Monday, November 30, 2015

Sara Hagström: "Elite Orienteering world's challenges are here and I’m really motivated!"



Last May, the story of a ten girls Team, who decided to fight against what they considered a discrimination and ran Tiomila side by side with Men, was subject of heated discussions. This Elite group included well-known names such as Nadiya Volynska, Tove Alexandersson Annika Billstam, Ida Bobach, Catherine Taylor or Simone Niggli. In this true “Dream Team” was also an unfamiliar person... or maybe not as unfamiliar as that! It's her the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's invited today, for a really pleasant talk. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Sara Hagström.


Following closely this amazing sport, I may easily see you, already, as one of the best in the World, despite your age. And I'm not the only one thinking so, I'm sure. How do you feel about that? Do you already feel the pressure of having so many eyes on you?

Sara Hagström (S. H.)
- I'm flattered of that comment! I don't see myself there yet, but I hope I can prove that I belong to the best when the season starts again. I'm actually comfortable with people believing in me and I'm pretty used to that kind of pressure from my junior-time. But I also really like to come as an underdog in some situations; it often helps me to fight and concentrate more “to prove them wrong”.

Would you like to tell me, in brief, some of the most important moments of your career so far? Was there a moment, a “click”, when you said to yourself ' - that's it, Orienteering is my sport for life'?

S. H.
- One of the most important moments were at the junior selection races, the same time as EOC, in Falun 2012. I was aiming for EYOC but got selected as a 17-year-old for JWOC... a big selection up, that I was really happy for! That Championshis in Slovakia 2012 was like an eye-opener for the international orienteering world. This new world was full of new people to meet, new views of how to think orienteering (inspired from the other juniors), new maps to run on, new challenges and more serious competitions than I ever could imagine. This feeling, that the junior orienteering world had so much more to experience, was one of the highlights and I wanted so much more. I was stuck in the sport!

Is it still possible to harmonize a demanding physical activity - read "Orienteering" - with your studies? How can you do that?

S. H.
- I study Civil Engineering in building technology at Chalmers, in Gothenburg. It is really hard to combine the two things, especially when I'm new in town and come from a year in Halden, with full time-orienteering focus. I really have to prioritize away some things I also want to do for Orienteering, but I really enjoy the orienteering-lifestyle and I know it will be worth it in the future. The time is not enough and after Christmas I will try to study on reduced speed to get the time I need for training, recovery and competitions. Gothenburg is a really good place to combine studies with Orienteering, there are many people with the same goals and we try to lift each other up to reach them. But, of course, sometimes I dream back to the full-time orienteering life in Halden, and hopefully I'll come back to that life some day in the future!

Have you someone helping and motivating you since the beginning? How important was he/she in your career so far?

S. H.
- I have had a lot of important people around me, but it has varied a lot during the years. My parents have always supported me and given me motivation, my sister (who goes all in for xc-skiing) and my brother have been two important training friends. The people at Eksjö Orienteering Gymnasium and in the national team helped me a lot along the way, also my clubs Falköpings AIK OK and Halden SK. My role model, Helena Jansson, has inspired me a lot with her fighting personality, and she motivates me to always go all in! Also Helen Palmer, who shared the apartment with me during last winter, has also played a big part in my life, bringing a positive atmosphere and being also a role model for me in all kinds of situations.

What are your most valuable skills? How do you work it and what are you doing to improve?

S. H.
- That's a hard question... I guess my most valuable skills are that I don't see difficulties as holdbacks, but as challenges. For example, when it's raining outside and I'm supposed to go out running intervals, I think that it will be cool when I'm finished and have managed the hard work.

Do you feel happy about the season? Have you achieved all the goals you've planned?

S. H.
- Yes, I'm happy with the season, but I guess it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I have been struggling a lot with a several ankle injuries, which prevented me from running as much as I wanted. I have achieved my goals about JWOC, but the most important thing is that I have learned a lot about myself this year. I have had a lot of ups and downs, and I guess that's the main goal for the whole junior-time, to collect experiences and enjoy the ride!

You did mention your achievements and I'm sure that JWOC Long Distance gold was one of it. Was it the top moment of the season? Can you remember that particular day since the beginning?

S. H.
- The long distance gold was an important moment of the season, but not the biggest one! After big struggles at the Sprint and Middle Distance, I really really wanted to succeed at this Long Distance, the distance I had focused hardest on since a year back. I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders, mostly from myself. I remembered to tell Miri Thrane Odum (who finished on 5th place) before start: “- this is our day”. And apparently it was! When I started, the pressure went away and I enjoyed the fantastic Norwegian forest and I guess that was thanks to my preparation that I could rely on. When I crossed the finish line I was mostly relieved. I had managed to do a good race, when it counted the most!

Have you other important moments in the season that you'd like to share?

S. H.
- One of the most important moments this year was at Night Hawk relay, at the end of August. I got the trust to run the last leg for my Norwegian orienteering-club Halden SK. When I found out that I was in 2nd placed, just one minute before a big chasing group, including the big star Anne-Margrethe Hausken Nordberg, I got really nervous and thought that “OK, maybe I can manage the 3rd place if I run really really good”. I was running alone for almost the whole course until the 3rd last control where I heard Anne-Margrethe behind me. The thoughts came that I already was beaten by her, but I stuck in until the last control, thinking all the time that she soon will make a move to pass me. But, somehow, I thought “maybe it will be fun just try to punch the last control before her”. I did it, I ran for my life and kept her behind me all the way to the finish line where my teammates welcomed me! It was an amazing feeling that I had done the impossible and an experience I will carry on my whole life. Nothing is impossible!

Another important moment from this year is the feeling that orienteering never stops being fun, instead the fun is increasing for every training and competition! At O-Ringen, this summer, I made a terrible race the first day with over 10 minutes mistakes, but despite that I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. A technically and physically demanding course that made me realize once again that I have so much left to learn and that I have the chance to get so much to improve. I was already looking forward to the next day!

You could run a World Cup stage for the first time ever in 2014 [and, as much as I remember, you did it again this year, last June, even if the race was cancelled]. How was the experience? What do you feel in a time when you're facing the gigantic challenge of joining the Elite?

S. H.
- It was an important experience and I'm really happy that I got the trust from the coaches to run those races. It makes me more comfortable and calm when I really have to deal with the situation in the future. It was a cool but scary experience. I realized that the level is much higher as in the junior class but I'm looking forward to the challenges. This spring I ran Elite class at Swedish League because I like the feeling that Orienteering is about how to manage challenging courses and not so much about the results. I hope that feeling stuck, being a good concept to reach my goals for the next season.

Are you already preparing 2016? What goals have you designed?

