Sunday, May 31, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Baptiste Fuchs (France)




Name: Baptiste Fuchs
Age: 28
Home location: La Rochette, France
Profession and educational background: Physical Education teacher.
Years in sport of any kind: Road cycling for 15 years, snowboard for 5 years, judo for 7 years. And also cross skiing, climbing and paragliding.
Years in MTBO: 4 years.
What got you started: I started with an invitation for a FootO night race by team. Night orienteering was a really “magical” experience and I enjoyed the vibes. I had stopped the road cycling two years ago and I found in Orienteering a sport that fitted with my taste and interest.
IOF World Ranking: 4th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 3rd position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- My first WOC silver medal in 2014 in Poland. My best result until then had been the 7th place in a World Cup stage and to get that medal was really unexpected for me!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- I think that we can learn from everyone and I try to find the best in every athlete around me.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- Pleasure and training hard in quality.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- A top 6 will be a good result for me but I hope for a medal. If I make a good race, without mistakes, I think that I can get a podium because my shape is very good at the moment.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- My mind! If I can being concentrated during all the competition, without thinking in the result, without pressure, just for the pleasure, I think that I can make a good race.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- Get a podium in the World Cup 2015 overall.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Live each day as if it was the last.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- My English is very bad, but I try to cure myself (laughs). The speaker is an insurmountable challenge for me and also because I would like to discuss more with my opponents after the race.

[Photo credits: Thibaud Guelennoc]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Saturday, May 30, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Ingrid Stengård (Finland)




Name: Ingrid Stengård
Age: 39
Home location: Espoo, Finland
Profession and educational background: Ski-instructor, wilderness guide, primary school teacher.
Years in sport of any kind: 33 years.
Years in MTBO: 23 years.
What got you started: I did Ski-orienteering and MTBO was a good way of summer training.
IOF World Ranking: 6th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 2nd position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- It's hard to pick just one, there have been so many amazing moments during the years. Winning and successful races are just one part of the great MTBO moments. I think meeting so many nice people from all over the world with similar interests and having the chance to travel around and see many new places have given even more fantastic moments. Moments like being overtaken by a kangaroo, when racing in Australia or barbeque parties at MTB-O-Ringen in Sweden, for example, are easiest to the Middle Distance in EMTBOC at Nida, Lithuania (2008) was a big surprise. When I crossed the finish line after a race where I’ve made a big mistake to the first control, almost caught up by the next starter, and then made what felt like hundreds of stops to avoid any other big mistakes I was all but satisfied. A minute after finishing I saw my name popping up highest on the result list I just couldn’t believe it.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- There is so much to explore and learn in the sport. Every race and map-training is always a new challenge and a contact with a new course that you haven’t done before. It’s impossible to get bored when you don’t know what’s waiting in the next race.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- Good question. At the moment I think it’s not so much about current training but about the experience and things done in the past. I try to develop the fast orienteering since many mtb-o nowadays are in very dense path networks in fast, often urban terrain.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- To do four good races without any stupid mistakes and enjoy the races.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Do not make any stupid mistakes. Training on difficult courses where I have to focus all the time.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- To do my best race of the year in the World Championships.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Not really. But I try to have fun every day. Life is too short to waste on being unhappy. Even daily routines can be done with a smile.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- I’m really looking forward to race in Portugal again. I like the hilly terrain that the weather it’s usually warm and nice. The warmer the better since I don’t like freezing (laughs).

[Photo credits: Elina Erkkilä]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Friday, May 29, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Bernhard Schachinger (Austria)




Name: Bernhard Schachinger
Age: 31
Home location: Ried and Graz, Austria
Profession and educational background: University degree Geomatics, employed at Microsoft since 2008
Years in sport of any kind: 30 years
Years in MTBO: About 12 years.
What got you started: An injury that kept me from running.
IOF World Ranking: 23rd position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 18th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- The Relay bronze medal at the World Championships in Hungary, definitely.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- I spend most of my time in the office or on business trips and I need sports for relaxing and refuelling the brain. MTBO is a nice challenge, both physically and mentally, so it’s perfect to calm down after work.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I try to use every single minute as efficient as possible; otherwise I could not do the sport at this level in parallel to the job.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- A medal in the Relay competition.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Sometimes I need to work hard to stay focused and concentrated on the map and on the upcoming controls, especially on the longer distances. And I should consider the route choices more carefully.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- I hope to improve my rankings in the World Cup, World Championships and European Championships, compared to the last seasons.

[Photo credits: Rainer Burmann]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Martina Tichovska (Czech Republic)




Name: Martina Tichovska
Age: 28
Home location: Prague, Czech Republic
Profession and educational background: Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science - Engineering geology.
Years in sport of any kind: Foot orienteering from my birth, softball for 4 years and basketball for 3 years.
Years in MTBO: Since 2006.
What got you started: My boyfriend.
IOF World Ranking: 5th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 5th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- Double victory (men, women) in Relay at the European Championships in Russia, 2011.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- It's not about inspiration; I do what I like.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- Tuning and relaxing.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- To get a medal or to be satisfied with my performance.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Every race is a different challenge; to keep clear head and strong legs and to survive in good health.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- To get a medal in a big competition and to reach the top 5 in the World Cup overall.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Don’t worry, be happy!

[Photo credits: Piotr Siliniewicz]
Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Pekka Niemi (Finland)




Name: Pekka Niemi
Age: 24
Home location: Sastamala, Finland
Profession and educational background: Student, electrical engineering.
Years in sport of any kind: About 17 years.
Years in MTBO: 10 years.
What got you started: I liked orienteering and I enjoyed the speed when riding a bike.
IOF World Ranking: 9th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 10th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- I have many. The World Junior Championships in Portugal 2010 is one of them. Last year's best moment was winning the World Cup mass start, in Denmark.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- Difficult question. I like MTB and orienteering brings nice challenge for sport. It´s very interesting to notice how my body reacts to different kind of trainings.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I do mountain bike rides on aerobic pace. I trust for that training method. I think strength trainings are important also.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- I just want to be in good shape physically and orienteer well.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Route choices. I train them in Portugal right now

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- I would like to be a little better than last season. I want to learn to time my shape much better, that's big thing for me.

