Friday, December 30, 2016

Two or three things I know about it...

1. Time of peace and harmony, Christmas is Orienteering time, too. In Hong Kong, the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong organized the Annual Orienteering Championships, attended by 73 athletes in the Elite category and 135 in the Open category.With the Middle Distance and the Sprint stages scoring for the IOF World Rankings, the event got the presence of Annika Björk, Swedish Orienteering star, winner of the two stages already mentioned and also the Long Distance stage. Taking place on 26th December, the Sprint race was held at Ngau Chi Wan Park and was dominated by Björk, who won with 14:03 against 14:34 from Wai Lan Iris Lui. The male winner was Tsz Wai Yu with the time of 13:09. Wai Yu had already won the Middle Distance in the previous day, staged in Black Hill, while in the women Annika Björk got a comfortable win in 37:45 and a 4:34 advantage over Iris Lui. Closing the event, Lui Wai Lan Iris achieved her third National Champion title by winning the Long Distance stage, in Pak Shek Kiu, while in the Men Elite class the victory smiled to Lam Aby. Complete results and further information at

2. Austria, Belgium DG, Belgium FC, Belgium FL, China P.R., the Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine have indicated their interest in taking part in the 2017 World Schools Championships in Orienteering. Organized by the International School Sport Federation and the Italian Ministry of Education, the event will take place in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, from 22th April to 28th April 2017. The Long Distance competition and the Middle Distance competition will take place in the Nature Reserve “Bosco della Ficuzza”, in the territory of Corleone. The Model Event will be held in a part of the Bosco della Ficuzza, offering terrain similar to both the Middle and the Long Distance competitions. The Friendship Team Event will take place in the city centre of Palermo. More detailed information on maps and competition areas will be communicated in the 3rd bulletin at the end of January. Find more information at

3. Mass Start will be the fifth format on the program for the World MTBO Championships from 2017. A growing appetite for more head-to-head racing for the MTBO athletes and the possibility for good media coverage are among the reasons. Mass Start races have been a rather popular format in MTBO, and since 2010 there have been mass start events on the World Cup circuit almost every year. From 2017, it will be an official format at WMTBOC in line with Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay. The Mass Start format will be added to the program for both Masters and Junior World MTBO Championships as well. Mass Start’s winning time is set between 75-85 minutes for both men and women and is roughly between Middle and Long. Typically, the course will start with a long first leg of 3-5 km with different route choice options to shake out the field. Forkings and loops will be essential elements of Mass Start races to separate the riders even more. Everybody rides the same course, but in slightly different order to avoid blind following. The first World MTBO Champion in Mass Start will be decided in Lithuania when the World MTBO Championships takes place from 21st to 26th August 2017.

4. The Columbia River Orienteering Club - - made a tutorial video on Purple Pen, which can be seen here. Feel free to pass this along to anyone in your club who would like to get up to speed quickly on this helpful software.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Constance Devillers: "MTBO has made me discover the meaning of training hard and I like it"

Close to the end of the year, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog takes a look on the future and calls a young athlete to the last interview of 2016. Constance Devillers is one of the greatest hopes of the French MTB Orienteering and brings us her story.

I would start by asking you to introduce yourself. Who is Constance Devillers?

Constance Devillers (C. D.) - I'm eighteen, I live in Besançon, France, and I'm in the first year of my studies in sports at University. I enjoy practising sport with my friends and find new passions, like juggling or slacklining, which require concentration and motivation. I like listening to music and watching TV series, like “Pretty Little Liars” or “The 100”.

How did you meet Orienteering?

C. D. - I discovered Foot Orienteering in high school. I was lucky to participate in the 2013 French School Foot O Championships. We were four girls in the team and they were all members of an Orienteering club in Besançon. I think it was this particular first victory, shared with my friends, which made me enjoy this sport. I wanted to keep practising orienteering and improve. When I was fifteen, I started going to that club, named “Balise 25”, where, a few weeks later, I learnt about something I didn't know existed, MTB orienteering.

When did you decide to take MTB Orienteering seriously?

C. D. – At first I mostly practised FootO, which I think it's part of the training for MTBO. The first step was to learn how to ride fast and read the map at the same time, anticipating the route choices. Soon I was able to take part in MTBO competitions, and I improved by attending all the French competitions. In 2014 I was invited to a training session with the French team but it was only in 2015 that I started to train with the aim of reaching international goals, trying to get a place in the French Team in order to attend the Youth European MTB Orienteering Championships, in Portugal, which were my first Championships. One month later I was lucky to join the Junior Team and go to the World MTB Orienteering Championships, in the Czech Republic, where I won the Relay along with Lou Denaix and Lou Garcin. I spent an unforgettable week there.

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

C. D. - I find MTBO special because it has made the past three years unique to me. I’ve so many fond memories... I’ve become more self-confident. MTBO has made me discover the meaning of training hard and I like it. And the most important thing is that I love the people I met in MTBO since the very beginning, not only in my club, but in the French team and also in international teams. Everyone is friendly, gives advice, and it's motivating to see what other people are capable of.

What opportunities has Orienteering brought to you so far?

C. D. - Orienteering has given me the opportunity to travel to Portugal and to the Czech Republic (and maybe next season to Lithuania). Thanks to this sport I've also been able to improve my English.

Looking back on the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships, are you happy with the results achieved in Portugal. Did you expect them?

C. D. - I'm very happy with my results that I see as a reward for the hard training. In 2015, the participation in the Junior World MTB orienteering Championships was totally unexpected, I didn't know what to look forward to and I was very surprised with what I did. On the contrary, this year I was expecting to be selected and it was more stressful, but very impressive nonetheless.

I would ask you to share some thoughts about the Sprint bronze and the silver in the Long Distance.

