With the first "modern" forest WOC complete and the first sprint WOC 10.5 months away I was hoping to get some discussion going on North American elite orienteering in this era of alternating forest and sprint WOCs.
I think this is a timely discussion because both the US and Canada have many young athletes making the jump from the junior ranks into the University and Sr WOCs and we are coming off a Forest WOC where the US men had one of their best ever relay performances (from a % behind the winner perspective) and the Canadian women were 18th and the top non-European country in the relay.
Some questions I think would be valuable to consider.
1) What can the US and Canada do to improve our international performances? link athletes to European clubs, joint training camps, joint selection races, funding assistance?
2) How can the domestic racing season be designed to give our elite athletes more head-to-head racing opportunities? sprint only weekends, relay or mass start races to mimic WOC relay, national champs not conflicting with WOC, NAOC double as Team Trials, annual split NAOC?
3) How can we better recruit and retain elite athletes? cross over with other sports, larger teams sent to World Cup races, WUOC and NAOC?
I should add that one of the reasons I am posting this is that I believe the transparency and 'openness' of Canada's National Teams has gradually eroded over the last 20 years or so. I don't believe this was deliberate but perhaps has developed from a legacy of policies and structures that were designed for certain past situations (funding sources, athlete depth, geographic distribution, etc.). With split WOC, discipline specialization, more athletes living in Europe, cross over sport training and racing (track, XC) and the importance of social media in our sport I think it is really crucial to have a transparent, inclusive, positive and open national teams program.
For example, some of the young athletes in my club found Canada's HPP application process complicated, redundant and tedious. I know some positive changes have been made but would inviting some top athletes to join the HPP be a better and more positive process? (i.e. take a process where one needs to 'prove' they are worthy to make the HPP and turn it into a process where people reach out and invite top athletes and automatically select those athletes that are achieving certain continental and international race performance benchmarks). Target action: Create a talent identification group.
I'm also not a fan of a selection process where selection criteria change, is vague and/or isn't actively promoted to the entire O community. I know of many athletes that could have likely done well in a selection race but they either didn't know about it, didn't know about it time, or found out (too late) that it wasn't open to all members. In situations like this it appears that the system could be stacked against certain people. It most certainly wasn't the intention to be but the perception that it is could make the difference of an athlete training hard to race at WOC, WUOC, WC, NAOC vs quitting the sport altogether. Given that we have so few elite athletes to begin this we can't afford for that to happen.
So, do we need a re-think on how we develop, recruit and select NorAm elite orienteers or is the status quo OK? I look forward to see how this thread develops.
Great post and questions Hammer
My two cents worth: At the same time I admire and feel sorry for our athletes going off to JWOC for the first time.
They are being tossed into the deep end of the pool before they have barely learned to swim. Sure they can orienteer but do they ever get a chance to race, really race? No.
Their European counterparts (as well as a handful of other countries) will be older when they get to their first JWOC because it is harder to make their national team and they will be better hardened by having grown up in systems where they are competing for their clubs in national competitions, relays etc on a regular basis. And the club members show pride in how their kids are doing, their results are in the local press and the good ones get support to travel and get better.
Our kids, particularly the girls experience years of orienteering where to show up pretty well guarantees a medal performance and for all it really doesn't matter to anyone but themselves how they do in a particular race. Emily, the Emmas and a few others deserve a lot of credit for doing so well in spite of our junior competitive climate instead of because of it.
The Europeans get to compete in a European Youth Orienteering Championships with under 18 and under 16 categories before they get to JWOC.
Look at some other sports such as skiing and canoeing and look at what those juniors have to survive in competitions before they get considered for the national team.
We don't have the numbers we see in other sports but we could create the environment by supporting club junior teams to go to national youth training camps - hard training camps where performance will be judged critically and to national and regional youth competitions. Yes it will take money but nothing compared to what skiers and canoeists pay to get to the top.
We would also do well -and this costs next to nothing - to bring in a national ranking list where each junior and elite orienteer is ranked on every race they do and here is the important part - publicize that ranking at every opportunity we get. We do that with the jROTC competitions in Florida and it is making a great difference in the amount and quality of the orienteering performances we are getting at the top of the ranking lists.
As for the Seniors I have to shake my head thinking why was a guy like Eric Kemp at the WOC but not competing for Canada. Our elite are retiring way too early thus robbing us of much needed depth.
Hammer, I loved having both US and Canadian elites for this year's WOC Team Trials. I hope we get to do this more often.
From an organizing / course design / mapping perspective, it raised the coordination required a bit and the stress level a bit more - after all, who wants to be responsible for messing up TWO nations' team selection process - but it was also very satisfying to watch the athletes compete. Jon and I especially appreciated some of the community experts who helped out with Team Trials - specific details, like pre-running and organizing the TT start area.
From a selection committee perspective (I wore a few hats this year), I appreciated having the context of how US and Canadian elites performed in such an environment. I can't speak for my fellow committee members, but I'll be happy to support such combined endeavors in the future. The closer we can come to simulating elite competition overseas, the better the experience for all involved.
If coordinate early enough, we can be sure to publish details early so everyone interested can plan accordingly. And, as appropriate, we can leverage national championships, NAOC, Jr. Nationals, etc.
I've heard there may already be a move to hold the combined Sprint WOC TT in Canada this spring. All good, because we were really wracking our brains to come up with the right venues to put together a sprint TT in our area!
TTs are so far away that I think I have to say no to them already... timing and distance
I'm with Anton on this one, it'll be tough for me to realistically make team trials
I really like the idea of a team trials if it is linked to NAOC where WOC pre-selection positions are on the line and attendance of all top athletes is likely but with more NorAm athletes living and training in Europe having a TT in North America just a few days before a World Cup race in the middle of the spring race season isn’t ideal. That said I’m not sure what the ideal situation is but certainly working to have our best possible team at WOC should be a priority. Thanks to David and Sage OC for volunteering on hosting the TT event.
I’m curious what considerations NZ and Australia make for their European-based athletes in their World Cup and WOC selection process.
I’d love to see a schedule where our best athletes are able to attend our NAOC and/or National Champs. Sometimes that isn’t possible. e.g. 2020 Canadian champs are a direct conflict with WOC.
One idea: An annual NAOC in the late summer or fall of every year when big Euro races and WOC are over and can double as a high priority selection race (with numerous automatic selections) for the following year WOC. Even year NAOC stays as is but remove sprint (e.g. forest middle, long and relay). It used to be just two day classic so kinda like it was. Then in odd years starting in 2021 have a sprint NAOC with sprint, knockout, sprint relay (no age classes, completely open). It wouldn’t be a big participation race but I think it would attract more than a spring TT. But I may be completely wrong on that. Time to poll the athletes.
If I remember correctly, NZ had some races that their overseas athletes could choose ahead of time as their own trial races. These had to be prior to a specific deadline. Also not an ideal solution, but as you said, I am not sure an ideal one exists.
As a current NorAm elite, I would really, really appreciate an annual NAOC. It would give me another important goal each year where I could compete under pressure without the travel to Europe. Organizing the event without sprint seems like a reasonable compromise to open it to more clubs who don't have sprint maps.
And from my perspective as a coach, my athletes who don't go to JWOC need another competition in NorAm that can serve as a yearly goal. US Junior Nationals currently fills this role in the spring. One reason the Nordic countries can continue to maintain such depth because Tiomila and Jukola give yearly goals for everyone not making the WOC or JWOC teams.
I'm not sure how to get this event rolling, but it might be best to do an odd-year NAOC outside of our respective federations. I was recently speaking with the Portuguese team at WOC and learned that the Portuguese Federation has no involvement whatsoever in the Portugal O-Meeting. They felt that this was part of the reason for its success because it cycled between 3 or 4 clubs. Each club has the agility to quickly make changes as it sees fit. Perhaps the same would be true for an event like this one.
BorisGr - Australia does the same.
Annual autumn equinox NAOC.
Athletes still on the high of summer racing. Not only psychologically, but at the back end of their peak(s)...
Coupled with pre uni-midterm timing...may yield the strongest field.
Qualifiers have extra motivation to bust their ass through the winter.
I have to say though...
We’re all just pundits...
(And Hammer alluded to it)
What do NorAm elites want?
An Iberian Feb/Mar qualifying scenario à la GSwede seems pretty appealing/logical too.
Always reasonably priced Transatlantic flights to be had during those months.
Maybe Barbados can host a Sprint NAOC
Florida has only fair forest venues but great sprint venues including UF, UM, FSU, UCF, USF, SFU, FAU, FIU (two canpuses), Stetson and perhaps a half dozen other schools, Then on to Epcot, Universal and other theme parks. How about Key West or Old St Augustine?
However autumn equinox is not deal timing, spring equinox would be better, late February even better.
I would love the idea of an extra NAOC sprint-based year, alternating between the regular NAOC. My one piece of input here is that the Sprint-NAOC would have to be at least a few months after a forest WOC because during that time Elites have no focus on sprint and vice-versa. There needs to be a reasonable time to readjust, recovery from a stressful season, and get back in form.
One additional piece that I feel should be discussed;
//How can North America accommodate for their elite orienteers over in Europe.//
These are often the most dedicated and best runners we have. They have often left their families and friends to train under optimal circumstances.
TTs for NorAm elites living in Europe:
A yearly NAOC isn't a bad idea but the dates would have to vary every year because big races like WOC or EOC or WC are not on the same weekends/weeks every year.
