Friday, March 31, 2017

Two or three things I know about it...



1. Santiago do Cacém, one of the five Municipalities of Alentejo Coast, hosts this weekend the third edition of the Costa Alentejana MTBO Trophy. Organized by the Clube de Orientação e Aventura do Litoral Alentejano, Clube da Natureza de Alvito, Santiago do Cacém Municipality, Portuguese Orienteering Federation and International Orienteering Federation, the event has to offer a Middle Distance stage and a Long Distance stage, both scoring for the IOF World MTB Orienteering Ranking, and also a Sprint race (Open) along with the National Championships of Relay. This will be the second round of the 2016/2017 World Masters Series and the 2017 Women Iberian Championships. The start field promises an interesting duel between the best Portuguese and Spanish MTBO'ers. The Portuguese Davide Machado, João Ferreira and Luís Barreiro will face the Spanish Ángel Garcia Garcia, David Toll Clos and David Tarres, in the Men Elite. In the Women Elite, the fight will be between Susana Pontes, Ana Filipa Silva, Diana Moreira and Noémia Magalhães, from the Portuguese side, against the Spanish Maria del Mara Delgado Gonzalez, Luisa Felpeto Gonzalez and Ana Varela. The British Keith Dawson, the Danish Joergen Nielsen or the Estonain Riivo Roose are also names that will attend the event. Further information can be found at http://iiicamtbo.coala.com.pt.

2. Representatives of the different regions of France met last weekend in Paris to elect the new Direction team of the French Orienteering Federation for the next four years. After having voted the members of the director committee, the representatives validated their new President (on the proposal of the Director Committee). Michel Ediar was re-elected for four years as President of the FFCO. Yves Boehm, Agnes Eudier, Marie-Claudine Perrin and Jean-Philippe Stefanini, who followed Bernard Mortellier as Secretary-General. After the announcement of the results, Michel Ediar thanked the representatives of the regional leagues for their confidence and took the opportunity to express his wish to continue his collaboration with the current National Technical Director Marie-Violaine Palcau before to specify the strategic axes of the new four-year term that will be built around high level, youth and development, as well as events, the main objective being to further develop the activity of the Federation throughout the National territory.

3. Orienteering is a sport that Canadians know and are excited about. Knowing this, the Canadian Orienteering Federation has presented his Vision, Mission and Core Objectives in order to develop, promote and coordinate the sport of orienteering in Canada for all ages and at all levels of participation. Inspiring Canadians to embrace the joy of orienteering is the vision, which lies driving growth through innovation, quality programming and partnerships; leading and governing through organizational excellence and sound business practices; developing and delivering high quality events and competitions at all levels; having active, engaged and well-trained officials, coaches, and other volunteers; having viable and active provincial and territorial associations and clubs and supporting the elite athletes in pursuing their goals while they support orienteering as ambassadors and role models for our sport. The full document can be read at http://www.orienteering.ca/2017/03/orienteering-canada-vision-mission-and-core-objectives/.

4. With the accomplishment of the 2017 Lipica TrailO, the first Ranking of 2017 Croatia-Italy-Slovenia TrailO Cup is published. The Swedish Lennart Wahlgren (Rehns BK) leads the standings with a total of 193.05 points. The Italian Remo Madella (ASD Vivaio) follows in the second place with 192.84 points, while the third place is occupied by another Italian, Alessio Tenani (Polisportiva G. Masi), with 188.90 points. Last year's winner of CRO-ITA-SLO, the Slovak Ján Furucz (Farmaceut Bratislava), is in the fifth place with 188.50 points. With a total of 75 competitors, the standings include athletes from Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Lithuania, Hungary, Great Britain and Spain, as well as the organizing countries Croatia, Italy and Slovenia. It should also be noted that, this year, Cro-Ita-Slo TrailO Cup is made up of 15 stages, four in Italy, five in Croatia and six in Slovenia. The complete Ranking can be found HERE.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Inga Dambe: "There is always something to learn, no matter how experienced you are"



With the WOC in the horizon, Inga Dambe comes to the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune to talk about the time she spent in Portugal, recently, preparing the season and the next steps towards Estonia.


I would start by asking you to introduce yourself. Who is Inga Dambe?

Inga Dambe (I. D.) - I was born in Latvia's capital, Riga. Currently I'm living in Finland, representing Paimion Rasti club. I’m involved in orienteering as an active Elite orienteer and, more recently, also as a map maker. As for my hobbies, I like photography.

How did you realize that Orienteering would be your sport for life?

I. D. - Together with my family, I was introduced to orienteering when I was 8 years old. We started taking part in orienteering series “Magnets”, in and around Riga, which were very popular at that time, gathering over 1000 participants every Wednesday evening. I did quite well, getting diplomas and prizes, and started looking forward to run more, also in other competitions. At the age of 13, I managed to win my class at the Latvian Championships for the first time. Fighting for every second, enjoying nature, seeing wild animals, competing, succeeding, managing the excitement, knowing that races are always different – that is what I like in orienteering.

You're a WOC “veteran”, having participated in the event since 2001. Can you remember your first WOC?

I. D. - Those were quite busy and challenging years. My first WOC was actually two years earlier, in Scotland. I had graduated from the University of Latvia with a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Sciences that year, and I was also working. Orienteering was difficult for me in Scotland, and I didn't get to the finals. But the good thing was that I had so much to improve, and I started training properly.

You were in Portugal a couple of weeks ago. How do you evaluate the time you spent here?

I. D. - Portugal is a perfect place to increase motivation for the upcoming season and to switch the training environment. I was here for eleven intense orienteering days, together with my club mates, taking part in the Portugal O' Meeting and the Aguiar da Beira O' Meeting. It was interesting to run in different types of terrains – from oak forests and pine dunes to stony and bushy hills.

What was the main thing you learned from the Portuguese experience, and that you will have to focus on to become an even better athlete?

I. D. - There is always something to learn, no matter how experienced you are. It's not just a matter of running here – you can lose time choosing wrong passages through the green areas, loosing direction zigzagging through the stones and thorns, not reading the map properly, or being too slow and cautious climbing stone walls and rocks. I found myself too much of a risk taker, I should have taken safer route choices. Sometimes it was quite a game of luck to find the best passage through the thorny growths. The most interesting race was the last one – the Long Distance in Aguiar da Beira. It would be quite interesting to run it once more.

So far, how is your winter season going?

I. D. - There have been ups and downs. The weather conditions for trainings were quite challenging this winter in coastal Finland. Since I train outdoors, I faced slippery and icy roads nearly every day. But quite often it was possible to run in partly snowless forests.

Is there any special meaning to be a team mate of the IOF World Ranking leader, Olav Lundanes, at Paimion Rasti?

I. D. - Paimion Rasti is more “international” than ever – we have Elite runners from six countries now. Everyone has his/her own approach and style of training, living, character. You can learn something from anyone. It is hard to be lazy if you look at the others, like Olav Lundanes, training. It will be interesting to see how this season will develop – we have good chances to succeed in the big Relays.

What are your goals for the season?