C. D. -The Sprint was the first race of the week and I knew I had to be fully focused on it, forgetting the stress and thinking only about the race. It was the first time I used the new SI-R which I think increased the difficulty level because it's a short and fast race, so the rhythm of the race never slows down. I was afraid of riding off the tracks because it’s forbidden in France. I didn't find the orienteering very difficult, but riding at the same time made it complicated; the terrain was flat, so very fast. I must say that I like the Sprint more and more; I find it hard to keep racing because orienteering always slows you.

I found the Long Distance interesting because of the route choices and the beautiful terrain. I didn't want to take risks, so I slowed down and tried not to make big mistakes. In the final part of the race I saw some girls who started before me and I knew that I had to forget about the others if I wanted to keep my self-confidence. I made some mistakes but I kept focused on the race. At the end I was really happy, and I think it was very important that I didn't give up.

Is Veronika Kubínová unbeatable at the junior level? What does she have that you don't (but you'd like to have)?

C. D. - Veronika is very strong. I remember her Sprint victory in the 2015 Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships, which impressed me. I followed what she did last September in the World Cup, in Lithuania, where she achieved great results in the Women Elite class. I’ve heard the step from junior to Elite is quite high, so she must be proud of herself. I think she has more experience than me. It's nice to meet other girls who are motivated and stronger than me; they are like role models.

What are your plans for the next season?

C. D. - I will go to 5 Days of Pilsen. It will be my second time in the Czech Republic and I remember I enjoyed it very much in 2015. My main goal is the World Championships in Lithuania, but we’ll have the European Championships in France before! It will be very exciting to take part in a Championship in my country...

What about your future? What's in store for you in the next five years?

C. D. - I want to have fun during my two years as a Junior but I must confess that I'm looking forward to riding in the Elite; I know the level is very demanding... but I think about it and maybe this is what keeps me motivated: having fun in MTBO and riding in the Elite.

Would you leave a message for those who always wanted to know about MTB Orienteering?

C. D. - If you have always wanted to know about MTBO, I have to say it's a wonderful sport which requires many qualities. The winner is the one who makes the least mistakes, is the most powerful on the bike but also in his mind, while fighting against the watch. In MTBO, you learn every day; every competition is a different one.

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WOC 2021: Brazil prepares application

During the last Congress of the International Orienteering Federation, held in Strömstad, Sweden, the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation revealed its interest in the possible organization of the World Orienteering Championships “in the future”. Proving that that intention is to be taken seriously, we get news from the other side of the Atlantic about Brazil's application to organize the WOC 2021.

Through its Facebook page - -, the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation (BOC) made known that its President, Luiz Sérgio Mendes, was recently in Campo Alegre, in the Santa Catarina state, in search of support for the organization of the World Orienteering Championships 2021. The initiative follows the International Orienteering Federation's statement, in the Congress of Strömstad, that World Orienteering Championships should be held in countries outside of Europe, an idea enthusiastically supported by the Brazilian Confederation.

Through its President, Luiz Sérgio Mendes, the BOC expressed its intention to move forward with an application in the future, just not specifying when. We know, now, that the “future” is 2021 and it's Luiz Sérgio Mendes, himself, who confirms it: “We took the initiative to say, during the IOF Congress, that Brazil would be a candidate to organize a WOC in the future. We believe that we have the conditions to go forward with the application as early as 2021 and we understand that, by proposing the coming of this event to Brazil, we will be acting according to the IOF's goal to make our sport Olympic, since it would demonstrate to the World that Orienteering is, in fact, becoming global.” Incidentally, regarding the ideal of “Orienteering's globalization”, Mendes is very clear: “Orienteering can't truly be present on a Continent if there are no major competitions in it. It's based on this premise that we intend to apply. I believe that our sport can't evolve internationally if it doesn't move outside of Europe.”

The search has already begun

The search for places to host the event began in Campo Alegre, in Santa Catarina. “We are still in a preliminary step of the organization and we have several regions in sight. Santa Catarina was the first to be visited because we believe that the region has the potential to host the event.” Luiz Sérgio Mendes also referred Paraná, a neighbouring state of Santa Catarina, “also with great potential and suitable terrains”. But remembers that “the decision will not be made only by the BOC; if the application is accepted, we will have the visit of an IOF representative who will come to check the areas, helping us to take the decision.”

“As for the cartography”, Mendes continues, “these regions have a fairly extensive area that is already mapped. After the decision about the venue, we will start to work on nearby areas to host local and regional events, aiming to offer opportunities for training and competition to those who want to know the types of terrains in the region”. Mendes also advances with the CBO's intention to organize, next to the region considered for the WOC, an international level event in the previous year, “to enable training opportunities to future participants”, he says.

A winning project

The team in charge isn't lacking commitment and resolution, facing the task to carry out the project until the end. “From our point of view, this is a winning project as it offers the IOF an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment in presenting its major events to other continents and recognize that it's necessary to support applications from those countries who are keen on organizing such events”, the BOC's President says.

Recalling the existence of a Working Group for South America and the accomplishment in Chile of the first South American Orienteering Championships recognized by the IOF, Luiz Sérgio Mendes intends to embrace South America as a whole, through the organization of the WOC. On this subject, he says: “The organization of this event in Brazil can boost Orienteering practise growth in South America, as it will show to the South-American countries that the IOF is not a distant institution, but a Federation that really wants to embrace the whole World. This will motivate the national leaders to organize themselves better, to be more competitive and will facilitate the presence of their national teams, since Brazil borders practically all countries, except for Chile and Ecuador”. But he doesn't hesitate to also reflect about the importance of the event, internally: “For Brazil, it would be a unique opportunity to affirm itself as a Regional power, not in the sense of winning Championships, but in the ability to organize events and to show that the sport is totally formalized here. That would also change the internal status of Orienteering, because the coming of such an important event would give us the visibility that we need to increase the number of Orienteering fans in the Country”, he says.

