Dušan Furucz isn’t "just" the World Champion of TrailO Relay. He is also the Director of the European Trail Orienteering Championships ETOC 2018 and one of the IOF Trail Orienteering Commissioners. Versatile, pushy and highly committed to TrailO, inside and outside his home country, Slovakia, he is the guest of the Portuguese Orienteering Blog for another great interview.
Some time ago, I had the chance to interview, separately, your brothers Ján and Peter. It's now your turn to be on the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's tribune and the first question is about Orienteering as a family sport. How important were your brothers (and, maybe, your parents too) in choosing your career?
Dušan Furucz (D. F.) - I think family is always very important in everybody's career. My father was a very good 800 metres runner but ended his career soon after he moved to the adult category. When I started orienteering, at the age of 10 and was coached by Pavol Mesiar, my father supported me enthusiastically. My brother Jan and my sister Ivona followed me shortly and, soon after, my father had taken over our training group, focusing on the Athletics' training method, balanced with a large amount of training with map. I can't forget about my mother, as well. Can you imagine a group of 20-30 children in our small flat before and after trainings? (laughs) My youngest brother Peter joined us about 10 years later. He was considerably younger. I can confirm that my best results were reached when my family directly supported me on the competitions.
Would you like to remember one or two decisive moments that made you adopt TrailO as your favourite sport?
D. F. - I wouldn't say that TrailO is my favourite sport. I'm still feeling more comfortable as a Foot orienteer (I like longer distances, as Long and Rogaining), but the reason for choosing TrailO is my family, of course. My brother Jan is very committed to developing TrailO in Slovakia and “blood is thicker than water”, so I'm helping him. After my first TrailO competition, in the Czech Republic, I was a little confused because it was too strange for me, but my opinion changed with the TempO. Now, I feel like balancing on the edge of TrailO. Nordic style competitions move me up and TrailO ones move me down. I have to say that we are very competitive, me and my brother, and we can't accept to be worse in any discipline. This is the main reason to improve my results in TrailO.
When you first appeared competing at the highest level – WTOC 2014, Italy -, the results achieved were totally surprising for many. We now know that your performances weren't a fluke and the world title in the TrailO Relay, achieved last year, is here to confirm it. Where is the secret of your success?
D. F. - I've always been a better mapper than runner and I'm able to read the terrain very quickly. I created a lot of maps for my club Farmaceut Bratislava and TrailO is a kind of competition for map makers or orienteering university for mapping techniques. As for success? I don't think that I'm a successful competitor. There have been some great results that may have caught me off guard (usually a podium on the first days or when my chances of achieving a good final result are gone), but all the time I had the possibility of getting a medal, I failed. I need to improve on my skills, specially those regarding focus. We get medals on the relay competitions because both Marian [Mikluš] and I are team players and we usually serve responsibly and perform greatly for the team in any orienteering discipline.
What are the most important skills for being a good trail orienteer?
D. F. - Good map reading and visualization are the two most important skills. But there are two other skills which provide a significant difference between average and excellent results. The first one is to stay calm when it counts and the second one is to understand what the course setter means on two or three control points which make the difference. This is the reason why my brother is better than me in the big competitions.
Please, complete the sentence: To be a Trail orienteer in Slovakia means...
D. F. - To be a Trail orienteer in Slovakia means to be a scout or pioneer. We are discovering this sport. Orienteering is a small sport in Slovakia but I think people know it historically, even from the time of Czechoslovakia. For example, the name Jozef Polák is still well-known and I could keep going with some other names. The TrailO is new and totally unknown for the Slovak public. We are presenting it as an integration orienteering discipline and we have to explain what TrailO is, but the awareness is improving. The main difficulty is the number of organizers. We need to improve it.
You're in charge of organizing the European Trail Orienteering Championships next year. How is the event's preparation going? Is everything under control?