Another good idea I had was that the 15or so top NorAm elites that are in Europe or are planning to be in Europe in spring/summer would decide together with both federations on a race/races they would all attend in Europe. Prefferably a race that would be relevant to the following WOC.
Most Nordic countries host their team trials(and a training camp) a month or so before WOC in that country and normally they welcome other teams to attend as well. Maybe we could explore the possibility to attend those races from now on?
From Bulletin #2 of WOC 2020
"Open selection races will be organised for all teams. The preliminary dates for selection races are 30 May and 31 May 2020. The races will be held in Esbjerg and Ribe. The two areas are relevant for the WOC competitions and the maps will be mapped by GT Maps (the WOC mapper). The areas have not been used for orienteering before. The race formats will be normal Sprint (Ribe) and Knock-Out Sprint (Esbjerg C).The selection races will be World Ranking Events and the areas are included in the embargo".
I love this idea. (No bias here, FYI)
We need some stepping stones from local level racing to competing at JWOC, WOC, etc. Like Greg said, a more feasible goal before JWOC for Jrs making the transition for the first time, or those just shy of making the team. We have no future in this sport if we aren’t offering situations for up and coming juniors to dip their toes into the racing world, perhaps get a confidence booster or inspiration to be an international athlete if we don’t host these opportunities.
Additionally, yearly NAOCs would serve as a less expensive trip to a high quality event.
What I’ve found in my history of racing for the national team is that no matter how much you train on maps, if you lack high pressure race experience then you will not be truly prepared for a big international event. What North America needs more of is these high quality races so that we can practice for the even bigger ones.
These more accessible and realistic yearly NAOCs could be set an a maximum priority for all team members, HPP members, etc. They may serve as selection races for WOC, JWOC, etc. This way, we can get maximal participation. But, to do this, timing of other events would have to be highly thought out. For example, sprint team trials in May this coming year are almost a direct conflict with a World Cup. This year, sprint selections occurred barely two weeks ahead of WOC. And, like Jan Erik said, we would have to consider sprint vs forest WOC and align the respective NAOCs accordingly.
Basically, a lot of logistics have to go into planning these high levels races. I think the best way is to sit down at the end of the year to plan everything for the next year out, and reduce the last minute ‘shoot, we need a race to do such and such, let’s throw it in here’ kind of things that seem to be happening a lot. There is a small period of time where there won’t be overlaps with university midterms and exams, high school graduation, work, etc. But with good planning this would could work very smoothly. Perhaps as Anton said, some polling of all athletes would have to be done to determine dates so reduce conflicts. Obviously not everyone will be happy, but it’s a start.
Final thought: what do we want? More accessible high level races!
When do we want them? At times that don’t conflict with anything!
And finally, as a volunteer myself with Adventure Running Kids I want to thank all the wonderful volunteers that host our races. It is greatly appreciated. Together (race officials, coaches, athletes, etc.) we make a great orienteering community :)
One of the things I've given some thought to is whether something like the National League we have in Australia (which has been very successful in strengthening our domestic elite competition) could work in North America. This involves around 5-6 race weekends per year (2-3 of which are our national championships and our major multi-day at Easter).
It would certainly be more challenging to do in North America - partly because your orienteering population is more spread out over the continent than ours is (apart from Perth, most of our orienteering population is in the southeast quarter). It would also be harder to replicate the team aspect of the competition (an important part of it in Australia) in North America - it's a happy accident of Australia's political geography that it's given us just about the right number of units (six states and two territories, though the Northern Territory doesn't have a team) to have a viable team competition. I still think there's merit in having some kind of structure in place which sets up a realistic number of weekends (say, 4) that hopefully a reasonably high proportion of people will target.
To quickly make a comment before I add more, one could consider to have 2 series of selection races. One in Europe and one in Canada. That way people don't need to travel across the ocean to get to them. The winner of each of these could be given a spot. This format would not work if say 90% of the runners are in Canada and 10% are in Europe that's why I don't think its a good idea.
One problem with anton's idea is that I can't list 15 guys and 15 girls in Europe from Canada trying out for WOC.
For example from Canadian men the only one I know who is in Europe is Will Critchley who would want to try out for sprint (and now Christian I guess). I can list 10 male runners from canada though.
Its a crappy problem to solve because even just in Canada, people need plane tickets to get from Ottawa to Vancouver or vice versa. I think minimizing the number of trips per a year is the way to go, so ideally I would hold an annual NAOC that doesn't conflict with finals / midterms (otherwise we can always defer them, I deferred 3 exams this year) and use this as the selection race for the upcoming WOC.
This way its only 1 plane ticket to NAOC + selection race. And then 1 ticket to WOC if you make it.
2 plane tickets is about all I can do per a year, (700 + 1500) ish without much additional funding. This would actually be the most fair in my opinion, because then those who are in Europe make the long trip to the selection race here, and then they have a short trip to WOC, making it financially equal.
I do like the idea of holding the selection races in Europe in the relevant terrain. But unless the federation funds everyone to fly out, then I don't think most of us could make it. I think the minimalistic and efficient approach is the way to go.
This year was 3 plane tickets from me, JWOC, WOC, and selection races, and I was lucky that there was no NAOC (or we drove to NAOC earlier in the year), but i'd say that 3 planes is not sustainable. Because everyone living here needs to go to Europe for WOC, I think its fair if the selection races are closer to home and not in Europe.
That's pretty much how the MTBO selection trials work in Australia - one plane ticket to go to the trials (unless you happen to live where the trials will be) and one to Europe for WMTBOC. For the foot version, if you're from the west coast like I am then there's something like three selection races that are generally on the east coast so you're always flying back and forth. I'm no good at foot events so it's not a bother to me but for anyone from Perth considering it, well it's financially demanding.
Blair's comment on the national league events is also fine for those already on the east coast but Western Australia struggles to ever put together a full team and in terms of increasing our competitive aspects, well it just doesn't happen as it's too far to go (unless you're really dedicated e.g. Henry McNulty or myself) especially when there are typically up to five national series rounds per year. Mind you I travel to everything anyway (I don't have kids) so I just pick and choose whatever I want to go to.
Just wanted to chime in a a member of Orienteering Canada's High Performance Committee to say I'm following this conversation with interest. At this point I'm not in a position to say anything official so I won't but I will continue to read everything that's posted here and will bring it back to the HPC.
So is the announcement above about US/Canadian joint team trials for 2020 official, or wishful thinking? I have heard nothing about this from the US Team ESC.
It is definitely the team trials for Canada and Canada has made an offer to the US Team that it could be their team trials as well. Beyond that I will leave it to the US Team ESC to comment on their intentions.
An idea: combine the sprint/middle races for M21E, M20E and F21E whenever possible (yes, even for US/CAN champs, maybe NAOC, but probably WRE wouldn't allow that).
We (particularly on women's side) just need more competition!! And we could handle the extra 1-1.5k in the middle or extra minute or two in the sprint.
A few US athletes at WOC were discussing the recent lack of WREs in North America. WREs form some way of comparing NorAm and Europe living athletes, so comparisons might be easier if we had more WREs! And WRE status might be the extra motivation to get a more competitive field together somewhere in North America.
COF and OUSA may need to provide some encouragement or incentive to offer WREs as they involve extra work and additional costs to the hosting clubs.
I agree with many of the ideas that have been shared here.
- The idea of NAOC matching the WOC format (but 10-11 months ahead).
- The idea of NAOC serving as a/the selection race for WOC (although some people among the U.S. Team leadership have voiced concern about the Team Trials being too long before WOC.)
- The idea of having a set of high-profile elite races that are attractive to and become priority races for serious orienteering athletes in North America.
- The idea that requiring too many plane trips is limiting to a significant number of orienteers' ability to attend important races. (Hey, we could save having to make one flight to Europe by hosting WOC in North America!)
I'm also fine with having the Team Trials as a stand-alone event, preferably one that is announced well ahead of time and doesn't conflict with other major events, so that the best athletes (i.e., the people we should most want there) can plan to attend. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to avoid conflicts for everyone.
I'm generally against the idea of having the U.S. Team Trials in Europe, at least as long as our team motto is "it starts at home." It is a disincentive for up-and-coming and younger athletes (who will tend to have less money) to attend. It's not analogous to other European teams having their trials in the WOC host country, because going to the WOC host country for them is like going to California or perhaps Colorado for me. Geography matters.
Maybe this should be a separate thread, but why is scheduling so hard? Why have so many U.S. Championships events been scheduled at the last minute lately? Why is the 2020 Canadian Championships scheduled at the same time as WOC? Why don't we have a high profile North American race series of some kind (we used to
)? Could it be a lack of leadership? A lack of willingness to cooperate or coordinate?
I've heard that some clubs, when asked, balk at doing small amounts of extra work necessary to make their planned high-quality events into national events, or their national events into WREs or championships. What can be done to encourage clubs to place more value on doing the things that are needed to afford serious athlete development, as well as to raise the profile of the sport?
This is a great discussion. If you haven’t done so yet, please respond to the survey on the US Senior Team and/or Junior Development Program and copy your comments there. It would be really helpful to have these thoughts all in one place and in front of an OUSA committee for work. I am anticipating we may provide survey input to “the powers that be” for all the subject-specific surveys, so that might be a good vehicle to move from great ideas to actual planning and decision making.
Link to surveys: https://orienteeringusa.org/news/2019/announcement...
