Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nuno Pires: "I personally fulfilled the goal of being at ETOC 2014"

Member of the TrailO Technical Commission of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation and one of the main pillars of this young discipline in our country, Nuno Pires starred in Palmela, along with João Pedro Valente, one of the highest moments of the Portuguese participation in the ETOC 2014. His presence in the TempO Final was really important for the affirmation of Portugal in the TrailO panorama worldwide. About this – and much more! -, the athlete come today to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune, in a long interview which worth to read carefully.

Now the echoes of the European Trail orienteering Championships begin to disappear, I ask you to remember some of the strongest images of these six amazing days.

Nuno Pires (N. P.) - If I make a rewind for all ETOC 2014 days, surely there are some moments that I keep as pictures on my mind. First, of all, the first Portuguese team meeting, on the day before the Model Event. It was special to see a whole squad of Trail Orienteering ready for action. Due to constrains, it will be very difficult to have such a number of competitors representing the country in a competition with the scale of ETOC in future years. I salute POF for the effort to give the squad as much conditions as possible in these times. Although our limited experience, I remember the motivation in everybody's eyes to compete at this level, without pressure for any result. Then, I remember the morning of the Model, facing the mirror at home, proud to be Portuguese and for representing my country after all the personal and family effort and mainly due to my work and merit during the last year. I remember singing loudly Happy from Pharrel Williams during the trip to Vale de Barris. I felt like it. One moment I keep in memory is the daily lunch time at the venues, always waiting for the last to come from the terrain and allowing to make the aftermath, discuss and work several technical aspects, encouraging the less fortunate and greet those who make a good result, always in a positive team spirit.

The highlight of ETOC for me was surely getting the ticket for the Tempo final. I was surprised to be in the top 10 in my heat on preliminary results when almost all competitors were classified and I check how many Nordic athletes were still out in the greens and I put the worst case scenario on the table. Fortunately, I ended in the 18 qualifiers. At the Final, I remember being side by side with Remo Madella. I meant I was as good as him in the Qualifying, but unfortunately I did not keep the pace in the Final. I did not found the right balance of the decision speed versus the answer conviction, and the result was worst that expected. My TempO Final participation was a time to enjoy Trail Orienteering as a gift. The mission was already accomplished.

Your qualification to the TempO Final [and also the one of João Pedro Valente] is an historic achievement to our TrailO and puts us at a very interesting level in this discipline. Did you expect this? What was the secret of this excellent result?

N. P. - The TempO qualification goal to the Final started some time ago in my mind. No one knew about it except my family. At Palmela, I told the squad I was there to  fight for it. My preparation was simple and does not have a secret. It was essentially mental work, improving the levels of concentration I inherit from my youth basketball days where I played at top club national level, some reaction training, to handle the station pressure and speed up the seeing-thinking-talking process, some TempO on the Internet and finally a good dose of map study, focusing the thoughts on golf course images and maps, in order to build a mental model of the event beforehand.

Do you want to tell me how was your two days of PreO competition?

N. P. - During Day 1, I had a moment of joy after making 18 points out of 20, and cleared the timed controls in 18 seconds. But the level of the competitors was so high in ETOC, that this performance, despite being personally good, only gave me the provisional 22nd place after the course. The Day 2 was awkward. I had confidence in the decision points, punched all firmly but the result was beyond my hopes. If at least I made the same score as the day before I could enter the top 30, but due to my mistakes and the overall score improvement of my fellow competitors, I dropped down to 66th place. I need to get consistent as this situation happened before in several occasions. I switch from good to bad results in short periods of time more than usual. I think I need to gain experience and mentally split the Nuno Course Setter from the Nuno PreO Athlete, because the Athlete tends to overload the mind with information before taking the decision, and normally things are more simple than I realize. Both Nuno's have to improve, but the latest has surely more to do.

How do you evaluate the ETOC 2014's competitive, technical and organizational level?

N. P. - I think the competition level created was high, and it would be frivolous to say that the PreO results were too balanced just by saying the courses were easy or by looking at the top performers score in each class. It is commonly said that “the opportunity makes the thief”, so the quality of the map contours and the huge number of green elements mapped helped the reading a lot , creating a potential competition with zero margin for errors. The TempO had a huge sense of competition from the start, just by knowing the event was going to be held in a golf course, an artificial and neutral terrain for everyone.

Technically I think ETOC was also at high level. Despite being held in in Portugal, where the sport is still in development, there was a strong involvement of international supervisors in this component, mainly in PreO , who guaranteed the base work in the event made in Portugal was levelled up by this foreign contribution. That's a fact that Alexandre Reis devoted and prepared the foundation of a great ETOC and I believe that only some edges have been polished after his chunk of work. There was punctually some technical issues but that is normal in PreO. Only the ones involved in the sport understand the nature of it. In TempO, the map was excellent and very accurate and the increasing level of complexity from the Qualification to the Final was technically very challenging.

