Monday, October 31, 2016

Jens Andersson: "The good thing with TrailO is that you can enjoy this type of advanced orienteering regardless of your physical shape"



Jens Andersson won, last weekend, the Swedish Night PreO title, closing the best way a successful season. A season that is passed in review along a pleasant talk and that helps us to know a little better the athlete and the man.


I would start by asking you to present yourself? Who is Jens Andersson?

Jens Andersson (J. A.) - I was born 1966 in Degerfors, a small town in Värmland, Sweden. My dad started to do orienteering (Foot-O) in the early 1970’s, I also tried it and I was hooked immediately. My mom and little brother also joined soon and since then we have been a “hardcore orienteering family”. From the very beginning I was talented technically but I had to train hard to improve my running speed in order to have a chance on easier courses. I gradually improved and my peak as a junior was my 4th place in the Nordic Champs 1986. As a senior I managed to get some individual top-10 places in the Swedish Champs 1989-1990 and also won gold in the Swedish Relay Championships 1990 with my club OK Tyr. We also won the 10-mila Relay twice, 1989 and 1990. However, I never qualified for any international championship as a senior and when I graduated from University as a Chemical Engineer in 1991 and started to work full time it was difficult to maintain the focus and training time needed to stay in the top.

Since 1990 I am married with Carolina, also a former elite orienteer and we have a son and a daughter. After 15 years living in the small town Norrtälje, 70 km north of Stockholm, we have recently moved back to Värmland where I grew up. We have built a new house by a beautiful lake, far out in the forest. Professionally I am a sales person in an international Chemicals Distribution company, meaning quite a lot of travelling. When I am not working I relax by spending time with my family and by doing all four orienteering disciplines. I also try to keep myself in shape by doing cross-country skiing, cycling, ice-skating, swimming, triathlon etc.

How did you meet the TrailO and why your interest for such a “quiet” discipline?

J. A. - I had understood from the publicity during WOC in Sweden 2004 that TrailO was no longer only for handicapped people. So I became interested to try it since I have always been good at map-reading and interested in maps. During O-Ringen 2009 I was injured in my leg after three days so I decided to try TrailO for the remaining days. After these two days I understood that this was a discipline that suited me perfectly and I was curious to see what level I could reach.

What's the best part in TrailO?

J. A. - I love detailed and challenging orienteering, both in FootO and TrailO. However, the good thing with TrailO is that you can enjoy this type of advanced orienteering regardless of your physical shape. I also like the equality aspect of TrailO – no gender or age restrictions. In this discipline you get the chance to compete against old childhood idols like Sigurd Daehli and, at the same time, against young talented women like Marit Wiksell and Iva Lovrec.

Could you tell me something about the first steps?

J. A. - During my first year I did some really good races but there were also total disasters, mostly since I did not really understand how the correct positions on the objects corresponded with the control description. I also often punched too many Z’s in the beginning and I had to adjust my own “zero tolerance”. When I won the Elite class in O-Ringen 2010 I felt that it was a breakthrough for me. One week after that I won the Public competition in ETOC in Bollnäs which had the same controls as the “Real” championship class. My result would have given me a 4th place in the Open Class in ETOC, beating world class athletes like Kontkanen, Fredholm, Gerdtman, Jullum etc. Then I knew I could go far in this discipline.

Your results along 2016 are quite impressive. How did you prepare the season?

J. A. - I was very uncertain on my status before this season. My family’s new house project took a lot of time in 2015 so I did not compete as much as needed and it affected my position in the Swedish ranking list. Nevertheless, since I did quite well in some of my main competitions in 2015 (1st in O-Ringen, 2nd in Swedish Champs) I hoped to qualify at least for the ETOC in 2016. At that stage I had no real ambitions to qualify for WTOC in Sweden, that would just be a bonus.

Unfortunately, it became clear that also the 2016 season would mean private restrictions on the number of competitions for me. The house project continued to take a lot of time and I got a new job with more travelling than before. Somewhat disappointing, especially since I knew that I need to compete frequently to maintain a high level at the time controls. In the end I was a little bit surprised, but very glad that I managed to qualify both for ETOC and WTOC this year.

How hard is to get a place in the Swedish TrailO team?

J. A. - Extremely hard, especially in the Open class. I think we are approximately 10 athletes having the ability to make it to the podium in the Open class of any International Championship.

Did you expect the PreO bronze medal in the European Championships? What memories do you keep from the competition?

J. A. - I can’t say that I expected a medal but I knew that I had a good chance when I managed to qualify. From the bulletins I thought that the type of orienteering would suit me fine, lots of small hills, depressions and detailed form lines. I also knew that the courses would be demanding with short time limits and many controls. In my last ETOC and WTOC 2014 I was very nervous and that affected my performance in a bad way. This time I told myself that I am as good as anyone of my competitors and that I would enjoy every moment of the competitions. I actually succeeded and did not feel overly nervous at all, just the little “edge” you need to perform well.

My greatest memory from the ETOC PreO-competitions was that they were the best TrailO-competitions I have ever experienced: The competition areas were ideal and “hand-picked” exclusively for elite TrailO, the map quality was excellent and we faced fair, but demanding orienteering including the zero-controls. No “guessing”. Besides, the Sport Ident-punching, the results came directly without waiting for hours as it has been too many times before. It was also beautiful nature in the Czech mountains and I managed to get some nice running and hiking sessions during the week in Jesenik.

Are you happy with your 7th place in Strömstad, in the PreO competition?

J. A. - A 7th place in the World Championships is not bad, of course, but it was a little disappointing to be just outside the podium and also being behind all the other Swedes. However, it was entirely my own fault since I missed one of the time controls the first day.

Was the TrailO Relay a good experience?

J. A. - Yes, both in ETOC and WTOC I did really good performances myself, but unfortunately my team mates were not that lucky. I really like the Relay format, the mix of PreO and TempO. My personal opinion is that such a format could be added to the individual program as TrailO’s “middle distance” in the future.

If I asked you to choose the Trail Orienteering achievement of 2016, what would it be?

J. A. - I would say the Slovakian Relay performance in WTOC. Three perfect races, leaving all other teams without any chance at all. Really impressive!

