Monday, March 30, 2015

Mårten Boström: "I would like to make the most out of my race at WOC"



Keen to return to top shape, Mårten Boström prepares carefully the new season. In this interview to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, he speaks of his goals and motivation to achieve them, but adds that medals and honors are secondary things.


In a message left on your webpage on the 6th October 2014, you wondered if it was the moment of the end of the season or the beginning of a new one. This question was answered two months later, when you said that “every athlete needs to take a break”. Using your personal experience, I would like to ask you to tell me something about the thin line that separates one season from the next one.

Mårten Boström (M. B.) - I felt really great after the end of last season so I was hungry for more. That is the way a winning athlete functions. I planned to deal with World Cup in Tasmania as an extension of the season, training up until the races. But I fell at a night session in Mila by Night, Nacka and that put an ending to the plan. The thin line which separates one season from the next is in my experience, including winding down on training effort and reflecting on the past season to find what worked and what didn't work. One needs to be eager to train towards the set goal of the next season.

Looking to 2014, can you elect “that moment”?

M. B. - My orienteering moment of 2014 comes from the Long Distance of Swedish Championships, which I had prepared well and was able to execute my plan technically throughout the race. When I need to recall how I do when I orienteer well, I look at that performance. I came 6th, 1:44 behind the winner, my teammate Fredrik Johansson. The results I got as a part of a Relay team with my club IFK Lidingö SOK and the 5th placed Finnish team at WOC were important for motivational reasons, but technically I didn't perform at 100% in any of those races. Running a Relay, there are tactical reasons which come into play.

Your season started in Australia. How was the World Cup's first round in the other side of the world?

M. B. - The start of the World Cup in Tasmania turned out about how I had envisioned. Since breaking my shoulder blade in October I had focused on Long Distance training and got a satisfying result out of the Long Distance race, being placed 8th. Physically I didn't have the confidence to push hard enough so soon after the injury, but mentally I was able to handle the orienteering challenges all the way to the finnish. In the Sprint, I was surprisingly able to match the pace of the best, but the lack of technical training and self-confidence resulted in mistakes at the control points. In the Middle I outperformed my wildest dreams of mastering such a complicated terrain - I was satisfied with my 15th place!

Feels like my body is moving to the right direction” was something that you wrote after the Australian adventure. Are you sure of that, two and a half months later?

M. B. - Yes, my body is getting better at accepting hard runs, day by day. After Tasmania I went back to base training for a few weeks. Actually, I have just returned from a 5 week Training Camp in Spain. The best moments have been to excel at orienteering, I have done several good technical sessions, both at night-time and at daytime.

What are the next important steps before WOC?

M. B. - The next important step is getting in races, to boost my self-confidence. I know I am able to stay focused in my orienteering for a complete long distance race - now I just need to go out and do it in a race. Physically, we are yet to make a schedule for the coming month's details, but there is still quite a bit to accomplish to get where I want to. If I am healthy, JK during Easter and World Cup stages in Norway and Sweden are the next important races.

Please, close your eyes and listen to the crowd. It’s the WOC prize giving ceremony and it’s your name that the speaker is announcing to receive the gold medal. What do you feel?

M. B. - It is important for an athlete with big dreams to believe in them fully and imagining themselves doing a well-balanced performance is an important part of that.

What are your WOC major goals? Who will be your biggest rivals?

M. B. - I would like to make the most out of my race at WOC. Getting a medal and honor is secondary. I do not race against anyone in an orienteering race - times can be compared, but it's what happens in my own head that matters the most to me.

To reach a gold medal is a matter of “having the best legs”? How do you do that?

M. B. - I believe I can still improve my technical, physical and mental shape - they go hand in hand towards the highlight of the summer.

In the end of our Interview, I would like to ask you to make a wish to all orienteers about the upcoming season.

M. B. - I wish to all orienteers, in spite of race or nationality, that they are able to perform at their best - as the Jukola 2015 slogan says: Everybody is a winner!

[Photo:Mårten Boström / facebook.com/pages/Mårten-Boström]

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Danish Spring 2015: Third victory in a row to Søren Bobach and Maja Alm



The Danish Spring is over. As in the previous two steps, Søren Bobach and Maja Alm were the big winners of the Long Distance step that put an end to this important competition.


Clearly, Søren Bobach and Maja Alm won the Long Distance stage that ended the Danish Spring 2015. Organized by OK Øst Birkerød and the Allerød OK, the event called to the Danish region of North Zealand eight hundred participants from 17 nations, having in the two Danish athletes its big stars.

In the Men Elite class, Søren Bobach (OK Pan Århus) was even stronger than in the two previous stages, achieving a course full of regularity and completing the 17.9 km in 1:25:45. Less able physically, the Swedish David Andersson made a course virtually error-free, but the cumulative of time lost over the 42 controls (!) made the difference for the winner, in the end, translated into large 3:48. With just one more second than Andersson, the Finnish Jere Pajunen (Kalevan Rasti) concluded third.

In the women elite class, Maja Alm (OK HTF Haderslev) quoted up once again as the best athlete, accomplishing the 12.0 kilometres of her course in 1:07:01. As in the previous stages, the athlete's entry in the course was not particularly well done, but from the moment she sat her race - in this case, even before the course's first half - no one else could stop her. With two major mistakes that cost her two minutes, Ida Bobach (OK Pan Århus) was the second placed with more 2:11 than the winner. The Norwegian Kamilla Olaussen (Fredrikstad SK) finished third, at 2:39 from Maja Alm.