[Photo credits: Elina Erkkilä]
Joaquim Margarido

Monday, May 25, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Camilla Søgaard (Dinamarca)




Name: Camilla Søgaard
Age: 23
Home location: Aarhus, Denmark
Profession and educational background: Studying Sport Science at the University.
Years in sport of any kind: I have been running orienteering since I was 10 and riding MTBO since I was 19. The last 2 years I have also done some Adventure Racing.
Years in MTBO: 5 years.
What got you started: Actually I hated to bike when I was a kid, but problems with my knee three winters in a row when I was on the junior foot-o national team, forced me to train on the bike. After competing in some national MTBO races by request from my brother Rasmus and also participating in JWOC in Italy 2011, I was all into MTBO.
IOF World Ranking: 15th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- Winning medals on your own or together with the team is always a big thing, and I’m especially happy for my bronze medal from WOC last summer at the long distance. But winning the bronze medal at the unofficial sprint mix relay together with my brother also means a lot to me, because he really deserves to be up there.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- From the national team and my friends.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- If I had got this question last autumn I would have said - a lot of XCO training, but then I got a knee injury, which I wasn’t too good to listen to. At last I could finally start riding again, but then I crashed and got an concussion, so right now I have to listen very carefully to my head and only do what “it says is okay”.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- Riding some controlled and clever races and see where it brings me. Try not to get too frustrated because Im physically far from where I want to be at this time of the year.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Usually I often ride too fast for my orienteering so I make some stupid mistakes, but even though the speed is lower now I still have to focus a lot on the map.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- Getting a medal either individual or together with the relay team despite the shitty start of the season.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Do what you love and do it often!

[Photo credits: Robert Vorvaň Urbaník]
Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, May 24, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Jonas Maišelis (Lithuania)




Name: Jonas Maišelis
Age: 23
Home location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Profession and educational background: I‘m getting bachelor‘s degree in computer engineering this year.
Years in sport of any kind: 10 years.
Years in MTBO: 8 years. Since my first Junior World championships in Poland.
What got you started: I did lots of different sports when I was child. Football, basketball, handball, athletics, orienteering (for 5 months, when I was 9 year old). But one day my physical education teacher offered me to take part in foot orienteering regional school‘s festival and we won. There I meet my first trainer which gave me an orienteering background. After two years I've decided to try MTBO, because I've always liked cycling a lot.
Even though I've lost nearly an hour to the leader in my first MTBO competition, but I enjoyed it. After some more competitions my skills were increasing, so I've been selected to my first JWMTBOC. My personal results were fine as in my first international event, but 4th place in relay boosted my motivation a lot. Since then I‘m dedicated to MTBO.
Other personal information you would like to share: I‘m a student at the moment, so I have enough time for training, but I hope to get computer engineer diploma. After that I‘ll have to find work and decide what to do with sport, because I have to think more about my future. But at the moment my main goal is WMTBOC medal.
IOF World Ranking: 12th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 4th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- I can't mention one moment which is the very best for me. But the silver medal in JWMTBOC‘s Long Distance changed my life, literally. After that, I've got some sponsors who helped me to prepare for my goals. As I am competing in Elite group for several years now, my best memory was in last year's WMTBOC, where I was really close the podium – 4th place in Long Distance. Also I‘m really happy with my 3rd place in the MTBO World Cup Middle Distance this year.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

- I think I draw it from my mistakes. I always try to ask myself why one or another mistake happened and it pays off. My orienteering skills are getting better every year. Talking about training, I‘m trying to think about it like a job I have to do as good as I can. Top elite riders also inspires me a lot, but I don't have one to pick out.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I've started preparing this season really early, because in Lithuania we had great weather conditions – it was warm enough to train outside. So I've trained a lot during the winter season with some of our best road cyclists. About 80% of my trainings are with a road bike and I think it helps me to be fast enough to fight with the top MTBO athletes.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- As I'm not in my best shape at the moment, I can't say how it will be in Portugal, but I'll try to do my best for reaching, at least, the top 6.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- My biggest challenge is to compete riding fast speed without any orienteering mistakes. I always try to have a race plan and if it fails, I try to listen to my body and mind in order to finish it as good as I can.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- To win the WMTBOC's Long Distance, in the Czech Republic. I know it will be very hard, because Czech's terrain isn't my favorite, but I'll try to do my best. Also my dream is to win the Relay, crossing the finish line with my hands raised in the air.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- The closer you go to your dream, the less it is a dream.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- I wish to thank to all who supports and motivates me. It is very important for me to know that someone believes in me.

[Photo credits: Donatas Lazauskas]
Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, May 23, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Hana Garde (France)




Name: Hana Garde
Age: 31
Home location: Pélussin, France
Profession and educational background: Financial Controller at Thales Angénieux.
Years in sport of any kind: 20 years.
Years in MTBO: 12 years.
What got you started: I started in Foot orienteering at the age of 14, as member of the Slovak youth and junior national team. In 2005, the World MTBO Championships were in Slovakia and I was asked if I wanted to participate. It was a new challenge for me (I had to buy a better mountain bike and start to bike seriously!). The good results (6th and 8th place in individual races) motivated me to continue.
Other personal information you would like to share: I have a 2 years old daughter, Alena.

IOF World Ranking: 11th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 9th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- The WMTBOC Sprint race, in Israel. One of the best races in my life, I lost less than 30 seconds over the whole race and won my second gold.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- Nature! There are so many beautiful spots all around that motivates me to training (it’s one of the reasons why I don't like athletics and running in a stadium). And the possibility to discover new terrains far from home.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- First of all, enjoy the training! I am not a professional rider; I am doing this sport for pleasure. I like different kinds of physical training, with varying intensity - I find it very playful!

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- Well, I have a few medals from the World Championships but still missing one from the European Championships. One of my last challenges (laughs).

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- Adapt the speed according to the map difficulty.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- Have a perfect race on the right moment and see the result (laughs).

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Nothing is impossible!

Anything else you’d like to share?
- This year we have created a team with our French colleagues: Team Elite MTBO. I would like to thank all our partners that help us to have a better performance this year. And also to my family that takes care of our daughter while training and competing.