Rather than thinking nationally (ie. confining legues/trials) to US or Canada, perhaps it would be more logical to think north-south. What I mean is both our countries are so wide, perhaps it is easier to travel north-south. Thus setup joint trials/legues/what-ever on a west coast and east coast basis and, for the purposes of NorAm development, ignore that pesky line at the 49th parallel.
45th parallel over on this side...
I don't think the line from Minnesota/Ontario to Maine/New Brunswick is parallel to much of anything!
The top of NY and the top of VT is all that matters.
Shadow makes an excellent point. Just planning a cross-country trip takes me longer than driving to most anywhere in the northeast US or eastern Canada where orienteering is active (possibly excepting NB/NS).
And my son just started university yesterday at a school in New York state where the nearest O club is Ottawa.
@fossil: Clarkson or St Lawrence by chance, SUNY Potsdam?
If so the nearest club is North Country Orienteering and they happen to be holding a Rogaine with 3, 6 and 9 hour options this coming Saturday, less than 1 hour from both Canton and Potsdam
Man what better parent child bonding than a Rogaine when all his classmates are getting pie-eyed at fraternity rush parties.
If he wants to form a student orienteering club we can whip up campus maps and other maps in the area in no time flat. As we speak one is in process at Wellesley Island State Park.
But to the main point yes, North - South lines of communication in North America are usually much easier than East West. I guess that is why so many people from Ontario an Quebec spend their winters in Florida instead of Alberta or Saskatchewan.
Keeping the discussion going...
what would the process need to be for OC and OUSA to look at the idea of an annual NAOC (alternating urban and forest) and what would need to be done at the IOF level? European Champs is going annual. Will regional sprint champions get automatic spots at urban WOC?
@Hammer:Aug 21, 2019 5:14 PM
Agree with everything
@gordhun:Aug 21, 2019 7:20 PM
@ebone:Aug 30, 2019 8:18 PM
Agree with everything. This is the right approach that can move the sport forward.
The only point I found missing is the fact that the sport of Orienteering in Canada does not have any structure. It is missing local ranked races that culminate into Provincials, which lead to Regionals and end up with Nationals and NAOC/WOC. Everyone is running just meaningless fun runs. Orienteering in Europe and all successful sports in Canada have a structure which is created by functioning NSO and PSOs. Without a proper functioning structure, we don't have a sport, we don't have results and we just keep sending our best athletes and role models away to Europe. NSO and PSOs need to start up with creating a structure and allow youth into the sport.
With respect to a potential Sprint NAOC:
I think their are enough quality annual sprint tournaments already in place.
Biannually, they could be anointed (or bid on) as defacto team trials/Sprint NAOC’s...
And maybe other cities/regions can step up and lessen the load on the usual suspects...(Vancouver, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco)
Advantage of a Sprint NAOC: more parts of the continent could bid on and take on hosting an NAOC
Disadvantage of a Sprint NAOC: very many of the usual attendees would not cross the state/ province let alone cross the country to attend a weekend of just sprint orienteering.
From an IOF perspective, if the IOF member countries in North America asked for a change, I think it's pretty likely that it would be supported. (I do wonder, though, given that both Canada and the US seem to struggle to find hosts for NAOC when it's their turn, whether there is the capacity to double the number of events - although, as suggested above, a sprint event opens up venues which aren't in play for the current NAOC).
And taking the sprint out of forest NAOCs would also make those more attractive to some clubs.
I've been holding off commenting on this thread since the beginning because I have many hats and I don't want to be seen as representing any one particular group when I don't. (Some of my hats: OCan High Performance Committee member, Major Events Committee chair, HP Coach in Ottawa, program coordinator in Ottawa - those are the main ones)
So that said, what follows is my own personal opinion based on a very wide range of experience within the orienteering community.
1. On the thought of 'we should have annual NAOCs'. Absolutely annual NAOCs would be great. I think this falls into the much more broad category of 'we need more races. period.' Unfortunately the reality is that have an annual NAOCs is incumbent upon us increasing our capacity to host races. Right now both Canada and the US are having trouble filling our existing schedule of races. Finding an extra host to double the number of NAOC level events is a big ask. I think it's a very worthy goal for our communities with the immediate step of (continuing) doing small things to increase our event hosting capacity along with putting policy in place at a national level to lessen the workload for clubs to host these kinds of events. Things like sharing knowledge and best practices, finding ways to have folks that have hosted before help new clubs host, etc.
2. North America is almost 2.5 times the size of Europe with an orienteering population that is a tiny tiny fraction that of Europe and much smaller than many individual nations in Europe. In terms of growing the sport and providing racing opportunities (for our elites as well as everyone else) we're going to be much more efficient focusing on a regional level (North - South, provincial, etc.) than on an international or continental level. Short of a huge influx of funding which we can use to financially support our athletes they can't afford to fly to races across the continent more than once or twice a year (since many are also flying to Europe in the summer) so expecting to have multiple national level meets with a high level of elite participation is unrealistic.
3. Team Trials - This is a very complex issue. There are so many factors and you will never please everyone. We have athletes spread across not just North America but also in Europe. Team shouldn't be too late but also shouldn't be too early. We have limited events that we can choose from. I definitely don't have the answers here but whatever the solution it is critical that selection policies are as fair as possible and perhaps most importantly are very clearly communicated well in advance. Orienteering Canada's HPC is well aware that we screwed up on that this year. Badly.
4. With respect to scheduling - I think one factor is that beggars can't be choosers. When Orienteering Canada and OUSA practically have to beg clubs to host our major events you kind of have to host them when the host clubs are willing / able. Now, as a community we could probably do a better job of that... Something to work on for sure.
5. Lastly I want to address Bugaboospire's statement "...and all successful sports in Canada have a structure which is created by functioning NSO and PSOs."
We need to be very very careful in using traditionally 'successful' sports as a model for orienteering. Sport in North America (and I think in many other parts of the world as well) is in a bit of a crisis. Kids are dropping out (and not signing up) for sport in record numbers. Broadly speaking, our sport system is so focused on the pyramid and have a broad base for the purpose of identifying kids with potential / talent / what have you. Are all those other kids not intrinsically worthy / valuable? As a result we have very few opportunities for that other 90% of kids. As soon as sport turns competitive they turn away. Orienteering Ottawa now has a once a week Adventure Program
for kids 10 to 18 as an alternative to our competitive racing program. The Adventure Program has proven quite successful.
My point is that, while I agree that we need a more structured set of races for our competitive athletes, we absolutely should not do it at the expense of these 'meaningless fun runs'. You might view them as such but for the vast majority of the population that is exactly what they want. If that isn't enough to convince you of their importance on it's on own then let me put it this way: Without any other funding source the recreational participants which make up ~98 percent of our participation are also the source of the vast majority of our revenue. We literally cannot afford to alienate them.
I'm here solely for the meaningless fun runs.
Blair and other Aussies: anything NA could learn from Australia in terms of overcoming the geography?
@Canadian:Sep 13, 2019 8:12 AM "My point is that, while I agree that we need a more structured set of races for our competitive athletes, we absolutely should not do it at the expense of these 'meaningless fun runs'. "
You live in Ontario. According to Ontario's Ministry, the sport "is, or has been, traditionally regarded as a sport in its competitive mode;" So why do we have no competitive racing structure, then?
My point was that we do not have structured competitive races and ranking. We have just 'meaningless fun runs' at the expense of structured competitive races and ranking.
Where does the vast majority of your revenue from recreational participants go?
@Bugaboospire:Sep 13, 2019 2:35 PM...
I'm not sure of the context of that Ministry quote but if I understand correctly they are stating they are only (or mostly) responsible for competitive sport and not recreational sport. That is largely the cause of the issues I was getting at this morning.
I really have no idea why you are implying a connection between what the ministry of sport says and our lack of competitive racing structure. Other than purportedly being responsible for orienteering (or at least competitive orienteering) we have no relationship whatsoever with the Ontario's Ministry of Sport. We get no funding nor support from them, and, as far as I know aren't under any obligation to them.
You're right that we don't have structured competitive races nor ranking. I don't agree that the meaningless fun runs are at the expense of these structured races. At least not in a general sense. That might be true of certain organizations / clubs within the community but that is for those organizations to sort out, perhaps with leadership assistance from provincial / national organizations.
To answer your question about where our revenue goes... I'll answer that with my Ottawa hat on and I know we're at the top of the bell curve when it comes to revenue, spending, and activity.
Without going through the entire budget here are some highlights:
Revenue: Our revenue comes from a wide variety of sources including but not limited to local events (we hold about two dozen per year), O-Fest (maybe 50% recreational participants), our annual rogaine, Youth and other programs, and Outreach sessions including, for the last few years several thousand dollars from a couple of cadet competitions.
Operational expenses for all of the above events and programs including coaching.
Maps - we spend a huge chunk of our budget on new maps (some of new areas some of existing areas) which benefit our competitive athletes as well as recreational.
Equipment - purchasing and maintaining equipment including SI, flags, and various other club equipment.
Various other items including a donation to Orienteering Canada's HPP and support of our HPP members and specifically our JWOC and WOC athletes.
@Canadian:Sep 13, 2019 1:22 PM "I'm not sure of the context of that Ministry quote but if I understand correctly they are stating they are only (or mostly) responsible for competitive sport and not recreational sport. That is largely the cause of the issues I was getting at this morning.
I really have no idea why you are implying a connection between what the ministry of sport says and our lack of competitive racing structure. Other than purportedly being responsible for orienteering (or at least competitive orienteering) we have no relationship whatsoever with the Ontario's Ministry of Sport. "
Could you please then explain why Orienteering Ontario (OOA) (https://www.orienteeringontario.ca/
) is not an Ontario PSO (Provincial Sports Organization), like for example AOA (Alberta Orienteering Association), or Manitoba Orienteering Association is?