The organization level was also very good. There was a notorious lack of experience of some controllers in the Model Event day who let some Team Leaders a bit uncomfortable, but all went well on track at the competition time. Probably no one knows that this ETOC 2014 had more assigned controllers in the competition that the overall ranked athletes in the Portuguese TrailO Cup. Portugal can be proud to have organized the 2014 ETOC, and the fog that occurred in the TempO Qualifying morning was the result of weather conditions and had nothing to do with some other clouds that unfortunately passed by Palmela skies in the FootO event.

I have to mention your intervention on the second and final Team Official Meeting, leaving the idea that some rules worth less that others, depending who makes the call. Can you remember that moment?

N. P. - Those who follow my course planning work know I faithfully follow the International Guidelines to minimize the subjectivity of PreO control place setting and I take in my hands the careful placement of the flags in the forest. I was bothered to miss a control on Day 1 of PreO due to a flag misplacement on the designated side of a vegetation element. I demonstrated the flag, if placed correctly, had a distinct and visible point of view of the element other that the one seen during the competition. Some team leaders stated the same, but mainly 'second row' nations. I still think the errors were not by bad decision and those who choose to Zero the answer were mislead by the flag placement and due to their proper judgement, in my honest opinion. The Guidelines state this as a start up reason to void a control, if a majority of athletes agree on that call, but due to the current Day 1 results, there was clearly a conflict of interest that superimposed the recommendation, mainly due to the Nordic influence and huge know-how of the sport, that I respect a lot. I made the call that day. Anyone could have done it for justice and I feel that the general team leader support opinion at that moment depended a lot on the circumstances and from the TrailO reputation of the person who made the call, with reason or not. But this is a common feature of TrailO and just like a soccer match, there's nothing like a good controversy in the field to keep the fans talking about it for a long time.

What are your conclusions of these four days of competition at the highest level?

N. P. - I personally fulfilled the goal of being at ETOC 2014, with results matching my current reality in TrailO. If I said some months ago I was on my To Do List to reach TempO final, no one would believe in me. In short I conclude that experience and more dedication can give lead one day to a result to remember. But I have my feets on the ground and know how difficult is to gain leverage on this matter without participating regularly in events away from my country. Having the national team in mind, in overall, I have a mix of good and bad thoughts. First I think we did well on PreO, especially on the Open Class, based on the individual score, with high answer percentage. Regarding the Paralympic Class however, it is notorious our lack of experience in competition and the absence of any Orienteering historical background.

In TempO, the squad did the best they could, more that expected. In overall, we had a lively group who performed well and has been always motivated to get the most of the ETOC 2014 participation. There a need to emphasize the team had also the wilful spirit of the assigned escorts Homero and Serafim, also our team driver. Additionally, a word to our Paralympic José Leal, a example of effort for everyone. He managed to get to the national team in his first TrailO year and he did all the competitions without escort or wheelchair by his own foot. He wanted to be that way, in full autonomy, despite his huge limitations, putting a physical wear on his body and mind only visible by the end of the daily courses.

As member of the TrailO Technical Commission of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, how important was ETOC for the Portuguese Trail Orienteering?

N. P. - I will be pragmatic. This ETOC 2014 will hardly be repeated in terms of dimension of the event and the requirements for the organization and resources involved in the next years in Portugal. What seems to look redundant in terms of numbers is in fact facing the needs to get everything running smoothly at international level. I was personally surprised to see only a few known FootO orienteers involved in this initiative, and the ones I saw I know that are already working on their local clubs in TrailO . There were no new faces in relevant places needed to promote and create synergies in the near future between the current Orienteering community and the clubs who are actively investing in TrailO events. The human resources were mainly recruited amongst students for specific control tasks and they will not be agents or promoters of the sport in a near future. So I don't believe the ETOC 2014 will make TrailO grow in Portugal as much as the TC or POF wanted.

However, the TempO may have some increased interest by the format itself. It is like a Sprint version of the PreO, and correctly managed, can be very attractive. It is simple, straightforward, and less demanding to prepare before the day of the event.The workload is during those few hours of stress. There is more adrenaline involved and if we look at the age of the top athletes, it seems obvious that it can gather a younger audience, running way from the stigma that the TrailO is only designed for the elderly and disabled people.

What are your goals for the remaining 2014 TrailO season?

N. P. - I have two major goals in mind. The first is to successfully organize the Dunas TrailO on May 31st, 2014, at Cantanhede Dune map. It has a 2014 Portuguese PreO Cup stage and a TempO course, the first official one in Portugal and will assign the first ever individual national title. Both events combined will act as a single criterion for the definition of the athletes who will be in Italy at the WTOC 2014, one for Open class and other in the Paralimpic class. The second goal is to reach the TempO final and improve my ETOC 2014 PreO classification, this time in WTOC 2014. I was assigned to lead the Portuguese team and to compete as well.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Blind-O event for the very first time in Portugal

Portugal attended, for the very first time, a Blind-O event. The initiative of the Académico Torres Vedras was integrated in the Torres Vedras' Health Fair and proved to be very interesting and with huge potential.