Looking to your page on Facebook, I can see that you're also a fan of MTBO. How do you adjust your orienteering activity?

J. A. - Yes, I really enjoy doing MTBO since I love both orienteering and cycling. The special thing about MTBO is the big difference in speed depending on the track conditions and that is very difficult to read the map when the riding is rough. This means very interesting route choice problems and also the need to optimize the speed and to get the “orienteering flow” in dense path networks. It is also important to memorize as much as possible while riding on good paths/roads.

In what way can TrailO be important for the other disciplines?

J. A. - If you really want to improve as an orienteer, regardless of discipline, it is always good to train with a map in your hand and then TrailO is a good alternative, both PreO and TempO. Otherwise, I think especially ambitious Foot-O runners can improve their ability in detailed contour line orienteering by doing PreO. In addition it is also a good way of maintaining the orienteering and doing competitions even if you are injured as a foot orienteer.

Next year it will be the turn of Lithuania to host the World Trail Orienteering Championships. Are you ready to fight for a place in the Swedish team? What kind of event are you expecting?

J. A. - I really would like to qualify but unfortunately it does not look so positive for me. I am not even Top-10 in the national ranking now since I have too few good results besides ETOC and WTOC. Unfortunately, ETOC and WTOC-competitions doesn’t count in the Swedish ranking and that’s where I have my best races this year. Furthermore, I am not sure if I will have the time available to do the number of competitions needed to qualify. I’ll have to see how much travel time there will be in my new job a then see how much time that will be left for travelling to TrailO-competitions.

What are your goals for 2017?

J. A. - No specific goals for the moment, I’ll wait and see how much TrailO I’ll be able to do next year. At least I hope for a medal in the Swedish TrailO-Championships and also doing good in the Swedish MTBO masters championships. I also hope for a lot of snow this winter so I can do some SkiO also.

Are we going to see you next the TrailO family in the future?

J. A. - We'll see. You never know what the future will bring, but I'll keep on enjoying TrailO and all the other orienteering disciplines as long as I can and as long as it is fun.

Now that the season is ending, I'll ask you to make a wish to all orienteers in 2017.

J. A. - I’d like to make a wish to all TrailO-colleagues out there: Whenever you feel the urge to make a protest/complaint after a competition, please think twice! Is it really that important? Do you have a strong case? I think all these protests, arguments and jury discussions after our competitions are hurting the image of our sport as it takes hours and hours and sometimes changes the results completely. Also a message to all course setters – please, listen to experienced advisers and remove/change controls that he/she says may be questionable. Maybe a few controls less or maybe somewhat easier, but in the end it can give better competitions and save hours of jury meetings and hard feelings.

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Swedish TrailO Championships 2016: Gold for Jens Andersson, Marit Wiksell and William Rex



Three races and three different winners in the Swedish Trail Orienteering Championships 2016. Jens Andersson got the gold in the Night PreO, Marit Wiksell was the winner of the TempO competition and William Rex was the most accurate in the PreO.


The Swedish TrailO season finished this weekend with the National Championships, in Vänersborg. Organized by the clubs Vänersborgs SK and Kungälvs OK, the event called the attention of sixty athletes competing for the Night PreO, TempO and PreO national titles. The first race took place on Friday night and saw Jens Andersson (OK Roslagen) get his first individual gold in a National event. The course ended with 9 competitors with the same number of correct answers (21 out of 22), being the winner the fastest one in the timed controls. There, Jens Andersson got the gold with 26 seconds, 11 seconds faster than Magnus Sterner (Strängnäs Malmby OL), second placed. Ola Jansson (Björklinge SOK) spent 39 seconds to answer correctly the three timed tasks and reached the bronze. The first non-Swedish in this competition was the Norwegian Sigurd Dæhli (Løten OL), 9th placed with the same 21 points as the winner but all the three timed tasks missed and a score of 203 seconds.

The TempO competition took place on Saturday and counted a qualification and the Final. Marit Wiksell (Rehns BK) did a quite impressive performance during the qualification, answering the 25 tasks (5 timed stations, 5 tasks each) in 161 seconds and missing just one task. The World Champion Lars Jakob Waaler (Porsgrunn OL), from Norway, was faster than Wiksell, but answered wrongly to eight tasks and stayed out of the final. In the decisive race, Wiksell was able to manage the good advantage of more than 60 seconds over her most direct opponents, Erik Stålnacke (IFK Göteborg) and the Norwegian Geir Myhr Øien (Ringsaker OK), reaching the gold with the overall time of 304 seconds, against 363 seconds from Øien and 384 seconds from Stålnacke, the silver medalist. Jens Andersson was able to reverse the 11-second disadvantage to Martin Fredholm, reaching the bronze medal.

To finish the 2016 Swedish TrailO Championships, the PreO competition offered a challenging course with 24 tasks and the “bonus” of a timed station with three more tasks. William Rex (OK Landehof) managed to be the one answering correctly to all tasks, thus getting the gold. Eight competitors finished one point behind the winner, with Geir Myhr Øien being the fastest in the timed controls with 87 seconds, followed by Erik Lundkvist (HJS-Vansbro OK) with 103 seconds. Lundkvist got the silver medal, while the bronze went to Desiree Rex (OK Landehof) with 109 seconds in the timed controls.


Results

Night PreO
1. Jens Andersson (OK Roslagen) 21 points / 26 seconds
2. Magnus Sterner (Strängnäs Malmby OL) 21 points / 37 seconds
3. Ola Jansson (Björklinge SOK) 21 points / 39 seconds
4. William Rex (OK Landehof) 21 points / 40 seconds
5. Christian Enberg (Linköpings OK) 21 points / 44 seconds

TempO
1. Marit Wiksell (Rehns BK) 304 seconds
nc Geir Myhr Øien (Ringsaker OK NOR) 363 seconds
2. Erik Stålnacke (IFK Göteborg) 384 seconds
3. Jens Andersson (OK Roslagen) 443 seconds
4. Martin Fredholm (OK Linné) 447 seconds
5. Robert Jakobsson (Tidaholm SOK Sisu) 512 seconds

PreO
1. William Rex (OK Landehof) 24 points / 177 seconds
nc Geir Myhr Øien (Ringsaker OK NOR) 23 points / 87 seconds
2. Erik Lundkvist (HJS-Vansbro OK) 23 points / 103 seconds
3. Desiré Rex (OK Landehof) 23 points / 109 seconds
4. Marit Wiksell (Rehns BK) 23 points / 149 seconds
nc Sigurd Dæhli (Løten OL) 23 points / 169 seconds
5. Erik Stålnacke (IFK Göteborg) 23 points / 169 seconds

Complete results at https://preoresultat.se/.

