Monday, February 29, 2016

Raquel Costa and Tiago Aires: "We are better cartographers now"



Whatever the list of the Portuguese orienteering's most important personalities in the recent years, the names of Raquel Costa and Tiago Aires will be there, surely. To the high quality as athletes, they gather the pleasure and the will to share experiences and knowledge, which turn them into high values in the World of orienteering. Adding to this the professional quality in the Cartographic field, we have enough material for an interesting and enriching Interview.


2015 came to an ending with the After Christmas Training Camp, an initiative of your portuguese club, GafanhOri. How do you rate the event?

Raquel Costa (R. C.) - I think it was very positive, not only because of the 150 entered athletes but also for their feedback. We are conscious of the work and quality behind this Training Camp and, those who had been with us understood that and will return next year, certainly, bringing with them some other participants. We believe that this Training Camp concept has fully conditions to point out the beginning of the new season, not only for the Portuguese but for several other countries' athletes. Proving it is the presence of many Spanish athletes, exactly 25, from the National Junior and Elite teams. You may see the maps, photos and further information of the After Christmas Training Camp's two last editions at http://afterchristmas.weebly.com/.

How important are the Training Camps in Portugal, this time of the season?

Tiago Aires (T. A.) - The Training Camps, from January to March, are really valuable to Orienteering and to our country, although it's my opinion that we are underestimating its potential. There are few sports having in Portugal, for two or three months every year, their epicenter, receiving the visit of world's best athletes for a long period of training and holding competitions in challenging maps and a mild weather. This phenomenon should stimulate the creation of instruments managed by the Portuguese Orienteering Federations, in order to facilitate to our visitors the acquisition of maps, booking accommodation, providing information, answering questions, etc.

The search for places in Spain is improving again and there are some “emergent” countries, namely Turkey, that start being highly demanding for this kind of activities during the winter season. Is Portugal, still, the Mecca for orienteers from all over the World or are we lagging behind?

T. A. - I don't think that Portugal has ceased to be the Orienteering's Mecca in the beginning of the season, but we must understand as natural this searching for new destinations. An orienteer is as best athlete as bigger is his/her capability of adaptation to new terrains. Fortunately, Portugal has several different terrains within a small and easily accessible area. Mountains in the North, sand dunes and pine forest by the sea, the Alentejo, a vast region with really fast and detailed terrains, the Viseu's region, with a lot of high quality forest terrains and the Algarve, where is possible to find ideal training conditions because of the gentle weather in this particular region all over the year.

Looking back to 2015, there was a very special moment. I'm talking about your stay in Halden and the start of a new project under the colors of a new club. How did you deal with the change?

R. C. - I would say that moving to Halden and living in a different country for five months wasn't difficult. We didn't feel the culture shock, mostly because we were lucky by knowing some athletes and coaches there in the same condition, displaced from their original countries and with whom was possible to establish a close relationship. It was a really interesting and enlightening project in several ways. We've been able to work, training and competing in, probably, the best Orienteering club in the World. Halden Skiklubb has more than 700 affiliate members and its a club that breathes orienteering for decades. A big number of orienteering's prominent names, currently and from the past, live in Halden.

T. A. - I would highlight, also, the fact of receiving regularly feedback about our work from some of the best athletes and coaches. It was, absolutely, very stimulating to our improvement. About the way how the club works, it is interesting to watch and take part on the club's routine. As an athlete, it was really rewarding to be able to participate regularly in the club's trainings and competing in nordic terrains.

I believe that your stay in Halden was mainly related to map making. How challenging are the nordic terrains to a cartographer?

R. C & T. A. - We feel that we are better cartographers now than we were when arriving to Halden. We are talking, mostly, about details , insignificant for the common athlete but really important because of its connection with the map reading and its legibility. To be able to work with base maps, by using a laser scanning system (LIDAR) with an incredibly huge quality, was also a very interesting experience, also because of the working production of our own base maps.

Have you one or two curious episodes about the life and day of two Portuguese cartographers in the Norwegian forests?

R. C. - In the forests we hardly find a funny episode. It's a space of quietness where, sporadically, we can meet one person walking or running and some deers, foxes or elks, trying to escape from our views. On the contrary, in the urban areas, where we also produced a map, the inhabitants called the police to identify me. They probably noticed my specially dangerous presence and my terrifying look (laughs).

Could you mention the season's highest moments in terms of your participation in competitions?

T. A. - The peak of the season was expected to be the presence in the World Cup stage in Halden and the World Championships in Scotland. Unfortunately, the week before leaving to Halden, I fall down during the Portuguese Championships and had to stop running for three months. By the way, I would like to thanks to Dr. Armando Soto, chiropractor in Halden, that restlessly took care of me and did everything to help me to fully recover. After that, I confined myself to take full advantage of the maps around Halden, without a specific training plan. So, the highest moments were the participation in 25 Manna and the Blodslittet. The presence in the Night Hawk (a six athletes relay in Norway) and the 25 Manna (a 25 athletes relay in Sweden) were really fun. I can't say they were high moments in terms of results or performances, but it was something different and new for me. Absolutely!

How did you follow “from the outside” the Portuguese presence in the World Orienteering Championships?

R. C. - Knowing the non-existing conditions to prepare the WOC in a very specific terrain as we find in Scotland, unable to meet similar terrains and without a regular presence in some major international competitions, I would say that the results reached by the Portuguese are normal, within the expected.

And what about the WOC overall?

T. A. - Proudly and emotionally, I would highlight the Spanish Andreu Blanes' 7th place in the Sprint Final. Like the Portuguese, the Spanish athletes are the perfect example by how, with few conditions but tons of courage and dedication, to get far away. I believe Antonio Martínez and Andreu Blanes are important pieces by inspiring athletes from all over the Iberian Peninsula to reach their goals and being a great help to a really motivated new generation.

Your work in recent years as coaches and the good results achieved by the Portuguese youth teams under your command are a real “trademark”. How do you evaluate the Portuguese Orienteering's present moment, particularly about the youngsters?

T. A. - We can only ask more and better to our athletes if we are able to improve their conditions in terms of preparation and planning. So, it's indispensable the necessary sensitivity and, of course, financial support. Looking to our reality, I think the only way to change the current paradigm is to deeply modify the way the Portuguese Orienteering Federation works and set new goals based on a new global long term in strategic planning.

A new season has already started and, with it, some new challenges, I believe. Will you continue your work in Halden?