Showing that there are many barriers that remain tightly around the disability, limiting the access to the common practices of everyday life, the Blind-O is a discipline of Adapted Sports with an extremely reduced expression worldwide. To the logistical difficulties inherent to a course of this nature, joins the participants with specific needs and reduced in number, which makes unfeasible to organize Blind-O events if, perhaps, one of the goals is to achieve some financial return.

In a remarkable gesture, according to the social role of the clubs and institutions, whatever they may be, the Académico Torres Vedras launched to the work and carried out an afternoon dedicated to the Orienteering in which, in addition to promotional Foot-O and MTBO courses, gave special attention to the Adapted Sports, expanding the range of offers to the Trail-O, Adapted-O and Blind-O. A “five in one” who commends and applauds, meeting the sport for all and exalting the major principle of “all different, all equal”.

To leave the house and the couch and try a new sport”

For the very first time in our country, the Blind-O course consisted of a labyrinth, marked with ropes on the ground, along which the progression can be accompanied by sensory feet, correlating it with the marks on a relief map, readable with the fingers. Blind from an early age, Afonso was one of the participants in the initiative, highlighting “the opportunity to leave the house and the couch and try a new sport.” With a special blindfold, João also experienced the new sport, and “despite the discomfort of being completely dark”, confessed his surprise to realize that “the senses are more alert, we feel the knots on feet and gain confidence because we know that we are following the right way.”

Mentor of this new discipline and responsible for the organization and installation of the course, Luís Sérgio confesses that the initiative arose roughly two years and came “of a personal interest, the attempt to make the Orienteering a more inclusive sport.” Stressing that “to attract people is the most difficult”, this responsible noted that “there is no difficulty in setting up a course of this nature, is something that you can be done in a rudimentary way.” Regarding the balance, Luís Sérgio considers it very positive: “For a blind person, is indeed an asset to have the notion of space where he belongs, even if this is an artificial space created by us. There is a very interesting potential in this aspect and that has to do with the historic centres of the cities where, eventually, tactile maps can be created by combining them with audioguides. We have it, already, here in Torres Vedras , and turns out to be a different way to show the city - basically, a kind of tourism for blind people (!) -, based in Orienteering. To make it effective, from the point of view of the competition, what was just a single experiment “it is feasible, is very interesting, but we'll have to think a little bit more about it”, says Luís Sérgio.

Time to say that the two animators from ACAPO – Portuguese Association of Blind present in the activity, were very interested, and eventually it is very probably that we can watch some new and more consistent developments in this area soon. See the photos at https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/108054301526873509793/albums/6006980240996108753.

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

João Pedro Valente: "I should be pleased with my performance in TempO"

He was the big surprise of the National Trail orienteering Championships 2013, taking the first title in the history of the young discipline in Portugal. Recently, he was able to show his qualities at the European Championships, in Palmela, ensuring a place among the 36 finalists of the TempO competition. And to top it off, he was crowned this weekend, at Antequera, TrailO Spanish Champion. We speak about João Pedro Valente, a man divided between Portugal and Spain, but also – we understand it now! - between the FootO and the TrailO.

Now that the echoes of the European Trail orienteering Championships are disappearing, I start by asking you how did you prepared yourself for the ETOC.

João Pedro Valente (J. P. V.) - With few opportunities to participate in events in Portugal, my only preparation was on the computer. On one hand, reread all the available documentation, compiled by Nuno Pires, especially the IOF Technical Guidelines for Elite Trail Orienteering, analyzing all the examples and see the techniques to use in each case. On the other hand, practicing with the TempO games on the Internet, a first time in February and repeating all the moves in the week before the ETOC.

The qualifying of TempO would be a historic achievement, with two Portuguese reaching the big Final, one of which João Pedro Valente, precisely. Did you expect that? Where was the secret of so excellent result?

J. P. V. - I was not expecting that, really. I think that TempO is for younger people, with good ability to see and analyze the map quickly, thinking that I, being the first time I did a course of this kind, would have little chances of being well succeed. The problem is not so much to give the right answer, but rather how quickly you did it, which is crucial in this modality. Anyway, the “secret” was, undoubtedly, the big experience in map reading, achieved after many years of FootO. The course started badly for me - probably the shocking debut in the first station was really big - which led me to give a shout into myself on my way to the second station. And from there, things went much better.

Do you want to tell us a little bit of what was then the Final, but also the two days of the PreO competition?

J. P. V. - In the Final, the things didn't run as I would have desired. I thought that, with the experience of a previous course (laughs), I could fix some of the errors of the qualification, including the stress of the first season and maybe get a better result. But this time I was even more nervous, also made the same stupid mistake in the first control of the first station, but this time I did not recover as well. Above all, there was a station in which I made a mistake in the map analysis, which led me to fail four points and spoiling the final result. Despite this, I should be pleased with my performance in TempO, because getting into the Finals was a major accomplishment for me and Nuno Pires.