[Photo credits: Yoann Garde]
Joaquim Margarido

Friday, May 22, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Hans Jørgen Kvåle (Norway)




Name: Hans Jørgen Kvåle
Age: 25
Home location: Brandbu, Norway
Profession and educational background: Jobseeker, Master degree in Sport Science.
Years in sport of any kind: 25 years. I "attended" my first O-ringen when I was 7 months. From I was a little child I was introduced to all sports possible to do at Brandbu where I grew up. Examples: cycling, track and field, orienteering, xc skiing, ski-orienteering, gymnastics, handball, kayaking, ski jumping, etc.
Years in MTBO: 6 years.
What got you started: I attended JWMTBOC in Denmark in 2009 as it was the best summer preparations for the coming skiO season. Here I found out how much I enjoyed MTBO and that I also had some talent for it.
Other personal information you would like to share: I am now stepping down as an elite athlete. I will still be racing this MTBO season, but I am not planning on racing ski-orienteering on the top level any more. It has been a very hard decision, but 10 years of being "full time" athlete has been enough for me. It is time to try to make the budget go in + for a change.
IOF World Ranking: 6th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 13th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- Every race I see Emily [Benham] succeed and the World Championships sprint last year.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- At the moment my inspiration for training comes from training with Emily and not to gain too much fat and maintain my fitness level as well as possible after I started to reduce my training. When it is race time the motivation comes from the wish for doing the optimal race with perfect flow.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I have a really strong base after many years of hard training. My biggest challenge now is to do training that motivates and enjoys me. My biggest key to success is that I never want to do anything half way and I have a lot of creativity to reach the goal.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- I have always found it hard to set results goals for MTBO since my shape often varies a lot in the summer. My biggest goal will of course be the sprint. Norway will also for the first time have a Relay team in the European Championships this year. Unfortunately I cannot make a sprint relay team with Emily... (yet)

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- My biggest challenge is to keep my concentration up when it gets boring. The more technical it is, the less mistakes I will do.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- To have fun, find my flow in the most important competitions and defend my WOC gold.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- You don't get more fun than you create yourself (norwegian saying).

Anything else you’d like to share?
- I really hope to see some big developments in our sport, all disciplines of orienteering, the coming years which will give the athletes the visibility and credit they deserve. This will hopefully help the national federations and teams to recruit new athletes and offer their top athletes better conditions to develop. I hope I can be involved in this process and give the coming athletes an easier and more sustainable orienteering career.

[Photo credits: SportFoto.lt]
Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, May 21, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Antonia Haga (Finland)




Name: Antonia Haga
Age: 25 (26 very soon)
Home location: Lives at the moment in Rovaniemi, Lapland, born and raised in Kronoby
Years in sport of any kind: I have been doing sports for as long as I can remember. I started as a cross country skier, but never really liked it
Years in MTBO: 9 years.
What got you started: Some time after quitting cross country skiing I started with orienteering. I tried MTBO and thought it was great fun to ride my bike in the forest looking for control points. Back then I set a goal to win the junior Finnish Championships, which I achieved in 2009
Other personal information you would like to share: When I'm riding in urban surroundings I just have to ride down all stairs I find!
IOF World Ranking: 16th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 8th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- The second place at the middle distance in WC 1 in Hungary 2015 is my best achievement in MTBO. The difficult conditions, terrain, course and my own performance made it a race I'll always remember.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- I like to ride my bike in the forest on single tracks. I especially like technical and fast downhill tracks. I like the speed and the challenge. I'm looking for challenges and I always want to improve. Something that's not challenging is boring and then it won't keep me interested for long.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I have a new training program and I have been able to follow trough my training schedule as I planned.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- When I cross the finish line I want to be satisfied with my race and know that I couldn't have done anything better.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- The biggest challenge for me is to avoid making mistakes in my orienteering. I will try my best to learn from the mistakes I have made in the past.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- By finishing second at the middle distance in Hungary I think I already achieved an ultimate goal. To finish a race without mistakes is also something that I'm always aiming for.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- A human being needs food, sleep, exercise and mental stimulation.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- My first race in Portugal five years ago was a disaster. I didn't know how to read contours and how to make route choices in a hilly terrain. There aren't barely any hills at all where I had trained orienteering at the west coast of Finland. When I came back to Portugal in 2013 I was more prepared and knew how to read the map. Even though I had a painful crash the day before on the middle distance, I was able to take my best position so far in the World Cup and finished fifth on the long distance.

[Photo credits: Marko Bonden]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Jan Svoboda (Czech Republic)




Name: Jan Svoboda
Age: 36
Home location: Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic
Profession and educational background: Freelance Web Developer; MTBO.cz webmaster; CykloDres.cz sports clothing designer
Years in sport of any kind: 30 years - bored of being a football player for two years and after that enthusiastic orienteer across o-disciplines: Foot-O, Ski-O and, in the last years, mainly MTBO.
Years in MTBO: 19 years.
What got you started: As a child, me and my friends, we spent some time on BMX track at my hometown. At the early nineties the boom of MTB was around us and we wanted it so much. At these times, we competed in Orienteering and MTBO grew up in Czech Republic. My first MTBO event was the Czech Championships in 1996 on my younger brother's bike with a small frame, because my first MTB was stolen. I didn't have a map holder so I put my map to the foil which was tethered around my body and to my wrists (laughs) and I was kicking to the handlebars with my knees, but I enjoyed it so much and, as a bonus, I was second at junior class.
IOF World Ranking: 19th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 6th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- There were some big moments in my career but the best is every moment I am behind the handlebars, in a nice location, good terrain and interesting map course.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- I am a “training type” so I don't need much motivation, because I like it. Otherwise there is a lot of older grand masters of different sports around me and these days there are some young guns which are also a good inspiration.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- Competing at various other disciplines like XC, timetrial, MTB and ROAD marathons or Orienteering and Ski-O. And other challenge is to compete on Strava.com with strong non-MTBO guys on interesting technical trails, downhills and tough climbs.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- I want to enjoy every minute, stay relaxed and it could be the right recipe for some good result.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- I fulfilled some of my dreams in past years so now the biggest challenge is maybe to show that I am not so old (laughs).

