Monday, March 02, 2015

IOF Athlete of March: Tove Alexandersson

Tove Alexandersson was one year old when she was taken out on her first orienteering course. From that early beginning, she has moved up to taking three victories in a row in the first round of the World Cup in Foot Orienteering at the beginning of the season, and to gold medals in Sprint and Relay in the World Ski Orienteering Championships two weeks ago. A remarkable start to the year which places her, currently, in the lead in the IOF’s World Rankings both in Foot Orienteering and Ski Orienteering.

Name: Tove Alexandersson
Country: Sweden
Born: 7th September 1992
Disciplines: Foot Orienteering and Ski Orienteering
Career highlights:World Orienteering Championships: Six silver medals (2014, Sprint and Long Distance; 2013, Middle Distance and Long Distance; 2012, Middle Distance and Relay), three bronze medals (2014, Middle Distance and Relay; 2011, Relay). European Orienteering Championships: two bronze medals (2014, Middle Distance; 2012, Relay). Junior World Orienteering Championships: Five gold medals (2012, Sprint and Middle Distance; 2011, Relay; 2010, Middle Distance; 2009, Middle Distance). World Cup in Foot Orienteering: One victory and one second place overall (eleven winnings in stages).
World Ski Orienteering Championships: Five gold medals (2011, Sprint; 2013, Sprint and Mixed Sprint Relay; 2015, Sprint and Relay), one silver medal (2013, Relay), one bronze medal (2013, Long Distance). Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships: gold medal (2009, Relay; 2010, Relay; 2011, Sprint and Middle Distance; 2012, Sprint, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Relay). World Cup in Ski Orienteering: Two second places overall (thirteen winnings in stages).
IOF World Ranking position in Foot Orienteering: 1st
IOF World Ranking position in Ski Orienteering: 1st

“Foot orienteering is the most important discipline for me, but so far I feel that ski orienteering also makes me a better orienteer. I don’t focus on SkiO during the orienteering season, but I always focus on orienteering and do what I think is the best for me to be better”. It was in this way that Tove Alexandersson answered, one year ago, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog’s question about the “duality” of being both Foot orienteer and Ski orienteer. At that moment she was close to the top in the IOF World Rankings, both in FootO and SkiO, but now she is at the very top. The answer hasn’t changed, however. Just a little upgrade, so to say: “For the last few weeks I have been focused only on ski orienteering, but I’ll probably switch the focus soon”, Tove states.

These were the very first words of a conversation that will enable us to visit some of the most important moments of Tove’s career. But it’s important to set down, right now, a warning: The girl who saves all the energy she has, applying it only on what is essential (and the essential item is the competition, of course), is the same person who is answering these questions. So, don’t anticipate big revelations or extraordinary advice. Just small ideas, little pieces in this kind of puzzle that we’ll show you. Just … the essential!

I love orienteering”

To be the number 1 in the IOF’s World Rankings both in Orienteeering and Ski Orienteering was something that she had never dreamed of. “Actually I have never cared much about the IOF’s Ranking List. I don’t look at it that often, so I didn’t know that I was on the top before someone told me.” Otherwise, to be the world number 1 is unimportant: “I see it most like numbers, the competitions are much more important”, she said.

Despite Tove’s short career, the number of times that she has climbed on to the podium in major competitions is amazing, and today she has no doubts: “I love orienteering and I’m quite sure that I will continue even after my elite career is over.” If not orienteering, Tove would choose a sport also linked to nature: “cross-country skiing or mountain running”, she admits. And she would be the best, that’s for sure!

Seven days of sport

Tove says that she has no typical training week: “Sometimes I’m at home a whole week, but most of the time I’m at different training camps or competitions. The last 7 days have been like this: Friday: Rest day; Saturday: World Ski Orienteering Championships Middle Distance; Sunday: World Ski Orienteering Championships Relay; Monday: 1 hour of running; Tuesday: Ski race 10 km 0:30h + 0:45h warm up/cool down; Wednesday: a.m.: 2 hours running half of the time in snowy forest; p.m.: 2 hours of classic skiing; Thursday: a.m.: intervals on treadmill 6-5-4-3-2-2 minutes with a 1-minute rest; p.m.: 2 hours running in forest”, she says.” And also an interesting revelation: “I don’t have any technical or physical coach, I plan it by myself”.

Having run in many terrains – “many of them bad, but nothing that stands out”, she says – Tove’s favourite is Norrlandskusten, “a nice forest, hilly and with many details”. Her training diary shows that she ran 1,999 km and skied 1,633 km during the last season. “I don’t always have a gps-watch with me so it’s probably some more”, Tove says. Her physical shape stays next to optimal and it’s all about how to deal with the pressure in the big competitions. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for her: “I know that I’m competing for myself and no-one else”, she says.