I. D. - My sights are set upon the World Championships in Estonia, and the World Games in Poland, where I have already been nominated to run. Other important races are the Relays with the Paimion Rasti girls – Tiomila and Jukola.

To compete in Estonia will be like competing “at home” ...

I. D. - My orienteering thinking has become more ‘Scandinavian’, as I have spent more time in Finland than in Latvia in the recent years. Latvia has a wide variety of orienteering terrains, and surely you can find similar terrains to Estonia. And, of course, you can find terrains that are unlike the ones in the World Championships, and that would be in my hometown, close to Riga. Succeeding in Estonia, in my opinion, will be crucial to take the best route choices, going straight or going around hills or marshes, taking paths whenever necessary. To have a good sense of direction and use the compass, especially if the features are indistinct, will also be very important.

What are your expectations for the World Cup round in Latvia, at the end of August?

I. D. - The terrains are very specific of the region, it will be a good preparation for anyone who is aiming for WOC next year.

Are we going to see you in Portugal in 2018?

I. D. - We’ll see. Portugal is a good choice for those who like to do orienteering trainings in winter in snowless terrains. It is perfect that there is a possibility to choose different types of terrains. You can practise forest orienteering, as well as urban sprint.

Do you have anything you'd like to add?

I. D. - Thank you for the high-level organized competitions. It was a real pleasure to run here in Portugal.

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 PreO Hungarian Championships: Miháczi and Laáber got the gold



The Hungarian TrailO season kicked off last weekend with the accomplishment of the PreO National Championships. Zoltán Miháczi and Miksa Laáber got the titles in the Elite Open class and Elite Paralympic class, respectively.


Thirty-eight TrailO fans headed Érd, a city in Pest County, Budapest metropolitan area, for the 2017 PreO National Championships. First competition held in Hungary this year, the Championships took place in a former military shooting range, offering twenty four tasks, plus two timed stations, one before the start (four tasks) and the other after the finish (three tasks). Two out of 24 controls have been voided.

Set by Fruzsina Biró, well-known TrailOrienteer worldwide, the course was technically very demanding, taking benefit mostly from the vegetation features and also from Biró's expertise in designing several tricky tasks. In the Elite Open class, Zoltán Miháczi (TTE) managed to perform at the highest level, finishing with twenty two points and a two-point advantage over Ferenc Fehér (ZTC), second placed. Four points after the winner, András Komoróczki (SAS) achieved the bronze medal. Miksa Laáber (MER), another well-known Hungarian TrailOrienteer, did also a great course, getting the gold with 19 points. Anna Tóth (MER) finished second, seven points less than the winner. With ten points, Viktor Beke (SIR) got the third place. Zsófia Nagy and Viktória Toth, both representing DCS, were the winner in the Elite Junior Open class and Elite Junior Paralympic class, respectively.

To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, Zóltan Miháczi talked about a “difficult course”, highlighting “Miksa Laáber's good result, with just three mistakes in the Paralympic class”. About his victory, Miháczi preferred to mention his recent participations in the Portugal O' Meeting and Lipica TrailO as “something that helped me, once it was the first TrailO event of the season for the other competitors”. Miháczi talked also about “the great pleasure to see some competitors from new territories” and finished with a word of hope: “Maybe next year, after many year, Hungary be able to be represented in the European Championships, in Slovakia, with a full team.”


Results

Elite Open
1. Zoltán Miháczi (TTE) 22 points / 86 seconds
2. Ferenc Fehér (ZTC) 20 points / 174 seconds
3. András Komoróczki (SAS) 18 points / 281 seconds
4. Antónia Holper (TTE) 17 points / 59 seconds
5. Anikó Madarassy (BEA) 17 points / 83 seconds

Elite Paralympic
1. Miksa Laáber (MER) 19 points / 239 seconds
2. Anna Tóth (MER) 12 points / 377 seconds
3. Viktor Beke (SIR) 10 points / 296 seconds
4. Panna Réday (MER) 7 points / 359 seconds
5. Rita Sárai (SIR) 5 points / 438 seconds

Elite Junior Open
1. Zsófia Nagy (DCS) 14 points / 69 seconds
2. Dóra Nagy (DCS) 12 points / 183 seconds
3. Kinga Surányi (DCS) 11 points / 327 seconds

Elite Junior Paralympic
1. Viktória Tóth (DCS) 11 points / 324 seconds
2. Balász Hamvai (DCS) 10 points / 243 seconds



[Maps and photos courtesy of Zoltán Miháczi]

Joaquim Margarido
  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Portugal City Race 2017: Rodriguez and Delgado won in Braga



Celebrating the Historic Centre National Day, the city of Braga, North of Portugal, hosted the second stage of Portugal City Race. Like in 2016, Maikel Rodriguez and Carolina Delgado were the winners in the Senior category.


Once again, the Clube de Orientação do Minho, the Municipality of Braga and the Portuguese Orienteering Federation took forward the Braga City Race's third edition. The event was attended by three hundred participants, distributed by Formation, Competition and Open classes.

Winner of the previous edition of the Portugal City Race, the Spanish Maikel Rodriguez (Budiñoraid) didn't feel difficulties in the Men Senior class, reaching the best partial in 16 out of 19 controls points of the course and finishing the 6.5 Km of his race with the time of 33:07. The remaining podium was also occupied by athletes from neighbouring Spain, with Ángel Soto (Aromon) finishing in the second place with more 4:12 than the winner and his teammate, Xoel Chamorro, being the third placed with the time of 37:35.

In the Women Senior class, Carolina Delgado (GD4C) performed also at a higher level. Winner of the first two editions of the Portugal City Race, the athlete reached her third victory in the Braga City Race, spending the time of 34:51 to cover the 5.3 km of her race and getting the fastest time in 12 out of 16 controls of her course. Raquel Ferreira and Daniela Macedo, two athletes who competed individually, finished in the immediate positions with more 3:00 and 6:22, respectively, than the winner.


Results

Men Senior
1. Maikel Rodriguez (Budiñoraid) 33:07 (+ 00:00)
2. Ángel Soto (Aromon) 37:19 (+ 04:12)
3. Xoel Chamorro (Aromon) 37:35 (+ 04:28)
4. Vitor Barreiro (Individual) 39:23 (+ 06:16)
5. Luis Ferreira (AD Cabroelo) 40:09 (+ 07:02)

Women Senior
1. Carolina Delgado (GD4C) 34:51 (+ 00:00)
2. Raquel Ferreira (Individual) 37:51 (+ 03:00)
3. Daniela Macedo (Individual) 41:13 (+ 06:22)
4. Daniela Alves (AD Cabroelo) 43:41 (+ 08:50)
5. Sara Miranda (Amigos da Montanha) 49:12 (+ 14:21)

Further information and complete results at http://www.pontocom.pt/bragacityrace.