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- As usual, make most races with a minimal number of mistakes.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Go to everything with full gas (laughs) and stay positive at hard times.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- Thanks to everyone on the massive list of people who support me and give me some advice or inspire me.

[Photo credits: Kateřina Hanajová]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Nina Hoffmann (Denmark)




Name: Nina Hoffmann
Age: 42
Home location: Slagelse, Denmark
Profession and educational background: Health consultant, Physiotherapist.
Years in sport of any kind: I've done orienteering almost all my life, having started off in the pram doing foot-O with my grandma. I've tried Biathlon orienteering and Trail-O as well, and was on the national Biathlon-O team for some years. I've also done gymnastics at competition level.
Years in MTBO: Since 2008/9
What got you started: The European Championship in Denmark.
Other personal information you would like to share: I'm lucky to be blessed with three kids - One girl and two boys (aged 10, 7 and 5).
IOF World Ranking: 18th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 10th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- The World Championship in Hungary 2012 was quite special to me. Really never thought that I would have a chance of being at Top 10 or get the podium in the individual competitions. But I had really good races overall and ended up getting a bronze Medal in the Middle Distance. The race was really close and I was actually 4th at the last control.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- My life.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- Quality over Quantity.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- My primary goal this year is the Relay with the girls. Individually I'm going for the perfect race.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- To push as fast as possible without making mistakes. Focus, focus, focus!

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- To be on the podium with the girls in the Relay.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- I don't have a saying or motto, but I do try to look on the bright side of life and remember to appreciate the small things in life and the lovely people I'm blessed with.

Anything else you’d like to share?
- Nope, but always ready for a chat if anyone wants to know more.

[Photo credits: Tomas Kafka]
Joaquim Margarido
  

Monday, May 18, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Luca Dallavalle (Italy)




Name: Luca Dallavalle
Age: 27
Home location: Croviana, Italy
Profession and educational background: Surveyor.
Years in sport of any kind: I started in FootO in 2001 and then in MTBO from 2008, but I practiced from the early childhood a lot of other sports in a non-competitive way like skiing and mountaineering.
Years in MTBO: 7 years.
What got you started: I started Foot-o at the age of 14 just to stay with some of my friends. Then I liked the sport so I continued seriously. In 2008 I switched occasionally into MTBO because I had some injuries (ankle and knee) and the bike was important for recover. I understood that I liked more to train with the bike than running so I decided to train seriously MTBO only and I stopped with FootO in 2010.
IOF World Ranking: 13th position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 11th position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- My bronze medal at the WMTBOC Middle Distance in Montalegre, Portugal 2010. It was my first WMTBOC participation and the result was totally unexpected for me. It was also the first WMTBOC medal ever for Italy, an incredible feeling also for everybody in the team.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- From the top riders, they have always inspired me a lot. I try every day to learn something from their top performances. During the last two years, I had the opportunity to train some weeks with Ruslan Gritsan - he is one of the most successful mountain bikers - and I learned a lot of things from him.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I think the most important thing in the high level sport is to recover well after a hard session or a hard period of trainings, physically and also mentally.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- Well, this year I'm a little bit late with my preparation because of an injury to a finger. Anyway I really like the Portuguese terrain and I hope to get some top 6 results.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- During competition, my biggest challenge is to get confident with the map in the first part of the course. I usually start quite slow to manage it but I can still improve that. My biggest challenge for the whole season is to find the motivation to train hard for a long period. To manage it, I focus seriously only in one or two big events during the year and I try to train and race with fun and without pressure during the rest of the season. It is not always easy to do that.

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- My biggest goals this year are the WMTBOC in Czech Republic. I really like the Czech terrain and last year I had the opportunity to train a lot on it. I hope to be in the best shape in August.

[Photo credits: Piero Turra]


Joaquim Margarido  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

EMTBOC 2015: Meet Emily Benham (Great Britain)




Name: Emily Benham
Age: 26
Home location: Salisbury, England and Brandbu, Norway
Profession and educational background: Surveyor and cartographer of Foot and MTB orienteering maps and a bike mechanic. Physiotherapy degree in 2010, but only practiced until mid 2012.
Years in sport of any kind: 16 years. Age 10-18 in FootO, and 18 onwards in MTBO. 2 years of occasional XCO racing.
Years in MTBO: 8 years.
What got you started: I overtrained for FootO, started biking more. Enjoyed it. Tried MTBO. Became addicted.
Other personal information you would like to share: I have more bikes than there are days in the week!
IOF World Ranking: 1st position
MTBO World Cup 2015: 1st position



What is your best moment in MTB Orienteering so far?
- My first WOC medal in 2012.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
- Improving myself, my mind and my body. I suppose on some level, I'm driven by a desire to not fail. A failure will see me obsess over it until I succeed.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
- I listen to my body. If I feel emotional and close to tears one morning, I'll take a day off, because I know it's a sign I'm working slightly over the edge. Then I can come back the next day with renewed motivation and energy. It stops me overtraining mentally.

What are your goals for the European Championships, in Portugal?
- To improve on my season start. My legs will be faster, my orienteering more controlled and my riding will be more aggressive. If I can defend my European title in the middle I will be pleased. There is some strong competition this year and none of the women are going to be giving away free seconds in Portugal. I think there will be some interesting and exciting results.

What is your biggest challenge in the competition, and how do you intend to manage it?
- I had some good races in Hungary, but that was some weeks ago. Everyone is improving all the time, and any athlete can be strong for EOC. Picking myself up between races if they don't go as I plan will potentially be the hardest challenge, but I'm lucky to have Hans Jørgen to help me!

What would be your ultimate achievement for the season?
- If you had asked me two days ago, it would be to wheelie properly, or do a bunnyhop with flat pedals and no cleats! But since I've just achieved that, it would have to be raising my orienteering speed to a level I have never reached before. If I can orienteer as fast as the top men, I can make full use of my speed and power.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?
- Train, eat, sleep, repeat. Maybe some work!

Anything else you’d like to share?
- As a child I didn't do much sport seriously. As a teen I just 'ran' and orienteered. I wasn't a fast runner. I couldn't catch a ball. My body control and coordination was limited. I'm paying the price now, and spend some of my training time learning new skills and teaching my brain how to control movements. It took me 2 months of dedicated core stability and muscle pattern activating/learning to be able to do a pull up!! I've made big improvements away from the bike this winter and it's really helped my speed, strength and power which I didn't expect at all.