2017, a decisive year

Luiz Sérgio Mendes also reveals the intention to “take this opportunity to improve the general quality of our major internal events, shaping them in the same way as those organized in the countries where Orienteering is fully developed”. Denying the idea of “copying models”, rather than understanding that “we have to learn from the countries that are ahead of us”, Mendes concludes that “isolated in South America we can't grow.”

“The next step is to finish the written part of the project and present it to the IOF”, says Luiz Sérgio Mendes, adding that the BOC is also in touch with the Ministry of Sports, preparing a technical note for the Secretariat of Sport of High-Performance, in order to get support for the cause. “2016 was the year of the Olympics and the country was focused on it. The arrival of 2017 changes this situation and opens up good possibilities”, he concludes.

[Photo: Brazilian Orienteering Confederation /]

Joaquim Margarido

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year 2016: Vote now!

Like every year, the PreOEliten blog is searching for “The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year”. Since the beginning of December, every of each 12 candidates have been presented on the blog and it's time now to vote.

The blog PreOEliten opened a poll named “The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year 2016”. This is a private initiative of Geir Myhr Øien and Martin Jullum, the blog's administrators, and it has been organized every year since 2010. According to the promoters of the initiative, the aim of the contest is to give attention to the good work that is being done by the organizers, course setters and event advisors, and it's also a good opportunity to learn from the best and thereby increase the quality of Norwegian events. And, of course, it's also a way to acknowledge those who spend hundreds of hours of work to put up the best possible competitions.

Each of the twelve candidates for this year's “The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year 2016” have been presented on the blog along December and it's time, now, to vote for the best control. You just need to rank five out of the twelve nominated controls by a scoring scale 6-4-3-2-1. In other words, the one you think deserves most to be named this year's “Norwegian TrailO Control”, holds 6 points, the second most 4 points, etc. It is not allowed to score the same candidate twice. As in the previous editions, the result of the poll will decide which four controls go to the final round. In the final round, a jury will score the final winner.

A person can only vote once and it's required to fill out the e-mail address when voting. It is also possible to add a comment, which will be made anonymous and passed on the jury for the final decision. HERE you can find the twelve candidates. Take a careful look at each of them before voting. Once you've decided, you can vote through the webpage (in the bottom of the article). It is also possible to submit your vote by e-mail but the blog's administrators encourage to use the form. The poll is open up to and including 5th January. Vote now!

Joaquim Margarido  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Roman Ciobanu: "My main goal for 2017 is the WOC Sprint"

A few days ago, it was possible to see Roman Ciobanu shining brightly, on the one hand for being nominated for The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 and on the other hand for achieving the final third place in the poll. With this subject as the starting point of this interview, we try to know the athlete a little better, as well as the person.

How did you feel, getting the 3rd place in The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 and receiving the acknowledgement of the whole Orienteering community?

Roman Ciobanu (R. C.) - It was a big surprise for me to be nominated and an even bigger surprise to reach the final 3rd place. It’s a wonderful pleasure and it represents the appreciation of my effort and results.

How important is it from a personal point of view?

R. C. - To be known in the world is quite important, not just for me but also for my country. When I talk to people abroad, not everybody knows that Moldova exists or where it is, but now I believe that more people know that we exist and also that Orienteering exists in Moldova. Besides that, it gave me an extra motivation to train harder and to keep on going with my career.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

R. C. - Probably from my achievements. They're my main motivation, giving me the power for my trainings and for setting new goals. And simply because I love the great feeling after a good training or race. I also have many friends in Orienteering and it gives me the possibility to travel a lot and to meet new people.

Looking back on the season, how do you evaluate your performances and achievements?

R. C. - I've set two goals for the season. The first one was to finish my first marathon, which, unfortunately, I missed, giving up at the 28th km. The second one was to win the Sprint at the South East European Orienteering Championships, a competition that involved Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro, which took place in Macedonia, in September. Here I was able to achieve my goal, reaching a two-second win over the strong Ivan Sirakov, from Bulgaria. It was Moldova's first gold ever in this competition.

In the beginning of the season I didn’t have any plans to go to the World University Orienteering Championships in Hungary, but I made an agreement with a friend of mine, from Russia, that if she qualified for the Russian team I would also go to Hungary. In May she qualified and I had two months to prepare myself. There, I got the 9th place in the Sprint, which was my best result ever, and I was very surprised because the Spring period had been very hard, with some results being worse than I expected, both in Orienteering and Athletics. Also, in the Summer, I wasn't at my best physically. Before the WUOC I had had just one international Sprint start (Sochi, Russia, in March). All my preparation was made in my home city, Chisinau, where we have just 5 or 6 Sprint maps, all of them not very technically demanding.

What was the best course you ran in 2016?

R. C. - Definitely the WUOC Sprint. It was a very interesting and technical race. I didn’t do it mistake-free , losing some 10 seconds at one control, going a little bit in the wrong way and another 10 seconds on a bad route choice. I also felt a great pleasure running the 1st leg at WUOC's Relay, in a team with two Canadians. I finished my leg on the 8th position, only 25 seconds behind the leader, having lost contact with him on the last control in the forest, following a small hesitation.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?

R. C. - Because we don’t have many Sprint maps in my country and I didn’t have the possibility to travel to many competitions abroad, my main trainings are in the Stadium, while running on high speed and reading maps from other countries at the same time (thank you Mikhail Vinogradov for teaching me this on your website). I also do many trainings with virtual fences and walls on the map.