[Photo: Clube de Orientação do Minho / facebook.com/ori.pontocom/photos]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, March 27, 2017

José Enrique Barcia: "I have a feeling that something big is going to happen in Spanish Orienteering this year"



The Spanish Orienteering Federation has, since last 10th December, a new President, José Enrique Barcia. He is the guest of Portuguese Orienteering Blog, telling about his ideas and proposals, his dreams and ambitions for the four years of his term.


How did you feel accepting the charge of President of the Spanish Orienteering Federation for the next four years?

José Enrique Barcia (J. E. B.)
- I felt great, like everyone who loves things to which they are committed.What legacy did you receive from the previous governing body?

J. E. B.
- Spanish Orienteering Federation is very grateful to my predecessor in office. He and his crew have worked hard for our sport.


I believe that economic problems are your biggest concern and dealing successfully with them will be your main goal. What strategies have you made to move forward?

J. E. B. - Joaquim, look: it is not the economic problem that worries me the most; what worries me the most is the lack of recognition of our sport as what it is: a demanding, spectacular, very technical, very complete sport. The day we fit Orienteering into society - and I'm sure we will do it -, it will be the day our economic problems will finish. Summarizing, we have to work really hard looking forward to introduce Orienteering to our society.

How do you see the role of the Autonomic Leagues in Spain and its heterogeneity? Is Orienteering in Spain moving at different speeds?

J. E. B.
- Unfortunately the development of orienteering is not the same throughout Spain. Ideally, all the autonomies would be able to enjoy a strong and competitive League and that, effectively, doesn't exist. But I'm very confident that, during this period of 2016-2020, we will manage to create a Territorial Federation in each autonomy and then create territorial leagues strong enough to reach the level of the excellent Northern League and the exciting Southeastern League.


One of the considerations of your program is about celebrating the Spanish Orienteering Championships in two or three different stages, moving away from the traditional meeting time of the Spanish orienteering family during Easter. Has your proposal been well received?

J. E. B.
- Well, my proposal only set expectations higher among orienteers. In fact, Victor García did the same on his application proposal, so I can say that it has been very well received. How couldn't it be? From now on, we will have two great parties of the Spanish Orienteering and not just one!


Of course, not all of it are “thorns”. Would you like to say something about the “roses” of the Spanish Orienteering?

J. E. B.
- Working for the benefit of the sport that you love above all compensates the few bad moments.


MTB Orienteering, Adventure Racing, Rogaine, even Ski Orienteering are, in addition to Foot Orienteering, objects of interest of your "Program of Action and Considerations in relation to the Presidency of the Spanish Orienteering Federation”. However, there isn't a single word about Trail Orienteering. May I ask why?

J. E. B.
- Well, I can't tell you why. What I can tell you is that the Spanish Orienteering Federation and me, personally, are very interested in the development of Trail Orienteering. In fact, one of the first meetings we had, just after me becoming president, was held with the single goal of promoting Trail Orienteering and I have made some proposals in this regard.


How has the battle of the first 100 days of Presidency been?

J. E. B.
- I can't say, honestly, that I have been engrossed in any battle. I'm, in general, very happy with how things are going. I only hope that the Federative life treats me, along my term, as well as it has done up until now.


You've been to Portugal and attended the Portugal O' Meeting recently. What lessons have you learned from the experience?

J. E. B.
- I love the Portugal O' Meeting, the great organization, the great show that is developed, the level of competitors it attracts, the great choice of terrains that is made, the magnificent courses which, in general, can be enjoyed ... It is certainly one of the great events of European orienteering ... I would like to have something like this in Spain ... there are competitions starting to approach that level but we have not achieved such high standards yet. In short, the Portugal O' Meeting is a model to follow.


Are there any aspects that can be improved in the relation between the Portuguese and the Spanish Federations?

J. E. B.
- During the Portugal O' Meeting I met the new President of the Portuguese Orienteering Federation, having the chance to exchange views with him. We are both willing to work hard together with the goal of increasing Orienteering in the Iberian Peninsula.


Without asking you to dabble in futurology, how do you expect to see Spanish Orienteering after your first year of Presidency?

J. E. B.
- I have a feeling that something big is going to happen in Spanish Orienteering this year ...


I would ask you to share your greatest wish?

J. E. B.
- A wish... My big wish is to see the Spanish Orienteering on the front page of the sports newspapers ... and that, this year, news get to the “Marca”: the announcement that one of our runners has climbed to the podium.

[Photo courtesy of José Enrique Barcia]

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Danish Spring 2017: Maja Alm won all stages



After achieving victories in all stages, Maja Alm was the Danish Spring's greatest star for the fourth year in a row. At the men's side, Olav Lundanes won the forest races and Tim Robertson was the fastest in the Sprint.


“Spring premiere with an international touch”, the Danish Spring held its sixth edition along the weekend. Organised by OK ØST Birkerød and HSOK, 2017 Danish Spring was attended by more than 800 competitors and took place in some of the best orienteering terrains in North Sealand. The weekend kicked off with sprint Friday in Elsinore. Saturday was middle distance in Harager Hegn, and today was time for long distance in Harager Hegn/Gribskov North. All three races were IOF World Ranking Events, and parts of the Danish Senior League, Trimtex Cup and the Danish Junior League, Løberen League. Saturday and Sunday’s races were also a part of the Danish Youth Cup.

After a great win over Daniel Hubmann at MOC Sprint, two weeks ago, Tim Robertson (Orienteering New Zealand) showed himself in great shape, getting a 38-second victory on Søren Schwartz (FIF Hillerød Orientering) in the Sprint stage. The forest stages, on second and third days, had in Olav Lundanes (Paimion Rasti) the great winner, first in the Middle Distance over Andrey Salin (Savedalens AIK), by just nine seconds and then, in an epic 19,3 km Long Distance, by narrow 16 seconds over Fredrik Bakkman (IFK Göteborg).

Maja Alm (OK H.T.F. / Danish Orienteering Federation) did three good races, having in Cecilie Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød Orientering) her biggest opponent. Maja Alm's 20 second victory in the Sprint oppened the door to a successful weekend, with Cecilie Klysner being second and Svetlana Mironova (Russian Orienteering Federation) finishing in the third position. The podium on the second stage was the same, but Alm's advantage over Klysner was this time of 2 minutes. In the Long Distance, Alm stretched the advantage over the second placed to 2:47, with Emma Klingenberg (Faaborg OK) finishing in the third position.