I have no idea. I'm not involved at the provincial level. It is possible that I'm actually wrong and that Orienteering Ontario is an official PSO with the province but if so I know nothing about it and have seen no indication of that being the case.
Ok, there's some discussion here for a sprint-focused NAOC in the falls of odd-numbered years...
How many people do we think we could realistically get to participate in this?
Not as many as Nationals; and this year, not many at all given Nationals had a max of 200 participants.
Some folks do the sprints at US Nationals only because they're there for the Middle and Long races.
There were 9 F21s and 18 M21 registered in the elite classes at US Nationals in California.
I think you should tie into one of the already-organized sprint camps and use them, somehow, for team qualification. Many WOC/Team-focused folks (especially sprinters) already attend one or more of them.
I think the North American situation is more challenging than the Australian one because the population is more evenly spread: probably about 90% of the Australian population (and certainly that percentage of the orienteering population) is in the southeastern quarter of the country, and at a guess 70% of it would be within a day's drive of Wagga (where Oceania is this year). The equivalent for us of Yukon would be having events in Broome.
We have a rotation for our major competitions (nationals and the multi-day at Easter), with the larger states doing each every six years and the smaller states every eight. Oceania is outside this and we're not finding it easy to find a 2023 host at present. Having that type of major events program is helped by the fact that school vacations are less concentrated in the summer than they are in North America; the end of September/early October week when we run nationals is school vacation in all or almost all states (depending on the year), and Easter is also usually in a vacation period (except sometimes if it's very late).
I’d go to a race in Broome! (Says an Aussie who is not one of the 90% and didn’t do much national level racing due largely to travel time/cost). That’s not a criticism of the Aussie system - I always was of the mindset that if I cared enough about it, I would prioritise it above other things and make the necessary sacrifices to go. I didn’t.
Just a thought - move NAOC to late spring/early summer and make that the WOC selection. When WOC is sprint have sprint NAOC.
I belong to clubs in Canada and the USA and am a member of both national associations so please bear with me.
In my view Orienteering Canada has done a fair job of rotating their championships around the country but I think it is more by chance than by design. They tried having a set rotation and it worked for a while but it seems a few associations cannot or will not carry the load they used to while a few others are willing to step into the breach so why not let them.
If I had something to urge Orienteering Canada it would be to tell us where the 2021, 2022, 2023 champs are going to be.
As for O-USA that is a total dog's breakfast! My suggestion to them (and I've made it before) is for the national body to get out and start asking/ begging if necessary clubs in various regions to put on their three major Nationals - Junior, National and Masters - and rotate those events around the country. It just doesn't work to wait for the clubs to come forward asking to put on a championships. What they are doing with the Masters this year - piggybacking on an established event - should be the template for years to come, asking O-CINN for instance to co-host one of the Nationals with the Flying Pig, Georgia another.
Florida and SOAR might be talked into doing a Masters if they could hold it in early December. They (we) have a county tourist association keen to have a major event there. But you have to ask us. They (we) are never going to stick a neck out to seek a National event but ask and there might be a positive response. I bet a lot of other clubs/ associations might be the same way.
O-USA, too, should be in a position to announce its championship schedule 2-3 years in advance.
NAOC kinda happens whenever a club that volunteers to host it finds convenient. Sometimes it's really hard to find a host.
Something which has always puzzled me, as a reader of recurrent US threads about separate Junior, Open and Masters Nationals (and from a country where our national championships encompass all ages 6-96 in the one carnival), is: WHY? As in, what is the logic/advantage in separating them out? Do we know of many other countries which do this...?
But yes, Australia's state (al)location system has been in place for probably 40 years, rotating amongst the 7 different states/territories, and while sometimes there are swaps and/or workload-sharing, it seems to work ok because in each of our states there are at least 5 clubs to share in the organisation of a nationals carnival. Whereas I'm not sure if I've heard of any US state which has more than one active club?
Good question Jenny and the answer is not that it has always been that way. The current Junior - Open - Masters format is only 2-3 years old.
Once upon a time there was only one US Orienteering Championships -a two day total time event encompassing all ages and classes
Then there were created a relay and night orienteering championships
Then there was created an intercollegiate and interscholastic championships
Then the IOF went to Sprint-Medium-Long format for their championships so the US followed suit but many liked the old format so that became the US Classic Championships.
Then people started saying 'This is crazy; let's simplify things.
So they simplified the IC/IS into the Junior Nationals
They simplified the S-M-L into the Nationals with all age classes invited
They simplified the Classics in to the Masters Nationals, I guess based on the idea that it was us old folks who still liked the two-day format.
If you are keeping track you will also notice that they simplified the relay and night-O championships right out of existence.
PS There are many US states that have more than one club. What they do not have are state or regional associations. All clubs join directly to O-USA if they want to.
That's something which is a big difference between the Australian and North American sporting cultures - in Australia, outside the major professional sports which have club-based franchises, the state has been the traditional unit for national sporting competition, and state sporting organisations usually play a major role in sports governance (more so than regional bodies in any other orienteering country I can think of). A lot of such government support as exists for sport also comes from state governments.
Gordon, you missed the Long-O (later known as Ultralong) which I think has also gone away.
Off the top of my head, California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts have (or at least used to have) multiple clubs. Some clubs also have "territory" that spills across state lines.
Depending on where you put PTOC, then either Missouri or Kansas has two clubs.
Virginia and North Carolina may have multiple clubs as well
Let’s narrow our focus.
“...move NAOC to late spring/early summer and make that the WOC selection. When WOC is sprint have sprint NAOC.”
Seems pretty straightforward. Establish the date of the biannual.
It’s 2 or 3 days out of 730. You’ll never please everyone. Tough pitooty if you can’t make it. I’d like to think one with a vested interest would plan around it....
The month of May makes most sense. (a weekend over the 20th - 31st, maybe?)
How concurrent (or not) are the American and Canadian high school/uni exam schedules these days? Too much of a regional variance?
Airfare-wise, still not prime time. Lots of seat sales 6-12 months in advance as well.
Not to rain on anyone's parade because I like the reasons proposed for a spring NAOC but for most of the clubs in Canada a May major event is not feasible (or at least very difficult) due to having not that many snow free weeks in woods prior to the event.
With that said...
Who’s doing 2020?
Snow really doesn’t hinder planning/mapping.
...or racing for that matter.
...and a wintery mid to late May affects a tenth of North America.
Gord, there's a fair amount of disinformation in your timeline, particularly relating to order of events and simplifications. To try to correct some of it and hopefully not introduce more in the process, here are some observations...
Intercollegiates and Interscholastics were not created at the same time and have not always been held together. Intercollegiates is much older. OUSA web page shows it dates back to 1973 at least. Interscholastics is shown dating back at least to 2000 but I'm pretty sure it dates back to somewhere in the 1990's.
Similarly Relay and Night-O were not created at the same time. Relay is shown dating back to 1985. Night-O is shown dating back to 1999. I recall being at "the first" US Night-O Champs hosted by HVO in 1996 but maybe that was unofficial?
As far as simplifications go there were few other than eliminating some of the events as already mentioned. "Junior Nationals" is essentially unchanged from IC/IS other than name. Nationals is essentially unchanged from SML other than name. And Masters Nationals is essentially unchanged from Classic Champs except that it appears to have eliminated age groups below 35+ as championship classes.
For a while it was assumed that the Classic Champs would eventually die a natural death as those who preferred it to SML eventually got old enough to no longer keep it going. But it was eventually realized that it was sometimes easier to find clubs willing/able to host 2 forest days than 2 forest days plus a sprint day and re-purposing the Classic Champs as Masters Nationals was hit upon as a solution. The end result is that there are now 2 Nationals for masters competitors, but there also seem to be fewer complaints.
Now that WOC has switched to alternating forest and sprint WOC years I could imagine as is now being discussed to do similar with NAOC that OUSA might want to reimagine the US Champs calendar again. If for example the sprint were moved to a separate event or pinned onto one of the existing sprint festivals, then the remaining "ML" Champs would perhaps be an event easier to find bidders for. Or... maybe it could morph into "MLR" and bring back the Club Relay.
NAOC 2020 is hosted by BAOC. Hope they can improve some logistical snafus from last weekend's Nationals. Maps and courses were decent, at any rate. Next year is in a different area of California.https://www.cal-o-fest.com/#!/
Thanks, Delyn, for linking to the OUSA Clubs page.
I knew that.
Dad brain moment.
I noticed, that the thread deviated drastically from original Hammer's questions. Please, stay on topic :), there some very important questions there. I will post later, my thoughts on those.
I agreed with Klepperton on this one. A lil snow never hurt nobody...
June is less than ideal for athletes trying to make it to many early spring races, or prepping for early World Cups or JWOC/WOC. Also, many North American athletes have started to get recruited for Jukola and/or Venla which occurs in mid-June, and potentially need to run selection races prior to this. Therefore, if we are thinking spring, it would have to fall somewhere between late April and May to accommodate this, and well as be mindful for US/CAN Uni schedules. This year, team trials were at the very end of April. This was good for Canadians as we just finished exams (most of us, at least) and I believe most Americans hadn’t started yet. For me personally, exam brain wasn’t an ideal race brain, but I think that we student-athletes are quite used to that in our busy schedules :)
Just saw this...Could you please then explain why Orienteering Ontario (OOA) (https://www.orienteeringontario.ca/) is not an Ontario PSO (Provincial Sports Organization), like for example AOA (Alberta Orienteering Association), or Manitoba Orienteering Association is?