[Photo: Marit Wiksell / facebook.com]

Joaquim Margarido

SAOC 2016: Pasturiza and Loesch got triumphs in the Long Distance



Leandro Pasturiza and Susen Loesch were stronger in the Long Distance of the 2016 South American Orienteering Championships. The stage took place in the challenging terrains of Peñuelas Lake National Reserve, attracting more than four hundred competitors.


To the 2016 South American Orienteering Championships' second day, the competitors had to displace 20 km southeast from Valparaiso, to the beautiful scenery of Peñuelas Lake National Reserve. Scoring for the IOF World Ranking, the Long Distance stage was contested by 407 athletes from 13 different countries. The Brazilian Leandro Pasturiza (COSAM) got a two-minute winning over the German Felix Späth (s-sport Team SUI), finishing the 11,7 km of his course in 1:15:28. Another Brazilian, Sidnaldo Farias Sousa (ADAAN) got the third place in 1:18:10, while the fourth placed was the Chilean Jorge Arriagada Olivos (FEDEM), with more 4:32 than the winner. Last year's South American champion in this distance, the Brazilian Ironir Albert Ev got the fifth place, near five minutes after Pasturiza.

Following her victory in the Sprint, the German Susen Loesch could taste another winning in the Long Distance with the time of 1:23:47. The Brazilians got the next nine positions in the final standings, with Leticia da Silva Saltori (ADAAN) doing a great race and finishing second with more 2:48 than the winner. Franciely de Siqueira Chiles (COSM) got the third place, near ten minutes after Loesch. Jocelyn Yañez Zambrano (ABC Trail) was the best Chilean representative, getting the 11th place with the time of 2:18:23. In the youth classes, the Brazilian Vinicius Matheus Wosch (COGA), Larissa Schneider (COSC) and João Pedro Jaber (ADAAN) and the Chilean Ximena Hormazabal Ulloa ( APOLINAV) got their second win in the SAOC 2016, in the M18, W18, M20 and W20 classes, respectively.


Results

Men Elite
1. Leandro Pasturiza (COSAM) 1:15:28 (+ 00:00)
2. Felix Späth (s-sport Team SUI) 1:17:32 (+ 02:04)
3. Sidnaldo Farias Sousa (ADAAN) 1:18:10 (+ 02:42)
4. Jorge Arriagada Olivos (FEDEM) 1:20:00 (+ 04:32)
5. Ironir Alberto Ev (COSM) 1:20:25 (+ 04:57)

Women Elite
1. Susen Loesch (s-sport Team SUI) 1:23:47 (+ 00:00)
2. Leticia da Silva Saltori (ADAAN) 1:26:35 (+ 02:48)
3. Franciely de Siqueira Chiles (COSM) 1:33:14 (+ 09:27)
4. Edineia Roniak dos Santos (COGA) 1:46:43 (+ 22:56)
5. Camila Cortinhas (COSM) 1:48:57 (+ 25:10)


Joaquim Margarido
  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

SAOC 2016: Araujo and Loesch won the Sprint



Proclaimed as “the biggest Orienteering event in the Americas”, the South American Orienteering Championships started yesterday in Valparaiso, Chile. Carlos de Araujo and Susen Loesch won the Sprint race in the event's kick off.


The 2016 South American Orienteering Championships started in the Chilean city of Valparaíso. Along three days, will be held the South American titles of Sprint, Middle Distance and Long Distance in the Elite (M/W21) and Youth (M/W18 and M/W20) classes and also the Latin Countries Cup. Almost five hundred athletes representing Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay, Spain, Italy, Germany, Finland, Norway and Sweden entered the event, which is organized by the Chilean Orienteering Federation, International Orienteering Federation and Club de Orientación Prismaventura

In his second season in the Elite class, Carlos Henrique de Souza Araujo (COGA) reached the first big result of his career so far by winning the Sprint that opened the SAOC 2016. Scoring for the IOF World Ranking, the race in the Men Elite class was hardly contested, with the top five finishing separated by 44 seconds. Araujo spent 18:17 to fulfill his course, with the German Felix Späth (s-sport Team SUI) being second, 9 seconds after the winner. Leandro Pasturiza (COSAM), the Brazilian Orienteering champion in 2016, got the third position with more 17 seconds than Araujo. A word to the presence on podium of Christian Cuelho Braga (FUO), Uruguay, 5th placed with the time of 19:01 and also to the Chilean Jorge Arriagada Olivos (FEDEM), the best athlete from the host country, who finished in the 9th position, exactly 2 minutes after the winner.

In the women's race, the German Susen Loesch got a comfortable win in 17:12 and a lead of 2:24 over Franciely Siqueira Chiles who recently was crowned Brazilian Orienteering Champion 2016. Major name of SAOC's previous edition after winning all races, the Brazilian Leticia Saltori (ADAAN) couldn't get better than the third place this time, with more 3:17 than the winner. In the youth classes, the Brazilian Vinicius Matheus Wosch (COGA), Larissa Schneider (COSC) and João Pedro Jaber (ADAAN) were the winners in the M18, W18 and M20 classes, respectively, while the triumph in the M20 class fell to Chilean Ximena Hormazabal Ulloa ( APOLINAV). Finally, a look on the Latin Countries Cup, which involves a total of 7 nations in this edition. With 39 points, Chile leads the standings at the end of the first stage, followed by Brazil and Uruguay with 36 and 24 points, respectively.