As in the Elite classes, also in the Junior classes the names of Danish Emil Øbro (Tisvilde Hegn OK) and Josefine Lind (OK GORM) were highlighted in the first two steps, recording victories in the Sprint and Middle Distance. In the Long Distance stage that ended the event, however, the things would come differently, with Thomas Knudsen (OK Melfar) and Miri Thrane Odum (OK Øst Birkerød) being the strongest this time.

Results

Men Elite
1. Søren Bobach (DEN OK Pan Århus) 1:25:45
2. David Andersson (SWE Malungs OK) 1:29:33
3. Jere Pajunen (FIN Kalevan Rasti) 1:29:34
4. Olle Böstrom (SWE Järla IF) 1:30:33
5. Mikko Siren (FIN Angelniemen Ankkuri) 1:31:00

Women Elite
1. Maja Alm (DEN OK HTF Haderslev) 1:07:01
2. Ida Bobach (DEN OK Pan Århus) 1:09:12
3. Kamilla Olaussen (NOR Fredrikstad SK) 1:09:40
4. Sofia Haajanen (FIN SK Pohjantahti) 1:12:58
5. Lena Eliasson (SWE Domnarvets GoIF) 1:13:02


[Photo: Carsten Nøhr Nielsen, Frame The Action / facebook.com/danishspring]

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Danish Spring 2015: Søren Bobach and Maja Alm unstoppable



By winning the Middle Distance and the Sprint stages, Søren Bobach and Maja Alm were the common denominators of the first two days of the Danish Spring. Played in the Danish region of North Zealand the event has three WRE stages and counts with the participation of eight hundred athletes from 17 nations.


Accomplished the two first stages of the Danish Spring, opening race of the Danish Foot Orienteering season, Søren Bobach and Maja Alm arise as the event's great names until now. The Sprint stage was held yesterday at Allerød and showed an interesting duel between the two current World Champions in Sprint, the Elite and Junior ones. Søren Bobach was impeccable and, with a clean run, hit the young New Zealander Tim Robertson by comfortable difference of 20 seconds. The Danish Thor Norskov got the third place, 25 seconds behind Bobach. Despite some small mistakes, Maja Alm came to victory in the women elite class thanks to a second half of her course full of will and strength. The athlete imposed herself to the Russian Galina Vinogradova by 29 seconds, while the third place was to the very young Cecilie Friberg Klysner, with more 35 seconds than Maja Alm.

Already today took place the Middle Distance course, in which it was possible to watch a repeat of what happened the day before regarding the winners, in both cases by comfortable margins. In the men elite class, Bobach completed his course in 32:44, leaving his compatriot Tue Lassen in second place, with over 1:20. The Latvian Rudolfs Zernis was a surprising third placed with the time of 34:07. Like yesterday, only in the second half of her course Maja Alm has spread throughout her most direct rivals, but the advantage of 2:06 over the Russian Galina Vinogradova raises no room for any doubts. After a forced stop due to injury, Ida Bobach reached a moralizing third place on her return to competition with more 2:22 than the winner.


Results

Sprint (2015.03.27)

Men Elite
1. Søren Bobach (OK Pan Århus) 15:02
2. Tim Robertson (NZL, Hutt Valley) 15:22
3. Thor Norskov (IFK Göteborg) 15:27
4. Tue Lassen (Faaborg OK) 15:37
5. Trond Einar Moen Pedersli (NOR, OL Trollelg) 15:38

Women Elite
1. Maja Alm (OK HTF) 13:47
2. Galina Vinogradova (RUS, Alfta Osa OK) 14:16
3. Cecilie Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød) 14:22
4. Sofia Haajanen (FIN, SK Pohjantahti) 14:49
5. Nicoline Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød) 14:52

Middle Distance (2015.03.28)

Men Elite
1. Søren Bobach (OK Pan Århus) 32:44
2. Tue Lassen (Faaborg OK) 34:04
3. Rudolfs Zernis (LAT, Aerla IF) 34:07
4. David Andersson (SWE, Malungs OK) 34:12
5. Thor Norskov (IFK Göteborg) 34:15

Women Elite
1. Maja Alm (OK HTF) 26:59
2. Galina Vinogradova (RUS, Alfta Osa OK) 29:05
3. Ida Bobach (OK Pan Århus) 29:21
4. Lena Eliasson (SWE, Domnarvets GoIF) 29:27
5. Kristin Löfgren (SWE, Varegg Fleridrett) 30:23


[Photo: Carsten Nøhr Nielsen/Frame the Action]

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ida Bobach: "I have good odds on winning a WOC medal"



On the starting day of Danish Spring, the attention goes to the nº 2 in the IOF World Ranking, the Danish Ida Bobach. Problems in the Achilles tendon has prevented her from following the training plan in the best way, but the goals, those, remain high. This and much more to read at her interview to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.


You belong to a family of orienteers. How important was it – and is it! – in your career?

Ida Bobach (I. B.) - Orienteering has always been our “family-thing” and we have traveled to a lot of competitions around Europe. I got a lot experience from an early age and I think it has meant a lot to my technical development.