Results

Men Elite

Sprint
1. Tim Robertson (Orienteering New Zealand) 13:37 (+ 00:00)
2. Søren Schwartz (FIF Hillerød Orientering) 14:15 (+ 00:38)
3. Andreas Hougaard Boesen (OK Roskilde) 14:18 (+ 00:41)
4. Jakob Edsen (Aarhus 1900 Orientering) 14:26 (+ 00:49)
5. Otto Sund (OK Trian) 14:32 (+ 00:55)

Middle Distance
1. Olav Lundanes (Paimion Rasti) 37:47 (+ 00:00)
2. Andrey Salin (Savedalens AIK) 37:56 (+ 00:09)
3. Søren Schwartz (FIF Hillerød Orientering) 38:00 (+ 00:13)
4. Tue Lassen (Faaborg OK) 38:46 (+ 00:59)
5. Otto Simosas (OK Trian) 38:53 (+ 01:06)

Long Distance
1. Olav Lundanes (Paimion Rasti) 1:32:45 (+ 00:00)
2. Fredrik Bakkman (IFK Göteborg) 1:33:01 (+ 00:16)
3. Arto Talvinen (MS Parma) 1:35:45 (+ 03:00)
4. Olli Markus Taivanen (NAVI) 1:37:07 (+ 04:22)
5. Tue Lassen (Faaborg OK) 1:39:15 (+ 06:30)


Women Elite

Sprint
1. Maja Alm (OK H.T.F., DEN) 13:47 (+ 00:00)
2. Cecilie Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød Orientering) 14:07 (+ 00:20)
3. Svetlana Mironova (Russian Orienteering Federation, RUS) 14:32 (+ 00:45)
4. Malja Sianoja (Finnish Orienteering Federation, FIN) 14:34 (+ 00:47)
5. Karoliina Sundberg (Lynx, FIN) 14:48 (+ 01:01)

Middle Distance
1. Maja Alm (Danish Orienteering Federation) 30:23 (+ 00:00)
2. Cecilie Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød Orientering) 32:23 (+ 02:00)
3. Svetlana Mironova (Russian Orienteering Federation, RUS) 33:44 (+ 03:21)
4. Ida Marie Næss Bjørgul (Paimion Rasti) 33:52 (+ 03:29)
5. Hollie Orr (Halden SK) 34:08 (+ 03:45)

Long Distance
1. Maja Alm (Danish Orienteering Federation) 1:10:45 (+ 00:00)
2. Cecilie Friberg Klysner (FIF Hillerød Orientering) 1:13:32 (+ 02:47)
3. Emma Klingenberg (Faaborg OK) 1:14:00 (+ 03:15)
4. Hollie Orr (Halden SK) 1:14:14 (+ 03:29)
5. Marika Teini (SK Pohjantahti) 1:14:59 (+ 04:14)




Full results and further information at http://www.danishspring.dk/.

[Photo: Bent Hjarbo / Danish Spring / photos.google.com]

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two or three things I know about it...



1. Ionut Zinca and Andra Cecilia Anghel, both representing CSU Craiova, were the winners of the Olt Cup 2017, the first Foot orienteering competition held in Romania this year. Zinca spent 7:40 to finish off his 1.3 km course, being five second faster than his team mate Blejdea Alexandru. Anghel achieved a comfortable winning in 8:54 against 10:48 from the “veteran” Veronica Minoiu, representing also CSU Craiova. Organised by C.S.Ecosport Rm. Vâlcea, C.S. Aktiv, P.C. Rm. Vâlcea and Romanian Orienteering Federation, the competition took place in early February, in a very special venue: Salina Ocnele Mari, a salt mine located in the heart of Romania, nearly 200 km from Bucharest, the capital. A half kilometer-square salt mine designated to tourism. Salina Ocnele Mari has been compared to a small village, and hosts a restaurant, a cinema, a wine cellar, a coffee shop, some sport areas (handball, volleyball, tennis, mini-football), toilets, showers and changing rooms. The competition was attended by 200 participants, but perhaps most notable was the number of spectators, which was almost 1000. Complete results and further information at http://www.fro.ro/.

2. Richard Y. Ebright (Delaware Valley Orienteering Association) won the 2017 U.S. Trail Orienteering Championships, both in PreO and TempO. Part of the California Orienteering Week, held in Camp Scherman – a Girl Scout camp nestled in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California -, the Championships were organized by Bay Area Orienteering Club and Los Angeles Orienteering Club, having Clare Durand as Course Setter. With five stations with four tasks each, the TempO Championships were dominated by Richard Y. Ebright, scoring 330 seconds in the end. After a less good start (two wrong answers in the first station), he managed an almost clean race until the end, with an average time of 12 seconds per task. Richard H. Ebright was able to keep close to his son till the last station, but he missed there three out of four tasks, finishing second. Again, a timed station played a key role in the PreO course, in which the young Ebright finished with 15 points after a clean race. Michael Poulsen (Columbia River Orienteering Club) achieved the same number of points, but Ebright was the most accurate in the timed station's three tasks, getting his second gold of the weekend. Detailed information available at http://losangelesorienteering.org/drupal/camp-scherman-national-meet.

3. Danish Spring organizers are looking forward to welcoming up to 1000 runners from more than 20 nations for a vibrant three-day event .The largest starting field for years is coming up and 60 individual athletes have entered Women Elite and 130 in Men Elite (splitting in two classes for Middle and Long). The great starting fields feature athletes like Emily Kemp, Anastasia Denisova and Maja Alm in Women Elite and Tim Robertson - beating Daniel Hubmann at MOC two weeks ago!! - and reigning world champion Olav Lundanes in Men Elite. In Women Junior, the favorites count German Dorothea Müller besides the Danish girl power. And in Men Junior there's last years comet Kasper Fosser, hunted by Carl Bock, Malte Kjær and some other 10 fast guys. The party kicks off today and you can follow it from the arena at Espergærde Gymnasium, on Liveresults Orienteering and facebook - and on TracTrac.com event after the races. Everything to know at http://www.danishspring.dk/.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nermin Fenmen: "You're made to feel part of the family"



When she first started orienteering, back in 2006, she thought it was such a pity she had come across this sport so late in life. However, when Nermin Fenmen ran her first WMOC in 2008 and saw seniors in classes like 90+ she said: “That’s good, I still have another 40 years or so to go”. Today, time to know a wonderful person and her work, both competing and acting behind the scenes.


The first question is always the easiest. Who is Nermin Fenmen?

Nermin Fenmen (N. F.) - I was born in Ankara, Turkey, in 1956. I studied Chemical Engineering at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. At present, I work as an instructor teaching computer programming at Bilkent University, also in Ankara. When I look back to more than 10 years ago, I see I would have a lot to mention when it comes to hobbies, interests, etc. However, since I started orienteering, orienteering and training for orienteering has become my main hobby. In fact, being involved in sports has reached such a peak in my life that I have enrolled in the PhD program at METU in the Department of Physical Education and Sports, something I would readily encourage anyone to do – be a student in something you have a passion for.

Can you remember the moment you're introduced to Orienteering? Was it love at first sight?

N. F. - I certainly remember, and it was definitely “love at first sight”. I was, at the time, on the executive board of the METU Alumni Association. In one of our board meetings, we decided to organize a series of outdoor activities together with the students at METU, mainly to enhance student – alumni interaction and also get our members out of doors taking part in family events.

I started contacting the student clubs at METU. We organized an event with the bird-watchers, the nature club took us into the hills to point out various interesting insects and plants, then we had a session with the outdoor photography club... I checked the list of clubs and there was this club called “orienteering” which said on its webpage that orienteering was an outdoor sport, so I thought I had better get in touch with them. They were happy with the idea of organizing an event on campus, which they said would be fun for the alumni and their families. We fixed the date as 18th November, 2005. I still had no idea of what orienteering was. Then I suddenly remembered there were these funny guys in the mountains I had come across once or twice (I later learned that these were called Hash Harriers). They were drawing arrows and special symbols at junctions using flour for people to follow.