Results

Men Elite
1. Carlos Henrique Souza de Araujo (COGA) 18:17 (+ 00:00)
2. Felix Späth (s-sport Team SUI) 18:26 (+ 00:09)
3. Leandro Pasturiza (COSAM) 18:34 (+ 00:17)
4. Everton Daniel Markus (COSM) 18:48 (+ 00:31)
5. Christian Cuelho Braga (FUO) 19:01 (+ 00:44)

Women Elite
1. Susen Loesch (s-sport Team SUI) 17:12 (+ 00:00)
2. Franciely de Siqueira Chiles (COSM) 19:36 (+ 02:24)
3. Leticia da Silva Saltori (ADAAN) 20:29 (+ 03:17)
4. Camila Cortinhas (COSM) 21:25 (+ 04:13)
5. Elaine Lenz (ADAAN) 21:32 (+ 04:20)


[Photos: saoc2016 / instagram.com]

Joaquim Margarido
  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Croatia-Italy-Slovenia TrailO Cup: Contribution for the event's history



The 2016 edition of a major Trail Orienteering competition, the annual Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup, finished last Sunday with victory going to the Italian Remo Madella. Today we meet Krešo Keresteš to learn about the history of a competition that has played a big part in the evolution of Trail Orienteering in that part of the Old Continent.


The final competition of the 2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup took place in Cerkno, Slovenia. This year the Cup had 16 stages (6 in Croatia, 4 in Italy and 6 in Slovenia), attracting a total of 99 competitors from 13 different countries. Despite missing the last stage, Remo Madella was the big winner with a total of 591.98 points, finishing ahead of the Croatian Ivica Bertol, the Slovenian Krešo Keresteš, winner of the first two editions, and the Slovakian Ján Furucz, the winner in 2015.

For those less familiar with TrailO, it must be said that these names are real stars of this discipline and a regular presence on European and World podiums. If we add the names of Tomislav Varnica, Dušan Furucz, Emil Kacin, Zdenko Horjan, Ivo Tišljar, Iva Lovrec, Libor Forst, Zoltán Mihaczi, Marco Giovannini, Alessio Tenani or Damir Gobec as some of the competitors that occupied the Cup’s top-20 placings this year, we can fully see the value and the scope of this series of competitions.


How it all started

A Trail Orienteering pioneer in Slovenia, a powerful backer of the Cup and one of its current coordinators – along with the Italian Susy De Pieri and the Croatian Ivo Tišljar – Krešo Keresteš shares some of his memories, helping us to understand how it all started. “My first encounter with TrailO was in 1992 at O-Ringen, the Swedish 5-Days, in Södertälje. I tried it when my Swedish friend, Kalle Rikander from IFK Södertälje, organised it and he persuaded me to have a go,” Krešo remembers. The Swedish experience was significant, awakening in Krešo a huge curiosity: “My interest in TrailO grew when I saw TrailO competitors next to FootO competitions.”

The years passed and the seed of TrailO remained passive, until the day when … “Niko Čižek, my co-worker at that time, once asked me about my hobbies and he found that Orienteering could be interesting for a disabled person like him. He wanted to try it and, after a few training sessions, he decided that it was time for a real competition,” says Krešo. The closest event was in Sweden, O-Ringen 1999, where Niko won three stages and the competition overall in the B class. His wife Anica won the last event and Krešo finished 8th in the Elite class. Despite this positive experience, the “click” that would lead to the launch of Trail Orienteering in Slovenia was still missing.


18th September 2004: a historic day

The year 2004 had arrived and, with it, the Republic of Slovenia became part of the European Union. Winds of progress blew even stronger, affecting all sectors of society and calling attention to the need to create equal opportunities for all. It was in this year that the Sports Union of Ljubljana organised sports events focused on people with disabilities, requesting the support of several Federations. This was just the “click” that Krešo was missing, and it triggered a series of events that proved to be very successful. The first was the organisation of the first TrailO competition in Slovenia (Park Tivoli, Ljubljana, 18th September 2004). Three months later OK Trzin was formed, a club which is now a keystone in Trail Orienteering. Then in 2005 came the start of the Slovenian TrailO League.

But it was not only in Slovenia that things were starting to move. Croatia was represented at the first World Trail Orienteering Championships in Västerås, Sweden through Ivo Tišljar. When he returned to his country, Ivo not only organised a promotional event in Zagreb (Dubravkin, autumn 2004), but also the first official TrailO event in Croatia, the 1st Feud Cup (Dotrščina, in Zagreb, 7th May 2005).


Union creates strength

The 2005 Slovenian TrailO League was a bit limited in scope, with only three competitions, and in Croatia there were only two competitions in that year. So contact between Slovenia and Croatia was made, with the goal of creating a joint league to enhance each others’ organisational efforts and increase the levels of participation. Krešo remembers: “After some discussions in 2005 we founded the Croatia-Slovenia TrailO Cup at a meeting in Domžale on 6th February 2006, where members of OK Trzin (Niko Čižek and Krešo Keresteš) and OK Vihor (Jasminka Cindrić and Zdenko Horjan) were present. At the meeting the rules were written, and in 2006 the Croatia-Slovenia TrailO Cup was a reality with eight competitions, four in Slovenia and four in Croatia.”

In 2008, the year before the World Trail Orienteering Championships in Hungary, the Hungarians joined the Trophy, but their contribution didn’t last more than one year. In 2010 the Italians from the most north-easterly province, Friuli Venezia Giulia, joined the Croatians and Slovenians and the next year the whole of Italy came in. The Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup started in 2011and has kept the same format ever since. The rules are simple and all are welcome, scoring for the Ranking whether belonging to one of the three host countries or not. Each country (Croatia, Italy and Slovenia) can organise between three and six competitions. The best three results achieved in each country are considered for the final Ranking, but only the six best overall count. At the final competition there is a prize-giving ceremony, rewarding the best competitors in Elite Open, Elite Paralympic, Elite Juniors and A class.

Year Trophy Winner Country
2006 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2007 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2008 CRO-HUN-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2009 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2010 CRO-FVG-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2011 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2012 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2013 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2014 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2015 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Ján Furucz SVK
2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA

The final standings in the 2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup can be seen HERE

Joaquim Margarido


[See the original article at http://orienteering.org/the-croatia-italy-slovenia-trail-orienteering-cup/. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Infante's TempO: Inês Domingues finishes the season the best way



Aveiro was the venue of the last Trail Orienteering event of the season in Portugal. Stronger in both stages, Inês Domingues was the winner of the Infante's TempO.


Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal”, hosted the last event of the Portuguese Trail Orienteering Cup Invacare 2016. Spread by two stages, the Infante's TempO had the participation of 23 competitors and the organizational signature of the Clube de Orientação de Estarreja, with Nuno Pires as the course setter. The event included a spectator station – the last one - and the information was provided “live” by an app developed by Libor Forst and translated into Portuguese. Also deserves to be highlighted the fact that four out of five elements of the organizing crew were students from a school of Aveiro that, for this purpose, had been training in the Physical Education classes along the last month.

With six stations and a set of five tasks each, the first stage took place on the Campus of the University of Aveiro and soon Inês Domingues (COC) started to reveal herself as a major contender for the overall winning. Even missing a large number of tasks, Domingues could compensate the damages with excellent runtimes around 5.5 seconds per answer, which, at the end of the first stage, worth an advantage of 5.5 seconds over Luís Gonçalves (CPOC) and 68.5 seconds over Edgar Domingues (COC). The afternoon stage promised a hard fight for the victory between the top two competitors, but the truth is that Inês Domingues was practically faultless. Her running time increased slightly, standing now close to 7 seconds per answer, but this corresponded to a decrease in the number of wrong answers, which made of her not only the fastest but the most accurate. Luís Gonçalves spent in this stage more 160 seconds (!) than the winner, eventually falling to the third place in the final standings, 3.5 seconds after Edgar Domingues. Cláudio Tereso (ATV) and the Spanish Santiago Pérez (COMA) closed the podium, in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.



Further information and detailed results can be found at http://aveirocityrace2016.ori-estarreja.pt/.

[Photos: Nuno Pires]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Croatia-Italy-Slovenia TrailO Cup: Bertol wins in Cerkno



With the victory of Ivica Bertol, ended in Cerkno, Slovenia, the 2016 Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup. The results in the last stage didn't change with the top of the overall standings, which had Remo Madella as the big winner, achieving his fourth title in the last five editions.


It was with great expectation that the Trail Orienteering fans followed the last stage of the 2016 Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup. After 15 stages distributed by the three host countries, we attended Cerkno with the doubt regarding the overall winner. The Italian Remo Madella was in the lead, but his absence in the last stage put maximum pressure on the Slovak Ján Furucz, which task was everything but easy: To get the overall winning, he “just” had to win the last stage or, at least, stand behind the winner by a difference not far from ten seconds. But when we talk about Ján Furucz we are talking about the gold medalist in the TrailO Relay of the recent World Championships, second placed in the TempO final of the 2015 World Championships and winner of the Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup last year. So, he was the favourite!

With the “intrincate” name of TempO, DP, SPOL, CIS, the event took place last Sunday, was organized by the OK Azimut and the course setter was Emil Kacin. The 26 athletes that headed Cerkno faced five timed stations, with six tasks each. A brief analysis of the race allows to realize that Ján Furucz was far from his best days. Despite being the fastest in the first four stations, Furucz missed four tasks and only a miracle could reverse the disadvantage of 81 seconds for the Croatian Ivica Bertol and 71 seconds for the Slovenian Krešo Keresteš, first and second classified, at the start for the last timed station. A similar performance of the three competitors in the final station eventually left everything in the same way, so Remo Madella, in the Canadian Rockies, more than 8,000 km away from Cerkno, could enjoy his fourth win in the last five editions of the trophy. One last note just to highlight Krešo Keresteš, getting here the Slovenian TempO title, and to the Croatian Iva Lovrec (OK Vihor) and the Italian Piergiorgio Zancanaro (ASD Padova Orienteering), winners of the 2016 Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup in the Junior and Paralympic classes, respectively.


Results
 
TempO, DP, SPOL, CIS
 
1. Ivica Bertol (OK Vihor CRO) 208 seconds
2. Krešo Keresteš (OK Trzin SLO) 216 seconds
3. Ján Furucz (Farmaceut Bratislava SVK) 294 seconds
4. Ivo Tišljar (OK Orion CRO) 298 seconds
4. Susy De Pieri (Eridano Adventure A.S.D. ITA) 298 seconds
6. Zdenko Horjan (OK Vihor CRO) 320 seconds

CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup 2016
Final Standings
 
1. Remo Madella (A.S.D. Vivaio ITA) 591.98 points
2. Ivica Bertol (OK Vihor CRO) 590.93 points
3. Krešo Keresteš (OK Trzin SLO) 590.47 points
4. Ján Furucz (Farmaceut Bratislava SVK) 588.83 points
5. Tomislav Varnica (OK Vihor CRO) 580.90 points
6. Dušan Furucz (Farmaceut Bratislava SVK) 579.67 points
7. Emil Kacin (OK Azimut SLO) 573.53 points
8. Zdenko Horjan (OK Vihor CRO) 568.42 points
9. Ivo Tišljar (OK Orion CRO) 555.07 points
10. Susy De Pieri (Eridano Adventure A.S.D. ITA) 549.52 points

[Photo courtesy of Krešo Keresteš]

Joaquim Margarido
 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Marina Reiner: "I'm still learning a lot"



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!

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Portugal City Race 2016: Vesanto and Karklina won in Aveiro



The second edition of the Portugal City Race came to the end. Held in Aveiro, the last stage saw Anssi Vesanto and Elina Karklina reach the top of the podium. Maikel Rodriguez and Carolina Delgado were the winners of the overall standings.


Adapting to the Portuguese scale a successful model in Europe, the Portugal City Race met, in 2016, its second edition. The event started in Barcelos, on 13th March, extending over seven months to the cities of Braga, Vila do Conde, Viseu, Leiria, Águeda, Figueira da Foz and Porto, to finish today in the city of Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal”, in a stage organized by the Clube de Orientação de Estarreja. Involving in the organizing effort a total of eight clubs, the Portugal City Race 2016 recorded 2200 athletes in the nine steps scoring to the event, to whom we must add close to 1700 participants in other activities, which included, in addition to the main stage, night races, Adapted Orienteering and Trail Orienteering.