[Photo credits: Nigel Benham]


Joaquim Margarido
  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tiomila 2015: "Double" for Sweden, ten years later



IFK Göteborg and Domnarvets GoIF were the big winners of Tiomila's 70th edition, offering to Sweden a tasty "double" that have not been seen since 2005. At Skepptuna, not far from where the first edition in 1945 was ran, the races lined up to unpredictability and excitement, with the winners to be found in the last meters.


Orienteering “classic” for excellence, Tiomila called this year to Sweden the best of the best (again), being a great party for 5.297 participants distributed by Men, Women and Young relays. And it was precisely the youngsters who opened the hostilities with 257 teams classified at the end and the victory belonging to the Norwegian team of Nydalens SK. Ragne Wiklund, Ingvil Ahlsand, Lukas Liland and Elias Jonsson needed 1:57:52 to complete their course, imposing to Konnerud IL by the wide margin of 6:25. It was the third time that a Norwegian team won the Young Relay and Nydalens SK's debut in the highest place of the podium.

Who had passed through the highest place of the podium and repeated it for the fourth time in the sixteen previous editions was the Swedish team of Domnarvets GoIF in the Women's race. With Elin Dahlin, Karolina Højsgaard, Dana Safka Brozkova, Lena Eliasson and Emma Johansson, the Swedish covered the whole course in 3:57:09 against 3:57:48 of the Swedish Järla Orientering. Very technical and all of them with loops, the first three legs were important for the definition of the candidates to the victory. At the end of the third leg it was possible to see eight teams still struggling for the victory. In the lead, Karolin Ohlsson retained an advantage of 40 seconds for Järla Orienteering over Leksands OK - with Helena Jansson running an absolutely fantastic third leg and recovering 51 positions in the table, after more than three minutes (!) earning to all her most direct opponents.

The fourth leg, with 10.5 km, reduced to six the number of pretenders to the final victory, with Järla Orientering still in the lead, but with the Alfta-Ösa and Domnarvets GoIF with differences less than 10 seconds. In the decisive leg, Sara Eskilsson soon proved unable to hold one of the first three places for Alfta-Ösa, so the fight for victory was between Elin Hemmyr Skantze and Emma Johansson. Skantze stayed in the lead in the first half of this last leg, but the victory eventually smiled to the Domnarvets GoIF athletes, thus recovering the title they won in 2013. Who was very early out of the race was the Danish team of OK Pan Århus, the big winner in 2014 and that couldn't do best than the 24th place this year.


The most waited moment

With the night settling down slowly, it was given the start for the men's race. Jesper Lysell would be the fastest in the first leg, giving to BK Rehns the first advantage. But everyone knew that the first great moment was saved for the third leg, a 16.5 km long distance without loops, in which to keep in contact with the head of the race would be essential. The teams with higher aspirations launched to this leg some of their most valuable assets and Södertälje-Nykvarn came into the lead, with Andreu Blanes Reig, followed by Kalevan Rasti, with Kiril Nikolov. But the lesson was well studied and only 1:16 separated the 50 (!) first teams at this stage of the race. Out of the race were, however, teams like the Vehkalahden Veikot (Janne Weckman and Tero Föhr), the OK Ravinen (Gustav Bergman), the Järla Orientering (Olle Boström) and ... the Nightfoxes International, a real women Dream Team who dared to face the Long Night and ended out of the race when Tove Alexandersson was disqualified precisely in this third leg.

From the sixth leg, to keep in touch with the head of the race became even more difficult for many and, in that moment, followed in the lead a very compact group of ten elements, separated by 1:12. Mattias Karlsson was giving the lead to the Halden SK, but the usual suspects - Kalevan Rasti, IFK Lidingö SOK, Vaajakosken Tera, Södertälje-Nykvarn - remained in the fight for the victory, very close to the leadership. Fabian Hertner, takes the lead to Kalevan Rasti at the end of the eighth leg with an advantage of 2:09 over the second-placed IFK Lidingö SOK, but loses the precious minutes to his opponents in the next leg. Everything will be decided on the last leg and there were “five cocks for a perch”. Fredrik Johansson (IFK Lidingö SOK), Magne Dæhli (Halden SK), Thierry Gueorgiou (Kalevan Rasti), Wojciech Kowalski (IL Tyrving) and Eskil Kinneberg (IFK Göteborg) are separated by 14 seconds. A new day was born and by the end of this long line, 17.5 km away, the laurels are waiting only one of them. Thierry Gueorgiou is the favourite and he is about to repeat the successes of 2013 and 2014. But ...


Surprise!

Fredrik Johansson leaves very fast, moves away from the group. But then he makes a mistake, yet another mistake and quickly realizes he's out of the race. The next to fall will be Kowalski: facing the small loop alone, while Dæhli, Gueorgiou and Kinneberg have the same combinatorial and go together. The rest of the race will be a game of cat and mouse with the Norwegians to slow down towards the limit and to force Thierry Gueorgiou to pay the costs of the race. Everything ends up decided in a Sprint, with the King losing the parade to his two direct opponents. Eskil Kinneberg takes his bet until the end, beating Magne Dæhli for three seconds. The IFK Göteborg write, for the first time, its name in the Tiomila's Book of Honour.

As for the Portuguese, there were six athletes in the race, with different results. Tiago Romão and Tiago Aires ran for the Swedish team IFK Umeå and concluded on the 59th place. Both secured key legs of their team, with Romão improving 21 places in the third leg and Aires to lead the team from the 62nd place to 59th final place with more 1:59:46 than the winner. Tiago Gingão Leal ran the first leg of the CopenhagenO team, leaving it in the 143rd position, at 8:23 to the leadership. The Danes were to finish in 118th place with a final time of 13:27:05. Diogo Miguel also ran the third leg, leaving the Köping-Kolsva OK team in 132nd place, precisely the same as when he started. Bruno Nazário concluded the 5th leg in 160th place, contributing to the 133rd final place of Köping-Kolsva OK. Finally, Carolina Delgado ran the first leg of the Danish group of CopenhagenO, passing the testimony in the 159th place. Anita Sørensen made the team to fall sixty positions in the second leg and Camilla Larsen was disqualified in the third leg.