R. C. & T. A. - We have, as usual, lots of working demands in Spain and France during 2016. And, joining it, we have once again the interest of Halden SK, this time for the production of the Norwegian Championships 2017's maps. Unfortunately, we aren't able to work the whole required area in Halden. We are also interested, the best possible way, to keep our commitment to the Portuguese orienteering's development, through map making, organizing events and other local projects.

What are your goals for 2016?

T. A. - Professionaly, the biggest projects are the Norwegian Championships 2017, the Portugal O' Meeting 2017 in Crato and Portalegre and some other maps in the Iberian Peninsula. As athlete, I would like to participate in the WOC in Strömstad, Sweden, compete whenever possible in the Portuguese League, participate in the ATRP Trail Circuit and run some Mountain Trails.

R. C. - In 2016 I want to continue doing orienteering, running some events and embrace some new challenges.

[Follow Raquel Costa and Tiago Aires on their page on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/mapmakeroart. Photo courtesy Tiago Aires]

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, February 27, 2016

TrailO Relay: The big party is coming!



You don’t need to be particularly familiar with Orienteering to realise that, despite it being the most fantastic sport in the world, it has a huge Achilles’ heel which is called “visibility”. And yet there is a format that erases, in a certain way, that difficulty: it’s called a Relay and it’s commonly seen as the “Orienteering Big Party”. And for obvious reasons. First, because of the mass start, then the athletes’ contact at each leg change, and finally the emotion of congratulating the winner as the one who comes first. Everything in terrain with good visibility, a vibrant atmosphere in the arena and an enthusiastic audience. As simple as that!


Twelve years after the first World Trail Orienteering Championships in Västerås, Sweden, the new TrailO Relay is being prepared to be part of the official programme of major international TrailO competitions next year. First in the 2016 European Trail Orienteering Championships in Jeseník in the Czech Republic, and then in the World Trail Orienteering Championships in Strömstad, Sweden. There are certainly some differences in relation to Foot Orienteering, MTB Orienteering and Ski Orienteering Relay formats – in spite of having the same ‘philosophy’. TrailO is very different from other disciplines, with the ‘strategy factor’ in TrailO having great relevance. It is a major step forward in a discipline that has something to please everyone.

Along the way, many people have made a contribution to the development of the TrailO Relay, but it is generally accepted that Martin Fredholm from Sweden is the person responsible for putting the ideas together and working out the final format. So we asked him to tell, in brief, what the TrailO Relay is all about. “The TrailO Relay is a combination of the two existing formats in TrailO: PreO and TempO. Each one of the three legs starts with a PreO course with 10–15 controls. After the changeover, each leg also has one or two TempO stations. The final result for each team is the sum of the time spent for each leg at the TempO station(s), plus any penalty time on the TempO part (30 seconds for each incorrect answer), plus the penalty time on the PreO part (60 seconds for each incorrect answer). Each team has a combined maximum time allowance for the PreO part that can be freely distributed between the legs”, he says.


Some history

The TrailO Relay isn’t something that was simply thought up overnight; it has been developed over many years. In Sweden, the first stand-alone team competition with forked courses for each leg was organised in 2004. It was more like a PreO Relay, since the final result was based on points and seconds as in a regular PreO competition. The first time we could follow this kind of race with a combined maximum time for each team and the result converted in seconds was in 2008 in a TrailO Relay during Tiomila. Until then, all competitions had used a forking method where competitors had to solve the same control tasks. But in 2011 a new forking method was tested in Sweden.

Basically it consists of a number of controls divisible by three, where each leg has to solve about one third of the controls, but never the same control. The event is still a PreO Relay, since both points and seconds are combined in the final result, but since 2012 this has been the only forking method used in Sweden. The idea to make it a TrailO Relay (the final result only in seconds) instead of a PreO Relay (points and seconds) actually came from the Trail Orienteering Athletes Commission, where the Finn Lauri Kontkanen is a member. The IOF Trail Orienteering Commission accepted that idea, worked out the draft rules in January 2015 and finalised them a few months later. During WTOC 2015 in Croatia the competitors had the chance to try out this format, and some minor problems were found (easily solvable), but the feedback was very positive. For the story let’s say that the first unofficial TrailO Relay World Champion country was Sweden, followed by Finland and Italy.


Strategy and media-friendly

At a time when the first official competition is approaching, Martin Fredholm has his own ideas: “The TrailO Relay can be interesting if it is organised properly. The old forking method does not require much strategy, only how to use the maximum time. With the new method, team members on the first legs have to choose which controls to solve and which to leave for the other team members. And if the title in the end comes to depend on the outcome of the TempO part in the third leg, you have to decide which team member can best cope with the pressure that creates”, Martin says. Another interesting possibility offered by the TrailO Relay is the opportunity to show ‘live’ results. Martin, again: “Spectators can follow how everything progresses. For example, which teams have already solved the ‘difficult’ controls. And with a properly organised secretariat, each individual result will be posted in less than 5 minutes after the competitor has arrived at the finish.”

Martin’s last words go along with a good laugh: “My expectations for next year’s Championships are that I will be in one of the winning teams”, he concludes.


[Text and photo: Joaquim Margarido. See the original article on Orienteering World's last issue at http://orienteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/iof_orienteering_world_w3.pdf, on pages 32 and 33. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Friday, February 26, 2016

Two or three things I know about it...



1. The young Egyptian Orienteering Federation organized its first International competition. Precious by their history, places like the Kings Island, the Kings Valley or the Karnak Temple witnessed the performances of 174 competitors from 17 different countries for three challenging stages. The opening stage, a Middle-Short Distance really demanding by the fast map reading and the temperatures over 30ºC, had in Oscar Anrango (Orienta Ecuador) and Tatiana Kalenderoglu (Istambul Orienteering) the winners in the M21E and W21E classes, respectively. Scoring for the IOF World Ranking, the Middle Distance on second stage brought again an extra-challenge due to the high temperature. Tatiana Kalenderoglu repeated the first position, while the winner in the M21E class was Abdulaziz Mohammd Ali Sal (UAE National Team). Abdulaziz Mohammd Ali Sal won the Sprint stage on the last day, along with Ayako Watanabe (NPO orienteering) in the W21E class. Overall, Abdulaziz Mohammd Ali Sal and Tatiana Kalenderoglu were the first winners of the Egypt International Orienteering Championships. The next edition, in February 2017, will take place in the beautiful scenery of Sharm El Sheikh, by the Red Sea. To know more about the event, please visit the Egyptian Orienteering Federation's webpage, at http://egyorinteering.org/en/Home/.