How did you see your brother Søren's gold in WOC Sprint last year?

I. B. - I found it a bit surprisingly because I have never seen him as a Sprint specialist. But in 2012 he was 9th a the WOC sprint so I new that he was good. Søren is really good performing at his best in the important competitions so even though he had had a lot of injuries I still believed he could do really well, but that he won was a bit of a surprise. I think it is really good for Danish Orienteering that we got a World Champion. There is starting to be more focus on Orienteering and hopefully it will help in the development of our sport in Denmark.

And what about your silver ones (Middle and Relay)?

I. B. - We have been close to a Relay medal for a couple of years but we have always ended 4th-6th, except at WOC 2013 which was quite bad. It was such a relief finally to get a Relay medal. It was also a relief for me to get a medal in the Middle Distance again. I got a silver medal in the Middle Distance in 2011 which was quite surprisingly to most people. In 2012 I was 4th at Middle and I did bad in 2013 (11th, I think). So I was really happy to be back to the medals.

Following your great performances in the WOC and World Cup in 2014 and your previous successes, can you sum up what it takes to get you to the second place in the IOF World Ranking?

I. B. - I succeeded in getting my mental focus right in most of the important competitions in 2014. I did struggle a lot with my Achilles tendon in the spring but for the last two months before WOC I could stabilize my amount of running. Even though it was not a great amount, my shape was good at WOC and of course that also helped me believe in myself. I also succeeded in stabilizing my running amount in the fall and that really seems to get me in shape. So to do well in 2015, I guess I have to get my running on a descent level and be careful not to get injured. I have to set my head straight and believe in myself when I'm standing at the start line in every competition.

How was the start of the season? Was the Australian adventure positive?

I. B. - It was really great to explore Tasmania and the competitions at the World Cup were really good. I had some okay performances but I think it is hard to get in competition shape in that time of the year and actually I'm not quite sure that it is a good idea to try to peak at that time. Having a World Cup in January makes the season a bit weird because you have to go home an do a lot of basic training again before the European season really starts. But I think it was quite nice to have some summer and nice experiences. That definitely got me happier through the winter.

How do you feel right now? With your “DNS at the first danish spring race”, it seems that things aren't going as well as they should.

I. B. - No, unfortunately I have some injury troubles and it is quite frustrating because I really thought that I was playing on the safe side. Apparently I just can't do a lot of running and I really have to be careful not to increase my running to much. I chose not to start at the first competitions to be on the even safer side, hopefully. But I will compete next weekend and I look forward to see how I'm doing compared to the other danish girls.

Typically, how many hours a week do you commit to training? What are your least favourite training days? And what about your favourite?

I. B. - I typically train 10-13 hours a week. My least favourite training days must be days where I'm only doing alternative training, e.g. Aqua jogging or cross training. I find that a bit boring. My favourite training days are days where I'm doing high speed orienteering.

Have you scheduled the next big steps before the WOC?

I. B. - I will go on a training camp to England and Scotland during Easter and the week after. That will be one and a half week of good and important WOC training. The World Cup stages, in Norway and Sweden, will be important races before WOC where I really have to get into the right competition focus.

What are your main goals for the season? Are we going to see you winning a gold medal in the World Champs?

I. B. - I will focus on Long, Middle and Relay for the World Championships and my goal is to fight for medals in all three competitions. I think I have the best odds in Relay. Many runners will be able to fight for medals in the Middle Distance so I need to get everything straight to get a medal but I think that I can do that if I'm really focused. My odds for the Long Distance depends a lot on how my training progress will be. I really hope that my Achilles will let me run some long competitions during spring. If I can do that, I think I have good odds on winning a WOC medal.

Knowing the place, the terrains, your rivals (and yourself), what will be the key to succeed?

I. B. - I need to have some good speed for Middle and Relay but on the same time I have to be quite strong in the hips to get through the heavy heather in the Long Distance. But most important of all I have to believe in myself and stay focus on the task when I'm competing. That will lead to good orienteering.

How do you see the possibility of keeping the second place – or even getting the leadership - in the IOF World Ranking in the end of the season?

I. B. - It does not mean really much to me, personally, to be high ranked in the IOF World Ranking. I value a Championship higher. But if I do well at WOC I will probably be ranked high. I also need to do well on a couple of the World Cups to keep my second place.

In the end of our talk, I would ask you to make a wish to all orienteers.

I. B. - Get out there and do a lot of nice orienteering!

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two or three things I know about it...




1. Next weekend will take place at North Zealand the fourth edition of the Danish Spring, an event that is a kind of start of the Orienteering season at regional level, calling not only athletes from Denmark, but from all Scandinavia. With the attractive extra of three WRE stages - Sprint on Friday, Middle Distance on Saturday and Long Distance on Sunday - the event has a number of entries around eight hundred athletes, including some of the big names in the world of Orienteering, namely the current World Champion in Sprint, the Danish Søren Bobach, his compatriots Maja Alm and Ida Bobach, the Russian Dmitry Tsvetkov and Galina Vinogradova, the Finnish Sofia Haajanen and the Swedish Lena Eliasson, among others. The competition starts tomorrow, with the Sprint course. Everything to follow at http://www.danishspring.dk/.