S. H. - Yes, I'm setting up my goals for the next year, a bit differently from the past years. It’s time to move on to a new stage in my orienteering life, the senior-class. Sometimes, when I think of it, I feel a bit worried: Longer courses, older and more experienced competitors, more seriousness among the runners and harder to even qualify for a competition. But when I think of the happiness that I had when I finished O-Ringen's first day, despite the long, demanding course and the terrible performance, the worries disappears. The summary from the past years shows that the happiness and the feeling that I have potential for improving is the engine of my Orienteering. So, why not let the story repeat itself? Why not let the first year as a senior, just as it was as a junior, be a door-opening year full of new experiences and inspiration, and a fight towards one of the blue and yellow spots for EOC 2016, World Cup, and maybe even WOC 2016? Elite Orienteering world's challenges are here and I’m really motivated!

Is Portugal (and the Portugal O' Meeting) in your plans for the winter training period?

S. H.
- Portugal O' Meeting would be a nice break in the winter, but I'm planning to go on some ski-trips in Norway and Sweden, so we'll see if the time comes for Portugal this year.

Now that a new season is about to come, I ask you a wish to those who, all over the world, love and are committed with Orienteering.

S. H.
- I wish all orienteers a nice winter with a lot of nice challenging trainings, club-nights with good friends, new experiences and happiness in Orienteering!

[Photo: Jonas Hagström]

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ski Orienteering World Cup Middle Distance: Victories for Andrey Lamov and Tove Alexandersson



Andrey Lamov and Tove Alexandersson took today's victories at Ylläs, Finland. In the third stage of Ski Orienteering World Cup's opening round, a tough Middle Distance, they beat the concurrence by comfortable margins.


Nine months after his Sprint gold in the World Ski Orienteering Championships, the Russian Andrey Lamov is back to the victories. This time in a World Cup Middle Distance always tough but very different from Friday's Sprint, with the starting line much lower and a lot of climbing ahead, again the Alpine slopes being a real challenge for the athletes. In such conditions, Lamov was faster than anyone else, finishing his course of 8,8 km in 39:42. Leader of the IOF Ski Orienteering World Ranking, the Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev repeated last Friday's second place, with more 1:03 than Lamov. The Swedish Erik Rost showed again his good shape, finishing third with the time of 41:15.

After yesterday's victory in Sprint Relay (together with Ulrik Nordberg), the Swedish Tove Alexandersson was the Women race's winner today, spending 37:09 to complete the 7,4 km of her course. A perfect race and no mistakes were the secret of such a huge success. Second placed, the Russia Mariya Kechkina took three more minutes than Tove Alexandersson to reach the finish. In the third place, with more 3:31 than the winner, we could see, surprisingly, the Finnish Sonja Moersky, a very experienced athlete but lately a little bit away from the international scene since the European Championships in 2014, where she took the bronze in the Middle Distance.


Results

Men
1. Andrey Lamov (Russia) 39:42 (+ 00:00)
2. Stanimir Belomazhev (Bulgaria) 40:45 (+ 01:03)
3. Erik Rost (Sweden) 41:15 (+ 01:33)
4. Eduard Khrennikov (Russia) 41:21 (+ 01:39)
5. Lars Moholdt (Noeway) 41:24 (+ 01:42)
6. Ville-Petteri Saarela (Finland) 41:37 (+ 01:55)

Women
1. Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) 37:09 (+ 00:00)
2. Mariya Kechkina (Russia) 40:09 (+ 03:00)
3. Sonja Moersky (Finland) 40:40 (+ 03:31)
4. Tatyana Oborina (Russia) 40:53 (+ 03:44)
5. Magdalena Olsson (Sweden) 41:04 (+ 03:55)
6. Milka Reponen (Finland) 41:07 (+ 03:58)

Full results and further information at http://ensilumenrastit.fi/2015/.

Joaquim Margarido

Inside Orienteering 03/2015: Behind the Scenes - Jorn Sundby



The Norwegian Jorn Sundby is IOF WOC SEA which means event advising at World Orienteering Championships with TV-development as one key part.


Tell us about your work as IOF WOC SEA?

– The mission is to secure the quality of WOC-events. I have a SEA-assistant for all WOCs, and we also have at least one national controller in our team. In addition, we have different experts within the IOF we can involve in technical details if necessary. The SEA is the main link between the IOF and organizer. One main task is of course to make sure that the IOF rules are strictly followed. Some IOF-rules are different from national rules. We have to approve the solutions chosen by the organizers in all areas, making sure that they not only follow the rules, but also have the quality that we want for our main event. Fairness is the most important guideline in judging all aspects of a WOC. Our aim is to be a support and a help for the organizers (not only a controller). Most WOC organizers do this once in their life time, while the SEA-team have a lot of experience from
many WOCs. In many cases we know what works and what doesn’t work.

Describe your work?

– I started working for IOF ahead of the 2015-season, replacing Bjorn Persson. I had some previous SEA-experience as Bjorn´s assistant at WOC 2014. Right now I have the responsibility of the WOC’s from 2016–2018. Normally we visit the host city once or twice each year in the three years prior to the WOC. Every visit is normally three to four days. Beside the visits we stay in close contact with the organizer through E-mail. For WOC 2016 it is a bit different, both me as the SEA and Unni Strand Karlsen as the assistant SEA lives quite close to the area, so we are visiting more frequently. We might just go for an evening meeting or a day in the forest.

We spend a lot of time on the different things that are different at WOC compared to a “normal” event. This is often where the organizer needs support and advice. Very few have experience with television, with the infrastructure needed, demands for IT, and so on. The demands of an international event, language, fairness for all countries is also new to many. Still, in the end, most time is used on maps and courses. There are many events at a WOC, and we want the best possible quality for the athletes.

What do you like with this job?

– Meeting organizers from different countries and finding good solutions together as a team is very rewarding. There are so many people who spend so many hours for our sport, making these events happen. They all have this desire to make their event as good as absolutely possible, and this is fantastic to see. Especially I enjoy the early part of the event planning, when the main concepts are made. To find an arena and a terrain that can have world class courses, and at the same time give us a great presentation on TV and for spectators. I enjoy the challenge of trying to improve the standard of our events every year to the benefit of all our stakeholders.

The biggest challenge?

– The biggest challenge is to find the concepts that can fulfill all the intentions of a WOC. We need to have world class maps and courses at the same time as we need world class TV-production and presentation. This is often a challenge to combine, many of the best terrains are often in remote areas with struggling mobile connection no internet or infrastructure. The athletes will be happy there, but TV Broadcast and presentation will suffer. They need more infrastructure to be able to do their job. Many arenas that have the necessary infrastructure for the forest event don’t have the best terrain nearby, leading to compromises that in the end neither athletes or TV are happy with. So it is absolutely crucial that we search for the area where we both have access to world class terrain, but also have the infrastructure needed for spectators and media/television.