Results

Men
1. IFK Göteborg 10:13:50
2. Halden SK 10:13:53 (+ 00:03)
3. Kalevan Rasti 10:14:02 (+ 00:12)
4. IFK Lidingö SOK 10:15:54 (+ 02:04)
5. Södertälje-Nykvarn 10:16:25 (+ 02:35)

Women
1. Domnarvets GoIF 3:57:09
2. Järla Orientering 3:57:48 (+ 00:39)
3. Stora Tuna OK 3:59:42 (+ 02:33)
4. Paimion Rasti 3:59:48 (+ 02:39)
5. Kalevan Rasti 4:00:19 (+ 03:10)

Young
1. Nydalens SK 1:57:52
2. Konnerud IL 2:04:17 (+ 06:25)
3. Turun Suunnistajat 2:04:33 (+ 06:41)
4. Fossum IF 2:04:38 (+ 06:46)
5. Södertälje-Nykvarn 2:04:49 (+ 06:57)

Please find the complete results and much more at http://www.10mila.se/index.php/en/.

[Photo: Jan Kocbach / worldofo.com]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

IOF Athlete of May: Baptiste Fuchs



From mountain biking via orienteering to mountain bike orienteering – and Baptiste Fuchs, our Athlete of May 2015, had found his sport. “From the beginning I enjoyed the ‘playful’ side of MTB orienteering and I felt I could spend hours and hours in the forest searching for controls without feeling the time passing”, he says. Yesterday, he became together with his team mates winner of the first World Cup Mixed Relay race of this season. And we expect much more success for him in the near future…


Name: Baptiste Fuchs
Country: France
Date of Birth: January 31st 1987
Discipline: MTB orienteering
Career Highlights: World MTB Orienteering Championships – Long Distance 2nd (2014), Middle Distance 10th (2014), Sprint 14th (2014), Relay 3rd (2014).World Cup overall – 8th (2014).
IOF World Ranking: 5th


Baptiste Fuchs was born on the last day of January 1987 at Ambilly, where he lived for the first 20 years of his life deep in the countryside, enjoying the majestic sight of the Northern Alps. Along with his three sisters, he was encouraged very early on by his parents to practise sports of nature. From walking and biking to the more “radical” mountaineering, climbing and paragliding: the Fuchs family did – and still do! – all of them.

In the life of Baptiste, however, there is an event that was crucial in the personal and sporting options taken thereafter. He tells: “When I was 10, I went to the Mediterranean, cycling with my father. We rode an average of 100 km daily, we bought our food along the way and slept in shelters or in the tent that we took. For me it was like doing the Tour de France, and I began to feed the dream of being a cyclist!” Baptiste Fuchs took up cycling as a sport at the age of 12, and seven years later he reached the French Cycling Elite. Divided between Cycling and the need to continue his studies, he chose a Physical Education course and he became a teacher. Based in the Paris region, that’s where he discovered Orienteering: in the Fontainbleau forests.


A beautiful evening …

It all started with an invitation: the challenge to be part of a team in a Foot Orienteering night race. Readers familiar with Orienteering can understand the ingredients assembled that night: the camaraderie, the team element, the competition, the challenge of finding the controls, all in a scenario of shadows and gloom. And when the team leader passed the map into Baptiste’s hands, there was light. “I had stopped Cycling some time back, and felt the need to find a sport that fitted with my taste and interests”. And so Orienteering took over as “the sport”.

For Baptiste, it was a surprise to take note that Orienteering was also practised on wheels. And on all types of terrain. “As I came from Cycling, MTB orienteering was of interest from a personal point of view”, he says about this unexpected discovery. Since the moment he left “his” mountains and moved to Paris, contact with nature had been reduced almost to zero and here was the chance of recovering it. But there was more: “From the beginning I enjoyed the ‘playful’ side of MTB orienteering and I felt I could spend hours and hours in the forest searching for controls without feeling the time passing”. Holding already the physical qualities and the control of the bike needed to perform well, Baptiste was just lacking the technical part. But that one can learn and improve with training and races. Motivated, he has become a habitual presence at all competitions. He loves the healthy atmosphere among runners. Above all, he enjoys this undeniable fact: “The physically stronger is not necessarily the one who wins!”


Started at the age of 24

Baptiste’s first races with map and compass were back in 2011. Baptiste was then 24 years old and the question has to be posed: Wouldn’t it be too late to start? The athlete sees things another way: “In fact, I started doing MTB orienteering at the age of 24 and I didn’t expect to improve so quickly! But I started with a good physical level, although it was a disadvantage in the beginning because the habit to ride too fast was huge and I ended up by getting lost. Looking to make up the time lost, I ride even faster and … get lost again. Actually, my first races weren’t very successful”, he confesses, a smile on his face.

As he improved his orienteering technique, however, Baptiste eventually achieved a balance with his physical qualities, becoming what he is today. And he has the ambition to get further away: “Some argue that it takes 10 years to produce a champion. When I see what Ruslan Gritsan is still able to do at the age of 37, I say to myself that I still have a long time ahead to improve”, he says.


An unexpected medal

From 11th place on 22nd October 2011, in the French Long Distance Championships – his first race counting for the World Rankings – up to his silver medal in the World Championships in Poland on 29th August 2014, goes a whole journey of success. With Baptiste, we dived in on this “silver journey”, the highest point of his career so far.

What memories do you keep from that day?

“It was a very special day. Contrary to what occurred on the previous days with the Sprint and the Middle Distance races, I woke up with a feeling of great confidence, that this was my day. The day before I had already been amazed with the 10th place I achieved in the Middle Distance, especially since I had made too many mistakes. I knew that if I had a clean race there was no reason to fail in my original goal, which was to take a place in the top 10. I started the race wishing to do things well, to complete a course without mistakes according with my plan, and without thinking about the result, just for the pleasure of feeling the moment. And I got what I wished: I grabbed the race with the desire to give of my best, and to have a successful race without thinking about beating anybody. The silver medal is nothing more than a bonus. I prefer to finish a course in 20th place but pleased with my orienteering, rather than reaching the podium without the satisfaction of having had a good race.”