2. The Swiss Orienteering season started last Saturday with the Nacht Orientierungslauf Meisterschaft, the Long Distance Night National Championships, which took place in Aarau, attracting 615 athletes. In Men Elite class, Matthias Kyburz (OLK Fricktal) was the fastest to cover the 11.5 km of a demanding course, spending 1:05:19. Daniel Hubmann (OL Regio Wil) fight hard for the victory, being second with more 25 seconds than the winner. National Champion in 2014, Martin Hubmann (OL Regio Wil) was the third placed, with a time of 1:08:37. As in Men, also in the Women Elite class the fight for the national title was really tight, but in this case with three competitors for one title. Julia Gross (OL Zimmerberg) would eventually be the fastest, spending 1:01:44 to complete the 8.2 km of her course. With more 13 seconds, in the second position, stayed Ines Brodmann (OLG Basel) while Simone Niggli (OLV Hindelbank), still and always in great shape, concluded in the third place, 39 seconds after the winner. Sven Hellmüller (OLG Welsikon) and Kerstin Ullmann (OL.Biel.Seeland) were the winners in the Junior Men and Women classes, respectively. Full results at http://www.o-l.ch/cgi-bin/results?year=2015&event=Schweizer+Meisterschaft+im+Nacht-OL+Lang.

3. In the short time of two months, the Spanish Antonio Martinez reached his third victory in a World Ranking Event. It was last Saturday at Becerril del Carpio (Palencia, Spain), in the Long Distance course that opened the program of the International Orienteering Trophy "Nacimiento del Canal de Castilla" and that counted with the participation of more than six hundred athletes. However, a less achieved course in the Middle Distance stage brought a change in the first position with the Ukrainian Artem Panchenko, that won the Trophy overall. In the Women Elite class, the Ukrainian Olha Panchenko was the best overall, winning the Long Distance WRE stage and finishing second in the Middle Distance stage. In this last stage, the victory went to French Léa Vercellotti. Ona Ràfols finished in the third position, being ranked as the best Spanish athlete. All to check at http://orcapalencia.com/web/competitions/canal-de-castilla-international-trophy/.

4. Joining the victory in the TempO competition to the triumph in the PreO stage, John Kewley was the big winner of the British Trail Orienteering Championships 2014. With direction and course setting by Anne Braggins, the event took place in Twywell, joining 34 competitors, 4 of which in the Novice class. With four stations with five challenges each, the TempO stage saw John Kewley being the most accurate, offsetting in the best way the lower speed in answering, compared to many of his most direct competitors. At the PreO stage, there were four finishers tied in the first position, answering correctly to 19 of the 21 controls of the course. John Kewley decided again the dispute in his favour, thanks to the accuracy and speed in the timed controls. Fourth placed in PreO stage and second in the TempO stage, Ian Ditchfield was second in the Championships, while the third place fell to Nick Barrable, 7th ranked in the PreO and third in TempO. Complete results, maps and solutions to see at http://www.wimborne-orienteers.org.uk/wim/14%20BTOC/BTOC2014.htm.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, March 23, 2015

Gustav Bergman: "I am focusing a lot on WOC"



After a great season in 2014, with two gold medals in the Relay of the European Championships and World Championships, Gustav Bergman will want to show that 2015 is the confirmation year. Two podiums in the opening round of the World Cup, in Tasmania, are an excellent presage, but much more is to come.


We could see you at your best, at the Portugal O’ Meeting, winning the first stage, but after that you “disappeared”. What happened?

Gustav Bergman (G. B.) - After the first day's race I got really sick, and spent the remainder of my days in Portugal in my hotel bed with 40 degrees fever.

Well, at least I believe that the first day was a good experience. Would you like to share with us your thoughts about it?

G. B. - The first day was good, but it wasn't amazing. I ran well, and just focused on running straight, and in the end I turned out to be fastest that day, which felt great.

How are you dealing with your preparation in the start of the season? Was it positive, the Australian experience, in the other side of the World, so early in the season?

G. B. - My winter training has been going really well (except for my portuguese fever...). I have had good, continuos run, and I really feel that I have taken a step further in developing my running. I have not been focusing at all on the World Cup stages in Tasmania, but instead training hard towards WOC in Scotland, and I will continue to do so, even though the domestic season starts now. I don't have a problem with having a World Cup round in January, but IOF has big issue to work with, regarding the status of the World Cup. If all the best runners don't run, then there is really no point in having a World Cup.

Let me go back to the golden season of 2014 for the Swedish Relay (EOC and WOC), with you performing perfectly in the decisive moments. What are the strongest memories that you keep from those two victories?

G. B. - It felt really good to win as a team. The faces of Jonas [Leandersson] and Fredrik [Johansson] when they met me at the run in - that was worth every training hour I've done towards WOC.

To go to Scotland and win the gold medal again in the Relay will be one of your major goals for the season, I am sure. I would like to know your feelings about that and also about the other goals.

G. B. - I am focusing a lot on WOC, and I am really looking forward to all the forest distances. Last year I focused a lot on the relay, which meant I skipped the Long Distance on both EOC and WOC, but this year the program is a little bit different, so I'll be able to run the Long Distance as well.

What will you need to succeed?

G. B. - I think that my technical and mental skills are good enough to win gold medals at WOC, but I feel that I need to improve a lot physically. I have a long term plan that I am working on and I am becoming better and better each year, so I am not too worried about that.

