your PC?

S. P. - I see the ITT Game as a very amusing training. It's only a game, but a very interesting one. No one else thought to make a website as Marco Giovannini had a great idea (and he had a lot of work to do this). We haven't so much competition, so every kind of training is accepted with a great joy. Thanks a lot, Marco!

One last question : why don't we see in trail-orienteering such a high percentage of female competitors as we see in foot orienteering, for example?

S. P. - Honestly, I don't know. In my opinion, to be a woman or not is not important. The important thing is that there are people who love this sport. If you are man, woman, young, old, paralympic or not, it's irrelevant. To love Trail-o that it matters. To love it and giving example of this love, this is the way that Trail-o can grow and attract more people.

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Portugal O' Meeting 2014: A short update

We can already smell the Portugal O' Meeting 2014 and we made today a short update based on a lot of information released almost daily by the great team of Communication and Image of CPOC. “Two or three things I know about the Portugal O 'Meeting...” or just an excuse to see and review the extraordinary presentation video of the event?

1. 44 days left to the start of the 19th edition of the Portugal O 'Meeting. For the first time in its history, the event heads to the high places of Serra da Estrela, more specifically to the Municipality of Gouveia. Over four days full of challenge and emotion, the participants will be invited to experience the terrains of Vila Nova de Tazem and Arcozelo, for two Long Distance and two Middle Distance courses, the second of which (on the third day) counting for the World Ranking. The program includes also a Night Sprint in Gouveia, on the first day, and the next day one stage of Precision Orienteering.

2. At the moment, the number of participants is 424, representing 16 countries. With 104 entries, Portugal is the most numerous country, followed by Switzerland (80 entries) and Norway and Sweden (48 and 47 entries, respectively) . The ADFA leads a list of 117 clubs, being the one that has the largest number of participants (52), then the TT - Tur , Norway, with 29 entries and GOLD, Switzerland, 15. In terms of classes, M60 and M65 share the command, with 36 entries each. Dinis Lopes (Portugal) and Biger Garberg (Norway) are at opposite poles with respect to age, separated by a difference of 76 years!

3. In the Elite classes, the most valuable athlete to submit his entry to date is the Swedish Albin Ridefelt. Third in the 2013 edition of the Portugal O 'Meeting, the athlete spoke to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog and the interview can be read at The organization, however, announced yet the name of Thierry Gueorgiou as a sure presence in this year's edition. And leaves the question: “Will it be the third consecutive victory for the Frenchmen, the king of the Middle Distance?”

4. In the meanwhile, the organization update some technical information, including the distances of each courses. It is known also that the official Banquet of POM 2014 will be at the Restaurante O Albertino, a place of recognized merit in Portugal, combining quantity and quality on a perfect way. Finally, a reminder of the presentation video of the Portugal O' Meeting [above], an extraordinarily well made pice, the perfect “business card” of an event that promises quality and variety. Not to be missed, absolutely!

Everything to know about the Portugal O 'Meeting 2014 at

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, January 13, 2014

Galina Vinogradova: "Runners without children can't even imagine all the difficulties of combining the elite sport with a family life"

Born in Barnaul (Russia) on the 10th February 1979, Galina Vinogradova is a reference of the world orienteering. Married to the renowned coach Mikhail Vinogradov and mother of two children, the athlete continues to show herself at the highest level on the international scene and keeps her goals of fighting for the gold medal at the next European and World Champs untouched. This and other subjects in focus on the big interview, today, on the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.

The first question is always the easiest. Would you like to present yourself?

Galina Vinogradova (G. V.) - I have started systematic trainings in Orienteering when I was 10 years old (after 3 years in swimming). But my first course was at the age of 4 (inside a flat with simple map-scheme), because my parents came from Orienteering. When I was 16 years old I participated in JWOC for the first time. My biggest achievement in junior age was a silver medal in the JWOC 1998. My first adult international race were the Asia-Pacific Orienteering Championships (Kazakhstan, 2004). I got two gold medals. And my debut in European Orienteering Championships was in Denmark (2004) without any success. Then I was married to Mike Vinogradov and I have started to work with him like a sparring-partner and coach. I debuted at WOC in 2008 when my first child was 1 year old and I won a silver medal in the Relay and took the 4th place in the Sprint. Now I am a military athlete. Much of my international success came from a gold medal in the World Games 2009 and a victory in a World Cup event (Sweden, 2011). In 2012, I had another baby (a boy) and we live in Barnaul (Siberia) together.

Looking back at your career, we can find the best results between the years of 2008 and 2011. However, in the last World Championships, you left a note of sensation by winning your qualification series of Sprint and positioning yourself in the best way for a medal... which did not arise. How did the final 6th place taste?

G. V. - As I mentioned before I gave birth in 2012 and this is the reason for the gap in results between 2011 and 2013. In fact, before the WOC 2013, I had run some good international Sprint races already. I was 4th in NORT knock-out sprint, 5th place in NORT Sprint in Finland and I lost a medal in Sprint race in Norway with one bad route choice (but best split times at the second part of the race gave me some optimism). And I aimed to fighting for a gold medal in the WOC 2013. But my coach and me made a strategic mistake during my preparation based on information from the official WOC site. I have made a lot of forest sprint training but I was not 100% ready for safe high-speed orienteering in fence labyrinths. That was the main reason of my multiple mistakes in the final. Of course, I am not satisfied with my 6th place.