Did you expect to get the silver medal?

“No, not at all. My best result until then had been 7th place in a World Cup stage! I think the difficulty of this Long Distance race in particular was not the choice of routes, but the number of control points (37): It was necessary to look ahead and keep concentration from the beginning to the end. And we can see that easily when we analyse Jiri Hradil’s race, the fastest passing through the spectator control but throwing it all away at the 31st control. I may have managed to make fewer mistakes than my opponents, keeping my concentration and holding to my race plan until the end: choose always the shortest route, think ahead, and keep well fed and hydrated.”

One of the consequences of this medal has to do with your place in the rankings. What does being 5th in the IOF World Ranking mean to you?

“This is also a surprise. But it shows how consistent I was throughout the season, proving that my silver medal didn’t happen by accident. When I entered my first international competitions, I looked to the athletes of the Red Group and they were so strong… I was far from imagining that one day I would join them. Above all, this will allow me to be in contact this year with the best in the world and take the benefits from this additional motivation.”


Training

Baptiste Fuchs has no personal coach and he is the designer of his own training plans. But he admits that having someone who can put in questions about what he does, give some advice and, above all, force him to train when the will is poor, could be important. He confesses his passion about everything that concerns physical preparation, nutrition, recovery and the mental part. His studies at the University of Lyon allowed him to acquire a number of skills that he now seeks to deepen and complement with time and experience. “It is exciting to realise how your body reacts and measure the training effects on it”, he says, while finding the PowerMeter “essential” to his physical preparation process.

Baptiste’s training scheme takes into account the training of another great French athlete, Gaëlle Barlet, and is divided in cycles of four weeks each, with three weeks of progressive physical preparation and a week of recovery. In general, a typical week does not stray far from the following schedule: Monday – recovery, muscle strengthening and race analysis. Tuesday morning – individual training; Tuesday night – training with Gaëlle. Wednesday morning – muscle strengthening; Wednesday afternoon – training with Gaëlle. Thursday morning – individual training; Thursday night – training with Gaëlle. Friday – recovery, muscle strengthening and competition simulation. Saturday and Sunday – competition.


The greatest enemy of the athlete is himself, his mind”

In the training process, the mental part plays a key role and Baptiste can identify perfectly its most important aspects: “It’s not always easy to have the necessary motivation to follow the workout plan, especially when it rains, snows or the conditions are difficult. It is then that we see how important the mental part is”, he says. However, his past in Cycling taught him to “like suffering” when on a bike and it proves to be particularly useful at this point. Directing attention to pleasant moments or seeing images of a competition are strategies that help him to overcome the difficult moments, to which he adds the fact that he knows that his opponents are also training in the same difficult conditions. Result: “My motivation returns quickly”, he notes.

But it’s not just over motivational issues that Baptiste focuses his particular attention in his mental preparation. According to him, his state of mind remarkably affects his performance during the competition: “We all have a similar physical and technical level at the outset of a World Championships. What makes the difference has to do with the ability to stay focused throughout the competition, not to be upset by a mistake or an opponent you meet or some mechanical trouble. The greatest enemy of the athlete is himself, his mind”, he says. It is here that Baptiste sees the reason for his improvement, especially during the last season: “The confidence I gained allowed me to always move forward being sure of the best option, and not come back to lose 15 seconds in analysing the map when I realised that this wasn’t the best way to go”, he concludes.


Man shall not live by MTBO only

In addition to MTB orienteering, Baptiste Fuchs finds some time for other types of physical activity and sport. Cross-country skiing and Ski Orienteering are two of the preferences of this athlete in winter, asserting that “orienteering technique in both skiing and mountain biking is the same; someone exemplifying that is Hans Jørgen Kvåle, a brilliant athlete in both disciplines.” Trail running, ski outings and some raids – “to develop endurance and mental toughness” – in winter, and cycling in spring are complementary activities, and then there are paragliding and climbing, these two limited by the fact that there isn’t enough time for all. Above all, Baptiste Fuchs can’t stand to be at home: “I like any sport, from the moment that I leave home and dive into the nature, preferably without having to take the car”, he concludes.

What do you think of mountain biking “hard and pure”? Do you consider it essential as part of the training of an MTB orienteer with ambitions?

“I don’t go mountain biking. I train myself exclusively on my road bike and I think here’s the example that one can be successful in MTB orienteering without always going mountain biking! I’m aware of my weaknesses in terms of control of the machine: I don’t have the same agility as Kristof Bogar in downhill, for example. But I don’t think this is decisive in MTB orienteering. There are so many aspects that I must work on in order to win a few seconds, so I have no problem in putting this subject to one side.”


MTB and MTB orienteering: Two different realities

In addition to the wish to go further with his studies, the “bad atmosphere sometimes” among the athletes weighed in Baptiste’s decision to leave Cycling. “A certain mentality is maybe a consequence of money and prizes involved in the races”, he suggests, comparing it with what happens in MTB orienteering: “It’s fantastic that a good atmosphere remains preserved in our sport. To win a mug and a lamp when you’re 2nd placed in the World Championships may seem unbelievable to any rider used to receiving prize money, but I think it’s precisely therein that lies one of the charms of MTB orienteering. You can’t live by it, you spend a lot of money travelling to the four corners of the world where the events take place, but people who are willing to make financial sacrifices of this scale, do it through necessity just for the pleasure and for the passion”. And he concludes: “As long as things continue like this and doping and other derivatives remain away from our sport, it’s perfect.”

The topic of conversation remains on MTB, and we can’t avoid talking about the mass phenomenon that MTB is, whilst MTB orienteering continues to attract a much lower number of dedicated practitioners. Baptiste finds the explanation in the fact of MTB being “a very media-conscious discipline which has managed to adapt in order to make the races dynamic and spectacular. The circuits are shorter, allowing live broadcast of the races”. And also, “young people can easily identify with their champions, signing up in clubs and trying to imitate them. On the other hand, MTB orienteering is not easily broadcast as you don’t know the options of each competitor. And we have to admit that putting a camera next to a control to see a regularly repeated sequence is not exactly exciting. I think this is the greatest handicap to its development”, he concludes.