I felt a bit responsible towards our members from the Association whom we had encouraged to bring their children along as well, so I phoned the club once again. I said the 18th of November could be a bit rainy and what would happen to the flour at junctions if it is wet and it gets washed away. There was a long silence on the phone. Then came a cold answer: “We don’t use flour. We use a map and a compass”. Oh well, I said to myself, we have to take a chance.

The event was a huge success and I enjoyed myself so much I asked the young students if I could come to their other events. In February 2006 they asked me to be part of the team. So I've been orienteer ever since that first day in November 2005.

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

N. F. - I would say it is the thrill of trying to solve a puzzle on the go! I had not been involved in regular sports until I took up orienteering and started training for competitions. When I started running and training with groups other than orienteering, I started participating in competitions for distance running, MTB races and triathlons. For one thing, the love of orienteering also makes our community special. We don’t have people trying to shove each other off track. Our community has never so far had any incident of doping. We try to put on a good face even if we were not as successful as we hoped to be. Our favorite point of the game is comparing route choices with our rivals. We share the love of nature. We enjoy seeing a clump of wild flowers, a colourful mushroom, maybe a deer or a hare running by during our course. It is not all about winning. It is something else which makes you whole.

What does it mean to be an orienteer in Turkey?

N. F. - Orienteering itself is quite a new sport in Turkey. When the Federation was first established as a branch under the General Directorate of Youth and Sports, back in 2002, those responsible had the duty of officially naming our sport. It is very difficult to find a Turkish name to fully explain orienteering with a single word, not even with two. So they chose the name “Oryantiring”, slightly bending the pronunciation and spelling to suit Turkish grammar rules better. However, the word “oryantiring” is very similar to the word “oryantal” which is the Turkish for belly dancing (!). In addition, we are a Mediterranean country. We don’t like the cold and the rain. We prefer to sleep late and sit at home to a huge family breakfast on a Sunday.

When I first started getting more involved in the development of the sport in Turkey, the three most difficult hurdles to pass in convincing mothers to allow their children to take up this sport was (a) no, we have nothing to do with belly dancing; (b) no, your child will not get lost in the forest; (c) no, your child will not get pneumonia as soon as it starts to rain. I still have friends asking me “but what if you get wet?” or “what if you get muddy?” and even “what if you get hungry?” But as years have passed, many more of my friends have, at least, developed an understanding for being out of doors on a Sunday morning.

How do you evaluate the growth of Orienteering in your country? Are you going in the right way?

N. F. - I would say we are definitely on the right track. Orienteering has developed very quickly in Turkey. It has spread into schools and universities. Many more clubs are being established each year. Orienteering has spread to many more parts of the country.

When I first started taking part in official competitions back in 2006, we had very few participants – around 350-400 maybe, and very few classes too, only 16 – 21. Now our official country cup races and championships have reached over 1,500 participants. We have classes from M/W10 up to M/W55, with two technical difficulty levels for the classes 16 – 21. The children’s classes 10 – 14 attract around 100 participants in each class. Last year the Federation decided to hold the championships for the classes 10 – 14 separately, starting with provincial championships, then moving up to regional and then finally the Turkish Championships. This had a very positive effect on the number of newcomers to the sport. Hosting the ISF World Schools Championships in Orienteering in 2015 also had a very encouraging impact on the development of orienteering in schools.

It is wonderful to see how many Masters we manage to attract to our sport as well. It was only in 2008 that the “veterans” class was officially added for the first time, a single class for 35+. Now the classes for the Masters are split up into 5-year age classes up to 55+ and we are even thinking of adding an A/B technical difficulty level for these too. Naturally, all the figures above are related to the development in foot-orienteering. The other disciplines are also underway, although participation in these is not at a satisfactory level at the moment. However, one of the prime duties of a national federation is to continue to try to promote the sport in every area. Therefore, we still continue to organize cup races and national championships in MTBO, Ski-O and Trail-O. Turkey has been represented in WMTBOC for several years now and WTOC for two years. We hope to take part in WSOC in the near future as well.

We were used to see your name connected with the Regional and Youth Development Commission. Sadly, you've not received support from your Federation and you're not in the Commission anymore. How do you feel about it?

N. F. - Naturally, it was disappointing for me, since I had already assumed certain responsibilities within the commission and I felt that we were letting these down as well. I tried to explain to our Federation that members of IOF commissions do not represent a country, we are there because we were nominated within the IOF regarding our skills and experience. I also had a difficult time explaining to people within the IOF community who know me, why I do not any longer have support from our Federation. However, I don't need any title to be of service to the sport which has become a passion for me. I was asked by the Chair for the RYDC to continue as a volunteer which I have readily accepted. I continue to contribute to the projects under my responsibility and work for the development of orienteering.

I see the RYDC as a very important commission in the development and spreading of orienteering. The IOF has always had a lot of support from member Federations, Regional Coordinators and volunteers. However, a lot of individual work throughout the world is now being channeled into a more systematic approach.

Another subject is MTB Orienteering, a discipline of which you're a fan. Why MTBO? Isn't it dangerous?

N. F. - My first MTBO event ever was the WMMTBOC in Gdansk, Poland in 2010. When I heard about it I said to myself, I can ride a bike and I know a bit about orienteering, why not? Naturally, MTBO is not just about riding a bike with a bit of map reading. I quickly saw that the first thing I should do was to improve my MTB skills. So I started training with our MTB team in the university. I gradually got over my fear of downhill riding (although still not completely). I learnt how to keep my speed while reading the map (although I still have difficulty if the network of paths is very dense, as it was for the Middle Distance in Kaunas this year). I have taken the opportunity to join training camps to improve my map-reading too.

I have never thought of MTBO as “dangerous”. I have already had two bad falls, one while training in the hills where I live, the other during an MTB race where I ripped my arm and had to have 12 stitches. However, neither of these has made me think that MTBO is not for me or for anyone of my age. On the contrary, these have only encouraged me to train more. For anyone who enjoys cycling and being in the forest on the trails meanwhile solving the puzzle of finding the most optimal route to the control point, MTBO is definitely the sport which offers all of this as a package deal.

What did you feel last September, in Lithuania, reaching the bronze in the Sprint of the World Masters Championships?

N. F. - It was a big surprise. I had a very good start and really felt in control. I made a bad mistake going to control number 7, that’s usually what happens when you get over-confident and think you are really doing well. I think this is the most important challenge in orienteering - pursuing a calm concentration throughout every millisecond of the course, from start to finish. I managed to stop riding in circles like a headless chicken after control number 9 and regained concentration. I never thought that I would be one of the medalists. When I reached the finish I only thought that yes, working hard pays, and I am definitely progressing fast in MTBO.