From a personal point of view, what's your analysis of the last season? What distance goes between the initial goals and the final results?

G. V. - It is good to be among the top-6 in the World when your youngest child is just 10 months old. But my initial goal (WOC gold medal) has not been achieved.

Simone Niggli and her goodbye to the competition was considered the highlight of the 2013 season. But the male sector has an equally remarkable name that makes the history of Orienteering in 2013 and that is Leonid Novikov's name. Would you like to tell me about these two achievements?

G. V. - I voted for Simone and Leonid in “The Orienteering Achievement of 2013”. These are main highlights of 2013 in my opinion. Simone won almost all O-races in 2013 and it is amazing. It is a pity that she decided to stop her career. As for Leonid's victory, the whole Russian team (except Middle Distance participants) was watching the race on TV and through GPS-broadcasting. It was more and more exciting every minute. And we were very happy about his victory. Its difficult to describe my feelings through words. His victory in men Relay was more or less expected by us. I was running in quarantine area when the speaker said about a Russian gold medal. And after this it was difficult to keep focused in my navigation during women Relay. But I was glad about the men's victory.

I have to ask you this question, even knowing that I'm “stealing” the idea of someone very close to you (laughs). Would you like to tell me about your position in relation to the Top Coaches in Elite Orienteering, starting by presenting your coach?

G. V. - As I have mentioned before, my personal coach is my husband. He has high qualifications, and I totally trust him. If Mike says that I have to run 59 minutes with particular intensity then I run exactly 59 minutes with intensity as planned, without any deviations. Every training is interconnected with other trainings. Mike explains the entity of every training session. For the moment he is a personal coach for Valentin Novikov, Julia Novikova and some other O-runners. Mike had the responsibility of a top National and club coach (Russian national team coach from 2009 to 2013 and main coach in Halden Skiklubb, Norway from 2011-2012). Feel free to contact Mike about personal coaching or other job in Orienteering! His email is

Which aspects in training do you consider to be the most important? The technical training, the physical aspects, the attitude towards competition, the previous study of the events and opponents or others?

G. V. - Everything is important in elite Orienteering. I cannot specify particular aspects of training and recovery process. I guess that the most important thing is to find the correct balance between physical, technical and mental training levels.

How is your weekly training like?

G. V. - Actually there is no typical week in my training life. Every week is unique because of the current stage of trainings, my recovery and training status, residual effects from previous trainings, biochemical profile, women features of an organism that influences their adaptive capacity, and possibilities to get help with children (when I am in the forest, somebody has to take care of the kids). Sometimes it is one high-intensity session per week, some times five. It can be every day strength sessions or once every 12 days. When I am at O-camp I have two O-session per day but now I am in Siberia with frosts and snow and without any O-sessions. But you can find the summary of my training at

You talked about your blog and one of the aspects that surprises me - positively, I mean - has to do, exactly, with the way you communicate with others through a blog, developed and updated together by you and your coach. What is the meaning and importance of this tool?

G. V. - I assume that there are a lot of people in Orienteering who are interested in reading about the life and training of different O-runners. Such openness is a part of my duty as a professional athlete. It is important to develop our sport in several ways and share knowledge through the Internet.

In addition to the Orienteering, what are your hobbies?

G. V. - I could say that distance running is like a hobby for me. And one of my most favourite activities is taking care of my family. I don't have any free time to do anything else.

How can you handle the intense training load and the demands of competition with your family life and the care of your two children?

G. V. - Runners without children can't even imagine all the difficulties of combining the elite sport with a family life. It is really tricky! But I have strong support from my husband, my parents, and my mother in law. When you are a mother, then you appreciate every possibility to do training. And every night, having 7 hours of sleeping is a gift.

How do you see the current moment of our sport? Is the IOF leading appropriately the Orienteering's destiny, taking into account the biggest goal which is to become an Olympic sport?

G. V. - As Radek Novotny and Mikhail Vinogradov wrote, it's difficult to count that current IOF development as an effective way. I share such position. One more thing: take a look at the IOF ranking system, and you'll see that, in the middle of January, we don't even have an IOF ranking!

What are the main goals for 2014, close to celebrating your 35th anniversary?

G. V. - Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Bernard Lagat, Valentin Novikov, Maurilio De Zolt and many other top athletes have demonstrated outstanding results during their really long careers. Russian Yekaterina Podkopayeva won the IAAF World Championships in 1500 meters when she was 44 years old. That means I have plenty of time in elite sport. If you are highly motivated and injury free then age does not matter. My main purpose for 2014 is to improve my physical capacity, technical and mental skills. As for the IOF calendar, the goal for the coming season is to fight for EOC and WOC gold medals.

Is Portugal part of your plans in your preparation schedule for this season? And as for the European Championships, what are your expectations?

G. V. - Yes, Portugal is a part of my plans in preparations to this season. I think that every elite athlete can get advantages by using trainings in Portugal. I expect that during the EOC 2014 we will meet high quality of organization, as usual for the portuguese.

In the beginning of another year, I would like to ask you to make a wish.

G. V. - I wish for people in Orienteering to be healthy and injury-free and have a lot of races with perfect navigation!

Joaquim Margarido