D. F. - I hope that we are in time with the preparation's schedule. We would like to end all mapping work before summer. I finished the maps for the Relay and PreO day 1 and I'm working on spare terrains now. I'm expecting that the most courses will be done and checked by advisor Ari Tertsunen this month. My brother is preparing maps for TempO and we asked our well-known Slovak mapper Robert Miček to help us with the map for PreO day 2, to save time for other activities. I have to say that I'm also struggling a little with bureaucratic activities as Event Director because it's a totally new experience for me.
What kind of event can we expect?
D. F. - You can expect different terrains for each discipline, from flat in TempO to high steep slopes in PreO day2. We would like to prepare a fair competition with clear Zero tolerance and we want to be closer to Foot orienteering competitors. You cannot expect tricky tight Zero answers from us and controls with “between” description. I'm expecting that distance between the Zero answer and the closest flag will be more than 5m. You can find more information on our pages at www.etoc2018.sk.
Other particular task is the IOF TrailO Commission. How did you realize your nomination?
D. F. - I didn't expect to be nominated and it was a complete surprise. There are a lot more experienced IOF TrailO members, but I accept the position seeing a tendency for fresh air on it and acknowledgment of our effort to improve TrailO. I asked IOF for time to think about it but I finally agreed. It's a big privilege for me to help the TrailO community. To be honest, on this first year, I have to spare my time for another responsibilities, too. By the way, I would like to congratulate you on your nomination to the TrailO commission, too.
Thank you so much. Is Trail Orienteering moving in the right direction? Are there some priority subjects on which we have to work in order to have better and fair TrailO competitions?
D. F. - It's difficult to discuss the TrailO movement because I've only been doing it for a very short time. But my personal opinion is that we must make our sport more clear and transparent. It is not acceptable that other people see TrailO as a very complex and subjective sport and one day the answer is correct and the other day the same or similar answer is wrong. In brief, we need to simplify the rules, not create problems to the problems and finally, somehow, define the Zero tolerance.
Your brother Peter is developing an amazing game called Virtual-O. Did you ever think of it adapted to TrailO as an instrument for training?
D. F. - Yes, we discuss it very often during our training and consultations. I believe that TrailO courses will be part of VirtualO and we would like to use some live presentations on his program in our European Championships, too. To be honest, he needs more time for implementing all the features and new maps. Do you know that he spent his last year programming and left his job for this period? He returned to work in January and now he continues programming during his free time in the evening.
The season has already started and you were one of the attendants to Lipica TrailO 2017, for the Unofficial European Cup in Trail Orienteering's first round. Are you happy with your results?
D. F. - Yes and no. I don't like urban TempO and I knew that it would be totally different from last year's TempO in the forest, which I won. I tried to change my technique, reading all of the descriptions and finding safe answers but, in reality, I lost 60-90 seconds by reading, plus I made some stupid mistakes finding some “creative” solutions. I have to return to my old, quick style. The PreO competition was very tight and I lost my focus on two controls. It was too much for a good result.
The World Trail Orienteering Championships 2017 will take place in Lithuania. Are you looking forward to them?
D. F. - I hope to see a lot of contour lines reading during PreO and especially in the TrailO Relay. I am not so excited with the TempO, which will probably be urban again. I am expecting difficult courses where you won't see winners without mistakes.
How hard will it be to defend your TrailO Relay World title? Do you have any other goals?
D. F. - I think that big countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Finland will be fighting, as always, for the medals and we cannot forget the strong Portuguese and Italian teams. Croatia and the Czech Republic can be nice surprises, too. Yes, it will be very difficult but we will try to keep the World title. I will also try a surprise in the other disciplines.
Would you like to share your biggest wish with us?
D. F. - I have two wishes. The first one is more real forest TempO competitions than urban competitions. The second one and my biggest wish is to win over my brother in TempO on a big competition. I know and believe that I can do it.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
D. F. - I would like to wish all orienteers in each orienteering discipline fun and fair competitions in difficult terrains.