Arrived as a stranger, Stefano Raus left the European Championships with all eyes fixed on him. His magnificent performance in TempO – the first “non-nordic” after a true “Finnish-Swedish fleet” - showed him their capabilities and an enormous room for improvement. A bright future is waiting for the young Italian athlete.
The first question is always the easiest. Could you tell me, in brief, who is Stefano Raus?
Stefano Raus (S. R.) - I was born 19 years ago in Trento, were I still live. I’m studying at the Scientific High School of Trento and I attend the last year. I started in TrailO two years ago when I competed in a course of Italia Cup, in Monte Prat, after a FootO course. I decided to do TrailO because I wanted to compete in all the disciplines of orienteering so with that I reached my goal. I don't have any important result in TrailO because I did very few races but I liked a lot the Marco Giovannini’s TempO online game. In FootO I was good in youth categories and I went to EYOC in 2011. I was also in FootO Junior National Team until last summer when I stopped training because, in two months, I twisted three times my ankle.
You've been recently in Portugal, competing at ETOC. Was it, in the beginning of the season, a major goal, to be in Palmela for the European Championships?
S. R. - Honestly, it wasn’t. Most of all, because I wasn’t sure about the call to the Italian Team until I read it on the Italian Orienteering Federation's website. I started in TempO with the online game, on trailo.it, and I had good results. So our National Coach, in the end of 2013, told me I had talent and, if I was in two important TempO competitions, in Milan and Lipica, in the beginning of 2014, he would include me in the team. But I wasn't, because one day I had the FootO course setter exam and, in Lipica, I competed in FootO. Anyway, our Coach made quite a bet on me and I was selected. But I think he won it! I have to thank him.
How did you prepare for the European Championships?
S. R. - It was my first time in Portugal but I followed the last years races like EYOC, ISF and Portugal O' Meeting. These was also my first TempO race “live” and when I read the call I searched for the Palmela Village online to see exactly the type of terrain. With the Google Maps I made by myself a map of the golf course and I tried to see where the controls should be placed. Now I see that I did a good job. Just without the contours, you can understand a lot of things.
To finish 8th in TempO – in fact, to be the first “non-Finnish or Swedish athlete” in the competition – was an amazing result. Did you expect this?
S. R. - No. My main goal was just to reach the final because I think that, if I was in Portugal only for TempO and I wouldn’t qualify, once I returned to Italy I suppose that me and the Coach would be both sent in jail. So I was stressed before and during the qualifications, I didn’t know exactly how to pronounce correctly the letters and, both in the qualification and the final, I used to point at the written letters, loosing seconds. In the final I was feeling good during the entire competition, I tried to do my best with my possibilities and, finally, I saw my real level and that I can improve in the future.
You missed the PreO competition. Why was that?
S. R. - I really like TempO and I was selected only for it because I do not have any remarkable result in national Pre-O competitions. In TempO I can easily compete and understand the situation in front of me because from FootO I learnt to have a good quick glance. While in PreO, I think that the most important is the experience and, maybe, to see the course setter point of view; and I have no experience of that at all. Italy was good also in PreO, with Elvio and Remo, and I have to say that a thing behind our results is, of course, the beautiful team I was in, and even if some of us lost the flight and arrived in Palmela on the day of the Model Event, we had great moments together!
Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC 2014? Can you point the best and the worst?
S. R. - I saw that the organizers had some funny problems in EOC but the ETOC I think it was well organized. Maybe some officials at the stations were too much friendly but I had no problems with that: she started talking about Benfica-Juventus but I told her I cheer for Milan (just before the last station at qualifications). Portuguese can be proud of their work, everyone was prepared and the best was the umbrella-escorts at the Final: I risked to crash on a tree but I saw the control flags only when I was seated and it was exciting.
Is TrailO going in the right way?
S. R. - Oh... that is not easy for me to judge, but I can say that, if in Italy, they'll organize more TrailO races near of just after a FootO event, there will be more participants. Maybe it would also be more known because a lot of my o'friends, once I came back from Portugal, asked me what I did there and what TempO is. Finally, I think that young orienteers are the best for TempO so there are a lot of good potential around us, you just have to ask them to try and see.
Are we going to see you competing in WTOC, in your home country?
S. R. - Actually I don’t know, because I was asked to be course setter of the Sprint race of the 5 Days of Italy, in Levico, where the TempO final will be, and they just stopped me. And, in the last years, I sometimes trained in Alberè di Tenna's forest, with a very old map. But I know the place... and my girlfriend has an holiday house just out of the map! Now I have to study a lot for my High School final exams, that will end a week before WTOC. So, I will see what they will decide for me. I hope the organisers don't make any mistake but there will be a lot of people and resources.