Looking back in emails, I see that OOA was a PSO in 2010 but wasn't eligible for Base Funding for various reasons - insufficient number of paid members, insufficient number of members in northern Ontario, not part of the Ontario/Canada Games or Olympics, etc. There wasn't that much money anyway - $1.5M divided among some of Ontario's 100 PSOs, with more money going to popular sports. Longtime orienteers before my time will remember that 25-30 years ago, OOA received enough funding to support a paid executive director and a physical office but those days are long gone.
OOA is no longer a PSO because the requirements changed. If any volunteer wants to take the lead on this, it would be worth contacting the OOA Board to discuss. It would be a significant, ongoing project that would likely involve raising fees to OOA's member clubs to cover the cost of consultants, regular financial audits, etc. A number of new policies would need to be developed, and OOA's membership structure would likely need to be revised. The requirements are at this link. OOA's current volunteer board isn't at full capacity and doesn't have the resources to take the lead.http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/sport/sport/sport_poli...
The Ontario government isn't seeking funding applications from PSOs right now so it is unknown whether criteria have changed so that OOA would be eligible to apply for funding even if it regained its PSO status.
Without reading this discussion thread in detail, I wonder if you're unconcerned about the funding aspect. Maybe you're asking because you think that if OOA had PSO status, the Board could make Ontario clubs host more competitive, standard format orienteering races. The OOA Board did have a subgroup with this goal for a while but OOA volunteers can't force club volunteers to host events they don't want to host. There are some very successful orienteering clubs in Ontario but the majority of people who orienteer each year in our province have never done a competitive, individual start O race. Many of them are unaware that such races exist.
Best time for NAOC is mid-February. Canadians are still asleep ("dead of winter"), they will be easy to defeat. It is 60s, sunny and dry in Alabama.
I hear they finally got LIDAR for Oak Mountain!! No need for field checking,
one can use the base map.
Okay, I'm sure it says this already somewhere, but travel cost is an issue for many of us. I agree with so many things that have been said, but the reality is that some of us just plain can't afford to fly to multiple events in a year. So that makes having more regional events (and training camps) important. Having more 'big races' at a national level only works for those with sufficient funding. A strong, coordinated, and active regional (NA regions, for those of us 'close' to the border, for sure) racing and training schedule/program would be fantastic.
Also, consistently having either NAOC or a national championship (related to the new WOC format in whichever type of year) serve as the team trials would be financially helpful for those on a strict(er) budget. Likewise, as with last year, having Junior Nationals serve as JWOC trials consistently.
@yurets I hibernate on an indoor track... lol
@AdventureGirl, re: A lil snow never hurt nobody...
Some of Ottawa's best maps had a foot, foot and a half of snow in mid-April this spring. When you don't know when snow will melt and there's the potential for it not to be gone until the third week of April that becomes quite restrictive for organizers hosting major events.
You can say what you want about having your course set the year before but you still need to get out and do a final check of all your control sites, put out ribbons, possibly do a few tweaks to the map, etc. When the organizers are volunteers, often with full time jobs and busy schedules, that's not easy to do with only a week or two of time between snow melt and needing to have map files to the printer at least a week before the event.
Also, having what is the most or second most important race of the season for most of North America's orienteers be the first or second race on the season is not very appropriate from a training / racing / development perspective. There are many other factors to consider as well of course but in an ideal athlete centered sport model....
Finally, the flip side to combining events saving money and organizational effort is that more races provides more race experience which is critical to developing athletes. Obviously we need to balance what is ideal with what is practical in the current climate but let's look forward, think big, and find ways of making it happen.
And it's questionable to have a serious competitive race in conditions that make it excessively easy to see where the previous runners went. So if there's a chance there will still be snow remaining on race day...
@Canadian yes, I realize the issue with snow, and that is definitely a factor. However, there are many regions outside of Ottawa that would not be affected by this. Springtime is just one of the options out of many, I just brought it up to sway away from the idea of June which is even more conflicting.
Re- tradeoff between more races and saving money...
I think the idea with having more large races gives the opportunity to more people to make the races that they can. As our system currently is, if you are unable to make the biggest event in North America, there aren't many other opportunities to make other high-end competitions.
I think that by providing more races, there are more opportunities to get quality racing in, and more opportunities for it to fit your schedule and budget. Sure, it would be great if everyone could come and attend all of them, but obviously that isn't realistic. This way, I think there is more wiggle room for people with tighter schedules.
This would obviously not apply to the races that are serving as team trials, as I believe these should be top priority for everybody interested in representing the country at the world stage.
At the end of the day, it is still incredibly important to have big race experience in order to improve, and this is something that North America is lacking in the orienteering world as of right now.
@AdventureGirl! - I figured you did.
And fair enough that June isn't a good option either.
@AdventureGirl!: Sep 18, 2019 12:11 PM
I agree with everything you said. Canadian competitive and elite athletes need an environment in Canada to grow, develop and stimulate the community. It is not acceptable that role models like Emily Kemp live permanently in Europe and can't be role models for our athletes at home.
Orienteering Canada's vision:
Supporting our elite athletes in pursuing their goals while they support orienteering as ambassadors and role models for our sport.
Orienteering Canada's Core Objectives:
Support for Competitive Success We support and encourage orienteers as they strive to attain their competitive goals. We offer programming and racing opportunities for athletes who want to reach their maximum potential. We provide high performance support and services for athletes with the desire and potential to compete internationally for Canada.
@Canadian: Sep 13, 2019 8:12 AM
"We need to be very very careful in using traditionally 'successful' sports as a model for orienteering. Sport in North America (and I think in many other parts of the world as well) is in a bit of a crisis. Kids are dropping out (and not signing up) for sport in record numbers. Broadly speaking, our sport system is so focused on the pyramid and have a broad base for the purpose of identifying kids with potential / talent / what have you. Are all those other kids not intrinsically worthy / valuable? As a result we have very few opportunities for that other 90% of kids. As soon as sport turns competitive they turn away.
My point is that, while I agree that we need a more structured set of races for our competitive athletes, we absolutely should not do it at the expense of these 'meaningless fun runs'. You might view them as such but for the vast majority of the population that is exactly what they want. If that isn't enough to convince you of their importance on it's on own then let me put it this way: Without any other funding source the recreational participants which make up ~98 percent of our participation are also the source of the vast majority of our revenue. We literally cannot afford to alienate them."
Does Canadian, (OCan High Performance Committee member, Major Events Committee chair, HP Coach in Ottawa, program coordinator) really mean that by providing programs, 'meaningless fun runs' for non competitive athletes and alienating, sending away kids with a potential / talent, by not providing an environment, structured competitive races and ranking is in compliance with the above Orienteering Canada's vision and core objectives?
Is it okay to be implying that kids with a potential / talent are not intrinsically worthy / valuable and therefore the local clubs and PSOs do not need to provide an environment for them? I am finding the claim that "...a more structured set of races for our competitive athletes, we absolutely should not do it at the expense of these 'meaningless fun runs'." unacceptable.
All Canadian orienteers need an environment, structured, competitive races as well as 'meaningless fun runs'. There is an obligation to have the sport all inclusive and it is not.
@Canadian: Sep 13, 2019 1:22 PM "we don't have structured competitive races nor ranking"
We don't have an environment for competitive athletes. Our talented athletes are advised to move to Europe and many of them do so, because the NSO and PSOs failed to provide them with an environment at home. Members of OCan High Performance Committee ought to work on creation of environment for talented and keen athletes, ensure there is a structure, local and national ranked races as well as an annual NAOC.
I do not want to hear excuses why the environment and races can not be provided. From a member of OCan High Performance Committee, I want to hear sound and practical proposals when and how we are going to have an annual NAOC, so that it suits all North American competitive athletes and their needs are provided for.
Despite of some shortcomings, a fall NAOC (outside of major races and the University exam period) serving as selection races for the following year's WOC (with the same format) seems like a practical proposal.
This is no longer a productive discussion related to the topic. Nowhere am I meaning to imply that kids with potential / talent are less value / important than any other kid. Every kid should have the right to participate to the level they want and yes we need to provide opportunities for our competitive and elite athletes. I'm not going to defend my record on that here. It is probably as good as anyone's.
If you want to continue this conversation between the two of us feel free to send me an email.
Getting back to the discussion.
A common counter argument to splitting up US Nationals or NAOC into forest and sprint is that no one will compete at the sprint version of the event.
I disagree with that because events like SART, Vancouver Sprint Camp, Sprint SF, and Boston sprint camp are already reasonably well attended.
For sure it won't draw the same numbers, but if you couple the event with one of those it'll be more interesting.
Additionally, putting sprint and forest in the same event makes it difficult for many clubs to put on an event.
Consider NAOC 2012 hosted by DVOA. Our club even has high-quality sprint maps, but none are convenient to where the other events were being held. So we had a forest sprint, which ultimately worked out well. But forest sprints are quite uncommon on the international level now.
Splitting the events could open up NAOC to a larger number of clubs who only have forest maps or, inversely, only have sprint maps.
OK So it is decided
2020 US NAOC all in WEST
2021 NAOC Sprint US East
2022 NAOC Forest Canada east
2023 NAOC Sprint Canada west
2024 NAOC Forest US east
2025 NAOC spring US west
All events to be 'later' in the year to set the groundwork for automatic qualifications for WOC and to then be followed up by team qualification second chances in the spring of the WOC year.