In such a big organization as a WOC there are many different people with many different opinions. This is often refreshing as it brings different ideas to the table. But sometimes it can be very difficult when decisions need to be made and it is impossible to keep everybody happy. This is a big challenge, most organizers are volunteers and if they are not happy with the decisions they may choose to do other things than organize a WOC… So it is important to have a good and clean communication with all the key people in the organization.

The sprint events are also a big challenge. Held in an urban area, it is very difficult to secure everything with so many people living and moving in the competition area. You always seem to get some unpleasant surprises.

The financial part of the event is also very challenging for most organizers, and it is sometimes necessary to choose second best or third best option because of financial issues.

Give us an example of an incident to avoid.

– The most important is of course to avoid incidents that makes the competition unfair or even cancelled. The most important is to think about possible scenarios and have back-up plans ready. So we spend a lot of time discussing potential problems. What if the area loses power? What if a bus breaks down on the way to the start? What if the competition maps get lost on the way to the start? And so on. The WOC 2015 organizers were great at making such plans. When a bus had problems on the way to the long distance start, they had already thought about this and could make fast decisions on what to do.

How do we prevent incidents as the punching system fail in the World Cup?

– By having done proper testing in advance with the same people, in the same conditions. It is very important that the organizers have test events where they test their systems (and people) in the same roles and with the same goal as in WOC. When people have to do something for the first time at WOC it increases the risk of error. People should have done their task so many times already in tests that they feel safe and know what to do during WOC. Many people were concerned about using punch-free system in WOC 2015 after the failure in June, but the organizer had done a really professional job testing many times and it worked well at WOC.

Who are you?

– I have a mixed background in orienteering. I competed myself at JWOC and Euromeeting for Norway, but I had to give up the national team early due to an injury. I worked as the coach of the Norwegian junior team for four years, and I was one of the assistant coaches of the senior team for four years, helping the athletes with the technical preparations (maps, courses and trainings) for WOC being my main task. So I know a lot about how the coaches think, and how the teams prepare. Beside coaching I have been working in media for the last 25 years. In orienteering I have been an announcer for many World Cup events and also WOC. In television I have been a commentator for the last 15 years, doing winter sports, football, handball, and also some orienteering. I have also been involved in productions from events.

For three years I worked full time for the Norwegian Orienteering Federation as their event manager, this included responsibilities in connection with WOC 2010. I have also been a course setter for many big events, including many Norwegian championships and also World Cup. I am a part time map maker, having maps made for Norwegian championships and for local events. So I have a very mixed background that hopefully can help the understanding of all aspects of a WOC, and to find the best possible solutions.

Can you compare the big orienteering events with other sports event?

– Our sport is very demanding to organize. So many details are important for a successful event, and this makes orienteering one of the more challenging sports to organize. What makes it even more challenging is that we don’t have a fixed arena, we pretty much have to build everything from scratch every time. There are also big costs involved, especially for mapping and TV-production. It is easier (and much cheaper) to put up a couple of cameras at a beach volley or tennis arena than putting several kilometers of heavy cables out in tough forest. One advantage is that our maps can be reused for years after our events, for everyone from elite to youngsters.

Orienteering organizers are generally good in the technical matters of the competition, but many other sports are much more professional in their work with presentation, TV, sponsors and partners. In this area we need to improve.

How can we develop big events in the future?

– I believe that we are moving towards a more professional handling of our main events. This means that some tasks will be done by specialists, who will do the same job every year. This is already the case with areas like TV-production and mapping, but also some other areas, like IT/time-keeping should have a professional team who secure high quality every time. I think this will benefit everyone, especially the organizers, as they can spend more energy on the tasks that they have experience and feel comfortable with, and they can sleep better, knowing that some of their critical tasks are taken care of.

From 2019 the new system with split sprint and forest WOC will start, and it will be very interesting to follow this development. There are some challenges with it, but it also gives us possibilities that we didn’t have before. New countries, new areas can be used, and with fewer events during the week it should be easier to improve the quality of the events held. I am hoping that we can improve the financial side of organizing a WOC, that would make WOC much more attractive and means that we can choose from more and better concepts.

The TV-productions are moving in the right direction now, with more and more countries buying the rights for WOC. Hopefully, within five-six years, we no longer lose money on our TV Broadcasts.

I also hope that the level of the athletes continues to improve, hopefully we will have many countries fighting for medals also in the coming years. I want us to give them some WOC events that gives them positive memories for life, and as long as I have this job I will do everything I can to make that happen!

Photo: Erik Borg

[See the original article at http://orienteering.org/edocker/inside-orienteering/2015-3/InsideOrient%203_15.pdf. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ski Orienteering World Cup Sprint Relay: Gold for Sweden



After Ulrik Nordberg's historical victory yesterday, Sweden showed up being on top rating, winning today's Ski Orienteering World Cup Sprint Relay. Ulrik Nordberg and Tove Alexandersson took a convincing victory by large 65 seconds over Finland.


As we could follow yesterday, the Swedish Ulrik Nordberg was an outstanding winner of the Sprint race, the first stage of Ski Orienteering World Cup's opening round, in Ylläs, Finland. Today, he could taste the gold again, this time together with Tove Alexandersson, crowning an exciting Sprint Relay. Sweden started better, but not by Ulrik Nordberg, the fourth after the first leg, nine seconds after his compatriot Erik Rost. The Finnish Sally Koskela was the fastest in the second leg and took the lead with a little advantage over Mira Koskinen, while the Swedish Tove Alexandersson kept the fourth position, fifteen seconds to the lead. The Swedish started to designed the victory during the third leg, with Ulrik Nordberg shortening the distance to the Finnish Ville-Petteri Saarela and fixing it in a single second. And when Tove Alexandersson decided to show all her potential in the fourth leg, smashing the concurrence by margins bigger than 20 seconds, the race was over.

Ulrik Nordberg did (along with Erik Rost and the Russian Vladimir Barchukov) the best time in the fifth leg, increasing for 57 seconds the advantage over Finland, still second placed, and Tove Alexandersson showed unbeatable again in the last leg, setting the final time in 42:08 to Sweden, against 43:13 from Finland, with Ville-Petteri Saarela and Sally Koskela, and 43:45 from Russia, with Vladimir Barchukov and Mariya Kechkina. “Really nice to have a victory! Yesterday wasn't a good day for me, but today everything was different. We made no mistakes and I'm very pleased with our performances”, said Tove Alexandersson to Skidorientering, the specialized webpage in Ski Orienteering from Swedish Orienteering Federation. Tove also targeted the race as “really fun, in a very technical Orienteering day”. Nordberg also left some ideas to the same media: “I probably didn't some route choices in the best way, but I made three good legs overall”, he conceded.