What does it mean to be an orienteer in Moldova?

R. C. - Orienteering in Moldova is just a hobby. We don’t have support from our Government and we don't have sponsors either. So, we need to work to have money to go somewhere to competitions. We have some good runners but unfortunately we don’t have the possibility to enter many competitions and to show the world the best we can do. Sergiu Fala usually gets the podium at competitions in countries near Moldova. Also the three Fomiciov brothers, two of whom reached the final A at JWOC Middle. We also have many good Juniors, but most of them don’t see a big motivation in training hard to achieve good results.

Are you already looking forward to the next season? What will be the main steps in your preparation during the winter?

R. C. - After my WUOC results, the best Romanian club, Universitatea Craiova, offered me a place in it. Financially, it will be easier to prepare for the next season. The goals I've set for the Winter period are to improve my running speed and reach a new PB on 3.000 meters, which is now of 8:51. In March I will go to MOC Training Camp and Championships in Italy, where I’ll try to improve my Orienteering technique. I'll also attend the Danish Spring (thanks to and Ana Grib, who won this prize and transferred it to me).

Have you ever considered joining a Scandinavian club?

R. C. - Actually, I've been thinking about trying to join a Scandinavian club and maybe moving there. It would be a dream come true. [Hopefully, there's someone reading this Interview in Sweden, Finland, Norway or Denmark...]

What would be your ultimate achievement in 2017?

R. C. - My main goal for 2017 is the WOC Sprint where I hope to qualify to the Final and there, run a fast and mistake-free race.

Last but not least, I would ask you to say something about yourself.

R. C. - I’m 25 years old and I was born and live in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. I finished my University studies in Finances as major-accounting and I’m learning programming. I work as a financial operator from morning until 3 p.m. and after that it's training time.

I started practising Athletics at the age of 7. At the Junior level, I reached the podium in almost every national race and I got some good international results for my country. At the Senior level, my results remained almost the same and I reached the National gold for three times (twice in the 10.000 metres, in 2011 and 2013, and once in the 3.000 metres Steeplechase, this year) and was on a podium for many times.

The first touch with orienteering was in 2005, but I got lost in the forest. From 2005 to 2011 I took part in a few competitions, but I used to run safely, not leaving the paths, and I didn’t know what contours or vegetation meant or how to use a compass. In 2011, thanks to my friend Ana Grib, I met my coach Ivahnenco Serghei. I consider that as my starting point in Orienteering. I've been getting good results in Sprint since then and I was National Champion seven times [three times in Sprint (in 2014, 2015 and 2016), twice in the Sprint Relay (2014 and 2015), once in the Ultra Long Distance (2013) and once in the Long Distance (2015)].

At an international level, I took part in WOC twice: 2013 Finland and 2015 Scotland, but unfortunately without good results, because of injuries, health problems and no experience on nordic terrain. In the South East European Orienteering Championships, I was 5th in the Sprint, 3rd in the Middle Distance and 2nd in the Long Distance, in 2011, in the M20 class. In the Elite, I reached five medals: Three in the Sprint (bronze in 2014, silver in 2015 and gold in 2016) and two bronze medals in the Relay (2013 and 2014).

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?

R. C. - “If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse”, Jim Rohn.

[Photo: Roman Ciobanu /]

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas to all the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's followers hoping 2017 brings you and your Loved ones all you wish for!

Joaquim Margarido

Friday, December 23, 2016

Two or three things I know about it...

1. The Calendar of the 3rd edition of the Portugal City Race was announced yesterday. The 2017 Portugal City Race will conquer new cities and will have a set of 13 stages, starting on 5th February, in Esposende, and ending on 1st November, in Sesimbra. The cities of Esposende, Santo Tirso, Vila Real, Tondela and Sesimbra made its debut in the Circuit, in which we can notice the return of Penafiel. Barcelos and Viseu leave the Circuit in 2017 and the cities of Braga, Vila do Conde, Leiria, Águeda, Figueira da Foz, Porto and Aveiro remain. In total, it will count for the Rankings the seven best results out of the thirteen possible. The 2016 Portugal City race consisted on nine stages and counted almost four thousand participants. All information at

2. Following the election to the Board of Directors of the Spanish Orienteering Federation, celebrated on 10th December, José Enrique Barcia is the FEDO's new Chairman. Cristina del Campo (1st Vice-President), Mercedes Jiménez (2nd Vice President), Raúl Ferra (Technical Director), Marta Armisén (Women and Sport Project), María Isabel Fajardo (Economic Director) and Jesús de Miguel Rey (General Secretary) are the remaining members. Promoting the General Assembly and ensuring its executive functions is the first and foremost goal of Barcia. Resources optimization and transparency are also key words of the new paradigm. Among the priorities, one can found the creation of the General Direction of Marketing and Communication, strengthening and betting on MTB Orienteering as a growth factor of the Sport and also the creation of the Spanish Ski Orienteering Championships (two stages). To the new Board of Directors and its Chairman, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog wishes the greatest achievements and a long and successful campaign.

3. If you like “cool” events and you're a fan of PreO you are not going to miss the coolest PreO event ever. The 4th annual Aurora Borealis PreO Event will take place on January 6th 2017, with the Event Centre located in the Vuosaari Golf course main building, Helsinki, Finland. The course will have 22 – 26 controls to the Elite (12 – 15 controls to the Elite B) and 2.000 meters length, set by Ari Tertsunen on a completely new map with his signature. The winner gets the great “Aurora Borealis PreO Challenge Cup” for the period of one year (get it your own after three victories). The winners so far are Aleksei Laisev (2014), Pinja Mäkinen (2015) and Anna Jakobson (2016). In the case of extreme weather conditions, the Event shall be cancelled only if the temperature falls below - 40 degrees celsius. However, “cancellation is very unlikely, as last year we had only - 26 degrees”, the organizers assure. Please find all the the information at

4. The first trailer for the Austrian MTBO Days 2017 is online. Enjoy!

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Keith Dawson: “Life is not a dress rehearsal”

Keith Dawson. The name may sound unfamiliar to most readers, but everyone in the MTB Orienteering family knows him. Keith's enthusiasm and expertise make him a reference, both inside and outside the forest. To meet this true Master of the Masters, we dive deep into the MTB orienteering world, in a fascinating and enriching journey.