Winning the first three stages of the Portugal City Race 2016, the Spanish Maikel Rodriguez (Budiñoraid) saw a successful trajectory interrupted in the following two stages by the Portuguese Tiago Gingão Leal (GD4C), winner of the Portugal City Race 2015. Although 100% successful, the participation of the Portuguese stopped there, opening to Rodriguez the chance of a comfortable triumph and that turned out to be entirely deserved. In the final stage, in Aveiro, Rodriguez finished in the second place with a time of 54:17 and two minutes after the winner, the Finnish Anssi Vesanto (Espoon Suunta). The Latvian Elina Karklina (Single) won the female Senior class with a time of 43:05, leaving Carolina Delgado (GD4C) in the second place, with more 24 seconds. With this result, Delgado took definitively the lead of the female ranking, ensuring the victory for the second year in a row. In terms of ranking, a total of 604 athletes scored for this year's Portugal City Race, distributed by 12 competition classes and one formation class.


Results

Aveiro City Race

Seniors M
1. Anssi Vesanto (Espoon Suunta) 52:17 (+ 00:00)
2. Maikel Rodriguez (Budiñoraid) 54:17 (+ 02:00)
3. Edgar Domingues (COC) 56:04 (+ 03:47)
4. Luis Leite (GD4C) 58:24 (+ 06:07)
5. Miguel Nóbrega (CO Viseu – Natura) 1:00:20 (+ 08:03)

Seniors W
1. Elina Karklina (Individual LAT) 43:05 (+ 00:00)
2. Carolina Delgado (GD4C) 43:29 (+ 00:24)
3. Joana Fernandes (.COM) 48:12 (+ 05:07)
4. Susana Almeida (CO Viseu – Natura) 52:44 (+ 09:39)
5. Daniela Alves (AD Cabroelo) 53:55 (+ 10:50)


Portugal City Race 2016
Final standings

Seniors M
1. Maikel Rodriguez (Budiñoraid) 578.7 points
2. Miguel Nóbrega (CO Viseu – Natura) 491.9 points
3. Carlos Viana (. COM) 454.9 points
4. Vasco Vinhas (Individual) 453.5 points
5. Ricardo Brito (OriMarão) 432.5 points

Seniors W
1. Carolina Delgado (GD4C) 490.1 points
2. Sara Miranda (Individual) 473.6 points
3. Céu Costa (GD4C) 468.8 points
4. Zélia Viana (.COM) 443.5 points
5. Carla Sousa (GD4C) 394.6 points

Other classes
Junior M/W – Pedro Silva (AD Cabroelo) and Eduarda Moreira (AD Cabroelo)
Juvenil M/W – Rui Silva (AD Cabroelo) and Ana Castro (NAST)
Veterans1 M/W – Joaquim Sousa (COC) and Raquel Ferreira (Individual)
Veterans2 M/W – Jorge Silva (Amigos da Montanha) and Aida Correia (GD4C)
Veterans3 M/W – Costa Leite (Montepio Geral) and Beatriz Leite (Montepio Geral)
Formation – Alexandra Serra Campos (.COM)

All information at http://www.cityrace.pt/.

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, October 22, 2016

WTOC 2016: United States



Always present since the first edition of the World Trail Orienteering Championships, the United States recorded in Strömstad modest results, at all similar to those achieved in 2015, in Croatia. Despite the empathy with this participation, it is clear that the United States Trail Orienteering stagnated and that, without taking action, is doomed to disappear. The word is of appreciation for the personal effort of each team member and the message encloses an appeal to renewal, adopting strategies that, once and for all, make of Trail Orienteering an attractive discipline within the American orienteers.

+ Like in 2015, Clare Durand reached the best position in the team, both in PreO and TempO.

- Trying TrailO at this level for the first time, Daniel Heimgartner didn't escape to the last position in the PreO competition, Paralympic class.


Results

TempO

Qual Blue
25. Clare Durand 375,5 seconds
35. Sharon Crawford 539 seconds

Qual Red
27. Mika Latva-Kokko 409 seconds
35. Daniel Heimgartner 766,5 seconds

PreO
Open
44. Clare Durand 41 points / 148 seconds
53. Mikka Latva-Kokko 38 points / 122 seconds
57. Sharon Crawford 38 points / 217 seconds

Para
20. David Irving 37 points / 389,5 seconds
38. Daniel Heimgartner 17 points / 410 seconds


TrailO Relay
Open
15. United States 486,5 seconds
Mika Latva-Kokko (5 points / 77 seconds)
Sharon Crawford (7 points / 119,5 seconds)
Clare Durand (6 points / 110 seconds)


Joaquim Margarido

WTOC 2016: Ukraine



Despite the second place in the TrailO Relay, Paralympic class, the Ukraine might be seen as one of the big deceptions of the Championships. After the results achieved last year, the expectations around the Ukranians' performances were quite high and, in the end, the silver in the Relay cannot mask a less good presence overall.

+ Defending in Strömstad his World title, Vladislav Vovk couldn't get better than the 5th place in the PreO, Paralympic class. Even though, he joins to the diploma a silver medal in the Relay and was, clearly, the best Ukrainian representative.

- Vitaliy Kyrychenko – also a former World Champion (Hungary, 2009) – was always far from his value. For the first time ever, he missed the presence in the TempO Final and the 23rd place in the PreO competition contrasts with the four top-10 positions in a row in the last editions of the World Trail Orienteering Championships.


Results

TempO
Qual Red
24. Vitaliy Kyrychenko 351,5 seconds


PreO
Open
23. Vitaliy Kyrychenko 44 points / 57 seconds
32. Mykola Opanasenko 43 points / 147,5 seconds
49. Anto Puhovkin 40 points / 193,5 seconds

Para
5. Vladislav Vovk 44 points / 66,5 seconds
10. Yehor Surkov 39 points / 78 seconds
22. Iryna Kulikova 35 points / 107 seconds
35. Vladislav Poznianskyi 25 points / 213 seconds


TrailO Relay
Open
14. Ukraine 441,5 seconds
Anton Puhovkin (7 points / 84,5 seconds)
Mykola Opanasenko (5 points / 49,5 seconds)
Vitaliy Kyrychenko (6 points / 127,5 seconds)

Para
2. Ukraine 402 seconds
Irina Kulikova (7 points / 97,5 seconds)
Yehor Surkov (6 points / 83 seconds)
Vladislav Vovk (6 points / 101,5 seconds)

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

IOF Athlete of the Month: Lauri Malsroos



I like to think that Lauri Malsroos has the company of his child when sharing some of the strongest impressions of his life. A life that has, for three months now, a new and valued component. His baby son is of a different generation with different opportunities, a different sense of freedom and a different level of security than the father had three decades ago. Malsroos senior is the subject of our attention in the paragraphs that follow, from his childhood through to his amazing performances in the last round of the 2016 MTB Orienteering World Cup, held a few weeks ago in Lithuania.