What would mean to you reaching the end of the season in the leadership of the IOF World Ranking?

G. B. - I don't care a lot about the World Ranking, and that doesn't mean that much. However, the new WOC rules make the World Ranking important so that you get a good starting time, so for that sake, it is important.

In the end of our talk, I would like to ask you to make a wish to all orienteers, now that the season is about to start.

G. B. - Good luck with your season, and hopefully you'll be able to do a few perfect races throughout the year!

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Skol Sprinten: Swedish Orienteering wants its name in the Guiness World Book of Records


The Swedish orienteers are working hard in a development project to the youngsters and that includes, among several goals, the organization of a big national Orienteering journey. The initiative is scheduled to 11th May 2016, when 250,000 children will participate in Orienteering activities all over the country. A number that, if confirmed, will be a new record in the Guinness World Book of Records.


Seen as one of the most important initiatives for the development of Orienteering in schools and Orienteering clubs, the “Skol Sprinten” is under way in Sweden. Starting as a pilot project led by Göran Andersson, with the cooperation of Dalaportens OL and eleven primary schools of Avesta, the “Skol Sprinten” intends to involve as many schools and clubs as possible, increasing the number of members of the School Sport Federation by 20 to 25% within three years.

“One of our most important tasks as adults is to encourage our children to keep physical activity both in school and in leisure time”, says Göran Andersson on his website at http://www.byorienteering.se/. For the project's mentor, “one of the goals should be to increase the number of students who get the chance to try out and practice Orienteering, as under the topic “Sport and Health” as an after school activity, through the school sports associations and the local Orienteering clubs”, he says.


Main goals

Structured in a horizon of three years, the project includes the implementation, during 2015, of 2000 sprint maps in parks and areas around the schools. In the meanwhile, from an original idea by Göran Andersson and with production by SILVA, is now available the publication "Cool, Awesome and Educational!", that can be found at http://np.netpublicator.com/netpublication/n03791623. This is a very important tool for teachers and students, showing them how exciting and fun Orienteering can be. The “Skol Sprinten” also intends to organize a competition at various stages - from local to national -, in a Sprint Mixed Relay format (two boys and two girls in each team), aimed to children from the ages of 7 to 9. The national final will take place in Strömstad, during the 32nd edition of the World Orienteering Championships, from August 20th to 27th, 2016.

But the media's attention to the project has to do, mainly, with the attempt to get the name in the Guinness World Book of Records, with the participation of 250.000 children in a great Orienteering journey throughout Sweden, to be held on May 11th, 2016. This initiative aims to replace the previous maximum established by the Swiss Orienteering Association, when 207.979 children of 1,381 of the country's schools participated simultaneously in Orienteering activities on May 23rd, 2003. This record is available on the Guinness World Book of Records' official website, at http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-participants-in-an-orienteering-event-%28multi-venue%29.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, March 19, 2015

António Martínez: "Halden is a very professional club"



Despite the excellent results achieved in recent years, António Martínez has decided to go further in his commitment to Orienteering and headed Norway, where he was received with open arms in the Halden SK. He talked to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog about his experience, in an interview where his expectations and ambitions are also explained.


It was possible to see you in Portugal last February, competing at the Portugal O' Meeting. Would you like to talk about the competition and those days between us?

António Martínez (A. M.) - The Portugal O' Meeting is always a great competition in the start of the season and that never disappoints us: the quality of the terrains, the course setting, the maps, a good level of participation, the weather... This year was great again and I spent five, really productive, days in the Dunes of Mira and Vagos, although the program was a bit hard for someone who is not exactly a long distance runner (laughs).

How are you feeling in this early season?

A. M. - For me, this is one of the best starts of the season ever, since I saw myself with a map in my hands. Physically, I feel better than in previous years at this time of the season, but I notice a great progress, technically speaking; I feel very flow and confident in the map reading. In addition, the two victories in the World Ranking Events (Middle Distance and Sprint) that I've ran in Spain, in February and March, are a sign that I'm on the right way. The season is very long and this can't mean anything, but I believe that I'm doing things well and that I will continue improving throughout the year.

I would ask you to share with us the impressions of this Norwegian adventure and how is your adaptation to Halden going?

A. M. - I felt that, in order to continue to develop my Orienteering, it would be necessary to leave Spain; and I must say that I made the right decision. But it wasn't easy to adapt to that many new situations at the same time: the cold, the dark, the high prices, the language and not knowing anyone. But I think that things are going very well and all of it thanks to the warm welcome I received from my new club.

What kind of club is Halden Skiklubb? In relation to what happens in Spain, which are the most significant differences?

A. M. - In my short experience of only three months, I can say that Halden is a very professional club, that knows perfectly what are the goals and the best ways to achieve them. There is a great sports club atmosphere, with many committed and active people, some of them former world champions and current world champions of Orienteering, which share with us their experiences, increasing the training level. The most significant differences are at the training quality level, i.e. the possibility of training Orienteering almost every day (sometimes more than once a day), in a wide variety of maps and high quality terrains, with great athletes, experienced coaches, GPS for further analysis, etc. It's a real luxury and it's something that very few are able to reach. Another major difference is in how they value those who bet and are dedicated to Orienteering. It is given all possible support, in particular from an economic point of view, organizing training camps, supporting the travel costs, seeking work for them, home, etc. .