You've been participating in most of the MTB Orienteering events in the last seasons and we could see you attending 14 out of 15 World Masters Series stages this year. At the age of 58, where do you find the motivation to keep on competing so regularly?

Keith Dawson (K. D.) - I have learnt through some very tough times in Life that Life is not a dress rehearsal! “If in doubt do it - you will always regret more what you don't do than what you do”! These are two of my Life memes, true whether you're setting up businesses in the “Wild East” in Ukraine and Cuba or competing/organising in MTBO! I have had two major knee constructions in the last four years and missed the TransRockies 6 day race, with my son, this summer through a shoulder injury - so absence makes the heart grow hungrier! That is motivation enough but meeting the great MTBO community and searching for that elusive “Perfect Run” are important too. In 42 years of FootO I only managed it twice and never in MTBO - not yet!

Is this passion for bikes and MTBO a recent story?

K. D. - I constantly thank my two teachers, Dave and Mike, who introduced me to Orienteering back in 1975! I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like without this treasure of friends, landscapes, races and travel that Orienteering has gifted me. I took up MTB in 1995 after a succession of FootO ankle injuries and have been fortunate to travel the world. Andes, New Zealand and Costa Rica the highlights. My first ever MTBO was the World Masters near Gdansk in 2010 and from the first race I was hooked!

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

K. D. - The blend of speed, problem solving and technical riding is unique. The return of speed would be an exciting aspect for Masters FootO competitors if they tried it! Particularly those with “bad” knees! The MTBO community is also very special and quite unlike that in most sports. Solving the problems, at speed, set by our hard working planners and mappers in new landscapes at speed is a legal “high”.

What kind of “family” is the MTBO one?

K. D. - As I say a uniquely friendly and inclusive one and of course global! There is also the good aspect of hard but friendly competition whether in Elite or Masters. I have had a unique opportunity this year with my 63 MTBO races in 15 countries to savour this delight to the full! Riders such as Jean-Charles Lalevee, Wolf Eberle and Charlie Somers-Cocks give all of us, Masters, something to admire and aspire too!

We all appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication in keeping us well-informed about the MTBO events, sharing maps, results and pictures, sometimes even before the official releases. How big is your concern about the communication subject?

K. D. - Thank you! Communication is important in any aspect of Life and I've been pleased with the positive feedback. This helps to bring our community closer together. Even if you couldn't attend the race you can ask that great old question “Which way would I have gone?” Fix your map board to the turbo this winter! We need more communication, not less!

Talking about the MTBO in general, are we going in the right way?

K. D. - I would say we are generally heading in the right direction. Sandor [Talas] has ably guided us within the IOF framework and with HJ [Hans-Jørgen Kvåle] now as an IOF marketing manager the sport is moving forward with more events and rising standards.

There are a few areas I would comment on: MTBO should be a race not an “eye test”. The use of the correct scale, especially for Masters, is critical for full enjoyment. If in doubt use the larger scale option - we all know how to fold if necessary :). Some otherwise excellent races have been rather spoilt by use of the wrong scale. Masters expend a lot of income when they come to races both within our MTBO community and beyond, their needs need to be catered for too. I have also seen situations where not breaking a circle or covering a vital path have spoilt an otherwise great course. I would implore planners to consider these issues more carefully going forward.

We need to increase the number of women in our Sport and a “buddy” system could help. If all women brought a “buddy” along to an event and guided them this would increase numbers and quality of competition. It is a wonderful Sport! I think we also need to be slightly more inclusive with older age group classes and recognise that a five year age increase post 60 is different to post 50 and even more marked post 70. The last thing we need to do is to discourage older competitors, they are an inspiration to us all and also do a lot of organising! We can't afford to lose them.

Finally I would say that, in the light of recent independent press and also official reports, together with IOF Olympic aspirations, we need to increase our monitoring and out of competition testing of prohibited substances. Glib denial is not the way forward. All houses need to be put in order. We must show that we are, and will remain, a prohibited substance free Sport which is fair for ALL high level competitors. Not least we need to safeguard the long term health and freedom of these same competitors.

When I read “World Masters Series”, your name immediately comes to my mind. How close is your relation with the WMS?

K. D. - Whilst it is true the initial concept was mine, Sandor has been highly supportive and WMS now belongs to the whole Masters MTBO community. Tamas Janko has been brilliant putting in a great deal of dedication to calculate the results, often under pressure, as in Lithuania. I have been delighted with the positive feedback and constructive comment and the rising standards it has undoubtedly engendered. My class M55 is almost as competitive as Elite! We have two good sponsors in Continental Farmers and Havana Energy who help produce the rather nice medals! Now in its third year I believe it will go from strength to strength with Masters Relays again in France and the new M/W35+ class to bridge the gap from Elite and avoid competitors leaving the sport at that point. It's great that organisers are now competing to have their events included in WMS. The format would be easily applicable to Ski-O and even Foot-O.”

How did you see the WMS along the season?

