Those who access Elena Roos' personal webpage – www.elenaroos.ch/ -, easily understand that her main goals for the season lived in a presence in the European Championships, in the Czech Republic, and the qualification to join the national team of Switzerland and run the Sprint in the World Orienteering Championships, in Strömstad. Now that both goals are achieved, we seek to better know the athlete and realize how far is she able to go in the next months.
You've just been appointed for the first time ever to represent Switzerland in the World Orienteering Championships. This is the peak of a career still short so far but already full of successes. How did it all start?
Elena Roos (E. R.) - Differently from many other runners, I’m not from an “orienteering-family”. I started with orienteering at the age of 11, after participating in an orienteering summer camp. The main point with this camp was that I always was homesick, and my mother convinced me to choose a summer camp where I had to go, to learn to stay away from home, and this camp was the shortest one... (laughs). But I really enjoyed it and when I came home I started with the trainings and competitions in the club from my region.
What do you see in Orienteering that makes it so special?
E. R. - I really love the combination of physical, technical and mental performance. I like to train physically to get as fast as possible, but the challenge is that 'faster' doesn’t mean also 'better' in orienteering, because you need to find the controls and to keep cool and concentrated in your head. I also really like the fact that, every time we are at the start, we get another challenge ahead, with different kind of courses and different types of terrain.
What memories do you keep from your first steps in Orienteering? Was there a moment that you can set as really important, from which you gave yourself, “body and soul”, to Orienteering?
E. R. – When I was 15 years old I got selected for the first time to represent Switzerland at the EYOC. Before that, I didn’t know what these competitions were and as a “Ticino-Girl” (from the south/italian part of Switzerland) I was also scared to participate at this event with only German-speaking Swiss runners. But it was a really nice EYOC and from then I got hungry for more. And I realized that the other Swiss are also nice (laughs).
What are your major skills as a competitor? And what are the major lacks?
E. R. - I've always been best in the Sprint distance, and that because I think I’m quite good in seeing the fastest route choices, taking fast “right-left” decisions and seeing small passages. My major lack is the mental part, to stay really focused during the whole forest competition without losing the flow, and to perform at my best during an important competition.
Is there an athlete that you particularly admire and that is a source of inspiration? What this athlete has that you would like to have, but you (still) don't?
E. R. - As a swiss runner, of course I admire Simone Niggli. I’m really impressed about her constancy to perform at high level during a whole year and over many years. That’s something that I don’t manage yet, my season has lots of ups and downs…. A source of inspiration for me is also my boyfriend Florian Howald. With hard work, physically and mentally, he managed to come back and to perform at his best at the European Championships after breaking his leg in January.
In the recent European Championships, it was possible to see you achieving some nice results and, more recently, you got the third place in the Sprint stage of Norsk O-Festival. How do you evaluate your shape currently?
E. R. - My physical shape improved a lot this year. I got faster in sprint and I improved also the endurance for longer distances. I think it's the result of some years of good training, but the main reason for my good performances is my technical and mental work during the winter, together with a sport psychologist.
How did you receive the news about representing Switzerland in the World Orienteering Championships?
E. R. - I wasn't that happy with my selection races in Sweden and Norway, and I was quite nervous about the selection. But I hoped that my results at the European Champs also count. We got the information on Sunday evening, soon after we came home from Scandinavia. In the beginning of the year I set as highest goal to run the WOC sprint, but I knew that it would be difficult and a lot of work would be need! I’m really happy to achieve this goal!
How do you prepare for the WOC in the upcoming weeks?
E. R. - First, I will stay three weeks in Engadin (swiss mountains) for good training. Now, I will reduce the amount of forest orienteering sessions and increase the amount of sprint and hard-surface training to get faster. In the beginning of August we will have a WOC pre-camp with the Swiss Team, to train sprint in relevant terrain.
What kind of event are you waiting? What are your biggest fears?
E. R. - I've never been at WOC before, so it will be an unforgettable event anyway. I hope that it will be a big event with good and demanding courses, and also many spectators. My biggest fear is to be unable to perform at my best because of being too nervous… But I still have almost two months to work on that!
What would be a good result for you?
E. R. - It’s my first time at WOC and I won’t focus on a result, because it’s difficult to say what is possible and I have no experience with this big event. I will concentrate more on how I will run and on my own performance and then we'll see! At the European Championships, I've seen that, with a good race, a top10 position is possible!
And after Strömstad? Would you like to share with us your biggest dream?
E. R. - In May 2018 there will be the European Orienteering Championships in my home region, Ticino (Switzerland). A big dream is to win a Medal in front of my family and my fans.