Results

1. Sweden 1 (Ulrik Nordberg and Tove Alexandersson) 42.08 (+ 00:00)
2. Finland 1 (Ville-Petteri Saarela and Sally Koskela) 43:13 (+ 01:05)
3. Russia 2 (Vladimir Barchukov and Mariya Kechkina) 43:45 (+ 01.37)
4. Russia 1 (Eduard Khrennikov and Tatyana Oborina) 43:54 (+ 01.46)
5. Sweden 3 (Erik Blomgren and Magdalena Olsson) 43:55 (+ 01.47)
6. Finland national team-1 (Jyri Uusitalo and Mira Kaskinen) 43:56 (+ 01:48)

Complete results and further information at http://ensilumenrastit.fi/2015/.

[Photo: Skidorientering / orientering.se/skido]

Joaquim Margarido

Inside Orienteering: Issue 3, November 2015 is now published



The latest issue of the IOF publication Inside Orienteering is now available on the IOF webpage. On it, you may read about the upcoming SkiO Season, meet the new IOF Office in Sweden, follow the first ever Egyptian Sprint Orienteering Championships and much more.


In the last issue of Inside Orienteering, published in June [HERE], you could enjoy a look back at the years that the IOF Office spent in Finland, and remember the hard work and progress that was undergone there. Since then, a lot has been happening behind the scenes. The entire IOF Office has upped sticks and moved, from Finland’s capital Helsinki, to the regional capital Karlstad, in Värmland, Sweden. This is probably one of the main reasons why Inside Orienteering's third issue is been published so late. Written by Kirsty McIntire, “IOF Office – The Beginning of a New Era” is an informal (and nice) presentation of all staff, from Tom Hollowell, the new Secretary General / Chief Executive Officer, to David Wästlund, the Sports Administrator, Malin Björqvist, responsible for the Global Development & Communications Officer, Hans Jørgen Kvåle, the Marketing Manager, Jörn Sundby, IOF Senior Event Adviser for the World Orienteering Championships, Henrik Skoglund, who works with Eventor, Ed Niland, manager of the IOF's Anti-Doping plans and, of course, Kirsty McIntyre, the Office Administrator.

The Winter is here and Erik Borg talks about Ski Orienteering and the “Great motivations with the big events”. The 2018 World Cup Ski Orienteering races will be at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, in northern Vermont, USA, and the subject deserves his special attention. But also the next European Championships, in Obertilliach, Austria, “A perfect location for a Championship”. We can also read a nice interview with Daisy Kudre, expecting to see her “back in the ski-o world with a smiling face”, and another Interview with Juraj Nemec, IOF Event Adviser for the World University Championships and “a door opener on the Olympic Road”. We may also see in the words of Brian Porteous, the IOF President, a reinforcement of this “Olympic project”: “The International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 gives us real opportunities to be included especially in the Olympic Winter Games and it is important therefore that all federations who can support and encourage our skiO discipline.”

“Around the World”, José Angel Nieto Poblete presents the “Women and Sports” project, a program developed by the Spanish Orienteering Federation and the National Sports Council; Zoran Milovanovic invites us to the beautiful Al Azhar Park, in Cairo, for the first ever Sprint Orienteering Championships of Egypt; and Dominic Yue left us a general idea about the sixth World Military Games, in Mungyeong, South Korea. Finally, Daniel Hubmann, the current leader of the IOF World Ranking, describes his favorite map: Irbene, in Latvia. In this interview, conducted by Erik Borg, you can read that “he has been on the map only once. It was on the Long Distance at the European
Championship in 2008. Daniel finished second after Dmitry Tsvetkov. The difference between the Russian and Hubmann was 33 seconds on the 16,9 km long course with 33 controls.”


Joaquim Margarido

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ski Orienteering World Cup 2015-2016's opening round: Sprint victories for Ulrik Nordberg and Tatyana Oborina



The Ski Orienteering World Cup season 2015-2016 started in Ylläs, Northern Finland, in the best way. A perfect weather, demanding courses and, in the end, Ulrik Nordberg and Tatyana Oborina tightly winning the Sprint races.


Ylläs, in Lapland, Northern Finland, is hosting by this days the Ski Orienteering World Cup 2015-2016's opening round. 88 athletes from 14 nations joined the competition which hold, this morning, its first stage. The Women were the first in action, facing at the start a really steep course to the upper part. The Russian Tatiana Oboryna started earlier and, from the very first moment, she showed very confident, very fast, taking really good route choices and reaching here a good advantage that she managed to keep all the way till the end. She finished the 3.9 km of her course in the time of 13:22, seven seconds ahead of other Russian, Mariya Kechkina. Great specialist in the downhill sections and pointed for many as the favorite to the victory “on home ground”, the Finnish Milka Reponen did a great race, but she could never recover the time lost in the first part of the course, finishing with eight seconds more than Oborina.

As for the Men, when we see the three top athletes separated by two single seconds, what can we say? The Portuguese Orienteering Blog asked to the Swedish Ulrik Nordberg, today's winner, and we believe that his words say everything: “The race started with two controls in a steep section, so it was hard to stay up on my skies, in the hard 90 degrees small track turns. I can't complain, I took some decent route choices but it was after - in some short hard controls - that I made some really good route choices, kept the flow going and didn't make any mistakes till the finish line. I was lucky to have the seconds on my side this time”, Ulrik said. At the age of 22, Ulrik Nordberg took his first triumph in a World Cup stage, finishing with the time of 15:02 for a course of 5,1 km. The Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev, current IOF World Ranking leader, spend one more second, while the Russian Eduard Khrennikove was third, two seconds after Nordberg.


Results

Men
1. Ulrik Nordberg (Sweden) 15:02 (+ 00:00)
2. Stanimir Belomazhev (Bulgaria) 15:03 (+ 00:01)
3. Eduard Khrennikov (Russia) 15:04 (+ 00:02)
4. Erik Rost (Sweden) 15:17 (+ 00:15)
5. Lars Moholdt (Norway) 15:20 (+ 00:18)
6. Vladimir Barchukov (Russia) 15:26 (+ 00:24)

Women
1. Tatyana Oborina (Russia) 13:22 (+ 00:00)
2. Mariya Kechkina (Russia) 13:29 (+ 00:07)
3. Milka Reponen (Finlândia) 13:30 (+ 00:08)
4. Iuliia Tarasenko (Russia) 13:32 (+ 00:10)
5. Polina Frolova (Russia) 13:33 (+ 00:11)
6. Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) 13:40 (+ 00:18)

Further information and complete results at http://ensilumenrastit.fi/2015/. You can also see some nice reports through the IOF Live Center Broadcast, at http://livecenter.orienteering.org/.