In the PreO competition, I was expecting much better. I think that PreO is better suited to my conditions, but things didn't went well mainly due to lack of experience. My analysis leads me to admit that the learning process is not linear, with ups and downs. We incorporate new ways to analyze the control points, especially when they give conflicting answers and this, being positive in the long term, can give less good results in the short term and I think that it was something like this that happened to me. I think that four of the six points that I failed in the sum of the two days of competition ( and also the penalty for time exceeded), would have been easily corrected if some ideas were based more in my head and so I would have had a very good result in the end. We also need to be aware of the importance of the timed controls, since with so many draws, the results can easily vary twenty positions.

What balance you do of four days of competition at the highest level?

J. P. V. - The balance is great, obviously. Not only because I duplicated all my previous experience in TrailO, as being within the Portuguese team, in which we analyze every detail, the experience was even more fruitful.

What is your assessment of the competitive, technical and organizational level of the ETOC 2014?

J. P. V. - I think that ETOC's organizational level went very well, in a discipline that rarely escapes to the controversy in one control point or another. This time, there was no canceled controls, which is very significant in relation to the work of the organizational team. On the other hand, I think the TrailO needs to incorporate electronic punching means to avoid the long delays in the disclosure of results. Hopefully, the International Orienteering Federation proceed quickly on this issue.

However, even with all those adrenaline, you went to Antequera to win the Spanish Championships 2014. I would ask you to speak a little bit about this victory.

J. P. V. - The course of Antequera was conceived as the kick off for the TrailO in Spain. There had been another Championship two years ago, but it did not continue. Now there is at the Spanish Federation a committed responsible for pulling the sport “into the map” and I think this time the things will going on. Perhaps for this reason, the course was pretty simple, designed for the 100 participants did not have great difficulties and liked the experience. I think this has been truly achieved. I enjoyed, mostly, the fact that I was able to answer quickly at the timed controls (the experience of ETOC was noted) and especially to share the podium with my son. A funny was when the speaker announced the TrailO's podium with the “Valente brothers” ( laughs ).

From your point of view, how important can be the ETOC for the future of the Portuguese TrailO?

J. P. V. - I think that the interest in Trail orienteering in Portugal is increasing, and there is no longer the strange thing that Foot orienteers find it funny to see the others doing. I think we should work towards bringing more elite orienteers to TrailO, get them to try it, because I think most of them would like it, especially the TempO.

One final question: what are your goals for what we still have ahead of the present season?

J. P. V. - The next goal is to qualify for the WTOC. Is where I'll put all my energy, since I still don't know if I can be in the National Championships. And, of course, also continue to gain experience, participating in all events as I can.

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, April 11, 2014

Søren Saxtorph: "I'm looking forward to have some good maps"

A set of ten interviews reach the end today. In the past two weeks, by the voice of some of the greatest figures of the world in Trail orienteering, we tried to anticipate the ETOC 2014. After JK, Marit, Kreso, Ivo, Hanka, Pinja, Remo, Agata and Martin J, is now the turn of the Danish Søren Saxtorph to provide his testimony.

The ETOC is approaching and I would like to know, in brief, what have you doing since Vuokatti, last summer?

Søren Saxtorph (S. S.) - Since the last WTOC I have been to Sweden for three times and to the Nordic match, in Finland. The only result I remember was the Swedish TempO Championships, where I was 9th, but only eight could reach the final – anyway, I'm not Swedish, so I couldn't have won :-) I wasn't fast but I did few mistakes.

Do you feel “comfortable” with the European Championships so early in the season?

S. S. - I don't feel ready for a Championship, but I'm looking forward to have some good maps, as I think we have had at the Championships the last years. I really don't expect any good result, as I never do, because there are so many factors other than the orienteering that affects my competitions and concentration, since I'm dependent of the wheelchair, the conditions of the trail and the visibility from a low sitting.

A couple of years ago, the TrailO was something new in Portugal and now here we are, about to organize the European Championships. I would like to hear your comments to this.

S. S. - It is very exciting to go to Portugal. I have never been there before. And it is fantastic that your country can take the task to organize ETOC.

What kind of event do you expect?

S. S. - I have seen the old maps and it seems that we will have to look down the slopes, which is, sometimes, very difficult when you are low. I prefer to look up. But I know that the adviser (Knut, I think) is very fair about these things. So I do expect some good and fair courses.

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

S. S. - In the Paralympic Class, I hope some others, than the strong Swedes, can take a medal. Michael Johansson seems to be the biggest favourite to me. I do like the Swedes, but to make the prize giving ceremonies more colourful I hope for some others on the podium. And in the Open Class and TempO I think that Martin Jullum, at last, will get some medals.

What is your main goal for the season? Will 2014 be your “golden year”?

S. S. - My own expectations this year are not on medals, since we are also in southern Europe for the WTOC, but I will do my best and I hope for medals to Denmark.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Martin Jullum: "I believe that it’s time for Antti Rusanen now"

Martin Jullum's first contact with the Trail orienteering at the highest level was in Miskolc, Hungary, in the World Championships 2009 and since then we got used to see his name in the top positions of the the European and World Championships. The Norwegian is our guest today, leaving us a couple of impressions as a preview of the European Championships, in Palmela.