2. 'Sedated by software': No one knows how to read maps anymore, experts say. This way, Tim Chester alerts, in the global media company “Mashable” [HERE], to the Royal Institute of Navigation's concerns about the nation's cartographical know-how. Quoting Roger McKinlay, the President of the Royal Institute of Navigation, “it is concerning that children are no longer routinely learning at home or school how to do anything more than press ‘search’ buttons on a device to get anywhere", warning for the risks of “becoming sedated by software in the process.” The institute say they want schools to teach basic navigation “as a way to develop character, independence and an appreciation of maths and science.” They point out that phones can lose their signal and sat navs can lead you up the garden path, and the human brain is better at taking in all data such as weather and terrain. However, they insist that something more fundamental is at stake as we forget skills that have guided people for centuries. The article doesn't mention Orienteering as a resource, a fundamental key in the “rehabilitation” process, but the main idea is that reliance on computers presents no conceptual challenges: “The human brain is left largely inert and untaxed while calculations are made electronically, by a software ‘brain’ without the elasticity to make connections and judgements”, they say.

3. For a second time this SkiO World Cup season, the snow has arrived at the last minute. The organisers of the ESOC, JWSOC, EYSOC and SkiO WCup Round 3 confirmed that they finally have enough snow for the events to take place. It was only last 15th February that Event Director Hans Georg Gratzer and his team could confirm that enough snow had arrived to be able to hold fair SkiO competitions. This winter has been characterised by difficult snow conditions, which has been a struggle for all snow sports. The most recent news, from France, talk about the avoidance of French SkiO Championships in the Middle Distance and Relay, due to the lack of snow. So, it is great news that these races will be able to take place, especially considering their role in inspiring the younger generations of ski orienteers. Head over to the SKIO2016 website – http://www.skio2016.at/ -, to follow closely the event. Now we can all set our sights on an exciting week of SkiO in Obertilliach 28 February – 5 March 2016!

4. Still meeting its first year of life, Prismagazine has just seen published its nº. 6, February 2016. Again, a varied and well illustrated issue, developed and edited by Jeremias Queiroga, with a wide set of contributors. In this issue, the focus is on the presence in Portugal of 16 brazilian orienteers, competing at LIOM, POM and NAOM. The courses of Thierry Gueorgiou and Helena Jansson on POM's Long Distance WRE are dissected by themselves in two articles from the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, along with a nice bunch of pictures. There's also a great Interview with the Brazilian Champion 2015 in Women Elite, Tânia Maria Jesus de Carvalho (ADAAN). Finally, we can read the words of Luiz Sérgio Mendes, the President of Brazilian Orienteering Confederation, about the financial situation of the Institution and goals for the future, including the leading project of Orienteering's development in South America. Prismagazine is written in Portuguese but worth a try reading it, even if the automatic translation fails sometimes. Everything to read at https://www.joomag.com/magazine/mag/0215555001456198774/p1.


[Photo: José Ángel Nieto Poblete / facebook.com/ja.np.56]

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fontainebleau's “Pôle Espoir” (Elite Academy): A “Blue wave” of progress




France has always been one of the world’s greatest driving forces in MTB Orienteering. It was in Fontainebleau, just over fifty kilometres south-east of Paris, that the first World MTB Orienteering Championships took place in 2002, and it was there that athletes like Laure Coupat, Caroline Finance, Jérémie Gillmann and Matthieu Barthélémy became famous names in this discipline’s history. But the years then passed and, though always feared by their opponents, France constantly failed to come back to take the world lead. Some sporadic successes – Jérémie Gillmann and the Men’s Relay in 2007, Gaëlle Barlet in 2011 and Baptiste Fuchs in 2014 – just confirmed a period with few high spots. However when we come to the end of 2015, we find four Frenchmen in the IOF MTB Orienteering World Ranking’s top 20 and two French women in the top 10! When we look at their results in the European and World Championships, we can begin to understand that something has changed in a big way.

The change is significant and likely to be long-lasting. Since 2006 French MTB Orienteering has undergone a major reorganisation, becoming much better structured, with the fruits beginning to emerge consistently a few years afterwards. Success was first fully appreciated (and celebrated) by the youngsters in Hungary in 2012 when Lou Denaix won the Junior World Sprint title. In 2013 Cédric Beill enjoyed one of the greatest achievements in MTB Orienteering’s history, being crowned Junior World Champion in all four distances: Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay. The French men’s relay team won the silver medal at the 2014 Junior World Championships. But it’s in 2015 that one can truly appreciate the results of this long-term work, the magnitude of which brings France back to the forefront of World MTB Orienteering.


Training is not an exact science”

Sports teacher, promoter, adviser, cartographer, organiser and public relations person, André Hermet is also a member of IOF’s MTBO Commission, coordinator and coach of the French MTBO team. And he is Coordinator, at regional level, of the most important MTBO development institution in France and a true example to the world: Fontainebleau’s “Pôle Espoir”, its Elite Academy.

A cyclist when young, Hermet encountered Orienteering at the age of 24. This was too late to see his dream, to get into the French Foot Orienteering Elite Team, come true. But he still wanted to improve his knowledge, learn the secrets of physical preparation and know more about how to achieve technical improvement; his interest in putting these things into practice led him in due course to a period of study, and he was awarded his Sports Teacher Diploma at the age of 42. From that moment he began to devote himself fully to coaching at high level. To him, “coaching is to identify, bring forward, prepare, and lead an individual or a group in ways which realise their highest potential. But it’s by not doing the same as others that you take a step forward.”

What steps enable a musician to become a virtuoso? How do pilots of fighter jets manage stress during the flight? “High levels exist not only in sport”, André Hermet comments. “I’ve always tried to innovate, applying new training methods based on knowledge and scientific research on the complexity of achieving excellence”, he says. Bringing in theoretical concepts about perception, memory, logical thinking and planning, among other things, André Hermet just wants to improve the athletes’ effectiveness whilst competing: “Training is not an exact science. There are no secrets or miracles. As a coach, it isn’t enough just to know and understand the principles of training. I need to know how to combine and use these principles to create “my” method. The percentage of MTB orienteers with large potential is not greater in France than in Spain, Finland or Portugal”, he affirms.


Life in the Academy

In 1993 André Hermet found himself excited by and committed to MTB Orienteering, which was almost a novelty in France at the time. It was at that time that he began to promote the discipline regionally, but was faced with an insoluble problem: the lack of young people involved in the sport. It wasn’t until 2000 – at a time when he had already been nominated as Technical Director of the first World MTB Orienteering Championships – that his efforts intensified. He became the coach of the Fontainebleau Pôle Espoir, an Elite Academy created by the French Orienteering Federation and recognised by the French Ministry of Sports. It is here that he’s been recruiting orienteers from all over France who demonstrate potential, both in Foot Orienteering and MTB Orienteering. These young athletes are a group of 10 to 15 boys and girls who stay at the Pôle for three to five years, doing their studies and having daily Orienteering training.

