I'm unfamiliar with the discussion and the decision; could you link to the info?
I've been thinking about this and I totally can't figure out why they would split 17-20 again. We have so few juniors, splitting them and giving them all less competition just doesn't seem to make sense. It's not like the younger ones (17-18, Leif, David, Michael, Rachel) aren't holding their own against the older ones (19-20).
This is after taking Rachel down to the US Champs where she was the only F20, racing a different course than the only F18.
I also wonder about putting 35/45/55 all on different courses. Again, seems like splitting up the competition needlessly.
Brian, yes a head scatcher. I'll share some more thoughts once I'm back from paddling holiday late in the week.
You know, single course events, like goats, Highlander, rogaines and so forth, are popular.
I think that a big difference between orienteering in North America and orienteering in Europe is the depth of field. If you do a road run, whether training or competitively, is ready to see how well you've done. With orienteering, it's important to have people to compare to. A field of ten people doesn't give that much feedback, and minor errors don't show up as strongly. Fields of fifty to a hundred shine a laser on every minor bobble that you almost forgot, until you wonder, why was I down today?
Maybe the thing to do is have more single course events. Last year I organized a goat style event in which I made the direct navigation technical, but always had an easier, longer (time wise) around route via clearings, trails, fences, making the course accesdible for solid intermediate orienteers, who actually did show up and enjoy themselves along with the experts. The course had three loops; do one, two or all three for an official result. And a skip each loop, which is not only strategy for the experts, but a bailout for the less experienced having trouble with one control. Everyone head to head gives much bigger fields, and can sometimes be easier to organise.
Saturday may have been the first championship orienteering race hosted by HKF/GHO/DGL since the mid 80’s that I wasn’t involved in as a major volunteer. While I was only able to be at races on Saturday because my knee locked up on Sat night it was clear from the one day of racing that Meghan, Patrick and Cassie had done the bulk of the heavy lifting but that a huge number of hard working volunteers did most of the race day stuff. I really enjoyed the race.
What does this have to do with juniors?
Well junior participation in the Ontario Champs was lower than I think we had hoped. But on Sunday DGL ran a choose-your-adventure mass start race an hour after the Ont Champs starts at the same location (same map, apparently a lot of the same controls). Junior participation (helped by some cadets) out numbered the champs participation.
Is there a lesson here?
Do champs races scare off kids new to the sport? Does the choose-your-adventure mass start (aka score-O) format attract more kids?
Probably both but it is worth noting that when DGL were asked for feedback about junior categories at champs races we suggested that three new categories be added at the U20, U16 and U12 age groups for forest M and L races) and that these categories be champion and medal eligible categories. We also proposed that these race categories would use the mass start CYA format by using many of the controls already being used in the traditional categories. This would allow the new categories to have a name that didn’t imply that it was a lesser category (ie B vs A). Instead it could be known as “cross” vs the other categories that really are “time trials”.
Our initial thoughts are that we could have the following (TT =time trial, X= cross):
U12TT, U16TT, U20TT and U12X, U16X, U20X as a minimum but to also add U10TT and U14TT as well.
Our idea was based on our knowledge with ARK that kids like the challenge of the sport but instead of being penalized for having trouble finding a control they are
rewarded with finding one. Also, the head to head mass start format is attractive because it is less daunting than running all
on your own and more similar to other running races they likely would have participated in. The other attractive idea of our proposal is that it solves the ‘jumps’ in the ladder of development issues that point to point race course length and difficulty have.
Of course this is a radical change for a sport that really has trouble changing. As an example just look at how long it took people to accept ARK as being an important program to develop orienteering skills (and some still don’t). Developing athletes for the international level is important but having (champs) race categories and formats that are fun for juniors is equally important. We thought our idea achieved a happy balance. And if there are people that know what young orienteers like and what skills they have it is Patrick, Meghan and Cassie. Afterall, most of their job is spent developing these young kids and athletes right! Maybe just maybe DGL knows a thing or two about this.
As a note on this, we offered free entry to the champs races for the entire weekend to all DGL ARX participants (12 and up) but said that they had to pay to participate in the P2P (the score event held concurrently). We had several of our juniors choose to participate in the P2P over the champs and a couple who ran the champs kind've wished that they had.