Injured, Rasa Ptašekaite didn't have the opportunity to show her full potential in recent years and neither will she in 2015. Hence, her most ambitious goals are scheduled in the medium and long term. But Orienteering is not competition only!
You moved to Sweden because of Orienteering?
Rasa Ptašekaite (R. P.) - You can say so. I always wanted to move to Sweden, trying to do more orienteering, and then I found a good possibility of doing it, so I’ve lived in Uppsala for five years now.
OK Linné was a natural choice, I believe. What kind of club is this?
R. P. - It’s a really big club, with about one hundred and fifty members and a very good elite group, with around sixty people. We also have a good group of veterans, who compete in the World Masters Championships, and a big group of youngsters, the new generation, and we try to do everything involving all the members.
How do you feel having close to you such great orienteers like Annika Billstam or Catherine Taylor?
R. P. - It’s very nice, because you can see what you need to do to reach that level. You learn a lot and you also see that they are just people. For me, they are not big stars or big names, they are just friends and club mates. We spend weekends together, we drink coffee, we go on vacations together. I don't see them different of who they actually are, really nice people to be with.
How do you see your improvement in the last five years?
R. P. - I think that my orienteering technique developed a lot during these five years. Orienteering has always been my strong side, but after five years I feel more confident in any kind of terrain, which is what orienteering is all about. I’m really happy that I have improved.
Why Portugal this time of the season?
R. P. - Because it’s a good opportunity of doing Orienteering during the winter time, when it's snowing everywhere else. We have a nice atmosphere here and the Portugal O’ Meeting is a very well-known event, a high class competition. You always know what you get when you come here and I think that’s the reason why you come back every year. We know that we'll find good maps, good courses, good organization, good weather, that's what counts when you’re abroad and you want to know what you're going to get, I think. Even though I've been in this area before, it doesn’t matter. After all, it’s always a good experience.
How do you evaluate this edition of Portugal O' Meeting?
R. P. - I’m very happy with the terrain. Actually, I knew what kind of terrain it would be like and, with my injury, this is perfect. I really like running on soft ground, where you can take care of your legs and it’s not stony and hard. Your feet can recover in this kind of terrains and that’s one of the main reasons why I came here. And I also think Orienteering is challenging enough here, even though it may seem easy on the map. But when you are in the terrain, everything is difficult; it’s a matter of speed.
When are we going to see you fighting hard again?
R. P. - It’s difficult to say. I’ve been injured quite a lot during the last years and, right now, my goal it’s just to be able to train continuously. As my injury conditioned my physical shape, with many ups and downs, I’ll try to have the chance to train consistently for maybe two or three years more and then restart with some elite goals, like the World Championships. But now my goals are to be continuously training and not be injured.
Are the World Championships, in Scotland, out of question?
R. P. - This year I’m not setting this kind of high goals due to the injuries I had and I don’t want to put that pressure of being in a certain shape in a certain time of the year on me, because, then, you push so hard that you start feeling those injuries again. So, this year, I’m just trying to choose the competitions that fit me and what I need well, like this soft terrain right now, maybe a more technical terrain during the year. I just know that I want to enjoy the trainings and the competitions.
So, we'll have to wait until 2018, for the WOC in Latvia.
R. P. - Yes, probably in 2018. If all goes according to plan, if I train well during 2016, maybe I will participate in the World Championships because they’re in Sweden and I’ve lived there for a long time, so I have this advantage of knowing how to do Orienteering in a tough, technical terrain. I’m not setting it as a goal but I hope it is possible. And then, maybe 2017 and 2018 will be the years that count for me.
Would you say a last word to all orienteers around the world in the beginning of a new season?
R. P. - I wish that you don’t focus that much in the competition but enjoy orienteering. When they finish the competition, even if it didn't go well, I wish everyone would stop and think that the race was really fun, and be positive, because sometimes, specially in the elite level, we get wrapped up in chasing results so much that we lose the perspective of having fun and enjoying the forest. I wish that sometimes, you'd just give yourself a chance to stop, think and enjoy what you are doing.