Saturday, May 31, 2014

Marina Borisenkova: "It is possible that my gold is still ahead!"



I can summarize: TrailO is my sport, my love, my life. But there are many questions that I can't understand and explain to myself.” Marina Borisenkova, bronze medallist with the Russia team in ETOC 2014, come to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune to present herself. With many certainties ... and some question marks!


I would start by asking you to present yourself.

Marina Borisenkova (M. B.) - I was born and I live in Russia, in one of its most beautiful and ancient cities, Pskov, in the northwestern border of the country. When I was 23, after an unsuccessful surgery, I fell into a wheelchair. Before my illness, I was engaged in Athletics. Almost immediately after the surgery, in 2000, I started practicing TrailO and I was selected for the Russian Championships. I only had a vague idea about the meaning of a compass bearing or a flag, but I grabbed to TrailO and it was impossible to escape on it. For me, to have the chance of combining a beautiful natural environment, the physical and mental demands and the struggle for the victory is a huge fortune. I just fell in love with TrailO and this love remains until the present moment!

Now I have a lot of Russian awards. In 2006, I performed very well in the Russian Championships and I was selected to the national team, participating in my first World Championships, in Finland. Five years ago I had a son, Ilya, and this was a great happiness! But to train and to participate in different events became much more difficult, despite the great help from my mom and my husband, Alexander. It's thanks to them that I can continue to engage with TrailO.

You've been recently in Portugal, competing at ETOC. Can you tell me something about the selection process?

M. B. - The ETOC in Portugal was, for the Russian team, the beginning of the competition season. From December to March, the weather conditions prevent us to compete, so the selection process was based on the last year's Russian Championships and other results of the current season. On the Russian Championships there are up to sixty Paralympic athletes and to get a place in the team was a difficult task.

How did you prepare yourself for the European Championships?

M. B. - First and very important competition of the season, the European Championships were held too early and we couldn't prepare in the best way. We had a couple of training sessions in April, but in our region is still snow, which prevent us to make long trips. So, my main trainings was theoretical studies, distances and map analysis from the last years. I knew that Knut Ovesen was the Senior Event Adviser, so I was looking very carefully through the distance that he set, trying to understand his thoughts and tasks. All the training was based in the previous season. The best workout is to participate in competitions and to make detailed analysis so, to participate in the biggest competitions of autumn, in Latvia, Lithuania and Russia, was highly important.

To finish 14th in the ETOC's PreO was the result that you expected?

M. B. - To finish fourteenth among the strongest athletes it's very nice. Of course, every one of us dreams with a gold medal and I'm not exception. It is possible that my gold is still ahead! In Portugal, the success was accompanied by many factors: weather, visibility of the flags, possibility of independent movement in the distance, ability to read maps while driving, right attitude and a little of luck. The result: an exciting and joyful bronze medal! In TrailO, the results often depend on the quality of the map and course setting. The higher the level of this two elements, the more the athletes are in equal conditions. The problems are to solve, not to guess.

And what about TempO?

M. B. - I like the pace. Promptly and accurately. But there are issues associated to this discipline for which it's difficult to find the answers. For example, why the courses are not divided into classes, Open and Paralympic? In all the latest competitions, the difference of opportunities between the open class athletes and the athletes in wheelchairs has been increasing. On the approach to the stations, an athlete standing sees much more (especially if tall) than an athlete seated on a wheelchair. The concerns of an athlete on a wheelchair when approaching to a station are on the ground, to keep from falling. On WTOC 2013, in the TempO course, the athletes in wheelchairs were required to climb hills and to move across the sand, the pulse rising up to 200 beats per minute, which are not exactly the best conditions to solve such problems. This is well illustrated by the results of the qualification, just see how many athletes in wheelchairs get into the finals. So, in my opinion, there should have been two TempO classes, Open and Paralympic. Definitely!

Taking a look into the board medal, we can see Finland and Sweden, Sweden and Finland, and... Russia. What means to you the third place achieved in the Team competition, with two paralympic athletes in the team?

M. B. - This was a huge success. Especially because within the 18 participants of 6 teams on the podium, there were only three people in wheelchairs and two of them from Russia. Which is significant and especially valuable! I think that the fact of our team had won the third place can be an example for many children in Russia. To fall in a wheelchair doesn't mean that you have to be a kind of stroller or something, it is not a sentence. In my country, as in many other countries, you can look to the results and this has to do, mainly, with the development of our sport in Russia, the attitude and the athlete. We have results and they are important!

Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC? Can you point the best and the worst?

M. B. - Portugal was one of the most beautiful countries I have had the chance to visit until now! Mountains, the huge and real ocean, a very blue sky, a cape on the edge of the World - Cabo da Roca - and tangerines, delicious mandarins! At the European Championships I liked everything: friendly organizers, sympathetic assistants for wheelchair users, interesting courses, precise work judging team and a perfect weather! Everything was great!

Is TrailO in the right way?