What have you doing since Vuokatti?

Martin Jullum (M. J.) - After the disappointing performances in Vuokatti, where I missed completely on the course setting style and felt like all the background work and technical preparations was a major waste, I really needed some time off TrailO. After a break in the summer, I got back and finished the season well, resulting in an almost perfect season, the WTOC performances being the only drawback. In addition I have spent too many hours at the University as a PhD student.

Doesn't sound strange to you the name of Portugal as the organizer of ETOC 2014?

M. J. - Not at all. I know you guys are very eager to learn and have excellent terrain for TrailO. You are also taking the organizing job very seriously, which is maybe the most important. In my opinion, the amount of time put into the courses and organizing is the key to a good TrailO competition, and I am actually very confident you have done some.

It will be your first time in Portugal? What do you know about this country?

M. J. - It will be my first time in mainland Portugal. I know that Portugal is Spain’s little brother and that you organize lots of excellent orienteering events during the winter time.

How did you prepare yourself for the competition?

M. J. - I have not focused as much on course setting style as previous Championships, both because I know too little about the course setter and since I messed up badly in Vuokatti because the course setter changed style for WTOC. Championship courses are always something special and cannot even be compared to regular high quality events. Also the maps from the area are so old that there is not much value studying them in detail either. During the winter I have planned courses for Norwegian Spring TrailO which is organized a week after ETOC (Advertisement: I promise high quality events, invitation here: http://norwegianspring.no/dok/2014/INVITATION_NORWEGIAN_SPRING_TRAILO_2014.pdf). During the last weeks I have trained on techniques that I believe will be important in Portugal and ruled out how I should behave, think and work during the course.

What kind of event do you expect?

M. J. - A mix between Hungary and France WTOC courses with a twist of Swedish course setting mentality.

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

M. J. - I believe that it’s time for Antti Rusanen now, but it is seldom that the favourite wins…

PreO or TempO?

M. J. - I believe that my gold medal chances are best in PreO, while the medal chances are best in TempO. I think of winning the PreO as winning the long distance – then you are the king of the Championship no matter what. Winning the TempO is like winning the Sprint – the adrenaline kick will be amazing.

In your case, what should be the perfect result?

M. J. - A picture of me on the top of the podium with a gold medal around my neck.

What is your main goal for the season?

M. J. - Good performances at the twelve international competitions that I plan to compete in, everything else is just training. If I am lucky, the best performances will come in WTOC, Italy.

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

M. J. - A precise map with fair and demanding control setting where one does not have to guess the margins of the zero controls; and the perfect result mention above!

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Agata Ludwiczak: "ETOC will be my next important lesson"

Against all odds, Poland insists on keeping alive the flame of TrailO. Agata Ludwiczak is one of the most visible faces of the discipline in that country of the Eastern Europe and the only representative of Poland competing at the European Championships. A few days before the start of the event, we wanted to hear her expectations and ambitions.

It's good to see you again, back to the big competitions. Was it difficult, to “get the ticket” to the ETOC in Portugal?

Agata Ludwiczak (A. L.) - It wasn't easy. We don't have a lot of competitors in Poland and this is not a very popular discipline between us, so I didn't have problems of being “on the list”. But I had to organize the money and everything for me and my assistants. And it wasn't easy :)

What did you feel when you realize that the ETOC 2014 would be held in Portugal? Was it strange?

A. L. - No, it wasn't strange. Why? I know that you don't have a long TrailO history, but I believe in your organization skills. It was a brave decision. I wish you luck and I hope for a great event.

Is it your first time in Portugal? What do you know about this country?

A. L. - It's my first time in Portugal, yes, and I'm very excited. I've learnt a lot about Portugal and I'm really curious. I'm going to spend some days in Porto, than in Lisbon, I hope to see the Cabo da Roca and some other places before ETOC. And I have an “absolutely must eat” short list :))) *

How did you prepare yourself for the competition?

A. L. - I did some local competitions and online TempO training.

What kind of event do you expect?

A. L. - I think that it will be a nice event with nice people, great competitors, difficult courses, interesting terrains and good weather (I'm checking the forecast every day and I'm really happy that I can see 22º - 24º C).

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

A. L. - My fingers are crossed for our neighbours - friends from Czech Republic and (with special thanks) for Jahn Petersen, from Denmark.

PreO or TempO?

A. L. - Generally, I'm still learning, so ETOC will be my next important lesson. Because of my disability, I need some help with the maps during TempO and it makes me nervous, I can't focus like I wished... PreO is easier for me, with more time for decision.

What is your main goal for the season?

A. L. - To keep my ranking position in Poland and to do good results in ETOC

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

A. L. - Only for you, organizers: GOOD LUCK!

Joaquim Margarido

* The Portuguese Orienteering Blog believes that, on the Agata's "short list", we can find the "Francesinha".

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Remo Madella: "TempO is the only way"

Remo Madella is one of the most respected personalities in the world of the TrailO. Although seemingly insignificant, his performance as course setter of PreO stage of the Portugal O' Meeting 2012 turned out to be decisive in the evolution of this discipline in our country. Within days, the Italian will be again in Portugal to compete in the ETOC and we heard today his opinions.