The risk is part of the game

When we see an athlete riding along a single track filmed by his own GoPro, we often feel a bit of vertigo, such is the speed that things happen. Speed is synonymous of risk, and the risk is part of the game, we all know, but is that risk necessary to be a World Champion? Baptiste talks of the last IOF Athlete of the Month, Hanka Doležalová, “the victim of a terrible accident in Portugal”, as an example of the ever-present risk. To him, “to ride a mountain bike is no easy task, but to ride and read a map at the same time makes it even harder. Ask Julien Absalon if is he able to read a newspaper and summarise it at the end of a World Championships race. I’m not sure that he would get to the end and win the race!”

His experience leads, of course, to him taking the risk factor into account. “It’s always with some uneasiness that I leave for a race. But from the moment I first look at the map, I end up forgetting some security rules and I take undue risks. One of the things I try to do is to memorise as much information as possible to avoid being forced to look at the map whilst riding downhill, for example. But unfortunately this is not always enough”, he concludes.


France a strong team

Baptiste’s endurance work in winter was distributed between skiing, running and biking. The athlete sought to participate in as many Foot Orienteering races as possible, especially urban Sprint – races that most resemble MTB orienteering in the taking of options and speed of decision. With the arrival of spring, Baptiste packs up the skis and focuses exclusively on the bike.

Recently he has been in Spain and Portugal together with his MTBO Team Elite colleagues. About the team, he says: “It’s a strong team, full of young people who are progressing very quickly and challenging the oldest. We will certainly have a very homogeneous Relay team this year.” It is clear, however, that what makes this team so special is its self-help capacity. Baptiste confirms: “We have a great atmosphere within the Team and do not hesitate to organise ourselves and move on to a Training Camp as a group, regardless of the meetings organised by our Federation. We also have this habit of meeting together out of competition. The creation of the MTBO Team Elite is a dream that has become true and I just hope that this positive moment will last”, he notes.


I am eager to do my first WRE race”

How is your physical shape?

“I feel quite well. I am lucky that I never get sick and rarely injure myself, so I have so far been able to follow my workout plan strictly. I’m a few pounds less compared to last season at this time, and I dare to believe that my preparation is also earlier compared to last season. I am eager to do my first WRE race to compare myself to the others.”

Judging by results, it seems to be at Long Distance that you feel most comfortable. Is that true?

“Yes, it is true. In terms of results I am better in the Long Distance races. I think when we start Orienteering the most important thing is to simplify things, and the Long Distance races are the ones where you can more easily express your physical potential, rather than the technical side. But as I improve, I take a growing pleasure in an urban Sprint rather than a Long Distance race, for example, because of its ‘playful’ side. I have to say that the route choice options haven’t had a decisive importance in recent years with regard to the big Long Distance races. In Poland, the number of control points and the weak slope meant that the long-leg options didn’t have a decisive character. In this context, it is easier for a “non-orienteer” to be successful. But things will be different in Portugal. I look at Long Distance map samples, quietly sitting in my office, and I find I can’t draw a route to the first control that would clearly be the best one. On the other hand, I think Portugal is a country that is well suited to my skills. When I was into Cycling as a sport, I was a good climber above all. I like it when we are faced with real climbs, when there is enough slope. I live in the Alps and the peaks around me are my ‘beach’.”


Triangle of emotions

In a year when Portugal, Hungary and the Czech Republic form a triangle of high-level competitions, it is time now to address the big goals. As mentioned above, Baptiste nourishes a preference for Portugal and there is a strong emphasis on the European Championships. To the athlete, “there are all the conditions to enjoy the European Championships, but I also have good memories from Hungary where I participated in my first World Championships in 2012. I did the first leg of the Relay and guaranteed the leadership for France’s second team, and then I was second in the qualifying heats of Long Distance, to everyone’s surprise”, he recalls. But despite the many good expectations that Baptiste may have about the Portuguese and Hungarian competitions, it is on the Czech Republic that he focus his greatest attention: “The Czech Republic is the country of MTB orienteering. They are used to organising a large number of high quality events and I’m certain I will not be disappointed by the way the World Championships will be held”, he assures.

“To enjoy myself, especially since the results will be the logical consequence of well achieved races”; this is the way Baptiste Fuchs summarises the goals for the current season. The most difficult part, he keeps for himself: “To confirm that my podium placing at the last World Championships wasn’t an accident”. To do so, Baptiste knows that he cannot overlook the strong competition, admitting that “all the first 20-ranked in the World Rankings are capable of getting on to the Championships podiums”. Once again, “my biggest rival will be myself”. But if Baptiste shows the same state of mind as in 2014, then he knows – we all know! – that a medal is quite possible. And we keep the expression of his greatest wish: “To have a perfect race! But does such a thing exist?”

Athletes’ Questions

Hanka Doležalová, Athlete of the Month in April, put the following questions to Baptiste Fuchs: “Are you planning to participate in the Plzeň 5 Days 2015? What do you enjoy the most in this event?” And the athlete says: “I expect, indeed, to participate in the Plzeň 5 Days 2015, as part of my preparations for the World Championships that will take place in the Czech Republic in August. The first time I participated in this competition was in 2013 and I found a great atmosphere there. Athletes are all hosted in the same place and take meals together, and children from 4 years old participate on small bikes without pedals, among the other competitors. We can clearly see that MTB orienteering is more popular in the Czech Republic than in France. I also liked the “originality” of some of the organisation’s plans, in particular the classification of the best in the arrival corridor, the chasing start on the last day, the Relay triathlon and the semi-free order format, which gave me huge problems.”

Baptiste Fuchs asked Emily Kemp, the next Athlete of the Month: “I know that you have lived in France and you currently live in Finland. The dream of French orienteers is to be able to head for Finland and Sweden to continue improving. Are there many differences in the way that French athletes and Finnish athletes train? Are the training conditions for high-level athletes the same in both countries? What are the positive (or negative) differences between Finland and France in terms of improvement in Orienteering?


[Text and photo: Joaquim Margarido. See the original article at http://orienteering.org/sundays-mixed-relay-winner-iof-athlete-of-may/. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]