M. B. - Yes, of course! But we have repeatedly raised the following questions, that we believe are important for the TrailO's development: (1) TempO have, necessarily, to be separated in two classes – Open and Paralympic; (2) In the team competition it should be restored the separate competition, between Open and Paralympic classes; (3) To increase the interest in TrailO for the youth should be allowed one additional athlete if presented as a junior, in addition to the usual three athletes in the Open and in the Paralympic classes; (4) To have a Paralympic class also in the European Cup (ECTO).

I believe in TrailO as an opportunity for self-realization, adaptation and support to disabled people. We can see, lately, people on wheelchairs being dislodge in a gently and covert way. We claim for accessing suitable distances, we adapt to the rain, we climb without assistants and it seems like nobody notice our efforts. To fight in equal terms and conditions is just harder. Now, in the European Cup, no Paralympic class (!)... It is an insult and incomprehensible.

Are we going to see you competing in WTOC, in Italy? What are your main goals?

M. B. - Of course, I'm preparing for WTOC 2014 and I hope to show that it wasn't an accident to reach the podium in Portugal.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, May 26, 2014

Charles Bromley Gardner: "I have to learn the right level of tolerance"



After ending in the second position the Portugal O' Meeting's PreO stage, Charles Bromley Gardner returned to our country, integrated in the Great Britain team to the European Trail Orienteering Championships ETOC 2014. Throughout this interview, Gardner relive some of the highlights of his career, revisits Palmela's ETOC, expresses his views about the TrailO's present moment and speaks of the future, guessing a “busy retirement”.


I start this Interview by asking you, briefly, to present yourself.

Charles Bromley Gardner (C. B. G.) - I’m 54 years old, being one of the oldest 60s babies born in England! Near the end of a military career in the British Army, I’ve settled in central southern England near the town of Andover, but also equidistant from the ancient cathedral cities of Salisbury and Winchester. I have remained a bachelor, participating in far too much sport to ever settle down – biathlon, cross country skiing, a bit of ski-orienteering, many forms of terrain running for recreation, and rugby probably being the main ones. I’ve spent a bit of money on bicycles too. Nowadays, I organise a fortnight’s biathlon/cross country skiing championship for the Army, coaching (skiing and shooting) when I can find more time to get abroad; do a bit of orienteering planning; and referee rugby matches.

I was introduced to orienteering at the start of my Army service, and my participation in the sport built up from there, navigation, and thus orienteering, being an integral tactical military skill. I have won the Army and Tri-Service (Navy/Marines, Army and RAF) championships a few times. In the latter, for the last 4 years, I have finished 3rd three times and 2nd once – not bad for an M50! I won the British Championships once – M35 on Anglesey sand-dunes.

I competed in my first TrailO in 1999, winning the British Championships! I had only entered because it was another activity in conjunction with the Foot-O championships. I think that the standard was very straightforward – there can’t have been many of the intricate tricks now used. I remember one other event from the early 2000s, when I was successfully caught out by the planner. I was abroad In Norway and further afield from 2003-2007, and again in 2009, so didn’t really pick up Trail-O again until 2010/11.

We have very few TrailO events in UK, only 2-3 a year. When held in conjunction with Foot-O championships I will enter. As a result I was selected for ETOC 2012 in Sweden, which was my first overseas Trail-O event. It was a steep learning curve, but on Day 2 I made no mistakes, learning from my 4 or 5 mistakes on Day 1. Likewise in the TempO, I did far better on the public opportunity to go round the Final than I did in qualifying.

You've been recently in Portugal, competing at ETOC. Was it, in the beginning of the season, a major goal to be in Palmela?

C. B. G. - As I mentioned, there are very few Trail-O events in UK. Selection is based on a Ranking List that incorporates the past 2 years’ worth of events. I spent 2013 in Afghanistan, so all my counting scores were from 2012, even though they left me in 3rd position! Thus I was one of the secondary selections for this year’s ETOC. Selection was announced in November 2013, as it was for WTOC, for which I was not selected.

How did you prepare yourself for the competition?

C. B. G. - The first British event of the year occurs in the JK Festival at Easter – after ETOC. So most of the British Open TrailO team went to the Portuguese Orienteering Meeting in March … for the one Pre-O event, backed up by 5 Foot-O races. I certainly would not have gone just for one TrailO event, even though I finished 2nd, with one more mistake, to Remo Madella (Italy).

Otherwise, my only preparation was close reading of the IOF Technical Guidelines for Elite Trail Orienteering (revised January 2014). This is like when I was learning to rugby referee: one must know the rules, before learning how to apply them. I haven’t got into the on-line TrailO opportunities – the 2-D perspective is not quite the same.

You took a great result on PreO second day but the beginning of the competition wasn't, I believe, what you expected. How do you see your 36th position overall?

C. B. G. - I like learning! In both my ETOCs (2012 in Sweden and 2014 in Portugal) I have had a clean result on the 2nd day. But I believe that I can tend to be, now anyway, too critical of flag placement and will obstinately declare a Zero result when the planner has perhaps given themself more leeway. I have to learn the right level of tolerance!