This is not your first time in Portugal this year. I would like to know some opinions about your victory at the Portugal O' Meeting's PreO stage?

Remo Madella (R. M.) - My presence at the POM wasn't actually meant as a preparation for ETOC... I was just in the middle of a fantastic foot-orienteering + bike holiday and I had the chance to enjoy a day of Trail-O... so, I did it.
 At the POM I had no worries about studying terrain, mapper or course-setter for ETOC, as in Palmela everything will be very different... so I just tried to enjoy myself.

Being the responsible for the course setting of the first stage of the first Portugal Cup, you're an “historic” of TrailO in this country. Can you note some differences between Viseu, in 2012, and the event in Gouveia?

R. M. - It's difficult to point out the differences, as I was involved in very different ways (organizer in 2012 and competitor in 2014) but I try to say something: the terrain was much better in 2014 (with those big rocks and some interesting detailed areas), the pre-race info was better in 2012 :-) . But there was surely a similar thing in the two competitions: a very good map, that I could trust deeply, by the same mapmakers Tiago Aires & Raquel Costa.

What did you felt when you knew that Portugal would be the organizer of ETOC 2014?

R. M. - I thought that it was a big challenge for Portugal, not having any experience in high-level Trail-O... but, with commitment, anything is possible.

How did you prepare yourself for the competition?

R. M. - I attended all the competitions I could in this very short beginning of the season (POM, two times Lipica, two times Milano) and I will try to use my experience and daily use of maps, but most of all I hope to have learned 'mentally' from past mistakes. I also have a new attitude (I understood something :-) and I hope this can help me during the competitions.

What kind of event do you expect?

R. M. - I expect a very tactic competition. We don't have any knowledge about the course-setter's style and about the mapmaker; so everyone is looking forward to the Model Event to understand something.

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

R. M. - I think it's very clear who are the strongest candidates and I'm a big fan of the Nordic competitors. For TempO: Pinja, Antti, Lauri, Marit, MartinJ. For PreO: the same as TempO plus all the other Swedes (Stig, Jens, Martin, Lennhart, William, Erik), Finns (Marko, Martti, Jari) and Norwegians (Lars Jacob, Geir).

PreO or TempO?

R. M. - I have lost interest in PreO, TempO is the only way. 90% of the PreO course-setters (and sadly even Event Advisors) fail to provide fair courses, so PreO is losing value as a competitive sport, anything can happen in the results. There is a way to provide fair courses but course-setters seem to ignore it.
In Italy, we use to say: “TempO never lies”. So, definitely, TempO!

In your case, what should be the perfect result?

R. M. - The perfect result would be to be satisfied with my answers and to enjoy the competitions. Usually, when I'm satisfied, a good result comes together. Anyway, I'd like to be in the best 15 in TempO (the terrain should suit me, but I know it's not easy, last ETOC I couldn't even qualify for the final, and the first 15 spots could be easily filled by Finland, Sweden and Norway only).

What is your main goal for the season? To be the World Champion in your home country?

R. M. - Not at all. I don't even know if I will be in Italy 2014 or Croatia 2015. My only big goal, now, is Sweden 2016, when the Relay medal should be introduced. After years of massive preparation for big events attending to highest number of competitions and strong efforts to explain to course-setters how must be a fair course, I think that I've failed. No big results for me, and still so many unfair courses in PreO, especially at WTOC. So I am stepping back now, just trying to relax and enjoy my Trail-O now and then. I will try to get the most out of the competitions, without worrying too much about the results and keeping low expectations.

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

R. M. - I wish, as always, that ETOC will provide fair courses where luck is not involved in the answers. I also wish Good Luck to the amazing boys and girls of TempO who will fight for Gold with their crazy speed, I'd love to be part of the game in the final to follow them close (as I managed to do in Vuokatti and Selkie last year) and, of course, try to grab the highest place I can.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, April 07, 2014

Pinja Mäkinen: "To enjoy the tasks, and to be bold and calm"

She won the first TempO world title in Vuokatti, gave birth her second child in the meantime and will be in Palmela as one of the big stars of the competition. We talk about Pinja Mäkinen, the Finnish athlete who is the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's invited of today.

Since Vuokatti, what have you doing? I believe that you have a new member in the family...

Pinja Mäkinen (P. M.) - Yes, I have had a second daughter called Leila in the beginning of January. Now I am on maternity leave. So, regarding TrailO, I have a lot of time to train with the baby and short time to train without her. There are both benefits on one hand and disadvantages on the other regarding TrailO. Mostly I train on park sprint maps during day-sleeping walks. Some mental map trainings I do during breastfeeding, and I always have some maps in the pram to take a quick look whenever there is a suitable time...

Doesn't sound strange the name of Portugal as the organizer of ETOC? What have you felt when you realize that the ETOC 2014 would be held in Portugal?