I was so happy when I saw that I had reached the bronze medal. This is my first medal in MTBO in an international competition and definitely my first in such a prestigious event and the World Masters Championships. I owe a lot to the MTBO community for their continuous encouragement ever since I started in 2010, especially to my friends in W50 and my new “rivals” now in W60. I think this is what is so exceptional about the orienteering community, you're made to feel part of the family. People like to share their knowledge and experience. I have learnt so much from my many friends in MTBO.

How do you rate the present moment of MTB Orienteering, particularly from the Masters' point of view?

N. F. - I am very happy to see so many new names on the entries lists in MTBO. I think MTBO is developing at high speed. For example, although it is just a few years ago that O-Ringen incorporated MTBO as an introductory event into their program, it is nice to see that it is a full 5-day event this year. The MTBO training camp in Denmark is something many mark on their agenda each year. Many more countries are looking towards organizing multi-day events and training camps. Last year the Turkish Federation organized a four-day event in Cappadocia, one of the most stunning regions in central Anatolia. This was a WRE and also part of the World Masters Series. We are planning towards offering training opportunities within the region, hopefully to be announced soon.

The World Masters Series offers a wonderful opportunity to Masters who would like to enjoy a full season, meanwhile competing in quality events in many different countries and terrains. Sadly, I cannot spare the time off from work much as I would love to, but I know that the events chosen to be part of the WMS are of high quality and offer fulfilling courses as well as interesting terrain.

For how long are we going to see you doing MTB Orienteering?

N. F. - I have only just upgraded from a 26 inch to a 29er and I would like to make the most of my new bike! So I would definitely say I hope to be around for many years (laughs). Actually, my unexpected success in Lithuania has motivated me to concentrate more on MTBO. I usually try to plan my summer well in advance and I usually pick prominent events in FootO meanwhile trying to merge in some MTBO as well. This year I will be doing MTBO only, only breaking into FootO for the South East European Masters Orienteering Championships in the Autumn.

May I ask you about your biggest wish?

N. F. - My biggest wish would be to continue orienteering for many years to come. When I first started orienteering back in 2006, I thought it was such a pity I had come across this sport so late in life. However, when I ran my first WMOC in 2008 and saw seniors in classes like 90+ I said that’s good, I still have another 40 years or so to go. I hope I will still be fit enough to continue orienteering up to that age. It would certainly be nice to keep on within the MTBO community and see new classes develop as time goes by.

Is there anything that you'd like to add?

N. F. - Many thanks for the interview and giving me the chance for expressing my opinions, feelings and wishes. Congratulations on keeping up the Portuguese Orienteering Blog which has now become one of the most important websites to turn to for interesting interviews, maps and other information on orienteering.

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

POM 2017: Moments (5)



© Joaquim Margarido

EIOC 2017: Kettunen and Halawa won first-ever TrailO event in Egypt



Eeva Kettunen, in the Open Class, and Mohamed Halawa, in the Paralympic Class, were the winners of the Egyptian International Orienteering Championships 2017’s PreO stage. These were two historical victories in the first-ever TrailO event to be held in Egypt.


After Luxor, in 2016, the 2nd Egyptian International Orienteering Championships took place in Sharm el Sheikh, Southern Sinai, Egypt, in early February 2017. Organized by the Egyptian Orienteering Federation and International Orienteering Federation, with the strong support from the Croatian club OK Vihor Zagreb, the event attracted 130 competitors from 15 different nations. The EIOC 2017 kicked-off with a Sprint race scoring for the IOF World Sprint Orienteering Ranking, whose winners were Will Critchley (Edmonton Orienteering Club, CAN) and Linda Verbraken (TROL Belgium, BEL). After a Middle Distance race and another Sprint race, in the second and third days, Will Critchley and Mariana Marynchenko (Ukrainian Hunters, UKR) get the top positions in the overall standings.

A surprise addition to the event’s Program was the first-ever TrailO/PreO event to be held in Egypt, which was attended by 22 competitors from 9 countries. Set by Ivana Gobec and Damir Gobec, the course took benefit of the detailed terrains surrounding a holiday resort on the shore of the Red Sea, offering 15 challenging tasks, plus two timed stations with three tasks each. In the Open Class, Eeva Kettunen (Edmonton Orienteering Club) and Yau Chiu Hui finished the course with 14 points each, but Kettunen was more accurate in the timed stations and achieved the victory. In the fight for the immediate positions, Bartlomiej Mazan (WKS Śląsk Wrocław) was clearly better than Chris Virgo (Devon OC) and Shoaib Kareem (Egyptian Military Team) in the timed stations, finishing in the third place. Four competitors from Egyptian Military Team took part in the Paralympic competition, in which Mohamed Halawa get the win with 12 points.

To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, IOF Adviser Damir Gobec left some thoughts: “Sharm El Sheikh came out a big crossroad for Egyptian orienteering and specially for the TrailO Team. Working in different environment and with people of different culture is always challenging and we learned a lot how time is something completely irrelevant. We found out that Egyptian TrailO Team can be very good. They have a strong will, some basic map reading experience and now they have some knowledge. After gaining some international experience, they will be competitive even on international level”, he said. And a last note: “You know that Croatia came out of nowhere at WTOC in the Czech Republic and we picked up there our first IOF medal, so I hope that this Croatian-Egyptian work will give us some new very good results.”


Results

Open class
1. Eeva Kettunen (Edmonton Orienteering Club, CAN) 14 points / 81 seconds
2. Yau Chiu Hui (Kong Kong Island Orienteering, HKG) 14 points / 153 seconds
3. Bartlomiej Mazan (WKS Śląsk Wrocław, POL) 13 points / 49 seconds
4. Chris Virgo (Devon OC, GBR) 13 points / 231 seconds
5. Kareem Shoiab (Egyptian Military Team, EGY) 13 points / 415 seconds

Paralympic class
1. Mohamed Halawa (Egyptian Military Team, EGY) 12 points / 226 seconds
2. Ahmed Mohamed Nagieb (Egyptian Military Team, EGY) 11 points / 323 seconds
3. Ahmed Abd Allatif (Egyptian Military Team, EGY) 8 points / 313 seconds
4. Hassan Mohamed (Egyptian Military Team, EGY) 8 points / 481 seconds

Complete results and further information at http://egyorinteering.org/.

[Photo: Tamer Mehanna / facebook.com]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

POM 2017: Moments (4)



© Joaquim Margarido

Martin Kronlund International Trophy 2017: Victories of Andreu Blanes and Sofia Haajanen



Confirming an excellent shape, Andreu Blanes Reig was the winner of the Martin Kronlund International Trophy 2017. On the women's side, Sofia Haajanen get the best overall time, ahead of Esther Gil and Ona Ràfols. Daniel Hubmann was the event's big absent.