Was I 36th? More importantly, I was the 2nd British competitor! Day 1 (with 5 errors) was disappointing; 3 of those mistakes were mistaken Zeroes, so I knew that I could do better by adjusting my tolerances. The other 2 errors were proper ‘mistakes’ – beaten by the planner. I know that I can again get close to Remo, who finished 9th. I was, however, confident with all my answers. That is a major factor in TrailO - not really knowing how well one has done against the planner until the results come out, let alone how well all the other competitors have done. At least in Foot-O, you know whether you are reading the map and ground correctly!

I don’t feel anything extra about the Team competition: there is no extra pressure, even though it is the event in which GB has a podium place chance. It just requires good competition from all team members … and since I cannot be consistent myself, I will not expect that from other team members.

The other disappointment – my late start on Day 1 Pre-O prevented me running the Middle Race of the EOC Tour!

Was it in your plans to reach the Final of the TempO competition?

C. B. G. - I was very happy to have done well enough in Heat 2 to have qualified for the Final, from an early start. My strategy was to get the answers right, rather than going for the first thought. So I only got 3 wrong … and was beaten by some who got 5 and 6 wrong! (30 seconds penalty for every mistake). This is how I shoot in biathlon – taking care rather than taking the first shot. For me, with little practice in both sports, I reckon it produces the better result. But it will never win.

So I didn’t change my strategy in the final, but the controls were (rightly) harder. I got 6 controls wrong, but see that I took the longest decision time of all the competitors. So I was beaten by those who got 12 controls wrong! Certainly I was a bit disappointed, with both the result and 3 of my mistakes, but it was valuable experience, as it was only my 3rd TempO event in recent years.

Taking a look into the board medal, we can see Finland and Sweden leading the TrailO world scene at the moment. And what about Great Britain?

C. B. G. - We have a chance of a Team event Podium (indeed, perhaps even better – with perfect hindsight, just for us, our best team could have been placed 3rd!). Otherwise we are extremely unlikely to hold enough Trail-O events to gain the experience to produce the individual consistency to challenge the leader board over 2 days (it’s not only me - John Crosby scored 19 in the Paralympic Class on Pre-O Day 2, after 14 on Day 1).

Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC? Can you point the best and the worst?

C. B. G. - ETOC was a great competition, with few organisational frictions. (Can we draw a comparison with the concurrent EOC, or would that be unfair?) Some competitors will like being in the same terrain for both Pre-O days, whilst others would prefer 2 different terrains. In my view, we are to be grateful to have good competition on any terrain. Very good use was made of that long valley for a very fair competition.

The TempO was surprisingly good competition. It proved that intricate terrain is not necessary for good, fair and testing competition.

Apart from missing my EOC Tour Middle run, the queue at the Day 1 Timed controls was probably the low point. Certainly there were some straining bladders! And I was grateful that the planner gave away on of his challenges on the last control of the Model event (the flags not being down the middle of the re-entrant): having got that wrong (not realising why my bearings were right from one direction, but wrong from the other), I was certainly on the lookout for the repeat control (Day 2, Control 15)!

Is TrailO in the right way?

C. B. G. - TrailO is a great mental challenge. But it does not have the physical challenge that attracted many of us into orienteering in the first place. The main downside is that the guidelines are so ‘geeky’ – perhaps intricate is a better word. It is difficult to attract new competitors when they are caught out by devious control descriptions / flag placements (I am referring in general not to ETOC specifics). To become more popular, TrailO events should be held in conjunction with good Foot-O events – for example I am travelling to Italy for the ‘3 days of Trenches’ 31 May - 2 June, because (easily reached form an airport) in 2½ days away from UK I can run Urban and Middle races and enter a PreO event.

You said before that you will not participate in WTOC 2014. What are your main goals for the rest of the season?

C. B. G. - I am not selected for WTOC. Selection was made in November 2013, partially to enable those selected to book their travel and accommodation at the cheapest rates, at their own expense. It gives me another week’s holiday to spend on snow in the winter!

My summer goals are to decide what I shall do when my military career finishes by February 2015 (or perhaps more accurately how I can maximise participation in all my various sports), and to plan an Urban event in Winchester. It will be, I suspect, a busy retirement, as long as my physical health remains!

Joaquim Margarido
  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Davide Machado: "A medal in the World Championships is an old dream"


Ending on the second position at the Long Distance course of the MTB orienteering World Cup 2014's opening round, Davide Machado got another historical achievement. The best result ever for a Portuguese MTB orienteer is remembered here in the first person, the emotions of the past mixed with the ambitions of the future.


With the movie of those 95 historical minutes very much alive in your memory, I asked you to summarize the Long Distance course and your second place?