[Photo: Ski Orienteering World Cup 2015-2016's opening round Ylläs . Finland / ensilumenrastit.fi/]

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ski Orienteering: World Cup's season 2015-2016 is about to start



Ylläs, in Finland, is ready to host the IOF Ski Orienteering World Cup's first round. In the next four days, 88 athletes from 14 nations will compete for the gold in Sprint, Sprint Relay, Middle and Long Distance, both in Men and Women classes.


“As one season ends and we say thanks to organisers and congratulations to medal winners, we can look forward to our ski orienteering season starting”. These words are from Brian Porteous, the IOF President, and can be read in the Inside Orienteering's last issue, published today [HERE]. And so it is. The Ski Orienteering World Cup's season 2015-2016 is about to start in Lapland, in Northern Finland, and all the attentions are focused in Ylläs, a city that has, for more than 20 years, hosted the traditional opening of the Ski Orienteering season in Finland. Last time Ylläs hosted the World Cup opening round was in 2013 and this year the organization will offer an even more compact and visible event, fully centred in the Ylläsjärvi Ski Resort.

The Program will start tomorrow with the Sprint, while Saturday and Sunday we'll have the Sprint Relay and the Middle Distance. On 1st December, the Long Distance course will put an ending in the competition, which has 88 competitors – 49 male and 39 female – entered so far. Leaders of the IOF World Ranking, the Bulgarian Stanimir Belomazhev and the Russian Iuliia Tarasenko are the brightest stars in Ylläs, but we can also see here (almost) all the big names of the current Ski Orienteering scene, such as the Russian Andrey Lamov and the Swedish Tove Alexandersson, both current Sprint World Champions, the Norwegian Lars Moholdt, Long Distance gold medalist last World Championships, and the Finnish Milka Reponen, World Champion in Middle Distance. Big starts in the last European Championships, such as the Swedish Erik Rost, the Russian Tatyana Oborina and the Finnish Mervi Pesu, are also names to take in account when talking of medals. From the side of the absences, the remarks goes to the Swedish Josefine Engstrom, Long Distance World Champion and second placed in the IOF World Ranking and the Finnish Staffan Tunis, number four in the World Ranking and gold medalist in the Middle Distance of the last World Championships.

The IOF has produced a useful guide to the upcoming Ski Orienteering World Cup season, with interesting information about the sport, the events, the arenas and the athletes. The Ski Orienteering Season Guide 2015-2016 - an important document for anyone interested in Ski Orienteering in general, and the 2015-2016 Ski Orienteering World Cup season in particular – can be read HERE. As for the Ski Orienteering World Cup 2015-2016's opening round, you'll find all the information at http://ensilumenrastit.fi/2015/. You may also follow the races through the IOF Live Center from 9:00 a.m. tomorrow (GMT) at http://livecenter.orienteering.org/.

Joaquim Margarido

Course of the Year 2015: World of O is asking for your suggestions!




Like every November since 2010, Jan Kocbach and his incomparable World of O promotes a popular contest, trying to know the readers' opinion about the best “Course of the Year”. Still in a stage were the suggestions are being submitted, it's time for you to act!


“What was the best orienteering course of 2015?”, such is Jan Kocbach's question for this year's poll. The World Championships Middle Distance in Italy won in 2014, and the two years before we had Portuguese winners: a spectacular Sprint between boulders and old buildings in Monsanto, during the Portugal O' Meeting 2013 and some great technical orienteering in the Portugal O' Meeting's 3rd stage in 2012, in Satão. In 2011 the WOC Middle Distance in France took the first place and the year before a very special Jukola Relay was the big winner.

Now it's time to decide who will take the prestigious top spot this year, first by submitting suggestions and then by voting. As part of the “Course of the Year 2015”, the World of O will offer along the next days some great interviews from top runners, talking about their favorite courses and maps in 2015. Lucas Basset, the new French star, already had the chance to share his opinions and his choice goes to Glen Affric. Why? “Because of the terrain, which was wilder than almost every other forest I've been running in”, he says. Explaining that he made his choice “because of the terrain”, in spite of being also “convinced that the course was good, coherent to a Long Distance spirit”, Lucas Basset has no doubts that Glen Affric “was a perfect ending of a wonderful WOC week” [read HERE Lucas Basset's whole Interview].

Answering to Jan Kocbach's challenge, the suggestions are arriving every minute. From Finland to France, from Poland to Spain, there's almost 50 suggestions until now (none of them from Portugal, I'm afraid). To submit your suggestions, it's as simple as that: The course must have been run in competition or training in 2015 (there's an exception for courses in December 2014, as they were not covered in last year’s contest); the suggestions are submitted as a comment to World of O's post – http://news.worldofo.com/2015/11/24/course-of-the-year-2015-submit-your-suggestions/ - including link to the map with course in a quality which is good enough for the readers to understand the course and the challenges involved; the participants must give a reason why they think the course deserves to be named “The course of the Year 2015″; and the course may be any discipline – e.g. a long distance, a middle distance, a sprint distance. It may also be a technical training course – like e.g. a corridor orienteering exercise. After this first step, there will be a voting process among the readers of “World of O” in order to elect “The course of the year 2015″.

Just one more thing: Prizes from the Sponsors always makes it more fun! There will be a prize for the first one suggesting the course which ends up becoming “The course of the Year 2015″, and prizes drawn among the ones suggesting and voting. All prizes are transferable to other persons (you don’t have to travel yourself). Everything to follow in your World of O.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, November 23, 2015

Maja Alm: "All of my three gold medals mean the world to me"



By achieving three gold medals, Maja Alm takes the most prominent place in the history of the recent World Orienteering Championships, WOC 2015. This great Danish athlete rises today on the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune, sharing the unforgettable memories from these moments and designing, already, the upcoming season.


Two weeks ago, you've been in Göteborg, representing Denmark on NM Cross in Athletics (which is your second sport, I believe). Don't you ever stop?

Maja Alm (M. A.) - I ran that Cross competition just for fun. I like to compete and it's nice to travel with other national teams, which I always do, to see how they work and how they think about their sport and training.

We often see orienteers performing highly in Athletics but not the contrary, you being a good example of that. Have you tried, some time, to get some of your friends from Athletics into Orienteering? Is Orienteering a “difficult” sport?

M. A. - No, I haven't tried to get them into orienteering. I think it's too difficult for them to read the map and they're only able to run the easy courses. On the other hand I've heard that some sprinters and triathletes run a variation of orienteering in their off-season to straighten their running style.

You're ending the Orienteering season as no. 1 in the IOF Sprint World Ranking. Would you label this season as your best ever?

M. A. - This is, definitely, my best season. It was really incredible to win at the World Championships and now be the number one on the IOF Sprint World Ranking. I had a speed at this WOC that I haven't had before, and succeeded really well in the competitions mentally. I'm really proud of that. Another season of special meaning is of course last year, where the whole Danish team did so well and won six medals for Denmark. Last year we saw, for the first time, that we could win and I think that's why we really believed in ourselves this year.