With the presence of 1,238 athletes from 15 countries, took place last weekend in San Martin de Valdeiglesias, 80 km west of Madrid, the 27th edition of Martin Kronlund International Trophy. After Santa Pola, Alicante (15th Costa Blanca Trophy) and Murcia (29th Costa Calida Trophy) the event marked the return of the Spanish Foot Orienteering League 2017, offering three stages - Long Distance and Sprint on the first day and Middle Distance on the second Day -, the first of which scoring for the IOF World Orienteering Ranking. The organization, led by the clubs Adyron, OrientaGetafe and Alabarda-O, Madridian Orienteering Federation and Spanish Orienteering Federation, offered excellent courses on beautiful terrains, paying the best tribute to the “father” of Spanish Orienteering, Martin Kronlund.

Very tough physically, not only by the undergrowth vegetation preventing a faster and fluid running, but also by the heat, the Long Distance race had in Estonian Timo Sild (Koovee) and Finnish Marika Teini (SK Pohjantahti ) the great winners. In the men's sector, Sild counted on the strong opposition of the Spanish Andreu Blanes Reig, registering in the end of the 11.4 km of his course a time of 1:09:52 against 1:11:36 of his most direct opponent. Lauri Sild was the third ranked, at 4:13 of his brother and teammate. Introduced as the favorite to the victory, Marika Teini had also a hard task to get rid of her compatriot and team mate Sofia Haajanen, having finished in 1:10:44 the 8.2 km of her route and registered a twenty-second advantage over the second placed. With a high quality performance, the “veteran” Esther Gil i Brotons (Colivenc) was the third ranked, with more 6:48 than the winner.


Andreu Blanes and Outi Hytonen won the Middle Distance

With many absences, surely motivated by the hardness of the Long Distance race and by the fact that this stage didn't count for the Trophy, the Sprint had again in Timo Sild the great figure, winning conclusively with the time of 11:44 . Marc Serralonga Arqués (Go-Xtrem) and Joni Hirvikallio (Koovee) took the immediate positions, with more 27 seconds and 28 seconds than the winner, respectively. Violeta Feliciano Sanjuán (Colivenc) was the fastest to complete her course, winning the Elite class with the time of 13:08. Sofia Haajanen finished in the second place with a thirty-second disadvantage, and Anna Serralonga Arqués (Go-Xtrem) get the third position, 46 seconds behind the winner.

For the last day was reserved the Middle Distance stage, in which Andreu Blanes Reig was clearly the strongest. In a very technical and fast terrain, Andreu did a perfect race, finishing with the time of 24:02 and a two-minute advantage over the second placed, his teammate Antonio Martinez Perez. In third place, 2:44 after the winner, stood the Finnish Olli-Markus Taivanen (IMP 1398 Navi). Lauri Sild couldn't get better than the 5th place in this stage, and Andreu Blanes Reig won the Trophy. In the Women Elite class, the stage's winner was the Finn Outi Hytonen (Kangasala SK) with a time of 26:09 against 26:48 of her compatriot, Miia Niitynen (Koovee), second placed. The Spanish Ona Ràfols Perramon (COC Barcelona) achieved the third place. Overall, Sofia Haajanen won the Trophy with Esther Gil i Brotons and Ona Ràfols Perramon getting the immediate positions, separated from each other by only three seconds but at a distance of almost four minutes from the winner.


Overall standings

Men Elite
1. Andreu Blanes Reig (Colivenc) 1:35:38 (+ 00:00)
2. Timo Sild (Koovee) 1:37:07 (+ 01:29)
3. Lauri Sild (Koovee) 1:42:55 (+ 07:17)
4. Antonio Martínez Perez (Colivenc) 1:44:07 (+ 08:29)
5. Johan Backman (Malungs OK Skogsmårdarna) 1:44:11 (+ 08:33)

Women Elite
1. Sofia Haajanen (SK Pohjantahti) 1:43:25 (+ 00:00)
2. Esther Gil i Brotons (Colivenc) 1:47:09 (+ 03:44)
3. Ona Ràfols Perramon (COC Barcelona) 1:47:12 (+ 03:47)
4. Anna Serralonga Arques (Go-Xtrem) 1:49:06 (+ 05:41)
5. Sari Nurmela (Vehkalahden Veikot) 1:57:29 (+ 14:04)

For more information, complete results and photos of the event, please visit the respective website at http://www.alabardaorientacion.com/index.php/martin-krolund-2017/.

[Archive photo]

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tobias Micko: "Austrian MTBO Days are going to be one of the greatest events of the upcoming season"



It's always stimulating to hear a young man talking enthusiastically about his passion. Tobias Micko couldn't be more committed to Orienteering, after a short but really promising career. And leaves a warning: “You won't get rid of me that easily!”


I would start by asking you who is Tobias Micko?

Tobias Micko (T. M.) - Well, I was born on 24th March 2000, which means I will turn 17 very soon. I live in Bad Vöslau, a small town south of Vienna. My main ambition lies with MTBO, but currently I am also a student at the Multimedia Department of “Die Graphische”, a kind of college for media-related careers, where I'm getting my education in photography, film, animation, web-design, etc. Obviously, I play around with cameras a lot, but I also like mountain sports like ski touring and backcountry skiing, hiking and other outdoor activities like o-mapping.

When did you find out that MTBO would be your orienteering discipline for life?

T. M. - I think, I'll have to explain that a bit: I grew up in an orienteering family, so I was into it from the beginning. I began to compete seriously aged 12, and when I became a member of the Austrian Youth team aged 13, I was already one of the best orienteers of my age group in Austria. But then I ran into troubles: I have always had knee problems, but by the end of 2014 they got so bad that I had to stop running for some months. At this time I met the Hnilica family, a big name in Austrian MTBO, and started to bike a little. The MTBO youth team didn't have enough members then to form a Relay team for the European Championships 2015 in Portugal – so, after a short time, I was introduced to the sport and became the missing member of the relay (laughs).

Having taken good care of my body, after a few months I was able to run again, so I started training and took part in the ISF School World Championship in Turkey, where my results weren't that bad (I finished 5th and 6th). This was my first experience with orienteering at an international level and I continued with the sport. At that time I didn't have much experience with MTBO, I just competed in some races, but in June I was ready for the European Championships 2015 in Portugal. My results were okay and I continued with biking. I competed in Plzen where I met the whole team for the first time and then took part in the World Championships in Liberec. That autumn we also organized an MTBO competition in my hometown, which was very successful.

For 2016 my main goals were the EYMTBOC in Portugal and the EYOC in Poland. Training went well, but I always felt my knee a little bit – it was never really okay. And there was also this decision I had to make for myself: Which discipline should I focus on. It was a very burdensome time for me, but the problems somehow disappeared. By coincidence, the qualification race for the EYOC I wanted to run was on the same weekend as the first round of the World Cup 2016 in France, and just 5 days before this weekend my knee felt so bad that I decided to compete in France instead of EYOC. The decision had been made! In the first race I won against Thomas Steinthal from Denmark, who had won a diploma at the EYMTBOC the year before. That was an enormous motivation for me! I focused on mountain biking, and six weeks later there was Portugal 2016 …

What do you see in this discipline that makes it so special?

T. M. - You know, every time I read this question in one of your interviews I think the answers are so trivial – but when I have to think about it myself, I have no better idea. It's really the most versatile and most fascinating sport I know. In another interview I once read, “Every sport has its own fascination in itself, without that there would be no sport in our culture”, and that's so true! MTBO is my sport and I am 100% into it!