The Pôle can be seen today as an intermediate stage between the clubs that develop Orienteering activities and the French team. The team is composed of twenty to twenty six athletes from all over France, the best athletes of the Elite, Junior and Youth categories. It’s in the Pôle that athletes follow a programme with a training load of 12 to 15 hours a week, adjusted according to their age and technical and physical level. Trips away from the Pôle for further preparation range from Cross-country Skiing (one week in February) to specific preparation for major international competitions, with Training Camps in relevant terrain within or outside France. The results are now there, and just confirm that French MTB Orienteering is going the right way: this season the athletes from Fontainebleau’s Pôle Espoir won seven gold medals, eight silver and three bronze in European and World Championships. To the names mentioned early in this article we now have to add those of Florian Pinsard, Constance Devillers, Antoine Vercauteren, Mathilde Sipos and Lou Garcin, among many others. A real “blue wave” is developing, and promises to grow into a “tsunami”.


[Text and photo: Joaquim Margarido. See the original article on Orienteering World's last issue at http://orienteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/iof_orienteering_world_w3.pdf, on pages 14 and 15. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Monday, February 22, 2016

Anna Jacobson: "Being part of The World Games is and always has been very important for orienteering"



The year of 2012 was close to the end when I received an invitation from the IOF to sign the MTBO year's article in the Orienteering World magazine. This message, signed by Anna Jacobson, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But, if it's true that I continue to write for the IOF, it is no less true that Anna left that body in July, because of the deep structural and logistical changes that the IOF has been submitted. Today, we find her with new responsabilities, but still and always passionate about Orienteering.


How was your time in the IOF Office at Radiokatu, in Finland?

Anna Jacobson (A. J.) - It was the best time of my life (until then)! We had a really good team and I loved to go to work every day. I was in charge of Communications and Anti-Doping, amongst other tasks, both of them really interesting and ever-growing fields. Of course, as we were only 3.7 people working for the IOF, we all did “everything”. Communications meant both publications, website, social media (I created and managed the IOF Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts), leaflets, internal communications, preparations for SportAccord Convention and more. I had great help here from Clive, Hugh, Erik and of course – you! Also the Finnish Federation was cooperating with us closely on the publications, website and videos.

I had several nice projects during the years, for example the IOF 50 years project with an anniversary logo, several historical articles on website and in Inside Orienteering, the Compass Project (compasses to developing countries), the 50 years’ show in WOC in France, the 50 years’ video and of course the special edition of Orienteering World, “The first 50 years” [http://orienteering.org/iof-50-years/]. Other projects were to create the current website with new functions and series such as Athlete of the Month, new IOF visual image, and the magazine Inside Orienteering, which replaced the older O-Zine. The anti-doping matters included everything from educating the federations and athletes to revising the rules, attending conferences and also speaking there about IOF A-D work. I really enjoyed working with other anti-doping professionals on this field that never stands still for a moment. And of course with the wonderful IOF Medical Commission, with whom it was always a pleasure to work. They were always ready to help us in protecting the athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport.

Orienteering World”, “Inside Orienteering” and “Athlete of the Month”, as you've mentioned before, were issues with you signature for many years. How proud are you of your work?

A. J. - I am very proud of the new ideas I was able to bring to both the website and the publications, and of the overall quality. I am less proud of the fact that I never seemed to have quite enough time to concentrate on any of these in the way I would have wanted to. Luckily I had such excellent co-workers (volunteer for the most part) that we made it work every time. I really like what we could do with so little time and so little money. I think we renewed the IOF Communications and brought the IOF closer to the people – both via a new kind of online newsletter (Inside Orienteering), by new kinds of articles on the website and via social media. And I am extremely happy we did the 50 years’ edition. It is the IOF history until now written in 74 pages.

As long as you remember, what were the most important moments of your presence “behind the scenes”?

A. J. - It’s hard to list the most important moments of the eight years, but let’s see... I’ll list some moments that were important for me.
- My first Council meeting (and several after that) and my first Joint Meeting of Council & Commissions. Those meetings always gave more motivation and made the goal of our work sort of more “real”.
- Many moments in anti-doping work. Finding and correcting a mistake in WADA’s own rules, helping athletes, federations and organisers in anti-doping matters, the one positive doping case we had… and when in WADA Conference in South Africa I managed to secure a yearly 40 000 EUR grant to the IOF from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
- 2011 Orienteering World - this is one of my biggest achievements and I am so glad we did it. The whole 50 years project was important in many ways – I find it extremely important for an organisation and its staff and officials to know the history of the organisation. You can learn a lot from it.
- Creating Inside Orienteering and joining in social media. I feel both of them brought us closer to the “people”. Also closer to organisations like IWGA and WADA!
- Creating TrailO Athletes’ Commission and re-creating FootO Athletes’ Commission in 2013.
- Bringing together all (living) IOF Presidents in 2011. So much IOF history there!
- … and soooo many other moments. There were so many “close” situations saved in the last minute, so many important meetings with important people, so many General Assemblies to handle, so many medical matters to deal with, so many communication strategies needed, … And personally, for me (besides meeting Åke which was, of course, the best thing of it all), the morning coffee breaks that we had with Barbro and later Riikka, the monthly cakes to celebrate our IOF journey together, the many, many laughters we shared - those were the greatest things.

Your privileged position allowed you to realize how Orienteering has evolved in different countries around the World. Could you mention two or three good examples of how work and perseverance can give the best results?

A. J. - I think it depends very much on the local people in the country. We can try to bring orienteering in new countries and support them the best we can, but only if the locals are or get really behind the idea it can work. A good example is Egypt, where one enthusiast has created a whole new federation with national championships just in a couple of years. Other good examples are of course the many, many countries in South America where Jose Angel Nieto Poblete has been doing great - and patient - work for years.

Are the "rich" countries helping the "poor" countries in the best way? What should we do in order to shorten the differences?

A. J. - I think all countries have economic problems at the moment, or so it seems. There are still many ways to help: to donate equipment, to help with teaching about orienteering, to invite people from the less developed orienteering federations to seminars and competitions.

You've just started working as Social Media Manager at IWGA The World Games. How challenging is your new job?