Would you like to tell me about your three World titles and the meaning of each of them?

M. A. - All of my three gold medals mean the world to me, but in quite different ways, actually. The individual Sprint medal is, of course, really important to me. It is nice to show that I have the level to win an individual medal. In the individual distances you need to perform close to perfection to win a medal. In the Relay I see it more like three stable performances. I don't think the medals in the Sprint this year were a surprise. Nadiya was 4th last year, one second after me, so I knew that she was really strong. It was more a surprise that I could win with such a big margin.

The women’s Relay medal is also very important to me. Ida, Emma and I have been training and competing against and with each other for so many years now, and I really think we have improved each others’ levels. At the World Championships we really competed for each other as a team and I really think we deserved to win the gold together. The Sprint Relay is important to me of course because it was the first gold I have ever won. We have had high positions in almost every Sprint Relay we have been running, and finally the margins were on our side. It is very nice to compete together on a team with the boys. The way girls and boys think before a competition is quite different and it is really inspiring to see how the boys do it.

And what about the Danish “Dynamite” Team? Are you, Danish girls, unbeatable?

M. A. - Ha, ha... No, of course we aren't. At WOC 2013, in Finland, we didn't succeed as a team in the women’s Relay and I think that has inspired and motivated us. We know that we have to run the relays with a certain amount of respect, but we are not afraid of making mistakes. We have been running together on relay teams so many times now and I think this is a big advantage, that we know each other so well now. I really admire Emma and Ida, and I think the inner respect from each other is what makes us so strong.

If I asked you about a moment – the great achievement of the Championships – what would it be? And the Orienteering achievement of the season?

M. A. - I think the big achievement has been after the World Championships. We have received a lot of attention on our success in Scotland. When you are at the World Championships, there isn't much time to enjoy your success. I had five competitions in six days, so I didn't have much time for celebrating. It was much more about being ready for the next competition.

What is your winter training going to be like? Is Portugal - and the Portugal O' Meeting 2016 - in your plans?

M. A. - I have been training on a low level since the World Championships. Our tough winter training will start in January 2016 in an attempt not to make the season too long. We will go on a two weeks training camp in February and it will be to either Portugal or Spain. Our coaches will decide where.

Next season, you have three world titles to defend, as well as your leadership in the Sprint World Ranking, but we can see that you're still far from the World podium in the Middle and Long Distance. Is a medal in a forest distance your main goal for WOC 2016, in Sweden?

M. A. - I have a Silver medal in the Middle Distance to defend at the European Championships, so I have some results in the forest as well. I will try to improve in the individual forest distances, but I still want to be in a position where I have the chance to win the individual Sprint. The terrains in Sweden are quite different from those in Denmark, so my individual goals in the forest are more for WOC 2017. To have the chance to win the Relay gold next year, I have to improve my running in Nordic terrain, so my forest goal for the next season is pointed at the Relay.

For those who see Maja Møller Alm as an example, an inspiration, especially for the young athletes, what is your advice?

M. A. - Find your own way of doing things and remember to enjoy your running. I really like what I do, but here, in the off-season, I like to do other things than orienteering; I like to see my friends from outside orienteering. It is important that you are balanced as a person and I think that can be quite individual.

Now that a new season is about to start, I ask you a wish for those who love and are committed to Orienteering.

M. A. - I wish that they can achieve their goals and keep having fun with orienteering as much as I do.

[Photo: Kell Sønnichsen / do-f.dk]

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

City Race Euro Tour 2015: Jack Kosky and Merill Mägi, winners of Elite Final Rankings



Eduardo Gil Marcos and Violeta Feliciano Sanjuan were the big winners of the City Race Euro Tour 2015's last stage, held last Sunday in Seville. The good performances of Jack Kosky and Merill Mägi on this stage allowed them to secure the victory in the Final Rankings of the CRET's second edition.


With the completion of Seville stage, came to an end the second edition of City Race Euro Tour. The event had its first stage in Antwerp, last 6th September, extending later to London, Porto, Barcelona and Krakow, to finish in the Andalusian capital, last Sunday. The notes of success of this last stage are given by the great participation of 1200 athletes from 18 countries, but also for the presentation of this sport to three hundred local participants, the remarkable mobilization of a large number of media, including television, and by judicious choice of courses, combining perfectly the technical challenge with an amazing “guided tour” to a really charming city.

The City Race Euro Tour Seville 2015 was just one of three stages - curiously the last one – of a major event that was the Seville O'Meeting 2015. Held in the historic centre of Seville, under Long Distance courses, the race saw the Spanish Eduardo Gil Marcos (Tjalve) and Violeta Feliciano Sanjuan (Colivenc) winning in the Men and Women Elite classes, respectively. The victory of Eduardo Gil Marcos was achieved after a tremendous fight with Antonio Martínez Pérez (Colivenc), by the narrow margin of 8 seconds. The third position fell to another great master of Spanish Foot Orienteering, Andreu Blanes Reig (Colivenc), while the fourth and fifth positions were achieved by the Portuguese Tiago Gingão Leal (GD4C) and Tiago Martins Aires (GafanhOri). As for the Women, the triumph of Violeta Feliciano Sanjuan is undeniable, leaving their teammates, Alicia Gil Sanchez and Natalia Gurchenkova, respectively second and third ranked, at distant two minutes. The Portuguese Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) finished fourth.

It should be noted that Andreu Blanes Reig and Antonio Martinez Perez won, respectively, the Middle Distance and Sprint stages of the Seville O' Meeting 2015, in Men Elite, while Raquel Costa was the winner in both stages, in the Women Elite. In the sum of points of three stages, Andreu Blanes Reig and Raquel Costa were the big winners of Seville O'Meeting 2015. Although the City Race Euro Tour 2015's Final Rankings weren't been officially published yet, it is clear that the British Jack Kosky (UDOC) secured the triumph in Men Elite class, after the 8th place achieved in the stage of Seville. Also the British Mark Burley (Bristol Orienteering) and the Belgian Dieter Coen (TROL) granted the second and third positions, respectively. As for the Women Elite, the victory smiled to the Estonian Merill Mägi, from OK Kape (5th ranked in Seville), followed by her compatriot Maiki Jaadmaa (OK Võru) and the Norwegian Lone Karin Brochmann (Bækkelagets SK).