P. M. - I have never been orienteering in Portugal and I have to admit I don't know that much about TrailO in Portugal. I have only seen local maps on the Internet. I think it's exciting to orienteer TrailO in Portugal. Of course Model Events are very important to get familiar with maps and terrain, but fortunately TrailO is basically the same everywhere. And maybe some experiences of orienteering in Spain will help me a little.

What do you know about Portugal?

P. M. - When I think of Portugal, the sea, hot climate and journeys of exploration come to my mind.

How did you prepare yourself for the competition?

P. M. - During this winter I have trained, for example, quick understanding of “easy” exact controls, for example tree groups, and quick reading of compass point of control descriptions. During two last weekends before ETOC we have had intensive national TempO team training days.

What kind of event do you expect?

P. M. - I expect an event where the control points are mostly exact, the visibility mostly good and sometimes the controls may be quite far from the viewing point. I expect quite a quick TempO competition per control. The winner will be the one who can keep her/his head calm, as usual... :-)

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

P. M. - Maybe its better that we first compete and then check the result lists...

In your case, what should be a perfect result? To join the first TempO European title to the first TempO World title?

P. M. - Of course, this would be a perfect result. But most important is to make the right things: to enjoy the tasks, and to be bold and calm. That's what I can do, the results depend also what others do, and that's not in my hands.

What is your main goal for the season?

P. M. - Gold medals in ETOC and WTOC TempO and medals in ETOC and WTOC PreO. But it's not a huge disappointment if I don't achieve these all :-)

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

P. M. - I hope sunny weather and an enjoyable week, both in the competitions and with the family.

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, April 05, 2014

EOC/ETOC 2014: The preview of Ricardo Chumbinho, the Event Director

Big promoter of the sport in Palmela and one of its most visible faces at the Scholar Sports in Portugal, Ricardo Chumbinho is the EOC/ETOC'14 and WCup Event Director. He is also the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's invited of today.

How did you feel, since the beginning, the challenge of being the first responsible for the most important Orienteering event organized in Portugal ever?

Ricardo Chumbinho (R. C.) - It would be totally unfair if, answering to this question, I didn't say that “first responsible” is a term that can only be found in a formal approach... and that, until in this context, wouldn't be entirely true. Effectively, this is a team that no decision is made individually, without which would be absolutely unthinkable the organization of an event of this nature. My role in this structure turns out to arise naturally, since I have all my personal and professional life in this geographical area, I know the people and the places, I develop here the sport with other colleagues for exactly 20 years and therefore, from this point view and also because I integrate the management structure of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, I am well placed to help with the many needs that arise almost daily in the last two years. Having developed my activity as “Event Director” only in local events and linked to the School Sports, I have to recognize some initial concern about the scale of what we were guessing, but at the same time a great comfort to be sure that I could count on the collaboration and unreserved support of a large number of people and which is a true privilege to work with, including here also the people of the municipality. I was right!

How is it going the preparation work of the event?

R. C. – I would say that, within the potentialities and limitations of a structure like ours - with weaknesses (not professional structure) and strengths (huge voluntarism) -, the preparation work, that began in the summer of 2011 with the design specifications of the application and the promotional video, is taking place in order to achieve an excellent result which will be characterized by a balance between the great and the possible, always keeping in mind that our primary responsibility is to ensure that the European Championship titles will be allocated fairly and in a situation of equal opportunities for all athletes. And that will also provide references to dignify national and internationallly the sport in our country, as well as the promotion of our territory.

EOC? ETOC? I ask you to decode this.

R. C. - EOC and ETOC are the initials of Pedestrian and Trail competitions, respectively European Orienteering Championship and European Trail orienteering Championship and, indeed, in our organization, have emerged together, since for us it is a unique event. They are two disciplines of the same sport and we want to do everything so that the inclusive nature of our sport be clearly present on this event: The acronym and the logo are unique, we have a single organizing committee, one event center only, opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies and prize giving ceremonies in common etc., etc. .

What may represent an event of this nature for the municipalities of Palmela and Sesimbra and, in general, for our country?

R. C. - To Palmela is certainly a milestone in its history of sports development, since it is the first time that the municipality receives in its territory a sporting event at the level of an European Championship. Also worth pointing out the fact that this happens with the orienteering not by accident, since orienteering has been a strong vector of the local sports development, well supported by the Municipality of Palmela. I would like to sign up the curiosity of an ephemeris noted in 2014: 20 years of the sport in Palmela, uninterrupted and constantly developed.

In another dimension, we can use several recent examples to also say that this event will be a major factor boosting the local economy, since we are talking about hundreds of people in need of lodging, food and travel for a week, to which we may add the normal souvenir shopping and regional products, including wine and dining, and other. This reasoning can also be extended to other areas of the country and other periods, since we know that several teams have been among us for the preparation and training camps before the competition .

On the other hand, the mapping (new or revised) that getting this event, represents an important set of opportunities for future events. I should remember that, between FootO and TrailO, we are talking about more than a dozen competitions, all in different locations and maps .

What are, in your perspective , the highlights of the event?