A. J. - Very challenging, and very enjoyable! The IWGA Team is just wonderful, and I am so happy to get to work for IWGA. I have only started at IWGA, but I see a lot of things we can do to promote both The World Games AND all our sports through social media. My idea is to get more sports to everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feeds! I have also always been a fan of The World Games, since the 2009 Games in Kaohsiung (I lived in Finland for a week in the time zone of Chinese Taipei in order to be able to report everything on time :D), and even more after the Games in Cali, Colombia in 2013, where I was present as communications responsible for the IOF. The World Games is a magnificent event for the athletes - and for the officials as well. It’s an honour to work for IWGA. In general, I enjoy working as a freelancer now, as it gives me more freedom and more time at home.

Orienteering is part of The World Games since 2001. How important can it be for the development of our sport?

A. J. - Being part of The World Games is and always has been very important for orienteering. The World Games is the step to the Olympic Games – but even if you do not want to have orienteering in the Olympic Games, The World Games is the place to showcase orienteering at the world’s sporting stage. In addition, many national federations get support and bonus from their National Olympic Committee if they are selected to The World Games and if they succeed there. I am sure that all athletes that have been in 2009 in Kaohsiung or 2013 in Cali agree with me on that The World Games is a truly amazing experience – as Andrey Khramov said “It’s like the Olympics for sports that are not there yet, and as close as I ever get to taking part in the Olympics”. Actually, it was also Andrey who told me at The World Games 2013 that earlier that year he had lost the spirit and the motivation to train hard, but when he heard he had been selected to the team to The Games, it was the motivation he needed to start training again (he won silver in the sprint!).

For those who follow closely the Trail orienteering phenomena, your name sometimes appears in a very distinguished position. It was so during the last season, in some European Cup in Trail Orienteering (ECTO) stages and, recently, with your victory at Helsinky, in the Aurora Borealis PreO Event. Where (and when) did you find your skills for such particular discipline?

A. J. - In Hungary in 2009. We (the IOF Office & Council) got the opportunity to start to the course after the World Champs PreO competition there (Day 2 in the Zoo). I really liked it, got interested, and found out there was one more competition left in Finland that year: the Finnish Champs. So I read through the technical guidelines, checked how Jari Turto had planned his earlier courses (he was the course planner) and drove 200 km to Kokemäki! I finished 28th, I think, of about 50-60 competitors, but what I remember best was how happy I was to beat Jukka Liikari :) It was also his first competition, but unlike me, he had not read the guidelines yet... (later on we became good TrailO friends and often shared our thoughts about course setting and more)

Could you tell me some of your most pleasant experiences in this discipline?

A. J. - There are so many! One of the recent ones was the Aurora Borealis PreO in -24ºC and strong wind – not because of the weather but in spite of it: the course and map were really good. Another recent competition that I liked was the ECTO final in Czech Republic, even though the PreO part did not go that well for me. And of course winning at the Lithuanian ECTO was great – in particular as I won over Martin (Fredholm) on the timed control! Competing is mostly always pleasant, and I’m looking forward to get new countries to my list as well (until now I’ve competed in 7 countries – but tried TrailO in 10). I also enjoyed very much organising the first competitions of ECTO 2015, the FinTrailO 2015. I was the Event Director and, together with Åke, controller for TempO and PreO Day 2. I would like to add that my husband Åke is a former PreO Finnish Champion (2014) - the first and so far last Swede with this title! So TrailO really is a family sport for us.

What attracts you the most in Trail orienteering?

A. J. - That it requires so good map-reading skills (PreO) and that it requires you read the map and the terrain really fast (TempO). I like map-reading and I love orienteering and competing, so TrailO is perfect for me.

Have you been following the discipline's improvement in the recent years? What's your opinion on it?

A. J. - I have been following the development very closely. I don’t think all orienteers should try TrailO, as I don’t think they should try MTBO or SkiO, but I hope they all can see it’s a real discipline that requires training and hard work. Having said that, I personally think TempO is more suitable for competitions than PreO. But I must say I like PreO a lot, and also the Relay. I was on the first leg in the relay in Sweden last year, and it was great fun to think about the tactics and to run to save time. Regarding other development, I think TrailO has changed a lot during the recent years, and for the better. And I am not in favour of having the zero tolerance in the rules. I think the key to fair competitions is training the course setters and event advisers.
To represent Finland in the European or World Championships is something in your mind already this year?

A. J. - Not this year: the teams have been chosen. And I was not up for it yet! But in two years – why not… At least I have a lot of experience from Latvia, and hopefully soon from Portugal too.

It means that we are going to see you next April, in Lisbon, for the ECTO's first round.

A. J. - I really hope so! It seems that it’s not so easy to get to Lisbon from Helsinki, but we are trying to find a way to be there!

In the beginning of a new season, I would ask you to make a wish to those, everywhere, who love and are committed to Orienteering.

A. J. - I wish for all of you many happy courses throughout the year!

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, February 21, 2016

28th International Orienteering Trophy Murcia Costa Cálida: Ridefelt and Mironova won at Caravaca



Albin Ridefelt and Svetlana Mironova were the winners of 28th International Orienteering Trophy Murcia Costa Cálida, held this weekend at Caravaca, Spain. Both athletes started with the right foot, winning the Long Distance stage on the first day and managed keeping the leadership until the last moment.


One week after the Lorca O' Meeting, Spain attracted again the attentions of Orienteering world, calling to Caravaca de la Cruz close to 1200 athletes from 21 different countries. The event started with a very challenging Long Distance course, in which the Swedish Albin Ridefelt (OK Linné) took a four minutes winning over the Spanish Antonio Martinez Pérez. In the Women class, the things would be quite different, with the Russian Svetlana Mironova (Koovee) taking a tight victory over the Finnish Saila Kinni (Tampereen Pyrintö) by the margin of 12 seconds.

Fulfilling the first day's program, the attentions moved to Caravaca's urban centre where eight hundred athletes faced a really fun Sprint WRE, scoring for the IOF World Ranking, with victories from the Swedish Karolin Ohlsson and Rassmus Andersson (OK Linné). The last stage took the orienteering tribe to the forest again, for a decisive Middle Distance WRE. The winner in Men Elite class was the Norwegian Vetle Ruud Braten, but Ridefelt managed to keep the difference over his most direct opponents, taking a comfortable triumph overall. Antonio Martinez Pérez and Ionut Zinca (Universitatea Craiova) followed Ridefelt on the podium. Again, things were a little different in the Women Elite but Svetlana Mironova could keep the difference to a strong concurrence, even if the Finnish Saila Kinni took the victory, shortening to 17 seconds the distance to the leadership overall. Catherine Taylor (OK Linné) was third after the three stages.