K. D. - It was disappointing that more competitors did not race in Cappadocia in the first races, as all who did agreed it was indeed very special. The series went well, with both rising numbers and standards. The five year age classes have been very popular, especially in 60+. Many of the medals went down to “the wire” in Lithuania and so did many “mini competitions” between individuals within the classes. The WMS is a Marathon not a Sprint and a good season long strategy is crucial as well as within races. One mispunch or mechanical can lose a lot of points and places if the season strategy is not optimised. Organisers have realised hosting a WMS race increases numbers, so now in its third year, organisers are competing to be included and several offers for 2018 are already in, as well as a very exciting 2017 in prospect. July will be an MTBO Festival with races in Pilsen, Vienna and culminating in a season “finale” in Orleans. This has encouraged more racers from south of the equator to compete. The aim of the WMS was to increase standards for Masters competition, help development in outlying countries and to increase the Fun! I think it has been successful on all counts thus far.

In the meanwhile, the World Masters Series 2017 has already started (!). Apart the earthquake, would you like to share your thoughts about the event in New Zealand?

K. D. - Yes, despite the difficulties caused by the quake, numbers and standards of competition were high and all aspects of world class standard. The area used for the North Island Champs the week before the WMS races, “Marquita's Garden” is my all time favourite MTBO area. The WMS/NZ races near Rotorua were outstanding and the Sprint race was particularly high quality. I really hope NZ can host the World Championships in due course. So much great riding, a wonderful country and such a welcome! I hope more NZ and Australian competitors will head North for our exciting summer this year.

You were a privileged spectator of the MTBO Elite season and I would ask you to highlight some of the strongest moments in 2016?

K. D. - At the risk of (wrongly) being accused of bias I would choose Emily Benham's Two World Champs Golds in Portugal and her exciting World Cup win. This edges other excellent performances, as it has sadly been achieved without National Federation support or within a squad, but solely by individual determination and motivation, with a little help from HJ of course :) A great example to the whole Orienteering Family, not just MTBO. In the Masters I would select Jean-Charles Lalevee's triumph in the WMS this year in a very competitive class and after a disappointing injury robbed him last season. True Gallic Grit!

Contrary to the last season, we didn't have either MTBO courses or MTBO achievements suggested or nominated for the World of O's polls this year. So, I'm going to ask you to pick up the best course and the best achievement of the MTBO season.

K. D. - Yes, that lack of nominations was disappointing. This is a very difficult task with so many worthy candidates! I will allow myself three - Sprint, Middle and Long. So many great courses. So for a purely personal view: The Sprint was the NZ/WMS race in Rotorua, a fantastic mix of three terrain types including a tricky university campus with covered walkways. The Middle from Cappodocia in March, a privilege to race amongst the complex rock pillars and caves of a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Although the “Ironworks” race was a close second, illustrating the wide variety of terrain we enjoy! The Long from Portugal, again with a mixture of terrains and with the temperature a truly Long tough Challenge. Special mention too to the Middle in Lithuania with putting a capital O in MTBO for the quality of map and course planning. I'm very much looking forward to Vilnius!

How is it going to be the winter season? How hard it will be staying away from the bikes and the events' atmosphere for so long?

K. D. - A great trip to NZ with 6 fine races helps! Thankfully my great physio Dagmar, two great Drs in Ireland and lots of physio exercises mean I can avoid a planned major shoulder operation this winter, and I can plan for M60 in 2018! The prospect of so many great races and a new season of WMS in 2017 will keep the winter “blues” at bay! Fortunately the biking trails in Vienna, Scotland and Ireland, where I split my time, are never too snowbound, so I can get my regular “fix” on the bike. I do miss FootO though :(

What are you goals for 2017?

K. D. - To continue to play my small part in building the success of WMS and Masters MTBO in general and also to play my role in the MTBO Commission, where I have recently been appointed. Oh and maybe push for a Masters Relay medal for GB again in France :) and “to fill each hour with sixty minutes well run!”

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

K. D. - Just to wish ALL the MTBO Community a Happy Festive Season and everything they wish for themselves and their loved ones in 2017. Remember, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The World Games 2017: The list of qualified nations and athletes is already known

40 men and 40 women will compete in the Sprint and Middle Distance of the 8th edition of The World Games. 17 national teams are qualified to compete in the Sprint Relay.

The International Orienteering Federation has announced last Friday the list of qualified nations and athletes for The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, from 25th to 27th July 2017. Poland, as host country, qualifies two male and two female athletes. The results achieved at the 2016 World Orienteering Championships mean that another thirteen countries will join the list, with two male athletes and two female athletes each. Such is the case of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Canada and New Zealand have two spots each, both in Men and Women, for being the best nation from the North American and Oceania regions at WOC 2016. The last qualifying spots are personal spots for reigning World Champions, Asian Regional Champions, South American Regional Champions and the highest ranked individual athletes from non-qualified nations in the IOF World Rankings and Sprint World Rankings as of 1st November 2016. Names like Maja Alm, Denmark, Tove Alexandersson and Jerker Lysell, Sweden, Matthias Kyburz, Switzerland, will join Elmira Moldasheva, Kazakhstan, Yuta Tanikawa, Japan, Inga Dambe, Latvia or Sidnaldo Farias de Sousa, Brazil at the starting line.


Franciely de Siqueira Chiles is another qualified athlete and expressed this way her satisfaction: “Yes, I received the invitation to participate and I'm very happy. This is the result of a lot of effort and dedication. I still had the chance to participate four years ago in Cali, but that was my first year in the Elite and I didn't have the same experience as I have today. It was amazing to see all the best in the World gathered the same event and I to be part of it was a huge opportunity and an inspiration for me. The World Games 2017 are another great opportunity and my goal is to represent Brazil the best way, seeking to learn and get some good results.”