What are the next steps in your preparation?

A. M. - The next steps will be the Spanish Orienteering Championships. I think it will be a great competition, but with a very tough program, with five races in three days. We will have some athletes who will participate only in those races that best fit with their capacities, and it won't be easy to get all the results at the highest level. But I feel very well and, maybe, I'll fight for the titles in all competitions. After the Spanish Championships, I'll return to Halden. I intend to take part in some stages of the Norway Cup and prepare myself in the best way to Tiomila and Jukola, trying to give my humble contribution to this club that has big ambitions. In the meanwhile, I'm thinking of the World Championships, of course.

The World Championships are, naturally, a subject that starts already occupying your mind. What do you know about the courses and the program? Have you started some kind of specific training, yet?

A. M. - I really don't know the terrains but I will be with the Spanish Team in a Training Camp in similar terrains in June or July. Even so, I have seen the maps and I believe that being in Norway will be very useful in terms of preparation, since we didn't have terrains like the ones where the World Championships will be in Spain.

Have you decided on what courses you will participate?

A. M. - I'd like to run the Sprint and Relay. There are many people who believe in my chances in the Long Distance, but I still have many doubts if I am prepared to be a long distance runner or if I should continue to focus on the Middle Distance, although both motivate me. I don't say that I won't run both races if I feel well, but for that I have to classify myself to the team, since we have only one place in the Middle and in the Long Distance.

What are your main goals? Improving the 14th place in Relay, achieved in 2013? Improving the 22nd place in the Long Distance reached in 2004 by Roger Casal?

A. M. - This year's main goal is to hoist Spain again to the second division (last season we lowered of division by one single point). As for results, I believe that the level of Orienteering in Spain is growing and I really trust our potential. I would love to reach the top 10 in the Relay and Sprint and be in the top 20 in the Middle Distance and Long Distance. It is difficult, but not impossible.

Finishing our Interview, I would ask you a wish for for all orienteers in this early season.

A. M. - Don't dream your life, live your dreams!

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two or three things I know about it...



1. Santa Clara, Alameda de Cervantes, Parque del Castillo, Parque del Duero and Valonsadero are the five green spaces of the Spanish city of Soria that, from now on, are equipped with Permanent Orienteering Courses. The initiative came from the combined efforts of the Municipality of Soria, the Navaleno-O Orienteering Club and the Spanish Orienteering Federation, resulting in a set of 98 control points materialized on the ground and that allow the design of different courses in each of the spaces, appropriated for educational and playful activities. Created with the main objective of encouraging the youngsters to the practice of Orienteering, the Permanent Orienteering Courses also aims to be a basis for the training of Orienteering monitors and for the development of the sport, as much in terms of competition as in initiation. To know more, please visit the Soria Municipality's webpage, at http://www.soria.es/actualidad/el-ayuntamiento-impulsa-un-convenio-para-crear-cinco-circuitos-de-orientacion-y-la.


2. The Adapted Orienteering is the big news of the program of the Spanish Orienteering Championships, to be held this year in Portillo (Valladolid). Novelty, but also “challenge and pride”, as highlighted by Fernando Garnacho, President of Club Deportivo de Portillo in the welcome note, that can be read at http://www.ceo2015.es/_private/boletin2_CEO2015english.pdf. Intended for athletes with intellectual disabilities of permanent character, the Adapted Orienteering course will take place on Saturday afternoon, 4th April, consisting in a simple way, in urban areas, in Score system. Each athlete will have a non-disabled team-mate, to meet the inclusive aspect of this new discipline. The maximum course time is 75 minutes and the participants will be divided into two categories: those aged 16 years or more and under 16 years, without distinction of gender. The trophies to the first Spanish Champions of Adapted Orienteering will be delivered during the General Gala of the Spanish Orienteering Championships 2015, that will take place in the Acts Salon of Portillo Institute.


3. The Portuguese MTB Orienteering season started in... Spain. Sharing equally the twelve Iberian titles with the Spanish, the Portuguese MTB orienteers had an excellent presence in the 1st Trofeo Pinares MTBO 2015, held last weekend in Navaleno (Soria). Individually, the attention goes to the Portuguese Davide Machado, Duarte Lourenço and Armando Santos, winners of the Iberian titles, both in Middle Distance and Long Distance. Organized by Navaleno-O Club, the event was attended by 200 athletes. The French Baptiste Fuchs was the big winner overall in Men Elite class, while Gaëlle Barlet won the Women Elite class. Full results and further information at http://www.navaleno-orientacion.es/obm2015/noticias.html.


Joaquim Margarido

Monday, March 16, 2015

Olav Lundanes: "I’ll fight for the gold in the Middle Distance and Long Distance"



After a start of season in Australia, Olav Lundanes chose Portugal to resume his preparation. To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, the athlete talks about the present moment and sets his main goals for 2015.


Another stay in Portugal and another participation in the Norte Alentejano O’ Meeting, this time with the second place overall. Are you happy with this experience?

Olav Lundanes (O. L.) - It was a better race on the first day. In the second day I was quite tired and I also did a one and a half minute mistake. The maps and the courses were really interesting, some forest parts and some green were great, I liked it a lot. About my second place, I don’t blame it. I think Oleksandr was at a high level in the decisive day.