Results

Men Elite
1. Albin Ridefelt (OK Linné) 2:09:49 (+ 00:00)
2. Antonio Martínez Pérez (Colivenc) 2:15:45 (+ 05:56)
3. Ionut Zinca (Universitatea Craiova) 2:15:54 (+ 06:05)
4. Jon Aukrust Osmoen (NTNUI) 2:19:42 (+ 09:53)
5. Ivan Kuchmenko (Järla Orientering) 2:19:57 (+ 10:08)

Women Elite
1. Svetlana Mironova (Koovee) 1:57:36 (+ 00:00)
2. Saila Kinni (Tampereen Pyrintö) 1:57:53 (+ 00:17)
3. Catherine Taylor (OK Linné) 1:58:50 (+ 01:14)
4. Nadiya Volynska (OK Orion) 1:59:44 (+ 02:08)
5. Karolin Ohlsson (Järla Orientering) 2:01:50 (+ 04:14)

Complete results and further information at http://www.costacalidaorientacion.net/.

[Photo: Øystein K. Østerbø / twitter.com/Kvaal_Osterbo]

Joaquim Margarido

28th International Orienteering Trophy Murcia Costa Cálida: Maps








Joaquim Margarido

IOF Athlete of January: Stefania Corradini



The first Athlete of the Month of 2016 is Stefania Corradini. Find out about the young ski orienteer and her exciting career path so far in the next lines.


Name: Stefania Corradini
Country: Italy
Living place: Mora in Sweden (from Castello di Fiemme in Italy)
Club: GS Castello di Fiemme (Italy) and IFK Moras OK (Sweden)
Date of Birth: July 1st 1996
Discipline: Ski orienteering
Career Highlights: 10th place at sprint at European Youth Ski-O Championships and 4th place relay at JWSOC in Estonia.
IOF World Ranking: 78th


Two and a half years ago, Stefania Corradini moved from Italy to Sweden. The ski orienteer had two big goals for moving from her home country to the Nordic country. Stefania is from the little village Castello di Fiemme in famous Val di Fiemmi valley and she is daughter of Nicolò Corradini, who has incredible results in ski orienteering.

Since I was a child, I never felt any expectation or pressure from my family. My parents always let us choose which sport to do.

She took part in many different sports when she was younger, like handball, swimming, alpine skiing, football and of course also ski orienteering.

I remember my first SkiO race as a funny thing. I was maybe 12 –13 years old and I was competing with my brother, we got lost but we had so much fun. This was my first time I got in touch with SkiO and after that I started to race more often.


The decision

When she was almost 15, Stefania chose to focus on ski-orienteering, orienteering and cross country. At the age of 17 she decided to go Sweden and the ski orienteering gymnasium in Mora in the middle of Sweden – almost 2000 kilometres from home.

I moved to Mora in august 2013. I have to thank Signar Eriksson and Erik Svensson, who gave me the possibility to move to Mora and do this wonderful experience that no one from Italy had done before, says Stefania. – Sweden thinks in a different way concerning young people that want to be athletes in the future. Here you have the possibility to focus both on school and on sport. Unfortunately, we do not have such possibilities in Italy, that’s why I moved.

In Sweden her goal was to grow, both as a person and as an athlete.

I wanted to be good both at school and in sport. It wasn’t easy to move, a lot of things were different and I didn’t know the language.


Not an easy start

She got both a new country and a new language.

When I moved to Mora I did not know the language. In the beginning I spoke English. But the school is in Swedish so I tried to learn it quite fast. The first month at school was not so easy, because I did not understand what anybody was saying. I started to speak some words of Swedish before Christmas and everything became much easier. Swedish is quite different in comparison with Italian, both regarding the pronunciation and the grammar.

– How do you like köttbullar (Swedish meat balls) and other Swedish food?

I have to say that the food culture is different. We eat in a different way in Italy. I do like the Swedish food and köttbullar as well.

– What do you miss from Italy?

Certainly my family, the mountains, the sun and the food. It wasn’t easy in the first months, but then I started to speak a little Swedish and got more and more used to the Nordic culture. It might look easy to move to another country, but you have to change many of your habits and it can be hard.

You feel welcome and part of something bigger. Everybody is so kind and helpful. I want to thank the ski gymnasium in Mora, all the coaches and the teachers. They gave and give me such an amazing possibility to grow in all different ways.

Stefania lives at the school accommodation, and shares a small apartment with another girl.


One of the biggest ever

Stefania’s father Nicolò won his first World Championship in 1994. Since then he has won several gold medals.

– What is the most important you have learned from your father?

I have learned a lot from him, both regarding life and sport. The most important thing is perhaps to never give up, the hard work pays off and that even the best fall down sometimes. It is important to love what you are doing; it doesn’t matter what is it.

She has a sister, Anna (22), and a brother, Francesco (18). He competes in both SkiO and in cross country.

We push each other and train a lot together.


Big goal in February

Stefania prepared well before this winter.

I was at home in Val di Fiemme all summer and trained a lot. Heading back to Mora the preparation continued as planned, but for a time with less skiing than wanted.

There has been very little snow for the most part of this winter. Before Christmas she travelled to Norway.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to do some SkiO before heading home for Christmas. In Italy it was still warm and there is only artificial snow, which makes it harder for SkiO. The SkiO season hadn’t started in Italy because of the lack of snow.

Stefania’s main goal for the winter is to be in a good shape at the Junior World Championships and do well in the competitions there.

Now my shape is getting better and better.

– How has you level progressed?

It’s getting higher and higher. I have the fortune to train with some of the best ski orienteers in Mora and that gives me a lot of motivation. My philosophy is to go all in and I am trying to push myself as much as possible in every race, being able to have some splits like the best girls, but I frequently make some big mistakes that compromise the final result.


The future

In early summer she will finish the last of her three years in Mora.

I do not know what my future will be like. Maybe I will move to Falun, close to Mora, maybe back home. We will see what happens. Either way I will keep training and try to be even better.


[Text Erik Borg; Photo courtesy Stefania Corradini. See the original article at http://orienteering.org/athlete-of-the-month-january-2016/. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Scientific study: “Senior orienteering athletes as a model of healthy aging: a mixed-method approach”



Senior orienteering athletes may act as an ideal model of healthy aging”. This is, in brief, the main conclusion of a study hold by a researching group from Örebro University, Sweden and published as an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. On it, we found the stages of a study involving 374 participants, some really interesting analysis to quantitative and qualitative data, a discussion and the conclusions. We present just the abstract but the complete article strongly worth a reading [HERE].


