Tomislav Varnica is an optician and through his eyes he was able to find the way to some nice results in the last European Trail Orienteering Championships, in Palmela. It's time now to recover the highlights of that participation and to look forward to Italy and to the World Championships.
First of all, I would like to know something about your. Could you give us, in brief, some biographical notes?
Tomislav Varnica (T. V.) - I was born on 8.7.1978 in Šibenik, a small town on the Adriatic coast. After finishing the primary school, I moved to Zagreb where I still live. In the meantime, I graduated from the Technical School of Optics, spent some time at the Law School and eventually found myself at the Faculty of Kinesiology. I work as an optician at the Optical studio. Shortly after arriving in Zagreb I ended up in the Orienteering Club Vihor, whose colours I represent. My first contact with the TrailO occurred in the fall of 2005, thanks to Zdenko Horjan. In 2007 we had our first Cup (four competitions in Croatia plus two or three in Slovenia) which I won. Last season I did the same thing.
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?
T. V. - The primary goal for the season was/is to qualify for Portugal and Italy. In early October 2013, I knew that I had got the “ticket” to Portugal (at that time, we had the last Cup competition in Croatia, in fact the last one before ETOC). As for Italy, I still have to work for it. The qualification process is simple: The best three competitors from the 365 days prior the major event, according the Cup standings, are in the team.
How did you prepare yourself for the European Championships?
T. V. - My preparation consisted of convincing my boss to give me a vacation at that particular time (laughs). Besides that I participated at the Lipica Open's two days, in Slovenia, and I spent some time in collecting and studying Portugal maps.
Did you expect to reach the TempO Final?
T. V. - I have to admit that I don't like TempO. I just don't feel comfortable in that discipline. At the last WTOC, in Finland, Croatian team had four members and there were only three places in the TempO qualifications. So, Ivo Tišljar asked: “Guys, how are we going to arrange this?” I simply answered: I'll step out, I don't even like TempO. Palmela TempO was my 6th TempO competition ever and to reach the finals was really surprising. A nice surprise, I must say. Now, I'll have to reconsider my likes and dislikes. As you can see, I had no expectations from qualification, but nevertheless it was important to have a good opening of the Championship and to have wrong answers as less as possible. In the final, my goal was to advance few places - what I did - but I also did too many errors, with which I cannot be satisfied.
And what about PreO? Was in your plans to get the 16th place?
T. V. - My plans are always to achieve the best position on major competitions so far. Thanks to a good performance on the second day I manage to do that. So I'm satisfied how things ended in PreO, bearing in mind that I had a bad first day.
Croatia team was very well in this European Championships, showing a very consistent group. How is it going the TrailO in your country?
T. V. - I have to say that I'm surprised with the results that we achieved in the last few years. First, in average, we have five competitions per year. Secondly, we have only eight competitors who takes TrailO seriously, plus ten to fifteen more to fulfil the start list. Thirdly, Croatian Orienteering Federation is not interested too much in TrailO.
Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC? Can you point the best and the worst?
T. V. - The ETOC's lowest point was the first Team Officials Meeting. I had a feeling that the Event Advisor was lost and that the main organizer was not sure about what to do. I saw the other Team Leaders also puzzling with the situation. But everything changed overnight. The first meeting was more useful for the organizers than the competitors. In four days of competitions, I have two little objections: slow processing of the results and slowness of results publication and informations on the website, compared with EOC. The courses were interesting, challenging as they should be on events like this. I would like to point out one thing that impressed me – the volunteers. Always with a smile, always ready to help, on the end of the week we were even greeted on our own language. So, one big THANK YOU to the volunteers. I also thank the organizers, I enjoyed the ETOC and Portugal. You should be proud of your job!
How important was to be in Portugal, as organizer of the WTOC 2015?
T. V. - It is always important to be on major competitions. These are places where you can learn a lot. When you are getting ready for the organization of a big event, you start to notice “small things” like flags solutions or hierarchy on the timed control. One thing to point out here, I'm not in the organizing committee of WTOC 2015, yet. I'll be in, if I fail to qualify for the national team.
Is TrailO worldwide in the right way?
T. V. - It is hard to say if it is on the right way!? It seems to me that the International Orienteering Federation don't know what to do with trailO, don't know where to put it. In my opinion, WTOC must be together with WOC. The prize giving ceremonies are ridiculous. TrailO ceremonies should be in front of FootO ceremonies. It was sad to watch, in Finland, how Jari or Marit receive their well deserved medals in front of twenty-something people knowing that the auditorium was full ten minutes before. That says something about the runners too. It is shame that they can't stay another ten to fifteen minutes to greet their colleagues. Another thing, there is to much changes in rules, every year we have something new. Are we lost? And about the media attention, what media attention? The IOF doesn't pay attention on TrailO, the runners doesn't pay attention on TrailO, why would the media do it? The European Cup looks like a good idea, but is it a good idea to have all competitions in the north of Europe?
Are we going to see you competing in WTOC, next summer? What are your main goals?
T. V. - As I said at the beginning of the Interview, Italy is definitely on my sight. I still need to qualify, but I believe that I'm on the right way. So, if I reach Italy, my goal will be to progress. Let's say, to repeat the PreO second day from Palmela... twice!