Fifteen days later, we could see you in the Portugal O' Meeting.

O. L. - It was a good training in interesting terrains, even if I got injured in the third day and skipped the last day of the Portugal O' Meeting. But it was a good training time indeed.

How do you evaluate the time you spent here?

O. L. - It was really nice and great, this first period here in Portugal. The trainings have been really good, and also the maps and the courses.

Why Portugal?

O. L. - Because here we can always find a lot of good maps and well organized competitions. The training camps are at a very high level. That’s the reason why I came to Portugal at this time of the season, and also because of the weather. It’s the best.

You’ve been in Australia, for the World Cup. Was it worth it, such a long trip, the jet lag, everything?

O. L. - It was a nice experience in Australia. The competitions weren’t top level but the terrains were quite interesting and my performances were… Well, they were okay. This time of the season, what I expect the most is to train well, to orienteer well. The shape can be better, of course, but there isn’t an excuse to make mistakes.

Looking at the winter period, where do you need to improve?

O. L. - I think it’s my physical condition. There is still a lot to work on. I need to manage to train continuously over a long time and that’s my main focus.

What's next?

O. L. - Now I’ll go home for a short period and then I’ll go to South Africa, for training in altitude. This year we’ll have a more quiet Spring season than normal and the big first competitions before the World Championships will be the Tiomila and the World Cup at home, in Halden, and in Sweden, and, of course, the Jukola. And that’s all before the World Championships.

Would you share with us the big goals of the season?

O. L. - The big goal of the season is to win two medals in the World Championships, in Scotland. I’ll fight for the gold in the Middle Distance and Long Distance. About the Relay, we’ll see. I think it’s tough to fight for the gold if you run too many races. So the best would be for the Relay to take place in the end of the program of the World Championships, but this year it's in the middle, so we'll have to see how it works out.

You're currently the leader of the IOF World Ranking. Does it mean something special to you?

O. L. - It’s a little bit strange. I felt like I would be better before, like in 2012. I don’t know… I think the old ranking was better. The new formula is a little bit tricky, it’s all about the European Championships and the World Championships. It’s a little bit sad in some way but, of course, it’s more fair. If you win the gold both in the Middle and Long, there’s no discussion, you’re the number one. As long as I can see, Hubmann won two gold medals in the European, Thierry won the gold in European and World Champions, just like me, well, it’s hard to compare. But I want to beat them!

So, two gold medals in the World Championships and the lead of the World Ranking at the end of the season and... that’s it (laughs).

O. L. - Yes, that’s it. There’s no discussion about that (laughs).

I would like to ask you to make a wish for all orienteers at the beginning of the season.

O. L. - A lot of good races and have as much fun as possible. That’s what Orienteering is about.

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rasa Ptašekaite: "My goal it’s just to be able to train continuously"



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.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mikhail Vinogradov, Part II: "The weak organizational level is one of the biggest problems in modern Orienteering"



After having presented Mikhail Vinogradov, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog shows you today the remaining part of the Interview with the coach. On it, he addresses a wide range of subjects about the present and the future of Orienteering, showing a peculiar point of view in many aspects, based on a solid and objective reasoning.


What skills are most valuable to an elite athlete?

Mikhail Vinogradov (M. V.) - I believe they are the tolerance to high training load and pain, the patience during typical problems (e.g. injuries, slow progression in performance), a professional approach in all details and to be diligent and keep focused on self-improvement.

On the way to excellence, what is innate and how much is acquired?

M. V. - It is difficult to specify the exact proportion for Orienteering. Actually, in any sport, the success depends on the following conditions: Genetics, a good environment (including social and economical support), a healthy status, the coach’s qualification and the athlete’s character. Without one of these conditions, to succeed in sports is almost impossible.

Do you prefer to work with young people or the approach and the improvement of an older athlete?

M. V. - My focus is in elite sport. Youth sport requests another way of thinking.

Looking at your blog, we realize that the Relay is the distance in which your results as coach are more valuable. Is it true that Relay deserves, actually, some special attention from you?

M. V. - The first reason why you see a high number of medals from Relays is because at the official IOF competitions the struggle in Relay events is not as big as in the individual distances. The second reason is that I was a main coach in Halden Skiklubb and my job was to win Relays. In fact, the Relay is a very special event in any sport and there are a lot of particularities in Relays. I guess that I got some important features of O-Relays and victories from my runners in all types of international Relays that you can see like a sign of it. Like a personal, National or club coach, I got victories in the World Games, WOC, EOC, JWOC, Tiomila (women and men), Jukola, Venla, 25Manna. “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer” (laughs).

You've been a little bit bored with the IOF's policy in the last years. But is it a “crime” to work towards a greater awareness and recognition of the sport? There's nothing worth in Brian Porteous' initiatives? Not even the Mixed Sprint Relay?

M. V. - I am not familiar with anyone on the IOF staff. I don’t know who is Brian Porteous and what are his initiatives. I like the Mixed Sprint Relay and I always was a supporter of new events in the WOC program. But what’s the point in cancelling the Middle and Long qualification? That action led to the introduction of quotas for countries and it's the wrong way to get started with protocols based on questionable IOF rankings. One of the reasons was to give the option to the top runners to participate in a full WOC-program. I think that there weren't any elite runners who participated in the full WOC-2014 program. I am pretty sure that it was possible to introduce WOC Mixed Relay without other unreasoned changes. And what’s the point to send an IOF delegation to South Africa (WADA conference)? I don’t think that doping is the number one problem in Orienteering and I don’t think that a really expensive trip was necessary (the WADA conference was broadcasted on-line).