Senior orienteering athletes as a model of healthy aging: a mixed-method approach”
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Karin Blomberg, Samal Algilani, Magnus Schoultz, Annica Kihlgren, Robert J. Brummer and Ida Schoultz


Abstract

Background
The proportion of individuals reaching an old age is increasing and will, in the near future consume a majority of health care resources. It is therefore essential to facilitate the maintenance of optimal functionality among older adults. By characterizing older individuals experiencing wellbeing, factors important to promote and maintain health through life can be identified. Orienteering is an endurance-running sport involving cross-country navigation, demanding both cognitive and physical skills of its practitioners. In this study we aim to explore a Swedish population of senior orienteering athletes as a potential model of healthy aging.

Methods
We undertook a mixed-method approach using quantitative (i.e. questionnaires) and qualitative (i.e. focus group discussions) methodologies to explore a population of senior orienteering athletes (n = 136, median age = 69 (67–71) years). Quantitative data was collected to evaluate health status, assessing physical activity (Frändin-Grimby activity scale (FGAS)), functional wellbeing (EQ-5D-5 L), gut health (Gastrointestinal symptoms rating scale (GSRS)), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS)) and overall health (Health index (HI)). The data was further compared to reference values obtained from a free-living Swedish population of older adults. Focus group discussions (FGD) were performed as a complement to the quantitative data to facilitate the individuals’ own views on health and physical activity.

Results
The orienteering athletes enrolled in the study reported a significantly better health compared to the free-living older adults (p <0.0015) on all questionnaires except HADS. The high health status displayed in this population was further confirmed by the FGD findings, in which all participants declared their engagement in orienteering as a prerequisite for health.

Conclusions
In conclusion our results show that senior orienteering may represent an ideal model in studies of healthy aging. Furthermore, our results show that even though the senior orienteering athletes are well aware of the long-term benefits of physical activity and have practiced the sport from a young age, they particularly point out that their engagement in orienteering is driven by short-term values such as enjoyment and passion. This may be important to consider when introducing public health interventions among the general older population.

[“Senior orienteering athletes as a model of healthy aging: a mixed-method approach”, by
Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Karin Blomberg, Samal Algilani, Magnus Schoultz, Annica Kihlgren, Robert J. Brummer and Ida Schoultz. Nutrition and Physical Activity Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University. Nutrition Gut Brain Interactions Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University. Lina Östlund-Lagerström, Email: es.uro@mortsregal-dnultso.anil.]


Joaquim Margarido

Friday, February 19, 2016

Two or three things I know about it...



1. The major Ski Orienteering events came back last weekend with the first edition of FISU World University Ski Orienteering Championships, taking place in the Russian region of Tula. Over sixty athletes from thirteen different countries took part in an exciting event program, including Sprint, Pursuit, Mixed Relay and Mass Start races. Sonja Mörsky, Finland, and Stanimir Belomazhev, Bulgaria, became the historical first World University Champions in Ski Orienteering by winning the opening Sprint races. Anna Ulvensøen, Norway, climbed from 6th place to the top of the podium in the women’s Pursuit, whilst Stanimir Belomazhev showed again at the highest level in the men’s class and was in the lead from Start to Finish. The Norwegians Anna Ulvensøen and Jørgen Madslien won the Mixed Relay, with Finland as second and Russia as third nation. The king of Tula, Stanimir Belomazhev, also won the Mass Start, followed by the Finnish Jyri Uusitalo and Tero Linnainmaa. In the women’s class, Mira Kaskinen, Finland, won the WUSOC Mass Start in front of Anna Ulvensøen and Sonja Mörsky. Overall, six nations achieved podium places, with Bulgaria leading the Board Medal with three gold. Finland and Norway took two gold medals, but the Finnish collected also five silver and five bronze, against one silver from the Norwegian. Belarus, with one silver medal, and Estonia and Russia with one bronze medal each, close this special table. Everything to read at http://wusoc2016.ru/.


2. The winter season continues to attract orienteers from all over the World to the Southern Europe. Portugal and Spain are, by this time, places of election, not only for the preparation of the world's best athletes but also as a way of promoting healthy lifestyles, to whom Orienteering greatly contributes. The Lorca O' Meeting is an excellent example, gathering to Lorca and its surroundings close to 800 athletes from 24 countries for three stages of great Orienteering, the first on, in the Long Distance, scoring for the IOF World Ranking. In the Men Elite class, the Spanish Andreu Blanes and Antonio Martinez, both from Colivenc, fought bravely for the victory overall. Martinez reached the triumph both in Sprint and Middle Distance, but Blanes knew to keep efficiently the advantage achieved in the first stage, in which he emerged victorious, reaching the top of the podium in the final standings. In the Women Elite class everything was different and the best Spanish athlete was Esther Gil (Colivenc), in the 8th place. The victory in this edition of Lorca O' Meeting smiled to the Ukrainian Nadiya Volynska (OK Orion), thanks mainly to her victory in the Middle Distance stage and the second position in the Sprint stage, behind the Russian Galina Vinogradova (Alfta ÖSA OK). Another Russian, Svetlana Mironova (MS Parma), was the winner of the Long Distance WRE stage. Find the complete results at http://lom2016.blogspot.pt/.


3. The World MTB Orienteering Championships WMTBOC 2016 will be held in July, in the region of Bairrada, Portugal, and it’s looking forward it that all attentions are converging. During the next 05th and 6th March, will take place the Bairrada O’ Meeting MTBO 2016, an event that opens the international MTB Orienteering season and includes two scoring stages to the IOF World Ranking (a Middle Distance, on the first day of competition and a Long Distance, ending the program). For the next three days, the event organization promotes the 1st Portugal MTBO Training Camp, offering a Sprint training, two Middle Distances, one Long Distance and even a night Orienteering race. The interest for these events is revealed by the number of entries, exceeding already the 60 athletes, mainly from Finland and France. Italy, Denmark, Spain, Russia and Switzerland will also be represented by some of their best athletes. To know more, please visit the events’ webpage at  http://aventurabairrada.wix.com/bommtbo2016.