You finished last season in the lead in the World Rankings and we could see you confirm it in Australia, during the FootO World Cup first round. Was it in your plans to be so strong at this time of the season and win so “easily”?

“Of course I wanted to have good performances. I had a really good training period in the months before the competitions but actually not so much running, most skiing”.

What are the best (and worst) memories that you keep from the Australia days?

“I have just one bad memory from the days in Australia days and that was when Karolin twisted her ankle. Besides the competitions, my best memory is when we were running on Cradle Mountain some days after the World Cup. I like to travel and see new places, and I think it’s good that there are big competitions also on that side of the world. But I prefer to not have them during the winter.”

Running and skiing; summer and winter

After her stay in Australia, Tove took the plane in Sydney, arriving in Switzerland for the European SkiO Championships. Was it a “shock”? Tove says “no” and explains why: “I’m quite used to switching between running and skiing and summer and winter. I had some days at home with good ski training before arriving in Switzerland so it wasn’t a problem.” This kind of switch from “FootO mode” to “SkiO mode” is seen as natural: “I really looked forward to the ski orienteering and that was the only thing I needed to come in the right mode”, she adds.

Seeing the European Ski Orienteering Championships “as a good preparation for The World Championships”, it was in Norway that Tove concentrated her attention, there that she focused on her biggest goals of the SkiO season. And she shares her feelings about her performances and achievements: “Yes, they were really nice competitions. Maybe too many ups and downs in the results for me to be totally satisfied, but it was fun to be there.” About the best moments of the Championships, Tove elects “the Sprint, definitely. It was a really nice course and I was in good shape and had one of my best performances ever. The worst moment was that one person close to the team passed away during the week, that was really hard.”

WOC is the big goal

Switching into “FootO mode”, the conversation is looking now towards the World Orienteering Championships (WOC). Tove explains how her training is going to be up until then: “The next important competitions are the World Cup in Norway and Sweden. Also some Swedish championships and the 10-mila before that. It’s not so often I have such a long training period, but that’s good and I’m looking forward to it. The plan is to train as much and as hard as I can, continue skiing as long as it is possible and train in relevant terrain for Scotland.”

Noting that, personally, the most important moment of last season was “of course the World Cup Sprint Final and winning the race and the overall World Cup”, Tove is pointing at the WOC being her big goals now: “I will prepare for all disciplines and do what I can to be the best.”

The most important thing is to be motivated”

When asked about Rune Haraldsson’s victory in “The Orienteering Achievement of 2014”, a poll promoted by the website WorldofO, Tove states: “It was cool that Rune Haraldsson won the prize, his life is really impressive.” And she has no doubts: “I also want to be able to run in an orienteering event when I’m 96 years old”.

The last words take the form of advice; advice especially to the youngsters, those who dream, some day, about becoming like Tove Alexandersson: “The most important thing is to be motivated. Enjoy challenges and train on the things you need to improve.”

Athletes’ questions and answers

The question from Michael Johansson, the Athlete of the Month in February: “Have you tried mountain bike orienteering and trailO? Or will you do so?”

And Tove’s answer: “Yes I have been on some competitions in both. I really like mountain bike orienteering, if I had more time I would like to go in for some more competitions.”

Finally, the question from Tove Alexandersson to Hana Dolezalova, Athlete of the Month in April: “Where is your favourite place in the Czech Republic and why?”

Worldly matters

What time would you sleep until, every morning, if possible? I don’t like to sleep in the mornings and most of the time I don’t need an alarm to wake up. I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7:30.

What is your dream car? Do you prefer to drive a car or to be driven? I have no dream car, but I want to have a car that is good in winter conditions. I prefer to be driven but sometimes it’s nice to drive too.

If you had a band what would be the name of it and what kind of music would you play? I just know that I would need someone who is a bit more musical than me!

Please, choose a crew for your sailing boat and the route of the trip of your dreams. I like to travel and see new places but I don’t want to travel on a sailing boat, so I think I will stay close to land. I will bring some friends who like adventure and want to run with me.

Pick one of these and tell me why: a tree, a stone, a beach, a domestic animal, a sunset. A big stone, so I can do some rock climbing on it.

You invite Barack Obama to dinner. What would you cook for him? I don’t know, I have no speciality. I’d cook what I felt like that day.

After a big scary skiing run down the mountain, what drink would you prefer for relaxing? Hot chocolate.

What is your favourite movie? What character would you like to play in it? I think it’s boring to watch movies, so I don’t see them so often and especially not a whole movie.

You have the chance to make a trip to Mars but then you can’t go orienteering for the next thousand days. Would you go on the trip? No, definitely not. I don’t want to go to Mars. It’s a long boring journey and what should I do there?

Tell me one thing that you would absolutely carry with you to the desert island? Some friends.

[Text: Joaquim Margarido; Photo: Swedish Orienteering Federation / See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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