Results
City Race Euro Tour Seville 2015

Men Elite
1. Eduardo Gil Marcos (Tjalve) 50:08 (+ 00:00)
2. Antonio Martínez Pérez (Colivenc) 50:16 (+ 00:08)
3. Andreu Blanes Reig (Colivenc) 51:06 (+ 00:58)
4. Tiago Gingão Leal (GD4C) 51:45 (+ 01:37)
5. Tiago Martins Aires (GafanhOri) 53:50 (+ 03:42)
6. Clement Demeuse (C.O. Liège) 56:27 (+ 06:19)

Women Elite
1. Violeta Feliciano Sanjuan (Colivenc) 50:23 (+ 00:00)
2. Alicia Gil Sánchez (Colivenc) 52:09 (+ 01:46)
3. Natalia Gurchenkova (Colivenc) 52:15 (+ 1:52)
4. Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) 53:29 (+ 03:06)
5. Merill Mägi (OK Kape) 54:08 (+ 03:45)
6. Carolina Delgado (GD4C) 55:11 (+ 4:48)

Winners other classes
Young M/F - Miguel Garrido Corral (Vane) and Nerea González Peña (Toledo-O)
Junior M/F - Elmar Montero Cárceles (GODIH) and Maria Prieto Del Campo (Malarruta)
Veterans M/F - Santiago Jiménez Molina (GOCAN) and Marion Büchli (Swiss O-Tours)
Superveterans M/F - James Crawford (GO) and Delia Kingsbury (WRE)
Ultraveterans M/F - Mike Godfree (DVO) and Liz Godfree (DVO)

Further information and complete results at http://sevillaomeeting.es/en/.

[Photo: Juan David Perez-Caballero / picasaweb.google.com]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hanny Alston: "2006 was not a fluke"



Hanny Alston introduced herself, at the age of 20, in the World Orienteering's Hall of Fame and then almost disappeared. Nine years later she is back on track, the same power on her legs, a new approach on her mind. A big applause for Hanny Alston, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's invited today.


Starting from the beginning, can you remember your first steps in Orienteering?

Hanny Alston (H. A.) - Yes, it was on a local orienteering map, in Hobart. I was taken there because my brother was participating in school. I didn’t really enjoy it :) I was 11 years old.

When did you feel Orienteering as your sport? Was it the result of a particular moment?

H. A. - Not till I was 16 years old and I was on my first national team to New Zealand. A coach asked if I was going to nominate for the JWOC team going to Estonia the next year. I never thought I would travel, so it gave me huge motivation to try harder and train harder. But I didn’t believe in being a great orienteer till I was 18 years old and had competed in my first WOC in Sweden, 2004.

If not Orienteering, what would be your sport?

H. A. - I was a sprint 50m freestyler. And I was an elite track and field, marathon and trail runner. So I probably had the engine in me to go on many different paths. I still love trail running and wonder what more I could do with my marathon.

What means to you to be an “aussie” orienteer?

H. A. - Coming from a place where no one expects you to be the best in the sport of orienteering. It is an amazing feeling to succeed as the under dog.

I'm a great admirer of your career and everything you’ve achieved so far. Of course, I have this question for you: How was to win the WOC Sprint in 2006?

H. A. - Thanks so much. I appreciate your kind words. For me, the win in 2006 was super tough. I had just been through a family suicide attempt and had also had a full ankle reconstruction in which they thought I would never run again. Thankfully I proved them wrong! But I thought that winning might prove to myself that I had got out of this really hard hole. Sadly it didn’t. When I got my gold medal at first I was exhilarated. But then came this feeling of, ‘oh no! I am still Hanny and still have to go home and work out what to do with my life’. I wasn’t prepared for being a World Champion so soon. I had thought that it would take years. So without that goal there, everything started to feel tougher and more confusing.

A tremendous challenge for a 20 year old girl...

H. A. - Yes. And it happened in a time when we were still learning how to support elite athletes. I had no on-the-ground coach other than my athletics coach so it lead to being pulled and maneuvered to the running & athletics sports. I ended up trying marathon running with a debut of 2hrs47mins on a hilly course. So suddenly the Olympics and Commonwealth Games became on the agenda. I was also lost in my career as I pulled back from Medicine and tried teaching. I just felt like I didn’t know who I was or how I could keep winning (and thus coping with the pressure I was feeling). In 2009 I finally burnt out and took a couple of years off. But I missed the friendships, travel and feeling of fitness so I decided to come back into the sport that I once loved so that I had “no more regrets”.

I believe that your gold was really important as a sign for the non-european athletes, that they also could think about reaching the top of the podium. Did you have the same impression? Could you understand, from that achievement, a new approach to the big competitions (at least in Australia and New Zealand)?

H. A. - Thanks. I appreciate this too. Look, I do think it made us all sit up and go, ‘wow, we can do it to’. I really do believe that we have it amazingly great in our countries. We don’t battle with epic snow and cold winters. Many of us also come from countries which place great emphasis on sport. Therefore, I believe we can train smart, all year round. I think we should believe that physical preparation is our weapon so all we need to focus on when we go to Europe is being careful and learning the finer details of the competition terrain.

Nine years later, we could see you again in the podium. Not with a medal, that’s true, but still in the podium. What particular emotion did you feel that day, three months ago, in Forres?

H. A. - Relief. I would have been happy to finish without another podium result because I was now just having fun. But the relief did hit me like a train because finally I realised I had found the answer to what I was looking for, that “2006 was not a fluke”. I believe my run this year was as good as the run that own me the gold medal in 2006. I just think that the bar is lifting in our sport right now.

How was your training time? Did you feel well prepared for the WOC? What goals have you drawn?

H. A. - Lol, no, I felt very, very under prepared. I was very fit because I was competed on the international stage for trail & skyrunning. But I literally ran (both race and training) a total of four sprints all year. Like literally NO orienteering preparation other than World Cup in Tasmania and our selection trials. And I only had three days in Scotland before the Championships to prepare myself for every distance. But I think, because of all of this, I approached the race very fit but also very cautious. I was 120% focussed on my navigation. Therefore, I made two mistakes in the whole of my 2015 WOC campaign - across six races. I am very, very proud of this result. More so than the podium.

What motivation this results represent for the future?

H. A. - To be honest I now don’t feel like I have the same desire to prove anything to myself. I could quite contentedly wander away from elite orienteering now. I am not a terribly competitive person but rather love the camaraderie, travel and racing myself. So that same burning light is not there any more. Therefore, I am not sure about 2016. I am still trying to work through this question at the moment. But I love coaching the juniors and would love to continue trying to give back to my sport.

Do you feel an example for the australian girls? What responsibility do you feel about that?

H. A. - Yes, I think that is a true statement for me. But also to the boys too. I hope that it has helped even one junior or senior out there to believe we can match it with the best of them. But I also hope that people appreciate just how much blood, sweat, tears and money goes into achieving such successes. I, my partner and my family have made many, many sacrifices to reach this level. And I am always juggling a million balls just to afford the time and money to do this sport. Hopefully that can set the example that you don’t have to give up everything to move to Scandinavia to be the best in the world.

Now that a new season is about to come, I ask you a wish for those who love and are committed with Orienteering.