Davide Machado (D. M.) - After a suitable result in the Sprint, I knew that I would have the chance to do something more in the Long Distance. The start wasn't the best. I lost some time to put the map on the bike and, the next moment, I was well back from the head of the race. The early kilometres were made in “sprint mode”, trying to recover some positions. Even so, for the first control point, I lost enough time. The fact that all athletes have the same first control created a lot of confusion, forcing me to follow further back to a complete stop in a narrow passage preceding the control. From there, it was to put on my pace, to focus on the map and try to abstract of other athletes in the course. Yet, even made some small mistakes in the first map and having lost about one minute, I could “compensate” it with the physical aspect in the rolling paths. Still in the early moments, near to the 7th control, a frontal collision with a Swedish athlete (Linus Mood) scared me. However, unlike him who broke the derailleur and was forced to quit the race, I was lucky, I suffered only a few scratches and misaligned the bike's direction. Apart the GPS and a pocket tools game, I lost some time and, briefly, the concentration.

It was a course where the good physical sensations allowed me to walk on the limits always, in which I could be, technically, very regular. These sensations showed me, from time to time, that I could be in a good position , but I had no idea which it was, because of the dispersion controls. Already in the final part, following only three athletes in the lead, we made a small mistake and the second group reach us, but for the penultimate control, Pekka Niemi and I took a different option which earned us a small advantage, allowing that only the two of us could discuss the sprint to the finish. However, I just knew that I had achieved the second place just some seconds after crossing the finish line. I could not believe!

You've rolled most of the time in front of the race (Giaime Origgi dubbed you as a “motorbike”). Did you felt, for a moment, that you could reach the victory?

D. M. - Apart the initial moments, I often rolled in front of the race, or rather, in front of the groups that I picked up along the way. For some time, I was in the group where Giaime Origgi followed and, as the sensations were good, I always tried to walk ahead and to escape for the confusion, so he nicknamed me “motorbike”. However, at any moment entered in my head that I could walk in the lead, since we didn't have the same order on the course. Amazingly, I realized only my position few seconds after to cross the finish.

How the “mass start” format may have had an influence on the achieved result?

D. M. - It wasn't my first course with a start in this format. Personally I don't like it, especially the way how it was done. First, because the starting location was cramped for the participats; secondly, because the first control was the same for everyone and the path to the control was really tight, causing much confusion. One of the reasons why this format could be crucial to my result has to do with the fact of knowing that I was back in the course and that I should do everything I could to get ahead as quickly as possible. As well as the fact that, along the course, to catch some big names can give you an extra motivation.

What value has for you this second place ?

D. M. - For me it is a tremendously valueble result. An outcome that, somehow, compensate me for all the effort and dedication of these last years and, at the same time, motivating myself for what is yet to come. After haven't achieved the results expected last season at the international level, this result makes the present season to start in the best way. Beyond the personal factor, I look back on this result a sort of reward for all the people around me, for all the people who supported me and believed in me. Specially to all entities and sponsors who, in one way or another, did everything to make possible the best conditions. Within all these, I highlight the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, who believed and bet in my development, my orienteering club (. COM) who have always supported me, the FOCUS bikes , represented in Portugal by Tecnocycle, my Physicists coaches (Bike-Training) and allsport.pt, among others .

The next challenge is called...

D. M. - On a personal level, to finish the degree in Management is the next challenge. These recent times have been complicated, the trainings and the competitions “stealing me” too much study time. At the sporting level, I have several national challenges, as the MTB Marathon National Championships and the Olympic Cross-Country National Championships, tevents where I hope to make a difference and try to promote the orienteering next to another public. Internationally, to train and anxiously wait for the World Cup's next stage, to be held in Sweden, from 17th to 21st July.

What is your biggest goal for the season?

D. M. - Once more – as in the recent years -, the main goal of the season lies in the World Championships, and in particular in the Long Distance course. Despite the great result achieved in this World Cup stage, I know that all the athletes are preparing for the World Championships. The level is high and it will still increase, but I'm ready to fight. In the past four years, the main goal has been to maintain the status of high performance level A, which is only achieved with a result within the first eight places in a World or a European Championships. This will be a year where I just have the World Championships to get it, which always carries an added pressure, but I know that I have the ability to achieve more and I am motivated to do so. A medal in the World Championships is an old dream. I know it's not impossible and I proved it to myself, but at this level all the details count and a good portion of luck or, at least, to stay away from misfortune, is always important.

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, May 18, 2014

MTBO World Cup 2014: Finland wins the Mixed Relay



Unsurprisingly, Finland closed its participation in the opening round of the World Cup MTB orienteering 2014 in the best way. On the last day of competition, Marika Hara, Jussi Laurila and Pekka Niemi won the Mixed Relay, ahead of a sensational French team.


With the dispute of the Mixed Relay, the opening round of the MTB orienteering World Cup 2014 is over. The course took place at Gurre Vang / Krogenberg, in North Zealand (Denmark ), relying on the starting line 33 teams from 13 different countries. Most of the major teams “played” its “female card” in the first leg, leaving the second and third legs to the male athletes. And so it was, that we saw Finland, at the outset, to raise comfortable lead, thanks to Marika Hara's excellent performance.