Name: Lauri Malsroos
Country: Estonia
Date of Birth: 7th February 1986
Place of Birth: Tallinn
Work: Estonian Air Force, helicopter pilot
Hobbies: Sport, attending Hard Rock and Metal concerts
Discipline: MTB Orienteering
Club: SK Saue Tammed
Career Highlights: World MTB Orienteering Championships: One gold medal (2014, Relay), one silver medal (2013, Sprint), two bronze medals (2013, Relay and 2015, Sprint). European MTB Orienteering Championships: One gold medal (2015, Sprint) and one silver medal (2009, Relay). World Cup Overall: 2nd (2016), 4th (2014) and 6th (2015).
IOF World Ranking: 3rd


Lauri Malsroos was born in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and he grew up in a small town on the outskirts of the city. An active child by nature, he made outdoor spaces the big stage for all his childhood play; they were spaces of freedom shared with other children of the same age.

In those times of relentless pursuit and constant discovery, the forest there, so close, exerted on Lauri an unparalleled allure. In deepest green, the brightness of the clearings matched the darkness of their shadows. At the age of 6 he was out in the forest treasure-hunting in the company of his grandfather, who then introduced him to Orienteering. Even before the age of 10 the small Lauri already needed no company or the safety of having older persons with him and, a map in his hands, was taking firm steps into the forest searching for the kites. Not that he wouldn’t play football or basketball – and skiing came much later, between 18 and 20 years old – but Orienteering has always been his favourite sport.


Soon competing abroad

As long as he can remember, Lauri always had a bike as a plaything as well. But it was only at the age of 12 that he received his first ‘real’ bike, with gears and everything, a real mountain bike. He really enjoyed using his bike, but Lauri was far from putting orienteering and biking together. The focus of his attention was on Foot Orienteering, and his investment in regular training and getting into the best physical shape meant that good results came almost naturally. In 2003, Lauri Malsroos was in the Estonian National Team that participated in the European Youth Orienteering Championships in Slovakia and in the same competition the year after in Austria. His international career continued in 2005 and 2006, in Switzerland and Lithuania respectively, competing in the Junior World Orienteering Championships. “Unfortunately I didn’t get any really good results, but I still enjoyed running with a map in those forests a lot,” Lauri remembers.

But it is also around this time that maps and bikes began to come together, for reasons that are, after all, common to a large number of mountain bike orienteers. “I had a lot of injuries in my ankle when I was young and training regularly became complicated. Since I also enjoyed riding my bike, it was just a matter of connecting the two loves,” he says. The first MTBO competitions that Lauri attended were the Estonian MTB Orienteering Championships in 2004, and he won his class by “a decent margin”, in his words. He did the same three years in a row. Every passing day, Lauri felt more and more attracted by “the balance between physical and mental effort” at a higher speed. So when he was no longer a junior, he made the decision to try MTBO at an international level. The year was 2007.


The biggest motivation was the Relay”

- Can you recall the moments before and during your first big MTBO international competition, the 2007 World MTB Orienteering Championships in Nove Mesto Na Morave?

“The Estonian MTB Orienteering Championships took place two weeks before the World Championships and my form was really good at that time. On both days I beat Margus Hallik and lost only a couple of seconds to Tõnis Erm. Both were several times in the top 6 in international championships in the previous year. So I guessed that it would be easy for me to get into the top 6 too, or at least get a top 10 place. As I found out two weeks later, it wasn’t that easy at all. I was quite disappointed with my results. But now, when I look back, a 37th place out of 100 guys wasn’t that bad at all for the first year.”

- Your first results weren’t impressive, really. And we may say almost the same about the results in the next four years. Where did you find the motivation to keep on with MTB Orienteering at the highest level?

“The biggest motivation was the Relay, because we had a good team. In 2007 I didn’t get a place in the team, but the following year I did the first leg and it was a good race. Eventually we finished in 5th place, ensuring a spot in the prize-giving ceremony. Individually I also got tenth place in the Sprint in Poland (2008), with a race with a lot of mistakes. So I realised that without mistakes good placings weren’t impossible, especially in Sprint which isn’t that demanding physically.”


The first medals

In 2012 Lauri again achieved a tenth place in the World Championships – this time in the Long Distance – and, the year after that he won his first medals, and in his home country. The silver in the Sprint and the bronze in the Relay show how much he had improved in such a short time. Maybe one of the secrets of his success was the new bike he had bought in the Spring, a 29er, a mountain bike that is built to use 700c or 622 mm ISO (inside rim diameter) wheels, resulting in an outside tyre diameter of about 29 inches. And of course he was training more and more.

- How important were the World MTBO Championships in Rakvere? What memories do you keep from the event in Estonia?

“For many years we were all waiting for the ‘home’ Championships, and we prepared a lot for the big moment. Unfortunately, seven weeks before the Championships, I crashed when I was biking in a Marathon and I broke my collarbone and had to go for surgery. The doctors recommended me not to do any sport for two months, but after the first month I had healed faster than expected and I started biking, firstly indoors. We had a small Sprint competition a couple of days before the World Championships and I could see that I was able to bike quite well. So I decided to take part, at least in the Sprint, which was held in an urban area and just one small part of the course was away from the streets. During the seven-week break I had a lot of time to rest, also mentally, and to think many things through. When I was on the Sprint start line I felt no pressure at all. To be able to start at all was already a bonus. To get the silver medal was a big satisfaction to me, even knowing that without my one and only mistake that silver could have been a gold.”


Three questions, three answers

- In Rakvere you presented yourself mostly as a sprinter. Is the Sprint your favourite distance? Why?