H. A. - I wish that every orienteer finds peace in the knowledge that your success is in the journey. If you are proud of how hard you have worked towards your goals then the result doesn’t really matter. And I hope every orienteer can experience that perfect, clean run when everything comes together. There is no better feeling than that.

[Photo courtesy of Hanny Alston]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, November 09, 2015

Veronika Kubínová: "The Czech team is going to be even stronger!"



At the age of 18, Veronika Kubínová has a brilliant career so far in MTBO and a lot of stories to tell. Some of them are in this Interview, showing - along with her natural doubts and certainties -, the extraordinarily promising athlete she is.


The first question is always the easiest. Would you like, in brief, to present yourself?

Veronika Kubínová (V. K.) - Hi, my name is Veronika Kubínová. I am 18 years old and I love sport. My hometown is Karlovy Vary, a city in the east of Czech Republic with thermals and beautiful nature around. Biking here is a real pleasure. I study on high school and next year I'll enter the university (mathematic, physic). When I am not at school or training, I cook, bake and do ceramics. I do many types of sport. For example bouldering, swimming, dancing, paddling, cross-country skiing, slackline and yoga. When I was 8, I went cross-country skiing club Slovan Karlovy Vary. We had a great group and we did foot orienteering together. I do MTBO thanks to my father. My first MTBO race was the 5 days in Pilsen, in 2005. With time I did more and more races. Right now, MTBO is very special to me but I'm still young and I'm not sure what will be my top sport in the future.

What do you see in MTB Orienteering that makes it so special?

V. K. - The combination of thinking and power. Every control in orienteering is a surprise and I like it a lot. Having fast legs is not enough. I did some bike marathon this year and I could see that I knew the track by memory from the start to the finish, so nothing surprised me. I didn’t enjoy it as much as finding controls. But the most special about MTBO is people around.

Have you a training routine? How is, in your case, a typical week?

V. K. - I have been training under the leadership of coach Honza Novák for two years. In winter I usually spend my time cross-country skiing and in summer I primarily ride a bike and run. I try to do many types of sports. At the same time I study on high school so it is sometimes demanding. My typical week approximately looks like this: Monday – day off or swimming, Tuesday – dancing, Wednesday – running, Thursday – gym, Friday - bike/running/bouldering/swimming, weekend – bike, cross-country skiing, races.

What do you like the most: Long Distance or Sprint? And what about your favorite terrain?

V. K. - I have had the best results on sprint distance but it doesn’t mean I like sprint distance the most. I like all types of distances, each one is different. On sprint distance I like fast decisions and accurate working with map. On the other hand, long distance is fair. It checks out who is really thinking about it and who is strong enough. Middle distance is something in between. Mostly, I like hilly terrains with technical parts. Once again, it depends on the distance.

I can imagine your Sprint title this year, achieved in your home country, as one of the best moments in your career so far. Do you have another significant moments that you'd like to share? And what about the worst?

V. K. - The best moment I have ever been through was definitely the WMTBOC's first race, last year. I reached my first gold medal. It has been the strongest experience. I cried for happiness. But winning at home was unbelievable. Do you know another place than home where you would like to win? To see your family from the winners' podium it’s an awesome feeling. It was also emotional because Martina Tichovská won too. We listened the Czech national anthem twice. Amazing to be part of it. On the other hand the worst moment has been during the Czech Cup race. I did the third (the last) leg of relay and it was boiling and I vomited during my race. I absolutely didn’t enjoy it.

Talking now about the gold medal. How did you prepare for the competition?

V. K. - It was complicated. I was injured and ill on April this year and I missed an important part of my training. On May and June I trained really hard. In the European Championship, in Portugal, I got one gold and two silver medals. I think it helped me for next step. Two weeks before the World Championship we had the O-camp with some junior MTBO representations and it helped me too.

Would you like to remember that day, since the very beginning?

V. K. - To win was in my plans. I was ready to defending successfully my title from Bialystok last year. The day was fantastic since I woke up. I was looking forward to the race. Mornings' rituals passed without problems and I could enjoy the breakfast. Before I went to quarantine, I was joking with my family. Then I was concentrating for preparation. During three minutes staying in corridors, I could feel that I was ready – physically and mentally. The race was successful. I didn’t make any mistakes. I just missed some seconds in urban parts where I am not strong enough. The finish was exhausting but spectators encouraged me to the last second. After finishing I nervously waited for the official results. Lou Denaix punched the last control 4 seconds behind me – what a close race. I won, I couldn’t believe it. I was happy and the best part of this day was sharing my happiness with my family. Although it had been planned, it was a big surprised.

And what about the other distances and the Relay? How disappointed do you feel about those results?

V. K. - No, there was no disappointment. I was sorry that I had some mechanical problems during the Long Distance. I had to fix it during the race and I missed more than 20 minutes. It was my first defect and it gave me a good experience for the future. And the relay? Girls made some small mistakes and one of them had a small falling. I am glad that girls finished with all controls because that was our plan. They made it.

What about the JWMTBOC overall?

V. K. - JWMTBOC in Liberec was the most amazing Championship I have ever been to. The Middle Distance in the skiing area of Břízky was amazing. The tracks, maps and other things... all Middles should look like this. The city sprint in Turnov was also great. There was a cool combination of urban parts and parks with steep slope. The Long Císařský kámen's map was a bit worse. There were steep and dangerous parts and not roads enough. On relay I liked the end of the course in the motorcycle area. There were many chances to change the results. Organizers choose good places for facilities and for spectators. The Championship got the visit of many people from Czech Republic and other countries. The organizers made a good work and I am proud of them. The atmosphere was enormous.

If I asked you a moment - the great achievement of the Championships -, what would be your choice?

V. K. - The Middle Distance's finish, absolutely (even being disqualified in the end for missing the second spectator's control). When I was going from the last control to the finish I heard that I was first. My family and friends were shouting in the finish area. In the end I was so happy. I used all my power and I felt it in the finish. The feeling was awesome. I did my best in this race.

How important is for you this Junior World title?

V. K. - It was my big dream for the season. I am happy that I achieved it. I hope it helps to other Czech juniors to do MTBO. It is possible to win, you just must want to. Personally, this title means new goals for next season.

Have you some goals designed yet for the next season? Are you able to be Martina Tichovska's biggest opponent?

V. K. - Not yet. I am still thinking about season 2015. Of course I would like to defend my title. Martina Tichovská is really strong and I am glad that I can race with someone like her. Some women has been motivated to go back to the national team since the World Championship. The Czech team is going to be even stronger!

Would you like to share the biggest wish for the future?

V. K. - I would like to continue healthy. Definitely I'll be in Portugal for the WMTBOC 2016, defending the title. Who knows what will be next?

[Photo: Robert Vorvaň Urbaník / facebook.com/robert.urbanik]

Joaquim Margarido