With Sweden and Russia in the first chasing group and slightly behind, France, Czech Republic and Italy, Finland knew how to control the course, with Jussi Laurila losing just 15 seconds to the French Cédric Beill, who got the fastest time in the intermediate leg. France has been again in focus in the final leg, with Baptiste Fuchs making the second fastest time and earn 1:26 to Pekka Niemi, still insufficient to cancel the disadvantage that, in the end, was by 1:24 to the Finnish team. The third place fell to the Czech Republic, with Jiri Hradil achieving an excellent performance and finishing at 2:21 from the winners.


Results

1 . Finland (M. Hara, J. Laurila, P. Niemi) 2:03:45
2 . France (G. Barlet, C. Beill, B. Fuchs) 2:05:09 (+ 1:24)
3 . Czech Republic (R. Paulickova, J. Svoboda, J. Hradil) 2:06:06 (+ 2:21)
4 . Russia (S. Poverina, R. Gritsan, A. Foliforov) 2:07:10 (+ 3:25)
5 . Italy (L. Scaravonati, G. Origgi, L. Dallavalle) 2:07:30 (+ 3:45)

For more information and full results, please visit the organiser’s website at http://okoest.dk/wc2014/.

[Photo: Suomen Suunnistusliitto / facebook.com/suunnistusliitto]

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, May 17, 2014

MTBO World Cup 2014: A "goliath" named Davide



Davide Machado was one of the major figures of the MTB Orienteering World Cup 2014's second stage, taking place in Denmark. Decided in a hard sprint, the Long Distance course saw the Portuguese athlete to achieve a fantastic 2nd place, just three seconds behind the winner. In the women class, the first place also dressed in blue and white with the colours of Finland, thanks to the triumph of Ingrid Stengard.


It's a historic result for the Portuguese MTB Orienteering. Davide Machado concludes the Long Distance stage of the opening round of the MTB orienteering World Cup 2014 in the second position, achieving the best result ever for a Portuguese athlete in a World Cup stage. In a mass start system, a format very appreciated by athletes and particularly media friendly, the event was held in Teglstrup Hegn in northern Denmark, with a total of 113 participants, 68 men and 45 women, in a distance of 26.7 km and 22,7 km, respectively.

In the men's competition, the balance was a constant. Confirming to be in a really good shape, Davide Machado has always kept the control of the operations, addressing the final controls in a privileged position. In the strong final sprint, to the “fury” of the Portuguese athlete, spoke louder the strength and vigour of the young Pekka Niemi (Finland), he also getting here an historic result in personal terms after the 2nd place in the Middle Distance of the European Championships in Zamosc ( Poland, 2013). The third placed, 10 seconds more than Niemi, fell to the Czech Jiri Hradil. For the remaining Portuguese, João Ferreira takedown by the 26th position and Guilherme Marques was ranked the 40th, while Daniel Marques and Carlos Simões were disqualified.

In the Women Elite class, the course saw an outcome very similar to the male sector, with the first two separated for two seconds. The Finnish Marika Hara returned to be at her best, but the big winner was her compatriot Ingrid Stengard, which thus reached their fourth win in stages of the World Cup. With over eight seconds to the winner, the British Emily Benham was the third classified.


Results

Men Elite
1. Pekka Niemi (Finland) 1:35:32
2. Davide Machado (Portugal) 1:35:35 (+ 0:03)
3. Hradil Jiri (Czech Republic) 1:35:42 (+ 0:10)
4. Dallavalle Luca (Italy) 1:35:46 (+ 0:14)
5. Jussi Laurila Finland) 1:35:49 (+ 0:17)
6. Hans Jørgen Kvåle (Norway) 1:36:04 (+ 0:32)
7. Baptiste Fuchs (France) 1:36:09 (+ 0:37)
8. Kevin Haselsberger (Austria) 1:36:49 (+ 1:17)
9. Clément Souvray (France) 1:37:12 (+ 1:40)
10. Vojtech Stransky (Czech Republic) 1:37:21 (1:49 +)
( ... )
26. João Ferreira (Portugal) 1:43:42 (+ 8:10)
40. Guilherme Marques (Portugal) 1:48:31 (+ 12:59)
Daniel Marques (Portugal) mp
Carlos Simões (Portugal) mp

Women Elite
1. Ingrid Stengard (Finland) 1:31:51
2. Marika Hara (Finland) 1:31:53 (+ 0:02)
3. Emily Benham (Great Britain) 1:31:59 (+ 0:08)
4. Martina Tichovska (Czech Republic) 1:32:06 (+ 0:17)
5. Susanna Laurila (Finland) 1:32:33 (+ 0:42)
6. Poverina Svetlana (Russia) 1:33:00 (+ 1:09)
7. Renata Paulickova (Czech Republic) 1:33:07 (+ 1:16)
8. Eeva - Liisa Hakala (Finland) 1:33:26 (+ 1:35)
9. Maja Rothweiler (Switzerland) 1:33:49 (+ 1:58)
10. Cecilia Thomasson (Sweden) 1:34:35 (+ 2:44)

The opening round of the MTB orienteering World Cup 2014 ends tomorrow with the Mixed Relay in which Portugal will not participate. Everything to follow at http://okoest.dk/wc2014/.