Gord, I think you mean "So it is decided to propose the following" and then let the federations and their committees see if they can agree to it.
Greg, that's pretty much what I was suggesting for US Champs in the last paragraph of my post somewhere above, with the additional thought that once the sprint champs departs from the ML weekend then perhaps that would allow room to bring back the Club Relay into a combined MLR champs weekend.
@gordhun: Sep 19, 2019 6:53 AM
Sounds like a solid plan. Thank you, Gord.
There is a lot wrapped up in the discussion and lots of interesting points. Some comments ...
* I got pretty excited when I read the first question in Hammer's post #1 ...
1) What can the US and Canada do to improve our international performances?
My thoughts on that ...
i) Training camps - We need more of them, focussed on high-performance athletes, with serious training and volume. We (Canada) used to have an annual training camp in Harriman Park - it was a really important part of the Canadian program back in the 80's and 90's.
ii) Races that matter - Bugaboospire touched on this with his (not so dimplomatic) comments on "meaningless fun runs". The more races we have where athletes are encouraged to "bring their A game" the better. This can happen at Canada Cups and Championships, but also at any races there is enough competition to motivate focussed performance.
iii) More training activities (discussions, armchair orienteering, conference calls, etc) that are focussed on getting better at orienteering.
iv) Scheduling - No doubt, orienteering in North America is an expensive sport that requires flying across the continent and across the ocean to be an elite level athlete. We should schedule events carefully so that those involved can actually go to the important races with a reasonable cash investment.
* There's been lots of discussion about NAOC, so I'll add a few thoughts ...
With respect to NAOC's, we've got a good thing going. It has become an event that both Canadian and American athletes really care about. WRE status and automatic WOC selection really helps. Its SML format matches the World scene, so that is good.
With respect to scheduling, while NAOC is the pinnacle of the North American domestic race scene for elites, it is also an important race for other age categories. Traditionally, it has been part of a summer orienteering festival that allows athletes constrained by school schedules to travel and also Europeans to visit and experience orienteering in North America. Suggestions to move NAOC to the fall might make sense from an elite perspective, but considering the scheduling a bit more holistically might yield a different conclusion. Also, consider that any club that considers hosting NAOC is going to ask ... "when will we get the highest participation". The answer to that question might be the summer when most North Americans (and Europeans) have more time to travel.
With respect to splitting NAOC into Sprint/Forest and making it an every-year affair, sounds great ... but, will we actually find clubs willing to host? The US is struggling to find hosts for its plethora of championship events already and Canada has at least as much trouble finding clubs to put on its major events. I'd be hesitant to add yet another major event to the annual schedule unless there was some serious commitment by clubs to actually put these events on. It is true that Sprint racing might allow different clubs to host, at different times of the year, so adding Sprint NAOC might go magically well.
With respect to Team Trials, it is really difficult for the committee (which I am not on) to find a time that works and then find a host that is willing to organize an event. There are a very small # of clubs in Canada that are able and willing to host Canada-Cup quality events. So, as demanding as we might like to be, I think we still need a bit of a "beggars can't be choosers" attitude at this point in time.
When planning for major events, we need to be just as careful not to have "too many" as we are concerned with having "too few". The US clearly has too many championships - not only are there challenges finding hosts, but the competitive fields at any given championship event are smaller and watered down. The recent US Champs had good competition in M21, F21 and a few other categories, but many categories were pathetically under-represented. The median class size for competitive categories was 3.5 (i.e., in half the categories national championship medals were awarded just for completing the course!).
Financial concerns are real and significant. I think the most that can be reasonably expected of athletes is a couple of domestic trips and one international trip per year. So, if we have Team Trials in the spring, WOC in the summer and NAOC in the summer or fall, that would be it (plus any events that are within driving distance). If we add Canadian Championships and Canada Cups to the mix, there are certainly tough choices to be made based on scheduling and $$$.
I will just add a few thoughts to the first question since what I think about the other questions have already been stated by someone above.
1) What can the US and Canada do to improve our international performances?
I don't see this as primarily the federations responsibility; the athletes spend most of their time in a club environment meaning that's where most of the training is done and this is where it all starts. So to get better, the local scene needs to have better and more training opportunities first; it doesn't matter if there are x number of high caliber races to go to in NorAM, you still need to do the homework. (And with today's technology you don't even have to have a volunteer to put out flags, a GPS watch and DOMA is all you need.)
Training camps are great and this is an area where the federations can help by coordinating and administrating but athletes still have a couple of hundred days at home.
My club, DontGetLost, have increased the number of training opps for the juniors over the last couple of years and we have seen the result of that nationally and to some extent internationally as well.
It all starts at home.
The national federations can lead and can provide support and resources (as much as they have the capacity and funding to do so) but unless we switch to a national training centre model the bulk of the work is done with the athletes' home clubs.
BMay wrote "traditionally, [NAOC] has been part of a summer orienteering festival"
In Canada that statement is true but not in the US. And while NAOC2020 in the US is planned for the summer I believe all the US hosting of NAOC has been in the fall except when it was in the spring in 2004. Prior to 1982, I believe Canada's hosting of the NAOC was in the fall and ever since the format went to SML format Canada's hosting has been in the fall two times (2006, 2014) and in the summer two times (2010, 2018).
BMay also wrote "With respect to NAOC's, we've got a good thing going"
Yeah I agree the quality of the races and the attendance over the last 12-15 years have really improved which is wonderful. But if you are focusing on sprint then maybe that statement could be challenged. Ever since the sprint was added to the NAOC in 2006 (my club) here is what the sprint terrain was.
2008: No sprint
2010: Forest and urban
2012: Park and forest
2018: Urban and forest
Is that the best test for our sprinters for the international stage where sprint is primarily an urban format? especially when WOC spots are on the line?
Wearing my organizer's hat I totally get it. It isn't always possible to find great urban sprint terrain close to excellent forest terrain so the sprint quality can often be compromised.
The NAOC added a relay in 2012 which has been wonderful to watch as a spectator and really important for our National Team members to prep for WOC. Organizers can choose the forest format or the mixed relay sprint format.
forest relay in 2012, 2018, 2020?
mixed sprint relay in 2014, 2016
Those relays are exciting to watch. Both formats.
Why can't we have champs in both relay formats? In fact, I think it would be great for North America to test our athletes in ALL disciplines at the NAOC. That is now six different races. Sprint, knock-out sprint, sprint relay, Middle, Long, Forest relay.
A split NAOC, then has many advantages in being able to have a championship in all six disciplines. Especially if there are potential organizers that would welcome having sprint NAOC added to their existing sprint race weekends and forest NAOC organizers that have great forest terrain but a sprint and mixed sprint relay would be difficult to host.
Hi everyone! It's been a while since I've been on here but I was hoping to share an idea that I had after following this discussion.
I think that it would be really cool to organise a Team North America training camp together every year. It could be a 1 week event and include high quality trainings as well as seminars/workshops to cover all sorts of topics pertinent to elite sport and orienteering. It could also be held the week after a high profile race, such as NAOC or COC, so that athlete attendance would be maximised. If we're lucky, some Euros might even be able to join if they're already in the area for the competition.
My vision would be to create trainings that could be taken as high quality races without the extensive work of organising an entire competition. Examples include mass start relay trainings, individual competition trainings and trainings focusing on specific technique. With the right mindset, any training race can be taken as a WOC race.
The seminars and workshops would be a way to make the week more than just a high volume training camp and should be given as much focus as the physical trainings. Here there's an opportunity to raise the level of orienteering by gathering and sharing experience and knowledge about training, technique, mental strength, etc... Experienced athletes can contribute what they've learned, questions can be asked, discussions can be had and inspiration can be shared. I have really fond memories of attending Sass Peepre camps every summer when I was younger and I would love to have something like that for the senior athletes.
Challenges that I can currently foresee include finding the right time for it, getting commitments from athletes that they'll attend, financial support and then just the hours that would be required to organise such an event. However, I think that if enough of us step up to help then it could become a really amazing opportunity for North American athletes to build a team together and improve. I would really like to try and give as much as I can for this idea to become actions but it would definitely have to be a team effort if it's going to be a reality.
@Hammer: Sep 22, 2019 12:52 PM
This is the right approach. NAOC is the North American Orienteering Championships which are the Regional Championships. NAOC is an equivalent of EOC. NAOC is not supposed to be North American Masters Orienteering Championship, or anything else. I understand that there is a monetary incentive to organize races @bmay: "when will we get the highest participation", however, that should not be the purpose of organizing NAOC, the driving factor and the content and timing should not be at the expense of elite athletes. The main sponsor of NAOC in Canada is Orienteering Canada, which is a Charity (#892218165RR0001). The purpose of a charity is not to maximize profits. Consequently, organizing NAOC in the format of WOC, during the most convenient time for elite athletes makes perfect sense, fulfills the purpose of these competitions, needs of the competitive and elite athletes and the purpose of the charity.
@laBaguette: Sep 22, 2019 12:57 PM
Brilliant proposal. Thank you!
Where did anyone insinuate that clubs who host NAOC are greedy for the money?
Don't we want high participation for the sake of, uh, getting more people participating?
If we're arguing that NAOC should be charitable, then why shouldn't it benefit the most amount of people? Or are we not equal? How many meaningless fun runners is one elite worth?
