“Heiress” of Michaela Gigon - just the best female MTB orienteering athlete of all times -, Marina Reiner has the potential for great achievements and a bright future ahead. Her best results so far achieved in all individual distances in the World MTB Orienteering Championships tin 2016 seem to be a very good harbinger of what is to come. With two of the most important events of the international calendar to take place in Austria in 2017 and 2018, the time of risking everything has come.
The first question is always the easiest. Would you like, in brief, to present yourself?
Marina Reiner (M. R.) - I was born in March 1991 in Villach, Austria. It's a small city in the south of Austria and I spent my whole childhood there. I finished my studies as a certified kindergarten teacher and the A level (combined education system). Right now I’m living in Graz (Austria) and working part time in a school in my hometown – doing workshops in physical activity and training science. I’m studying Sport Science with the main emphasis in training therapy. I’m in the Master Program. When I graduate I will be allowed to work with patients for example in a Rehabilitation institution and I also would like to combine children and sports in my job in some way. I like to spend my free time out in the nature with my horse, going for a hike, run or any other kind of sports. But, sometimes, I prefer to relax and be lazy. I also like to cook, enjoy good food and go for a walk.
How did you meet Orienteering?
M. R. - Orienteering was offered in the middle school. I had no idea about the sport but I liked the concept. So I started doing FootO when I was 11. I competed in the “school cup” and started to love this kind of sport. But, when I was 15, I attended a new school in another city and I wanted to do something else, so I stopped. Four years later, my brother helped me to get back to orienteering. I started again with running but I got problems with my knees. And then there was the offer to try out MTBO. It was like a new start for me. I attended my first MTBO event at the age of 20.
What do you see in MTB Orienteering that makes it so special?
M. R. - MTBO is the perfect combination of physical and mental activity. You need to find the balance between exhausting physical activity and being able to think and stay concentrated. And there is always a new course – every time you get the map, a new challenge starts. There is no chance to get bored. I like that!
Taking a look on the statistics, I can see that your first presence in the World MTB Orienteering Championships was in 2012, in Hungary. What memories do you keep from the event?
M. R. - I rode my first World Championships there. It was so hot but I liked the terrain. For me this half open areas with the shrubs and the hills were new and a big challenge to find the right way through. I'll never forget the Relay. I started as the second rider and did a good job. But Michi Gigon as the last rider was able to came in 4th. It was my first diploma in my first elite year. That was an amazing start for me!
Along the following years, I would say that your results were far away from the expected. Am I right?
M. R. - That's an interesting point. I know that the expectations doing a sport in the Elite class are quite high and everyone expects a World title. But for me it's different. I’m still learning a lot and I try to improve my skills. I did orienteering in my middle school but just for fun and only for a few years. I didn’t ride the mountain bike before I started doing MTBO so I still have to get more bike skills as well. And I’m no full time athlete – my studies are taking time as well. Actually, overall, I’m satisfied with my results but I’m trying to get better every season.
In Portugal, you could achieve your best results ever in the three individual distances – 25th in the Sprint, 21st in the Middle Distance and 18th in the Long Distance. How do you rate the season overall?
M. R. - I didn’t expect too much from this season because I was in America the last winter semester, came back in January and didn’t train a lot till February because I was ill. The plan for the season 2016 was just to compete as much as possible and collect some more experiences. It was better than I expected.
On the national plan, we've been able to beat the “eternal” Michaela Gigon. What does it mean?
M. R. - For me it means a lot and is a big motivation for the next season. Michaela is a role model for me. Her orienteering skills are really amazing and the last years I was a step behind, nearly always. I don’t have the same skills like her but I’m learning and getting better. I’m still doing too many mistakes and I’m getting too nervous in tricky and o-technical difficult terrains but it gets less and I’m getting stronger on the bike as well. This season I showed that I can stay focused in national races. I would like to be able to compete on the international level like this as well. I definitely need to get more self-confidence for the international level to reach my goals.
What do you feel being part of the Austria team?
M. R. - I really enjoy being part of the team and travel together. It's like a big family. If you need something there, will always be someone to help you out. We laugh a lot and it’s always like a little holiday spending time together.
How do you see the present moment of MTB Orienteering? If you had the power, would you change something?
M. R. - I think MTBO is still a pretty small sport. I would not change the sport – in my opinion it is great like it is right now. But it would be helpful if the conditions around the competitions would be changed in some way to enlarge the MTBO family. Races in the Czech Republic are like little family festivals. There is a kids corner during the events. I think that's a great opportunity for parents to keep doing their sport. This possibility should be offered at any event.
The next season will open in your country, with the World Cup first round in Waldviertel, one year before the World Championships, in the same place. Are you feeling already butterflies in the stomach?
M. R. - I’m kind of excited! On one hand I want to show my skills and on the other hand I don’t want to expect too much because it will not get easy.
What do you expect from both events?
M. R. - I expect good races. The forests could be quite steep. I will try to be prepared and in a good physical shape.
Are we going to see you finally reaching a top 10 position? Will it be in the Sprint or in the Long Distance?
M. R. - I hope I will make it to the top 10 positions! I cannot promise it will be next season but I will work on that. I’m not sure which discipline I will be better but I hope I can reach the top 10 in both.
What other goals do you have designed for the next season?
M. R. - I guess my biggest goal is to reach a better overall position in World Cup ranking. But there are also goals like riding without crashes and saving money for a new bike.
How is going to be the winter season?
M. R. - The winter is always a mixture of different sports. I need some distance from the bike for a few months. I will run and hike and if there is snow I will do some cross country skiing as well. Also strength training will be part of my winter training.
Would you like to share the biggest wish for the future?
M. R. - This questions are always the most difficult to answer. There are so many wishes I would like to come true. But most of them are material and so I just have to work on them. But I guess the biggest wish I can’t buy myself: is to be satisfied and enjoy life!