Joaquim Margarido
  

MTBO World Cup 2014: Foliforov and Hara, the first winners



Anton Foliforov and Marika Hara won the opening stage of the MTB orienteering World Cup 2014 held yesterday in North Zealand, Denmark. Davide Machado was the best portuguese athlete, finishing in the 16th position.


Winners of the MTB orienteering World Cup in the last season, the Russian Anton Foliforov and the Finnish Marika Hara started on the best way the defense of their titles, winning the first stage of the MTBO World Cup 2014's inaugural round. Tied in the Sprint distance, the course took place at the Science and Technology Park Scion DTU in Hørsholm and counted with the participation of 68 male and 45 female athletes.

In a distance of 7.0 km, the men's course was tightly contested, with Anton Foliforov to get the win with a record of 23:36. On his Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/anton.foliforov - Foliforov speaks about a Sprint “very fast, challenging and thrilling” in which “to lose the concentration for one second and to follow in the wrong direction” would be fatal. Putting aside some minor errors, the great Russian athlete highlights a big day “with a victory as result. Super!”


Davide Machado better than in 2013

Winner of the World Cup in 2011 and largely absent of the international MTBO scene in the two following seasons, the Danish Erik Skovgaard Knudsen returned auspiciously, ensuring the second place with 0:09 more than the winner. The third place fell to the Estonian Lauri Malsroos, 23 seconds behind Foliforov. One last note to the Swiss Christian Wüthrich, getting a surprising 5th place and for the Norwegian Jans Jørgen Kvåle, with an excellent achievement but with a “mp” also and, with it, let to escape a hypothetical second place.

Among the Portuguese, Davide Machado start his participation in the MTBO World Cup this season with a 16th place, seven “holes” above what he had done in the first round of the World Cup 2013, at the opening stage of the European Championships, at Zamosc (Poland). Showing himself in a good shape , the Portuguese athlete may complain of a couple of hesitations but he made a very regular race, achieving the time of 25:02, a few 17 seconds to the top 10. Remembering some nice moments - his 9th place in the Long Distance of the JWOC 2009 is, still today, the best result ever of a Portuguese athlete in Junior World Championship -, João Ferreira was the second best portuguese athlete, finishing in the 31th place with a time of 26:54.


Hara hits Benham

In the Women Elite , the struggle for victory was particularly fierce. Marika Hara would end up being the fastest, managing to complete the 5.7 km of her course in 21:48. In the end, the Finnish athlete would refer tthat “the course was interesting, with both short and long legs with route choices”, as it is stated in the International Orienteering Federation webpage, at http://orienteering.org/hara-and-foliforov-strongest-at-world-cup-opening/.

After the great campaign of 2013, only “spotted” by the absence of the World Cup's final round, held in Portugal, the British Emily Benham is back in a big way, having reached the second place, just five seconds after the winner. In the third position, a special word to the very young Eeva-Liisa Hakala (Finland ), followed by three, all equally young, Russian athletes: Olga Vinogradova, Svetlana Poverina and Tatiana Repina. Great sensation of the previous season and second placed at the World Cup 2013, the Swedish Cecilia Thomasson takedown by the ninth position, 1:53 behind the winner.


Results

Men Elite
1 . Anton Foliforov (Russia) 23:36
2 . Erik Skovgaard Knudsen (Denmark) 23:45 (+ 0:09)
3 . Lauri Malsroos (Estonia) 23:59 (+ 0:23)
4 . Ruslan Gritsan (Russia) 24:01 (+ 0:25)
5 . Christian Wüthrich (Switzerland) 24:16 (+ 0.40)
6 . Frantisek Bogar (Czech Republic) 00:27 (+ 0:51 )
6 . Valerii Glukhov (Russia) 24:27 (+ 0:51)
8 . Jussi Laurila (Finland) 24:39 (+ 1:03)
9 . Pekka Niemi (Finland) 24:44 (+ 1:08)
10 . Tuomo Lahtinen (Finland) 24:45 (+ 1:09)
( ... )
16 . Davide Machado (Portugal) 25:02 (+ 1:26)
31 . João Ferreira (Portugal) 26:54 (+ 3:18)
44 . Carlos Simões (Portugal) 27:50 (+ 4:14)
55 . Guilherme Marques (Portugal) 30:12 (+ 6:36)
58 . Daniel Marques (Portugal) 30:58 (+ 7:22)

Women Elite
1. Marika Hara (Finland) 21:48
2 . Emily Benham (Great Britain) 21:53 (+ 0:05)
3 . Eeva-Liisa Hakala Finland) 22:14 (+ 0:26)
4 . Olga Vinogradova (Russia) 22:44 (+ 0:56)
5 . Svetlana Poverina (Russia) 23:08 (+ 1:20)
5 . Tatiana Repina (Russia) 23:08 (+ 1:20)
7 . Gaëlle Barlet France) 23:17 (+ 1:29)
8 . Maja Rothweiler (Switzerland) 23:20 (+ 1:32)
9 . Cecilia Thomasson (Sweden) 23:41 (+ 1:53)
10 . Renata Paulickova (Czech Republic) 23:42 (+ 1:54)

The World Cup continues today with the Long Distance Mass Start. Everything to follow at http://okoest.dk/wc2014/.