Just chiming in, I think the Long Term Athlete Development model
is the concept that many of the people posting here have mentioned. I only read about ignoring elite competitors as a strawman argument above; the more obvious error is to ignore the broad base of casual participants in orienteering, particularly among youth. The LTAD, which is often represented as a pyramid, has as its base the "Awareness and First Involvement", "Active Start", and "Fundamentals." For instance, Barb Bryant has made it her goal to have all school age children in Boston try orienteering. The reality is that the majority of participants and majority of starts are going to be casual - and by encouraging their involvement, we can establish a broad pool from which elite athletes will develop.
Suggestions like laBaguette's are part of the LTAD - building a robust environment for elite development, and husbanding our resources to maximize how much bang we get for our (limited) buck. In general, think the more limiting factor and pressing concern for North American institutions is not the opportunities afforded to elites, but attracting that broad base of participants.
However, I do love the idea of US and Canadian elite programs combining their resources, organizing more training camps, combining national level competitions, and so on. This will only increase depth, provide better competition, and motivate more progress. How to do that with our limited resources is the challenge.
Great points Ian. As the well designed LTAD plan demonstrates you need an integrated plan from the base to the top of the pyramid. My original post was aimed at the upper few rungs of the pyramid mainly because I’m in a club that already has a strong kids program. We worked hard challenging the status quo thinking to grow and develop ARK with the aim to get more kids and then families and young adults (through companion programs) active and on a map having fun. I think we have been successful and it’s great to see more youth programs like NG developing across North America. We need them to be nation wide for sure.
ARK will turn 10 years old in January and we now have athletes at all levels of the LTAD period and so i started this thread about how we might rethink, reorganize, and/or reimagine the status quo of how the top few rungs of the LTAD pyramid functions and communicates and how resources can be best used. I’m happy so many good ideas are being suggested and yes it all starts with the base of the pyramid.
As an aside I have asked several of my club’s former ARK and ARX athletes that have gone on to JWOC, JWSOC, WC, and WOC about what inspired them to race and train internationally. Many say it was the time we brought in Ali Crocker to talk to them about her experiences as a top international athlete. Many also mention having had Meghan Rance as their ARX coach and mentor for the last few years. She knew how the Orienteering Canada High Performance program worked and was able to sit down with our young athletes and their families and discuss how LTAD and HPP functioned.
Meghan and Ali helped link the rungs of the ladder for them.
@Pink Socks: Sep 22, 2019 10:12 PM
"Where did anyone insinuate that clubs who host NAOC are greedy for the money?"
NAOC has been successfully organized in the fall in the past, giving the elite more opportunity to participate. It has always brought revenue, however it did not bring maximum revenue like it would in July/August timeline, hence @bmay: 'any club that considers hosting NAOC is going to ask ... "when will we get the highest participation".' Higher the participation, higher the revenue. July/August is the best timing for this purpose.
Don't we want high participation for the sake of, uh, getting more people participating?
NOT at Regional Championships.
Regional Championships are sanctioned by IOF for the purpose of establishing Regional Champions. You can ridicule it as much as you want, but Regional Championships are not, or at least should not be 'meaningless fun runs' with missing the best regional athletes.
If we're arguing that NAOC should be charitable, then why shouldn't it benefit the most amount of people? Or are we not equal? How many meaningless fun runners is one elite worth?
How many recreational runners do you see entering WOC every year? Why none?
"are we not equal?" "How many meaningless fun runners is one elite worth?
What kind of question is that?
WOC is neither a Carnival nor a Festival. WOC is World Orienteering Championships.
NAOC and EOC are Regional Championships. They are NOT Carnivals, Festivals, meaningless fun runs.
If you read the first sentence of this thread, we are discussing North American elite orienteering in this era of alternating forest and sprint WOCs" . We are neither discussing meaningless fun runs nor recreational orienteering.
only a few categories at the NAOC are IOF regional champs. The rest of the ages groups remain as they have since the race was first started (ie long before IOF was involved). So NAOC must remain a race that combines the interests and needs of all participants - as it should.
NAOC can not serve two purposes equally. As we can see from experience, it does not work. It has to have a primary purpose - to establish Regional Champions and a secondary purpose to accommodate recreational runners. If the primary purpose is to establish Regional Champions, then that purpose should override the scheduling. I would like IOF to make the call on this.
Orienteering in North America is a volunteer-run activity with zero money in the way of sponsorship, etc. At all levels, including NAOC, the work is done by people who get nothing out of it other than the fact that other people like themselves are going to put on the event next time so that they can participate. If NAOC has to serve the "elites" with no regard for the other categories, you're likely to see the attitude, "well, screw the elites, let them organize NAOC themselves", and you won't have the event at all. This is not an unlikely scenario, and it would happen with just a big collective shrug.
How many recreational runners do you see entering WOC every year? Why none?
Well, that's not true. There have always been countries with orienteering programs that are less developed, and the competitors they send who end up at the bottom of the results list are really recreational runners. It has not been uncommon for some of the members of the US and Canada teams to fall into that category.
Oceania Championships (between Aust & NZ because there are no other orienteering federations formalised within our region) seem to manage to serve the dual purposes ok, so it can be done.
Even at WOC, don't the 'recreational' runners running public races partly subsidise the costs of the elite championships?
Bring back APOC for a true international competition :)
It’s hard to imagine spending the money to host something like WOC or a regional champs without the income from the recreational runners/spectators.
+1 for bringing back APOC!
Uh yeah, somebody needs a reality check here. Have you ever organized a WOC? It costs a lot of $$. Has it ever been put on without an accompanying Festival to pay the bills? Without that income component it would probably never happen. Same with NAOC.
I would like IOF to make the call on this.
No, really, you wouldn't. They have enough of their own problems to deal with. There's another ongoing thread where you can read about some of that. Be very glad that organizing the Regional Champs has been delegated to the member federations of the Region and their affiliated clubs. They have been working together on this for decades and really, it just keeps getting better. It used to be something of an asterisk in the schedule. Now it gets a major emphasis. Splitting it into annually alternating forest/sprint years seems like another big improvement. Scheduling, like everything else is dependent on a club or group of clubs being willing to host. If there isn't a volunteer organizer at the ideal time of year, asking IOF to impose a schedule is most assuredly not going to improve things there.
This is a quirky thread for sure with discussions coming to life on one topic such as athlete development and then switching to the NAOC then back to athletes, back to NAOC. Love it but it is getting taxing to remember what I've written or whether I've written anything. Oh yes, I've already proclaimed how future NAOCs should unfold.
As to the athlete development some have said that responsibility should rest with the National Federation, others with the club. The fact is-and apparently millenials don't like to hear this- that an orienteering athlete will not develop to elite levels unless the primary drive comes from within. It has to be a burning passion that puts pretty well all else aside. Parental support and sacrifice comes second.
There is room in life to enjoy orienteering as a recreationally competitive athlete. I've done that for years. There is room in life to be an elite orienteer and get to WOC and proudly represent your country and the country to be proud of your results. However to get to that elusive podium or even top ten performance it seems the rest of one's life has to be molded around one's orienteering. That is not unique to orienteering. It is true in all sports, from the Simon Whitfield's in triathlon to the Simon d'Artois in freestyle skiing to the Simone Biles in gymnastics.
I'm all for clubs and regions developing a wide base of competitive orienteers with events that test their mettle. I'm all for national federations developing the best of those best and sending them off to the Worlds but I won't hold out any hope of top tier results at WOC and JWOC until we see more who are willing to design their lives around their orienteering.
I've been sitting on this response for a while, but thinking that there is no point in posting something like this, as nothing is going to change unless I do it for myself. For example: I needed more sprint maps to train on, therefore I made 5 or 6 sprint maps. I needed courses to run, thus I made 90% of my own high quality courses to run.
Taking quick glances at this thread I feel as though it is in the realm of the topic, yet deviating slightly at times. I think that I might as well post my response to the questions, based off of my personal experience because it is all factual. I don't really want to debate anything with anyone at this point, I feel like people should hear this coming from an athlete living and training in Canada. I replied to the point in a manner similar to a school assignment; directly addressing each one.
I understand this is a very complex, and dynamic situation, but currently I'm not in a position to fix this, so I can't do more then give my opinion which I'm afraid will not count for much.
This is just my interpretation growing up in this environment, racing at 5 or 6 JWOC's, one WOC, and many other international races such as Oringen, in terms of what I think could help the sport grow.
I think that everyone has some truth to what they are saying, but I also think talking about it like this won't change much, people need to back their beliefs with actions to make a difference.
1) What can the US and Canada do to improve our international performances? link athletes to European clubs, joint training camps, joint selection races, funding assistance?
Honestly as I live in Canada I’d prefer to work and train locally. Living in Finland or France as an elite athlete doesn’t really help develop the sport back at home. So linking athletes to European clubs is great and all especially for WOC preparation, but it only benefits those who get to go to Europe, everyone else in Canada gains basically no benefit from it. (depending on the time period and if they come back).
Joint training camps would be great, but I feel like they area unrealistic. Giving 2 examples, I talked to a slew of “elite” orienteers in Canada and the US if they’d want to come to train in Cranbrook for West Point WOC selection races, and then in the Tetons, where I’ve made a ton of great orienteering maps. Not a single person could find the time to join me, and I’d let people know a month or two in advance. This leads me to believe that a training camp needs to be planned about a year in advance. I think that more than one per a year that takes place just before something like NAOC and COC’s is not realistic, also because everyone needs a plane ticket to meet up.