R. C. - We have tried to design a program that enhances numerous points of interest not only in sports, so the answer to the question is not easy. We'll have, from a sportive, social and protocolar point of view, several interesting moments. Anyway, I have a strong expectation regarding on Sunday afternoon, April 13th, since we have the B final sprint, the Opening Ceremony and the big finals of the Sprint. Despite being very limited by the IOF's new and rigid protocol, we have been working with our partner Palmela Municipality towards the Opening Ceremony to be very interesting. On the other hand, knowing very well the area where the competition will take place, I am sure that will be very challenging Sprint courses, technically and physically speaking, which will be “decorated” by animation at the Arena, provided by our speaker and images live, broadcasted on a giant screen. On the other hand, everything happens in Palmela where the view over the Barris Valley, Sado Estuary and Arrábida Natural Park is absolutely superb.

Would you like to leave a message, an invitation?

R. C. - A message: that everyone support an event that is of all and for all, because the profits that may result here will be capitalized in the sport itself and, this way, it will return to each of us. An invitation: If, for some reason, you might not be able to collaborate with the organization, then please consider to participate in one or more stages of the EOC Tour or, alternatively, enjoy the Sunday April 13th afternoon to completely fill the Largo de S. João in Palmela either the Opening Ceremony and the Sprint Finals. For those who are further away, still gets the invitation to follow the competition at home, via streaming or watching the xourses' evolution via gps.

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hana Dolezalova: "I don't have time to feel under pressure by ETOC"

Hana Dolezalova returns to the country where, in 2010, she suffered a serious accident during the World MTB Orienteering Championships. Always with the colours of the Czech Republic, her main goals seem to be to finnish a race and say: “I'm satisfied!”

First of all, I must confess my surprise for seeing you on the nominal list of Czech TrailO team for ETOC. And what a beautiful surprise!... How did it happen?

Hana Dolezalova (H. D.) - Two years ago, I told you I would come back to Portugal again. Do you remember? Well, I have succeeded in Czech TrailO team selection races. Czech TrailO competitors keep telling me that I have to compete in TrailO, because of my previous experience in orienteering.

Do you feel “comfortable", having Jana Kostova and Pavel Dudik by your side, in the team? :)

H. D. - Of course! I have so many things to learn from both of them...

How is it going, your preparation?

H. D. - It's painful. I don't have enough time as I wished. I'm at school, at another school, at work... besides other activities. But I don't have time to feel under pressure by ETOC. And I should buy a compass. :)

I'm probably revealing something new to many people saying this is not your first TrailO competition in Portugal. Would you like to explain it?

H. D. - It was a crazy “last minute” action, two years ago. There was a TrailO competition at Hospital da Prelada in Porto. It was amazing to make the idea of going there come true.

How do you feel returning to Portugal?

H. D. - I'm looking forward to returning to Portugal because of everything. Because of the people, the sea, the sun, the Porto wine (although we are not in Porto now)...

What kind of event do you expect?

H. D. - I expect a very difficult race. Open areas with bushes, valleys and “long view” controls. But I would rather be wrong.

Can you point the best candidates to the European titles?

H. D. - The only one: Jana Kostova!

What is your main goal for the season?

H. D. - To finish a race and say: “I'm satisfied”.

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

H. D. - To the organisers and also to the athletes, I would like to wish races with no cancelled controls. Just difficult, clever but fair.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Ivo Tišljar: "I always have faith in good results"

With seven participations in the World Championships and two presences in the European Championships, Ivo Tišljar is an unavoidable name of TrailO in the world. The two bronze medals achieved in the WTOC 2010 and in the WTOC 2011 have made him one of the strongest pillars of the Croatian national team. Let us hear his impressions about the next European Championships, in Palmela.

The ETOC is approaching and I would like to know, in brief, what have you been doing since Vuokatti, last summer?

Ivo Tišljar (I. T.) - I have participated in all the PreO and TempO competitions held up to date not too far from Croatia and I've been doing map reading training at home.

Is your bet at the European Championships mainly in PreO or TempO?

I. T. - My chances are better in PreO than in TempO. It is much more difficult to compensate the
lack of TempO competitions than the lack of PreO competitions when comparing with the
Scandinavian countries.

Didn't it sound strange to you, when you heard that Portugal would be the organizer of the ETOC 2014?

I. T. - No. For some years now I've heard good things about the Portugal Orienteering Meeting and I saw maps of some nice terrains of sand dunes. Also, I have participated on the WMOC in Spain, on the border with Portugal, and there were also interesting terrains.

What kind of event do you expect?

I. T. - An event with a very strong field and small differences on the scoreboard.

Between the candidates to the European titles, where do you see yourself? And the Croatian team?

I. T. - PreO is very demanding. It is easy to make mistakes and they are very costly. There are
so many strong competitors that it is hard to tell what to expect, but I always have faith in good results, both for me and for my team.

What is your main goal for the season?

I. T. - To do my best on the ETOC and the WTOC.

Would you like to make a wish for the European Championships?

I. T. - I wish a good, fair and technically demanding competition.

Joaquim Margarido