[Photo: Suomen Suunnistusliitto / facebook.com/suunnistusliitto]

Joaquim Margarido
  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zoltán Miháczi: "For progress we have to wake up the interest of younger ages"



The Hungarian team was one of the great revelations of the last European Trail Orienteering Championships, which took place in Palmela. From the excellent set of results, the highlight is Zoltán Miháczi's 9th place in TempO. He is the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's guest today, recalling a week of strong emotions.


An easy question to start: Who is Zoltán Miháczi?

Zoltán Miháczi (Z. M.) - I was born in 1967, in Budapest. I grew up there and I live now in the suburbs. I’m an employee in a big multinational company (T-Systems) and I work in the operating area. I’ve been doing Foot orienteering since I was 10 and now I compete both in FootO and TrailO. I am a member of the Hungarian Orienteering Society’s presidency since 2002 and now I’m its vice-president. The Trail-O turned up in Hungary in 2005, four years before the World Championships in Miskolc and I was also there in the early moments. Previously, I took part in one World competition only, in 2008, in Olomouc. In the recent years I attended more Italian, Slovenian and Portuguese Trail-O competitions. Usually I finished these competition ranked close to the medals, in spite of the strong field (Remo, Kreso,...).

You've recently been to Portugal, competing at the ETOC. What were your major goals?

Z. M. - In 2008, in Olomouc, I reached the 28th place but, at that time, I wasn’t satisfied with my performance. Then, I competed only in Hungary for a few years. For the European Championships, I didn't have any specific goals, but to do better than in 2008. With my little international experience and without the knowledge about the opponents I couldn’t expect more from myself.

How did you prepare for the European Championships?

Z. M. - The Hungarian team prepared for the ETOC together with theoretical exercises and field practices. Thanks to that, I think we have provided our most uniform performance as a team. We found next to Budapest a very similar terrain to Vale de Barris. It was an open bushy area and we used it for the PreO competition. But we didn’t have the possibility to prepare for the TempO.

So, it was even more brilliant, your 9th position in the Final. Did you expect this? Where was the secret?

Z. M. - Hungary never had before an athlete qualified for the TempO Final and I wanted to achieve it (now, Fruzsina Bíró succeeded this too). Usually I’m good at exercises, which need fast perception and decision. So I like timed controls. I knew that, for the final, I had to be very concentrated and I needed to avoid panicking. In the qualification I made a lot of mistakes and I was the last one to be qualified, there was a huge stress inside of me. My purpose was competing in the final cool-headed. Despite this, I got over the first control very fast. I realised it and I took back a little bit from my tempo. Though the controls in the final were more difficult, I got the same result as in the qualification (210.5 sec, 6 mistakes – 211 sec, 6 mistakes), while the others' percentage of mistakes was significantly worse.

And what about PreO? Was getting the 21st place in your plans?

Z. M. - Typical for me, to hurry too much in PreO. My purpose was stable competing. On the first day I succeeded well and the fast timed control held out great opportunities. In my opinion, a good TrailO competitor should have the ability to think like the course setter. On the second day I could think this way almost during the whole race, but I missed out for a few seconds, so I lost the 8th place. Not having learnt from my mistake on first day, I changed my decision before the punching, in spite of what I heard on the team leaders' meeting. By and large, I’m satisfied with the 21st place.

The Hungarian team was very well in the European Championships, showing you and Fruzsina very consistent and Miksa doing a great improvement. How is it going the TrailO in your country?

Z. M. - Our team prepared for the Championships together and we also lived this week together, the competition, the analyses and everything else. We are proud of our result. Fruzsi has made good results for years, but Miksa hasn’t got a long past in this sport. He becomes more conscious. He raised the bar high for himself. Unfortunately, we have very few TrailO competitions in Hungary. We have only a few experienced course setters, who know the international trends. To step forward, we need to visit the competitions of neighbouring countries as well as to popularize this sport in our country and to develop the training.

Overall, how do you evaluate the ETOC? Can you point the best and the worst?

Z. M. - For seven or eight years I have regularly travelled to Portugal to compete on the Portugal O'Meeting. Portuguese competitions are usually well organised and the environment is friendly. Now we also face good maps and exciting exercises. We got all support and help from the organizers. Beside the good organization, it’s hard to say bad things. Maybe the processing/showing on web of results was a bit slow. But on the last day it was not a problem.

Is TrailO worldwide in the right way?

Z. M. - The rules of TrailO – basically with the Scandinavian orienteering – are continuously more precise, they become more clear. I find it in a good direction and that TempO gets more and more emphasis. This is much more sellable for media and for youngsters too. For progress we have to wake up the interest of younger ages. We haven’t succeeded in Hungary yet.