What do you think about the organizational level?

M. V. - The weak organizational level is one of the biggest problems in modern Orienteering, specially because we're talking about WOC/EOC organizations. I can refer to you the WOC in France (2011) as the most terrible I have ever seen! We got the information about the Sprint final that the Finish was going to be at the beam line. All runners had been informed about this but, actually, the timing was based on punching on the Finish station! I can also tell you about the bad prediction of the winner's time. It is totally different being prepared to run a Long Distance in 1:30 than in 2 hours. There were a lot of electric shocks during the forest events. Galina Vinogradova was electrocuted during the Long Qualification and she suffered for several days! Moreover there were no English-speaking doctors at the Arena (!). There was a bad map quality, extremely poor course setting in the qualification for Middle Distance and so on. I counted 12 or 14 problems with the organization that influenced the WOC results and the Fair Play.

After few years, in 2014, we faced again a poor level of organization at EOC in Portugal! (By the way, before EOC I was pretty sure about competition's high-quality). Fools never learn? Looks like the IOF does not count its own failures. We often face problems with bad map quality (last cases were the Middle WOC-2013, the Middle and the Sprint WOC-2014). For me, it is obvious that after the competitions, special people must analyse (and ask the top runners) about the organization, the maps, etc. and take conclusions for the future! And the next WOC-organizers must count on previous bad experiences. I could spend weeks telling you about problems in the IOF's work, but the general conclusion, in my opinion, is that the IOF is such a conservative organization that it is impossible for them to adopt something new. Just take a look at the discussion about the scale for the Long Distance at WOC-2011 and you’ll see what I mean.

If you had the power to do so, what steps would you take in order to make orienteering a more participative and sustainable sport?

M. V. - First of all, I'd stop wrong spread-out-around-the-World actions (such as the World Cup overseas events or the intention to invite small exotic countries to the IOF). Instead of inviting Nepal to the IOF, it is necessary to keep focus on the development of orienteering in such big countries as Germany, Spain, Poland... Some points you can find here: http://vinogradovcoach.blogspot.ru/2013/11/i-agree-with-dadek-novotny-critics-of.html and here:http://vinogradovcoach.blogspot.ru/2014/07/i-totally-support-niggli-concept-of-new.html. And I will write about it in the future (when I formulate some ideas in a clear way), like my posts about Sports Statistics/Performance Analysis in Orienteering.

It´s interesting to hear you talking about the Sports Statistics, because it was something that I would like to know your opinion about.

M. V. - I think that the development of sports statistics/performance analysis is an important step to lift up orienteering to the next level. That’s important not only for coaches and runners but also for media and fans. I'll give you an example: during the World Games 2013 the speaker said «What a big surprise that Nadya Volynksa won the medal!» But for me that was obvious that the Ukrainian runner was one of the favorites. I based my forecasting on the careful analysis of international races in 2013. With good statistics arrangement it is easy to get access to results’ dynamic of a particular runner, his/her chances on the particular terrain/event types, statistics of success/victories against other runners in the heat, etc.

Take a look at the differences between tennis and Orienteering. Tournaments and single matches in tennis are quite long. Why do the spectators go on looking on the players for 2-4 hours? Something happens in a tennis match every minute! And there is a lack of ‘something’ in orienteering broadcasting (it is impossible to cover all the forest with TV-cameras). That means that in Orienteering we have to fill empty time (the lack of athletes near the cameras) with professional speaking (based on sports statistics and expert opinions) and nice graphical information of performance analysis.

Orienteering in the Olympics. Would you like to comment?

M. V. - I am against Orienteering in the Olympics. It is a false goal. For the moment, I believe that Orienteering is a clean sport (post ‘Doping in Orienteering’ in our blog http://vinogradovcoach.blogspot.ru/ is coming next month with analysis of several positive cases and estimations of effectiveness of the current IOF anti-doping policy). Moreover, most of the people believe in ‘Fair Play’ in Orienteering (not 100%, but close). But everything would be gone in the Olympics. We would see the current generation (who respects the Fair Play) gradually losing their positions. With doping would happen unfair access to forbidden areas, bribes for knowledge of event courses, and we would be at same dirty level as cycling, track & field athletics or weight lifting. The current Olympic movement is far away from the ideals of Pierre de Coubertin and we can see multiple huge scandals of doping in Kenya, USA, Russia, and the corruption in some international federations just confirms it. I believe in Fair Play and my athletes share my life values. But new runners without moral restrictions will come. Do we really need that?

What are your projects and goals in the short term, as a coach?

M. V. - As I said before, right now I’m working with Galina Vinogradova, Valentin Novikov and Olga Vinogradova. And all my projects and goals are related with the trainings and performances of these three athletes.

Thinking about the future, would you mind sharing with us your greatest wish?

M. V. - I wish that every runner in Orienteering will be healthy, injury free and enjoy our sport!

[Photo courtesy of Mikhail Vinogradov]

Joaquim Margarido