4. “Cool, Awesome and Educational! Will you join us?” The IOF is inviting the Orienteering community worldwide to a large scale event called World Orienteering Day. It will be held the next 11th May with the goals of increasing the visibility and accessibility of orienteering to young people, increasing the number of participants both in the schools’ activities as well and in the clubs’ activities in all countries of National Federations, and to get more new countries to take part in orienteering and helping teachers to implement orienteering in a fun and educational way. The IOF also have a vision to set a new Guinness World Record, pointing the number of 250.000 young people as its challenging target. The first Newsletter is already published and can be seen at http://orienteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/WOD-2016-1-Final-version.pdf. In the meanwhile, over 40 youngsters from around the world sent in their creative entries for the competition to design the logo for World Orienteering Day. Out of these, nine finalists were selected. The winning design was made by 19-year-old Ade Anandra. He is a student from Indonesia who is interested in Graphic Design. Congratulations Ade!



Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Peter Furucz: "The community is really fighting for Virtual-O"



A trivial game? A training tool? An open door to the Orienteering World? Virtual-O is here and discover it will be the next challenge for each of us. Its creator, Peter Furucz, told to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog about a project that is both simulator and game, dream and passion.


Orienteering Canada shared WorldofO.com's post and talks about “a new orienteering game on the way”. Is Virtual-O just a game?

Peter Furucz (P. F.) - Yes and no. It will be both simulator and game. I have two different goals: I want to offer a training tool for elite orienteers and, at the same time, I would like to open orienteering to newcomers. So Virtual-O needs the best from both worlds. That’s why it will have a concept of game levels (Beginner, Normal, Elite), based on game speed, basically. The Elite level will be that top speed from fastest map in Catching Features. The Normal level will be for mortals like me. The Beginner level is self-explaining and it will provide special care for people outside of orienteering. So some good tutorial, such as some good introduction to map, compass and few navigation concepts, will be need. Then, I want to support map assistants or even some new ideas [https://virtualo.org/virtual-o-map-assistants/].

How did you get the idea?

P. F. - I wanted to create games from the first moment I was learning programming. I’m from an orienteering family, so when I was thinking about some indie game project, it was natural to create something that I know thoroughly. I knew orienteering, people from orienteering and what I wanted from simulator. And it’s much easier to create something that you know and you want it too… Still, I’ve tried a similar concept on developing some plugin for training software.

Comparing Virtual-O with Catching Features, a well-known game within the orienteering community, what are the main differences?

P. F. - Better graphics, which is natural considering the age of Catching Features. Then I’ve been trying to learn from Catching Features’ weaknesses, some design concepts of converter game, etc. I hope that big difference is that I’m working with the community. I’ve been communicating everything on Facebook forum. My research, mine ideas, also my doubts. So people are able to shape Virtual-O. In the meanwhile, new features are emerging like Kocbach’s map handling. Other features, like running model and compass physics, will be better to.

Still I’m trying, at least, maintain “compatible” handling of Virtual-O with Catching Features. So people that know Catching Features will feel at home in Virtual-O. I hope that real life changer will be that special care for newcomers to orienteering (map assistants, future concept of map handling with mouse gestures and more?). And I’m pretty sure that LIDAR based terrains are a real revolution for the orienteering simulator.

Following your work progressing via Facebook, on the group Virtual-O Early Access, we could feel a lot of passion on it but also lots of fun. Would you like to describe, since the beginning, the most important steps of all process?

P. F. - In fact this is my second try of creating an orienteering simulator. At first try I was building my own graphics engine, creating an OCAD converter, etc. I have ended it after some time, concluding that to create your own engine wasn’t a good decision. And my second - and last (laughs) - try was using the Unity engine (I have used some parts from first try). I’m using C# for scripting and it’s really cool, it’s pure joy just to work on Virtual-O. The game engines’ development has progressed so much. I don’t know how to describe it. But it simply excites me to apply the latest technology in programming and game development. That’s Virtual-O’s base soul. I’m basically creating it for myself, trying to improving it with the community. And if it could be something bigger or even have commercial success, then it would mean that I could dedicate 100% of my time to something that fulfills me.

How important was the feedback you received from group members? Were there some persons deserving a special word for their ideas and support?

P. F. - I don’t like the idea of choosing someone in particular, as so many people helped me to make Virtual-O better. And the community is really incredible. People take it really seriously; they are fighting for their feature etc. It’s really cool. But I simply must mention Jan Kocbach. Without his support and accurate feedback, Virtual-O would be a different project and simply worse. Also, Øystein Jaren Samuelsen. He has, literally, saved the Greenlight campaign.

Looking now to the final product, how proud you feel about your work?

P. F. – Humm!... I must say that it’s not the final product, yet. A long journey is still ahead. It will start with the Early Access (I hope that it will be on Steam). I would like to conclude the first phase of single player Virtual-O with some, for example, five base maps complete. Then, if people will ask for more and there will be enough interest from players, the work on multiplayer and public or some “hybrid” OCAD converter will start. Now, the converter is living inside of the game engine as it was much easier to start with it there.

I don’t have much time to be proud of Virtual-O, but today I’m very proud, because the community is really fighting for Virtual-O. Virtual-O current rank in Steam Greenlight is 43rd in competition of 2072 games. That’s really incredible for such a specific game. And it’s still climbing up…

You’ve mentioned Virtual-O Steam Greenlight campaign before. Can you explain what is it and what are your expectations from the Orienteering community?

P. F. - Steam is a big digital distribution platform for games and software. It has more than 125 million active users worldwide. It’s, simply, a system where users of Steam choose their favorite projects. And Steam will choose games that will be greenlight / distributed, based on users’ votes, quality of project, etc. It looks like now it’s a time, when a relatively small count of “Yes” votes is enough to get Greenlight (probably 1500+ votes means relative good chance). I think it could be, practically, a life changer for Virtual-O and for orienteering itself, too. It’s a way how to get orienteering to the masses. The success will give us a chance to introduce orienteering to whole world. Another important thing is that Steam is a proved digital distribution platform. So, instantly, with Virtual-O distributed there, we get system for downloading, automatic updating of game, licensing system, achievements model, taxes, etc. Madly complex things would be solved instantly. And that will give me more time for development of Virtual-O itself and a better user experience for you.

Last, but not least, who are you, Peter?

P. F. - I’m 32 years old, born and living in Bratislava, Slovakia. I have family, wife, one son and a second son on the way. I was doing orienteering on some competitive level when I was 15-18 years old. It was nothing big, a few medals from Slovak Championships. Okay, exactly three, I know it because my 2 years old son is often playing with them (laughs). But I’ve been always better in theory of training and map technique… Currently, I’m working as a Siebel consultant/developer so I’m simply fulfilling my dreams and ambitions with Virtual-O.


To know more, please visit Virtual-O's webpage at https://virtualo.org/. And don't forget to left your “Yes” on the Virtual-O Steam Greenlight campaign, at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=604035651.

Joaquim Margarido