“When I started attending major events, I wasn’t physically strong enough to get good results in longer distances. And since I had had a lot of years as a foot orienteer, navigation was definitely my stronger side. That’s why the Sprint suited me so well. Currently, I see the same chances to get medals in any of the individual disciplines.”

- Speed is definitely one of the most important parts in this discipline. Is there a connection between your profession as a helicopter pilot and MTBO?

“There is actually quite a big connection between my job and my hobby. Since I only fly with visual contact of the ground, there is a lot of map reading there too. And the speed can be much faster than on a bike.”

- Isn’t MTB Orienteering dangerous?

“It’s a little bit dangerous, as is every sport that includes speed and adrenalin. If you are aware of the danger, conscious of your skills and try not to do anything impossible, then it’s not more dangerous than most other sports.”


MTBO in Estonia

The 2013 World MTB Orienteering Championships were also important for the development of this discipline in Estonia. “Quite important”, says Lauri, adding that “many of the youngsters trained specially for this event. Also, people could really see what MTB Orienteering is about. Since the Sprint and the Relay took place in urban areas, it was easy to reach the spectators,” he remembers.

“Currently we can’t say that the numbers continue to increase. The number of competitors attending local events in Estonia stays at around 50-100 people.” Besides the National Championships, there are just two or three other events each year. So Lauri’s opinion is that “we could have more competitions in Estonia, but the most important thing is that there should be more marketing and promotion. A lot of people go to Adventure Races and Rogaine events, but I think most of them don’t even know that there is a chance to do MTBO as well.”


A “surprisingly good” end to the season

We could see Lauri performing at his best during the final races of the current season. He won two gold medals in the World Cup Final weekend, as many as he managed to achieve during the whole of his career before these races in Lithuania, so he rates his weekend as “surprisingly good.” In the Long Distance his feelings can be described in two words: comfort and confidence. “The terrain was quite similar to what I’m used to in Estonia. I didn’t push very hard and remained concentrated on my navigation. I managed to avoid making any big mistakes, and had the power to keep my pace up until the end. On the last part I could see that it would be easy to make small mistakes, so I took safe route choices, although I knew that by racing straight I could save a couple of seconds,” says Lauri, adding that “it was definitely one of my best races ever.” And one of the best maps he has ever seen, at the same level as “the 2015 Baltic Championships in the Middle Distance, or the open terrain in the World Championships in Hungary in 2012,” he comments.

In the Middle Distance Lauri made several mistakes near the beginning of the course, and was far from thinking he could win, even after a really good second part. Nevertheless he got his second victory in a row, and talks about it as a particular moment that pleased him the most: “I didn’t lose my concentration after the mistakes in the early part of the race, and kept up my hope of victory”. In the Sprint he had a really good race, with only some small mistakes in some areas: “I thought I could win, but I couldn’t do better than coming second,” he says.

One interesting thing to note is that Lauri didn’t do much bike training during the two months between the World Championships and the World Cup Final. Some running, a couple of bike marathons and some rest were the keys to success in “a good event, especially the courses and the maps. I haven’t been biking on such good maps for a long time.” But the organisation is not exempt from criticism: “The organisers could have put some effort into the prizes. To compete for three days in a row and then get a cup and a pencil can be okay in some local events, but not in a World Cup,” in his opinion.


2017 will be my best season ever”

Looking back over the MTBO season, Lauri mentions the “epic rainy Long Distance in France, with big mountains” and “the heat in the Sprint in Portugal” as the most impressive moments. The victory in Lithuania in the second stage and the corresponding second place in the World Cup overall was Lauri’s best moment of the season. The worst? “The 15th control in Portugal, in the Sprint race” where he lost nearly two minutes and (maybe) the silver medal.

- When we talk about the 2016 season, are we talking about your best season ever?

“That’s a difficult question. I have had four really good seasons so far, with something special in each one of them. In the 2013 World Championships in Estonia, two medals despite my late injury. In 2014 the Relay gold in Poland, which we had aimed for for seven years with the same guys. Two individual medals in 2015, including the European title in the Sprint. And now 2nd place overall in the 2016 World Cup. But no, I believe that 2017 will be my best season ever!”


Gold is the goal

Talking about the new season, Lauri is already feeling some good vibes about next year’s World Championships, which will take place in Lithuania. “Something similar to the World Cup in Kaunas, with really challenging terrain and a Sprint with a lot of controls demanding quick decisions” are Lauri’s expectations. But he has also started to set some goals: “Of course, my main goal is to get an individual gold, the distance doesn’t matter. Perhaps gold in the Long Distance could taste even better, because Tõnis Erm doesn’t have that,” he says with a good laugh.

About the other World Cup races – the first round in Austria and the European Championships in France – Lauri’s plans are focused on giving his best. “I expect some epic terrain, both technically and physically. I won’t think about the World Cup overall until the final races,” he says. But he hopes to win medals and to keep a position in the IOF World Ranking top 10: “it doesn’t matter if it’s the 3rd or the 7th place.”


It’s more difficult to reach a podium place now than it was ten years ago”

- How do you see MTBO in general? This was your tenth season at the highest level, and for sure you have a perfect idea about how Orienteering has improved. Are we going in the right direction?

“Yes, I do think we’re going in the right direction. We now have more athletes who can win medals, and I believe it’s more difficult to reach a podium place now than it was ten years ago. But I would like to see more than 100 men and some 70-80 women competing again, and also more nations and bigger teams attending the Championships.”

- If you had the power, would you change anything?

“I’m more a competitor than an organiser, I guess. So at the moment, no ideas for change.”


Some final thoughts

The interview is ending, and Lauri’s thoughts again go through the status of MTBO in his country. “Things could be better with the youngsters, but there are some guys and girls who could do well in the future,” he says, while planning his winter-time enjoying himself doing sport in wild terrain.

Are we going to see Lauri orienteering at this level for the next ten years? The answer is quite sensible, his eyes fixed on his son’s face, quietly asleep: “I’ll take one year at a time. I’ll concentrate only on next year,” he ends.

Text and photo: Joaquim Margarido


[See the original article at http://orienteering.org/athlete-of-the-month-lauri-malsroos/. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]