How hard can MTBO be?

T. M. - If there were just MTBO, it would be completely different. But add to that the daily school routine and my other hobbies I can't give up (even though I should drop some of them), and life becomes really exhausting. Luckily, I have some freedom at my school so I'm able focus on the sport; without that, I wouldn’t go on with my stuff the way I'm doing it right now. When there’s no other possibility, I have to train at 10 pm, after that I get 6 hours sleep and then it's back to a full school day – but luckily that's not the rule.

Do you have an athlete that you see as model, an inspiration?

T. M. - Of course, there are various role models and motivations, everybody has them somehow. For me it’s especially traveling around the world, the trips with the team. You have the chance to reach areas where a “normal” person wouldn't spend their holidays, you are able to meet so many great people around the world – and that is very, very precious to me. As inspirations I want to single out Thomas Hnilica, Kevin Haselsberger and, of course, my family and lots of others … And then there is Jana Hnilica. She’s one of the big upcoming stars of Austrian MTBO and she has found a way of organising her life like nobody else I know. The way she's able to get to grips with a very exhausting school, sport, hobbies and so on is truly incredible!

Looking at the special moments you’ve been through in MTB orienteering until now, could you mention the most thrilling one?

T. M. - One of the most thrilling moments was definitely the relay race at the World MTB Orienteering Championships 2015 in Liberec! I had only just started MTBO and was able to be there at that important moment. There was this incredible feeling when Andreas Waldmann started in third position. We couldn't see the GPS track all the time but we had the live results and at the first live coverage it was like, “He’s only a few seconds behind the leading duo.” And at the second live coverage, “He’s in the lead, Waldi is in the lead!”. After the spectator control he realised his position and finished his race with a comfortable lead – I still have goose bumps when I remember that day.

Going back to July 25th, 2016, in Portugal, what did you feel by achieving the bronze medal in the Sprint race of the European Youth MTB Orienteering Championships?

T. M. - I was just happy! In the beginning it took some time to realise what had just happened.
What makes this result so special for me is that my dedicated training on the bike had only started six weeks earlier, before that I had just taken part in a few competitions, but mainly I had been running. Yes, of course I have some advantages in the navigational part because of my experience with mapping and orienteering, but the sprint distance wasn’t even technical, it was just biking as fast as you can. The only mistake I made was trying to drink a little from my bottle – that lost me a few seconds! But now I'm looking forward to the upcoming season even more, now my full focus is fully on the bike …

Can you remember other good moments in Portugal? And a bad one?

T. M. - I mostly remember all these good moments and stories, and it was a fantastic trip with the team again, but obviously there also were some bad moments, too, especially after the accident in the Middle Distance. The race started very well, I felt the flow and was just in the race – maybe a little bit too much – when, after the 5th control, my handlebar got caught by a tree and I had a bad crash. I managed to get back on track and reach the finish arena, but my leg hurt very much.
Luckily the next day was a rest day and, with the help of our Physio/Trainer Gaby, I could fully concentrate on recovering! Movement helped a lot. My time at the Long Distance wasn't the one I had been looking for, but under the circumstances it wasn't too bad and an 8th place actually isn't that bad – really.

What does it mean to be a MTB orienteer in Austria?

T. M. - I can answer that question with a simple return question: What does it mean to be a (fringe sport) athlete in Austria? – Almost nothing, unfortunately. 70% of sport subsidies go to Football, Alpine skiing and Tennis. Next are all Olympic disciplines and only then, much further down the line, there are all other kinds of sports. Yes, we fight for every Cent, but I think that is necessary. When you have all the money (and therefore facilities) you need, it's easy to be at the top. We get almost nothing and still we can compete with the best of our sport. And it is something very special to fight for your passion with a great team!

I can see you really committed to promoting the Austrian MTBO Days 2017, this July? Would you like to tell me something about it?

T. M. - I will! Spoiler alert: Austrian MTBO days are going to be one of the greatest events of the upcoming season and you all should be part of it (laughs). – Seriously: The idea grew after our MTBO event in Bad Vöslau in 2015. The event was well received by the community and the host city. The upcoming event has grown bigger and bigger over the last months, now it is going to be really big! Obviously our main goal is to make the trip to Austria a memorable one for all of you. Free entry to a famous public spa, top culinary local catering, a high quality evening program and, most importantly, thrilling courses and a very technical forest are waiting for you. We also want to use the event to make our sport more popular in Austria. For this, we have co-operations with some big media names in Austria, and we are very grateful that Portuguese Orienteering Blog is also part of the show – thanks for the co-operation!

Can it be compared to MTBO 5 Days Plzeň? What are your expectations?

T. M. - Well, that's a tough question! It's something completely different. Plzen has for many, many years been one of the most popular MTBO events, and personally I am very disappointed that I can't be part of it this year. But we are in contact with the organizers in Plzen to create a perfect summer program, especially for all of you from abroad! From Plzen directly to Bad Vöslau, then to Orleans (France) and from there to Lithuania – Doesn't that sound promising? I think this dense program might be an extra motivation for a few athletes from far away to take the long trip to Europe after all. The date isn't just a coincidence either: For the world elite it's the best time to prepare for the European Championships two weeks earlier. And there are also a few more arguments for coming to Austria, like WRE, WMS, cup events of different countries …

Just before the Austrian MTBO days, we'll have in Waldviertel, in the beginning of June, the kick off of the World Cup 2017. Do you plan to join the event?

T. M. - Yes, of course! We have many good senior riders, so I won't be able to qualify for the World Cup, but we have Austrian Cup races there, too. And it is the same area where the World Championships 2018 are going to be held. My first year as a junior in my home country.

What are your main goals for the season?

T. M. - My main goal is definitely the EYMTBOC in France. Unfortunately it's not possible for me to compete in Lithuania, that's very disappointing, but hopefully in the next decades I'll get other chances to compete in these very technical areas – they look enormous.

For those who don't know about MTBO, but are able to try something new, what do you have to say?

T. M. - I don't think that I have to explain how orienteering or MTBO works to the readers of this blog, but I think I can try to clear up a misunderstanding: The cliché is that MTBO is easy, because you don't have to orientate as you're just going on trails or roads, and yes, that's true (in most countries). The big difference is the much higher speed on the bike, compared to running. To read and capture the map while biking, and not crashing into a tree at the same time, is more difficult than most people think (Yep, that happened to me, too!) and when you haven't read the map carefully, you can end up two valleys off, even small mistakes cost much more time than in Foot orienteering. You also have to rely on gathering loads of information in your mind in a very short time. For untrained bikers, map reading while riding is only just possible on streets, and if you have to stop to read, the race will be over before you find your way.

Is there anything that you'd like to add?

T. M. - I want to thank all my past, present and future companions again for their contribution. I will give my best to fulfill all expectations, especially my own, and I'm looking forward to many, many more years with MTBO. You won't get rid of me that easily!

Joaquim Margarido