Are we going to see you competing in the WTOC, next summer? What are your main goals?

Z. M. - My participation in the WTOC this year is uncertain, but I’d like to get to Zagreb and Jesenik, and I wanted to improve my results. Thank you for the opportunity! And I wanted to say thank you particularly to the Irish and Portuguese competitors for their help in Palmela.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, May 12, 2014

FinTrailO 2014: Historical victory of Marit Wiksell



Unable to put on the field, in a full way, their enormous potential, the Finnish champions were beaten helplessly in their own soil. The Swedish Marit Wiksell won the FinTrailO 2014, while the Norwegian Martin Jullum is the leader of the European TrailO Cup (unofficial ) after the first two stages.


Black journey for the Finnish TrailO competitors, that lived this weekend in Tuusula and Nurmijärvi, around Helsinki. For the first time in its five years of existence, the FinTrailO met a winner not Finnish. And if we think that the top five were, all of them, not Finnish, so the story of this competition seems to have really something to tell. But, what happened to the Swedish and Norwegians to come, see and win so emphatically? Nothing special, they were simply the best!

Opening stage of the second edition of the European TrailO Cup (unofficial), the FinTrailO 2014's TempO competition opened the hostilities. Played on Saturday morning for 82 athletes from eight countries, this competition saw the Finnish Pinja Mäkinen at her best, finishg the seven stations of the course (four points each) cleanly. The 132 seconds spent by the athlete were to be overcome by six other competitors, but the penalty time due to one or more wrong answers eventually relegate them to the secondary positions. Was it the case of the Finnish Antti Rusanen and Lauri Kontkanen, ranked second and third with more 28 and 32 seconds than the winner, respectively. Was also the case of the Swedish Marit Wiksell, the fastest in the course, but with 90 seconds of penalty for three wrong answers, which relegate her to the fifth place.


Predictions only in the end

On Saturday afternoon we had the PreO's first stage and with it the first major turnaround. Scoring only for FinTrailO 2014, the course had on the Norwegian Martin Jullum the big winner, with a total of 21 correct answers, as many as the controls on the course. With Jullum, were eight the competitors to do the full of correct answers, but the Norwegian was faster in the timed controls, spending only 10 seconds. With a wrong answer, Pinja Mäkinen began to lose terrain to their more direct opponents and with the Swedish Erik Stålnacke next to her in the overall standings of the event. And while Martin Fredholm, Marit Wiksell and Marko Määttälä, among others, recovering some positions, Antti Rusanen fall “two holes” and Lauri Kontkanen was out of the competition.

With seven athletes separated by just two points and everything to decide in the last competition, the FinTrailO 2014 saw Martin Jullum as the big winner once again in a stage that also count for the European Cup. Jullum show himself at his best and not give any wrong answer - like thirteen other athletes (!) - and he was again the fastest in the timed controls. Roope Nasi, Martin Fredholm, Marko Määttälä and Marit Wiksell answered fully correctly again, but Marit would be the big winner of FinTrailO 2014, one point ahead of Martin Jullum and Martin Fredholm, second and third placed, respectively. With two wrong answers, Erik Stålnacke would fall to the fifth position while Pinja Mäkinen would not go beyond the 18 points (in 21 possible), finishing in eighth place overall.


Results

FinTrailO 2014
1 . Marit Wiksell (Stora Tuna OK) 67 points
2 . Martin Jullum (Halden SK) 66 points
3 . Martin Fredholm (OK Linné) 66 points
4 . Geir Myhr Øien (Eidsvoll o-lag) 65 points
5 . Erik Stålnacke (IFK Göteborg) 65 points
6 . Marko Määttälä (Kaustisen Pohjan - Veikot) 65 points
7 . Antti Rusanen (Keravan Urheilijat) 64 points
8 . Pinja Mäkinen (Koo - Vee) 64 points
9 . Aleksei Laisev (Keravan Urheilijat) 64 points
10. Erik Lundkvist (HJS - Vansbro OK) 63 points

European TrailO Cup (unofficial)
1 . Martin Jullum (Halden SK) 72 points
2 . Marit Wiksell (Stora Tuna OK) 69 points
3 . Lauri Kontkanen (Selkien Sisu) 54 points
4 . Martin Fredholm (OK Linné) 53 points
5 . Pinja Mäkinen (Koo - Vee) 51 points
6 . Antti Rusanen (Keravan Urheilijat) 48 points
7 . Geir Myhr Øien (Eidsvoll o-lag) 47 points
8 . Erik Lundkvist (HJS - Vansbro OK) 40 points
9 . Lars Jakob Waaler (Porsgrunn OL) 36 points
10. Marko Määttälä (Kaustisen Pohjan-Veikot) 34 points

Full results and more information at http://www.trailo.fi/fintrailo-2014/.

Joaquim Margarido
  

Friday, May 09, 2014

Stefano Raus: "The best was the umbrella-escorts"



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.
Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tomislav Varnica: "I'll have to reconsider my likes and dislikes"



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!

Joaquim Margarido