Unlike Franciely, the Spanish Andreu Blanés Reig will make his debut in Wroclaw at The World Games. He also shared with the Portuguese Orienteering Blog some of his thoughts: “Well, it's a very good opportunity. I've never run in The World Games and I'm very excited to be able to experience it for the first time. Also for the Spanish Orienteering, because it's the first time that a Spanish athlete will participate. My goal is the same as in every World Cup stage, i.e. make a good Games and try to be as close as I can to the first athletes.”

Pieces of the Games' History

With the organization of the Olympic Games in 1896, the International Olympic Committee became the governing body for international sport. When the international sports federations expanded, the International Federations felt the need to establish a dialogue with the Olympic leaders and in 1967 founded the "General Assembly of International Sports Federations", which in 1976 was transformed into the "General Association of International Sports Federations - GAISF, the formal organization with Statutes and headquarters in Monaco.

The Olympic Federations within GAISF used the GAISF meetings to coordinate their position regarding the International Olympic Committee. The non-Olympic federations also came together to discuss their specific sport issues. One of the ultimate objectives of almost all of these federations was to become an Olympic Federation and to obtain, through participation in the Olympic program, publicity, fame and honor for their sport. When it became evident that the growth of the Olympic Games was limited, the sports from this NOF group understood that there were only minimal opportunities to be selected for participation in the Olympic Program. The non-Olympic federations nonetheless wanted publicity and fame for their sports, so they decided to form their own showcase event which was named World Games. In May 1979 the steering group announced in a letter to the International Federations that they had found a venue in the United States of America: the City of Santa Clara.

With 1745 athletes representing 58 countries distributed by 15 Sports officials (plus one Invitational Sport, the Water Polo), the first edition in 1981, in Santa Clara, the USA, was first and foremost a pioneer event, testing the concept. With less participants but more Sports (20 + 1), London hosted the second edition of the Games, in 1985. Karlsruhe followed in 1989, The Hague in 1993 - here with the two thousand participants' barrier to be broke (2264 athletes from 72 countries) - and Lahti in 1997.

Orienteering enters the Games

The first edition of The World Games in the new millennium has a special meaning for Orienteering, marking the debut of the Sport. It was one of the 22 official Sports of the Games organized in Akita, Japan, whose edition had a record number of 150,000 spectators. The Australian Grant Bluett, the Norwegian Hanne Staff and the Norwegian team (Birgitte Husebye, Bjornar Valstad, Hanne Staff and Tore Sandvik) were the outstanding names of this inaugural presence, as they snatched the gold in Men and Women individual competitions and in the Mixed Relay, respectively. Duisburg, in 2005, welcomed Orienteering once more as one of the 27 official Sports of the Games, with the French Thierry Gueorgiou, the Swiss Simone Niggli-Luder and the Swiss team (Daniel Hubmann, Lea Müller, Matthias Merz and Simone Niggli-Luder) getting the gold.

In Kaohsiung in 2009, Orienteering strengthened its position in The World Games by reaching one more day (read “one more stage”) in the program. The Russian Andrey Khramov and the Finn Minna Kauppi won the Sprint, the Swiss Daniel Hubmann and the Australian Hanny Allston got the gold in the Middle and Russia - with Andrey Khramov, Dmitry Tsvetkov, Galina Vinogradova and Yulia Novikova - was the Sprint Mixed Relay's winner. In 2013, The World Games made its first incursion to South America. The event took place in Cali, Colombia, and was marked by really impressive numbers: 2982 athletes representing 103 countries, 26 Official Sports and 5 Invitational Sports, 915 Media representatives and, last but not least, 550,000 spectators. On the competitive plan, the Orienteering program kept the same format and the great figure of the Games was Matthias Kyburz, winner of the Sprint, Middle Distance and, along with Daniel Hubmann, Sara Luescher and Judith Wyder, the Mixed Sprint Relay. The Women victories in the individual competitions were the Swede Annika Billstam and the Finn Minna Kauppi, in the Sprint and Middle Distance, respectively.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sauli Pietikäinen: "I aim to do the right things, things right and at a right time!"

Topped with one gold medal, two silver and one bronze in the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships, the 2016 season closes a cycle in Sauli Pietikäinen's career. The time as Junior comes to an end and it's time for a break. But the idea is to return later... and stronger than ever!

Would you like to introduce yourself?

Sauli Pietikäinen (S. P.) - My name is Sauli Pietikäinen, I'm 20 years old and I'm from Kouvola, Southeast Finland. I study economics and business at the University of Jyväskylä. My hobbies are basically all kinds of sports and I’ve also done some mapmaking.

Why Orienteering and why not, for example, Ice Hockey?

S. P. - I’ve always been into endurance sports. I've always been strong at ballgames, such as Football and indoor Hockey, seeing them as a good way of training and having fun. Still, endurance sport has been the number one. I’ve chosen Orienteering and MTB Orienteering in particular because, in it, one can combine all kinds of features together. You can train so versatilely and that’s what I like. It is fascinating to see yourself improve in this kind of sport – both physically and mentally.

Was MTB Orienteering an upgrade from FootO?

S. P. - That is the case for many MTBO riders, but not for me. I have competed in FootO, as well as in skiO and ridden a bike a lot. I just like to do Orienteering with bike. I rode my first MTBO races in the National Championships in Finland when I was 15. After the World Championships in Estonia, in 2013, I decided to take MTBO as a major sport. I was 17 but, even making solid races there, my best position was the 13th place in the Long Distance. In Estonia, the strongest men Junior was Cedric Beill. He won every single gold medal out of four possible. In the prize giving ceremony of Relay, I looked up to the podium and decided that, at the age of 20, in 2016, I would also win four gold medals out of four. Close, but no cigar. One could say he was my idol.

What makes MTB Orienteering so special?

