Sunday, February 02, 2014

Daisy Kudre: IOF's Athlete of February aiming for a perfect race

Daisy Kudre, our Athlete of February 2014, is a 20-year-old ski orienteer who won the first ever Estonian individual medal at the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships last year. This season she started with third place in a World Cup race – but she is aiming for more: “Right now I’m not concentrating so much on winning a certain place, I’m more into finding a way to use all my potential in one skiO race”, Daisy says. And potential she has!

Name: Daisy Kudre

Country: Estonia

Age: 20

Discipline: Ski orienteering

Career highlights: 2013 Junior World SkiO Championships (JWSOC), silver medal at Middle distance; third place in a SkiO World Cup race in December 2013.

IOF World Ranking position: 11

This month we feature an up-and-coming ski orienteer from Estonia. Last winter Daisy Kudre won the first-ever Estonian individual medal at the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships, and this season she has been amongst the best seniors in the first two rounds of the Ski Orienteering World Cup.

Daisy is the oldest of four offspring in the Kudre family. They are from Värska, which is located close to the border in the south-east of Estonia, about 270 kilometres from Tallinn and 80 kilometres from Otepää. Värska is a small village of about 600 people, but orienteering is one of the most popular sports there, mostly because many young people have won medals in Estonian championships or succeeded in international competitions.

“Good results are recognised by the school and the people living in Värska, so everyone knows what orienteering is. We have our orienteering club Värska OK Peko, and the environment for training is good and supportive. There is a small but motivated group of talented young people taking part in footO, MTBO and skiO competitions,” Daisy tells.

Successful father and mother

Daisy got in contact with sport with map and compass from an early age. Father Raul Kudre (43) has been ski orienteering since he was 13 years old. His best results are 9th in the World Championships in 1994 and a 7th place in the World Cup. He has won a medal in the Finnish Championships in both skiO and MTBO and has been a member of the Soviet Union team. Right now he’s the coach of the Estonian skiO team.

Mother Ingrit Kala (45) was 6th in the European MTBO championships in both 2006 and 2013, and she took part in the World MTBO Championships in Estonia last summer. Last winter she won a gold medal in the World Masters SkiO Championships. “My first races were foot orienteering races. I did my first skiO races when I was maybe ten or eleven years old,” Daisy recalls.

It was natural for her to take up skiO because she went with her parents and there are a lot of skiO races in her country. “I’ve always been better at skiing than running so I decided to focus on ski orienteering, and now I don’t do as many footO races as I used to. My first international skiO competitions were in 2008. I was quite poor then, but I have improved year by year,” says Daisy.

Oldest of four

In the family there are four offspring; Daisy is the oldest and her birthday is on the same day as her mother’s, 17th December. Sister Doris, 16 years old, won a gold medal at the European Youth SkiO Championships last year. She has already done some World Cup races in the senior class. “It’s nice to see that she’s doing so well, and I think if she continues to train she can be really good after a few years,” tells Daisy.

Their 8-year-old brother Timo has shown great interest in both foot and ski orienteering. “He took part in his first skiO race last winter; he refused to come out of the forest after 2 hours of searching for the controls. Every time he finds a skiO map he tries to work out the best route choices. A few years ago he used to draw maps of our house and garden and prepare ‘orienteering games’ for the others.”

“My youngest sister Käti is 4 years old, and she prefers skiing on the artificial snow track in Otepää rather than sledging,” Daisy says.

The first medal

It was in Latvia that Daisy won the first individual Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships (JWSOC) medal for Estonia. Previously her country had won one JWSOC Relay medal, back in 1998. “It was my big goal to win a medal at the Junior World Championships last year. It felt really good to win the silver, but it felt even better to know that I got what I wanted. It gave me masses of confidence for my future races. I know that I can be good when it counts!”

Her placings in this year’s World Cup races so far have been 3, 6, 10, 15, 8, 10, 22 and 8, and she is currently placed seventh in the overall World Cup standings: a really promising start to her career as a senior. “Before the start of the season I knew I was stronger than before, but I never thought I was good enough to win a podium place in a World Cup race! This quite unbelievable start to the season gave me so much confidence – I know that I’m able to race well and I’m not afraid to go out and fight for top places.”

– What are your short and long-term goals?

“My one big aim is to have a perfect skiO race. There is so much that can go wrong in one race, but I’m working hard to have a competition where everything goes right. I believe it’s possible, and I’m eager to find out how good it feels!”

– Don’t you have any results objectives?

“Of course I want to be on top of the podium and win a championship medal at least once, but right now I’m not concentrating so much on winning a certain place, I’m more into finding a way to use all my potential in one skiO race. It might be because third place in the World Cup has already exceeded my goals for this year. I want to have my best possible race at the European Championships (in Russia in March) and if it ends up with a top-10 position then I’m satisfied. In the coming winters – I want to see how good I can get!”

Fresh advice from a skiing coach

Last year she started to get advice from Jaanus Teppan, one of the best cross-country skiing coaches in Estonia, in order to improve her skiing technique and speed. As a result, her training has become far more structured than before. “My coach used to be a good cross-country skier, and he has done some skiO as well, so he has a good idea of how I should train. I can see that his ideas work well for me as I’m physically much stronger than before.”

For the last few years she has been training for a bit under 500 hours per year. “Now that I’ve got to know myself more and found the way of training that seems to work well for me, I will probably increase my training volume,” says Daisy.

– How are you training to improve in skiO?

“My biggest focus is on improving my physical condition, but I also try to include as much orienteering training as possible. During the summer I like to do footO, MTBO and running with poles and map-holder to improve my map reading skills. This autumn I did my first roller orienteering training together with the Finnish skiO team, which was really fun.”

A term in Finland

From September to December last year Daisy was an exchange student in Vaasa; she was studying at the University of Vaasa. She’s now back in Estonia and she is continuing her studies in political science at the University of Tartu. “During the college term I live in Tartu. It’s 90 kilometres from Värska, so I visit home quite often.”

– How has it been to prepare for this season, since there has been only a little snow?

“Before the first World Cup round I spent nearly a month in Lapland in Northern Finland, where I had really good opportunities to ski. After the World Cup and moving back to Estonia I was skiing on the artificial snow track in Otepää, but the lack of snow certainly affected my preparations as I still had to do a lot of running instead.”

Text and photo: Erik Borg.

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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