S. P. - I think MTBO is a beautiful and challenging sport. I like the challenge of the route choices, demanding terrains, up and downhills, the speed and fast riding.

How is your training routine?

S. P. - I use road cycling to improve my speed and strength. Road races last up to 4-5 hours so an hour-and-half MTBO Long Distance doesn’t feel that tough once one gets used to road races. Naturally I also have to train with my mountain bike to convert the speed from the roads to the paths. I do some technical mountain bike trainings, and trainings with map, of course. Basically, my training is pretty simple, just a good mix of riding, weight lifting, easy trainings, hard trainings, rest days, skiing, ball games, power trainings, long trainings, races, etc… Actually, not so simple to make the right combination. I aim to do the right things, things right and at a right time! In my mind, I do train quite a lot. I’ve tried to train as professionally as possible. Last winter I worked hard to improve my skills so that I could ride faster in the summer. I’ve found it easier to orienteer in MTBO races when you can ride fast. When you know you’re a strong rider you can take more time to do Orienteering and thus make less mistakes – this is how self-confidence is built, at least in my case.

Looking back on the season, how do you feel?

S. P. - Well, I’m satisfied. Although my goal was to win an individual gold I am now happy with the results. Not just and only the World Championships, but also all the Nationals, WRE races and other races I rode. I’m satisfied with the way I prepared myself heading to the World Championships. I also attended the World Cup in France, in May, but I feel I wasn’t at the top of my shape back then. Also the vineyards were a real challenge for my orienteering skills. I think that by training you can improve your skills and strength, yes, but the final step is taken just by competing. I’m satisfied I got to take part in so many races this summer, from Finland to Sweden, France, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, and so on.

How hard was it to lose the Sprint gold by two seconds and the Middle gold by three seconds in the Junior World MTBO Championships?

S. P. - Well, needless to say it felt bad. As an athlete, winning is the goal to aim for. After both races I felt disappointed with not being able to ride the courses some seconds faster… In sprint it was a twenty-five-second mistake and in the middle one a fifteen-second. I tried to figure out the route choices that cost me the gold. Despite the small marginals in Sprint and in Middle, the saddest race was the Long Distance one. I knew that race would fit me better than shorter ones and the course was good for me. I led the race but had a crash that broke my bike and it took me about five minutes to get everything together. It hurt to ride the race until the end and the bronze medal didn’t warm my heart at all. After the race it just felt so bad knowing that that race was the last chance for me to win an individual gold as a junior. Even having “won” three medals out of three races, I felt I had undercut my goals, as I actually had. I was asked then, and many times after, if I'd give these three individual medals to get the gold one. Back then, after the individual races, I would have done it. Now, I do appreciate those silver and bronze medals more and they tell me that I was in very good condition and ready to win. The gold in relay topped the World Championships and my team mates must be thanked for the astonishing job they did, letting me start the last leg in second place.

If I asked you to choose a moment - the great achievement of the Championships -, what would it be?

S. P. - This is an easy one – without a doubt it was the last 200 meters, from the last control to the finish line in the Relay. It had been a stressful race, battling for the win with the Czech guy. Before the spectators control I had made a big effort and was leading the race. However I didn’t know the advantage I had. Upon arriving at the last control, it was great fun to grab the Finnish flag and ride to the finish line seeing my team mates waiting and celebrating. That was something I had never felt before.

What about Portugal and the JWMTBOC overall?

S. P. - I think the races and everything else were well organized. The model event reflected how the terrains would be well. Personally I didn’t see the importance of an unofficial mass-start but that’s just my opinion. I’ve raced twice in Portugal - European Championships 2015 and the World Championships, this summer. Both competitions have been successful, so the organizers must be pretty good at arranging MTBO races in Portugal.

What does it mean to be part of the Finland MTBO team?

S. P. - It means good training camps, races and people who have become friends. I’ve been a part of the National team for four years. In that time we’ve driven a lot by car, flown a lot by plane and got to ride our bikes in a great spectrum of terrains and races.

Are you ready to face the challenging MTBO Elite next year? Do you already feel “butterflies in your stomach”?

S. P. - I have to say that I will concentrate on road cycling now. I’m not saying I will quit MTBO but, in the next seasons, I won’t ride MTBO races or practice for them. But, maybe if, for example, the WMTBOC were to be arranged in Finland, let’s say, in 2022, you might see me there stronger than ever! Taking part in Elite races this summer was a good preparation for the Junior races. The Sprint in Åhus, in April, was a good race for me but not a perfect one. It was good to measure my performance there, three weeks before the World Cup, in France. So, my goals are in Time Trial - and road nationals and to ride good races with the team I ride with in road cycling. This summer was the first one I rode road races alongside MTBO races.

I found your motto, “I've always got time for the media!”, interesting. How do you see the relationship between the media and Orienteering? Does it please you?

S. P. - As an economics student I see self-promoting as an important way of making MTBO interesting for sponsors, race organizers and federations. I’m always ready to give an interview and I bring MTBO up in social media. That’s what my motto means. The more people do this, the better and bigger MTBO looks in the eyes of others. We must face the fact that MTBO is such a minor sport – just like Orienteering, if looked on from a global point of view. At least in Finland the amount of MTBO riders have increased steadily each year and in the Nationals there are already over 300 riders. The media, and national orienteering federations can be counted as “media” in my opinion, have a huge role in making MTBO an even greater sport. Thus, it is important how we, MTBO riders, are seen in the media and in social media. Am I pleased with the way it is now? Well, yes. At least in Finland, MTBO has got some visibility in the media.

Now that we're about to “turn the page” and go into a new year, I would ask you for a wish for 2017.

S. P. - I wish some nice and warm weather, good legs, good races and good training!

Joaquim Margarido