Joint selection races are great in my opinion as it makes the race a lot more fun. One thing I would like to note, is that the West Point terrain was not really relevant to the WOC halden terrain. It was sort of good, but not the same. The selection race should have been done in Halden in the Norwegian terrain.
Funding assistance would be fantastic, as I think I didn’t get much funding for Team Trials, JWOC or WOC this year. My funding was -100$ to be part of HPP and I made 90% of my trainings by myself anyways.
2) How can the domestic racing season be designed to give our elite athletes more head-to-head racing opportunities? sprint only weekends, relay or mass start races to mimic WOC relay, national champs not conflicting with WOC, NAOC double as Team Trials, annual split NAOC?
A) In Alberta we don’t have a racing season. The races basically mean nothing and its just Jan / Damian / me running against each other. On the junior level there is no competition, as there is no reason for competition along with the fact that there is no normal junior program developing young orienteers to compete in races like they do in Swimming, Hockey, Climbing etc.. etc..
(This is currently in the process of changing a bit more with the development of the SOGO bridge program, and SOGO level 3 coaching done by myself and Jan Erik Naess. Though I am not fully conviced that the current model that we have is good enough to maintain a lasting effect here, due to factors such as race structure in the sport being absent, and kids treating it as a secondary sport.)
To force athletes to come to these races to compete you should have provincially sanctioned races that count towards a provincial ranking that allows you to qualify for nationals. This way everyone would actually be incentivised to come to all of the races and to do their best against their peers.
B) I don’t really think that we can have relays with the number of people that we have. Every club should be able to put together multiple teams in each age category and then they could compete with each other at nationals. Currently the clubs do not have those kinds of numbers of athletes.
On the elite level you can’t mimic a WOC relay or any elite relay if you don’t have enough elite runners (which we don’t) so if anyone wants relays I’d say you should start training kids and make sure that you retain them by the time they are 18. The only place we can do a relay, is at NAOC, which we already do.
3) How can we better recruit and retain elite athletes? cross over with other sports, larger teams sent to World Cup races, WUOC and NAOC?
When I started we had a Junior Development Program with over 50 kids. From my age or above I’m the only one still in orienteering, and Emma Sherwood. Everyone else dropped off because of the way orienteering is run here, I also stopped running for 2 years when I should have been training the most. In Calgary I had no friends my age, no competitions to go to, no coach to advise and motivate me, and I was not having fun as almost all the maps we had trainings on were boring / badly mapped / far away.
If you want retention, in my opinion you need to flip all of these things around, you need to have a junior program where everyone has lots of friends, exciting high stakes competitions like in Europe where it is not easy to win, a caring and dedicated coach that will stick around for a decade or so, and enough maps to be making interesting trainings / events on all the time.
This way you grow and retain elite athlete locally. If you look at our national team, then everyone grew up doing orienteering in Canada as a kid that I can think of.
Can’t send larger teams to World Cups / WUOC / NAOC without a bit more funding from provincial / national bodies, and without developing enough athletes here.
I’m just going say this right here: Orienteering in Canada is not really a sport. We have no provincial / national ranking systems that have meaning in most of our provinces. At COC’s we had this many athletes in each category:
F10 – 1
M10 – 5
F11/12 – 1
M11/12 – 4
F13/14 - 0
M13/14 – 3
F15/16S – 1
F15/16 – 1
M15/16 – 4
And then look at all the older categories each having 10-20 ppl in it. Clearly clubs are not doing their Junior Programs right as they have almost 0 attendance at COC’s, especially on the girls side. I’m not in charge of an orienteering club, so I can’t say why, but I think those who are should think about it, and ask themselves what are they doing differently that every other sport is doing with their junior programs. Why does it not look like Europe when our clubs have been around for 50 years.
Aug 24, 2019 6:15 PM# djsanton97:
TTs are so far away that I think I have to say no to them already... timing and distance
Aug 25, 2019 8:59 AM# Danish Dynamite:
I'm with Anton on this one, it'll be tough for me to realistically make team trials
If you read the above 2 posts all I see is absence from local competitions making the elite presence even more desolate on a provincial level, and an absence from selection races crippling our national team even more. If the national body gives them funding to come to the selection races then, I’ll also want funding to go to WOC when/if I qualify.
I don’t want people who say “Oh you need to go to Europe to do orienteering because it will never be a sport here” to be right, but the way that orienteering is run in this country makes it hard to argue with them.
"need to have a junior program where everyone has lots of friends"
Yep. Sports lose the majority of their teen participants because it gets too competitive, and they keep the competitive ones only if there's a strong social aspect.
I personally would love to have more national meets in my area, but why bother. They are just a lot of work with too many rules and regulations. Also at my age I am not very competitive and rankings mean nothing. I agree traveling is just too expensive when I can do all the orienteering I desire locally.
My club is run by adventure racers so if the map is not perfect it is just another part of the event. We hold one event every month and the events are free for club members. A club membership is only $50 so the cost per event is very low for the regulars.
What we need is some organization/enterprise to put on events on orphan maps.
The club has lots of maps but most (not all) of them have not been updated in twenty years. We would love to have some one come in and put on a national event on one of our new(er) maps, but don't expect a lot of help from the club.
This request would be gladly answered by a free market if the customers were willing to pay the free-market price.
But the free market price is what they're willing to pay. So we have low demand, and unsurprisingly, low supply.
@Hammer ... I stand corrected regarding the history of NAOC's in the Fall. Looks like there is lots of precedent for Fall NAOC, so if that works scheduling-wise, then great.
I am warming up to the idea of alternating Sprint and Forest NAOC's in the future. Matches WOC and EOC. And, might be easier for organizers if they don't have to find good forest and sprint terrain in close proximity.
NAOC 2020 is obviously well in hand for a full (Sprint + Forest) NAOC. As for Sprint NAOC in 2021, it seems likely that we're too late for that (IOF deadline is already 9 months past). Maybe a realistic timeline is full NAOC in 2022 with first Sprint NAOC in 2023.
NAOC 2022 deadline is in 3 months. Anyone know who is bidding? Most recent Canadian NAOC was in the west, so maybe an eastern NAOC is logical. Montreal and Ottawa have been busy recently. How about ... Toronto? or Hamilton? or Waterloo?
It looks like I'm not the only one deep into IOF rules this week!
I've never been there, but of all the cities in North America, Quebec City seems like it would be closest to a European city in its layout. How about a sprint there?
I would hope any southern Ontario COC/NAOC would be a collaborative approach of the 5 clubs down this way.
Lots of LIDAR kicking around in some interesting terrain these days... in an area historically devoid of it.
...but I think that’s a discussion for another thread.
Just an opinion on where I hope this thread will go...
I think we should recognize and acknowledge (a little more) the suggestions/desires of our actual NA elites.
The general theme is more quality races/training.
I loved Emily’s idea of an annual, not-to-miss training camp for both our national teams, with a tonne of quality training/competition...and hopefully a team trials tacked on the end!
...and maybe a de facto NA relay champs to make it even more pressure packed/meaningful... with all or nothing prize money for the winning or better performing country.
Are we willing to rally around this and support them with maps, course setting, logistical help....and funding?
Our young elites are the future stewards of our sport. They will have families. Their families will orienteer. (I hope). We have to support them now to keep them inspired and interested. Who else will be taking the reins for our sport’s future?
Other than maps, teaching mappers how to map, and junior programs - where else should our money and time be allocated?
I’ve stayed quite on this thread and will only say a short amount now as most of this I think is missing the point.
What NA needs is more training events, more night orienteering, and high quality races.
But the biggest thing is training at a club level. Clubs love to put on events but why don’t we put on more low key trainings? I loved DVOAs TNT nights even when it was just a run! But honestly a training event where you can work on skills is so huge! And getting to have others shadow you or go together. People learn loads. I’ve shadowed juniors here in the UK and has meant I’m thinking back to basics and it’s been great! Same with then doing this all at night. Doesn’t matter if you know the map by heart it adds a level of difficulty. Night training everyone is doing in Europe as an important training. How is of a change is that for the USA! No new maps. Ok maybe some flags with reflectors on them but student clubs here use pvc pipe with reflector tape on it. Done.
I can motivate myself to do all the physical training no bother. (As I’m sure my fellow athletes would agree they can to). What we can’t do is plan trainings for ourself and then run it like we’ve never seen the course before. We can’t simulate high pressure races by ourselves. Yeah I can ask friends to come run with me and just be in the woods around me but it isn’t the same.
The technical side of training is where the support needs to be focused at first. And not trying to lump it all together. I like Emily’s idea of a training camp but don’t pair it with races please!!! It isn’t the right timing. You peak to race and should be tired after them. That isn’t the time to then try to train loads. Or vice versa. Stand alone training and races!! But honestly I think the clubs could pick up a lot of this with training. Fun run sure! Put a course on with a specific skill in mind that brings out our experienced athletes. New people want to know what kind of community they are joining anyway!
@ACampbell - I so agree with all you have said. I have the athlete's perspective from my sons and my very distant my competitive years in my teens. I do, though, have now some insight into the ways things are done or have to be done in many if not all US clubs.
I think one constraint of putting on training runs is how to set them up, keep them simple, not expensive, and yet be able to comply with the current insurance fee structure per start. Not sure how DVOA did their TNT runs, what were the costs, how did they set up registration and fee payment - something one needs again volunteers for. And if one advertises a training through the club outreach, is it an event that needs to count starts? And there we are, with a lot of extra planning and thinking work that has to be done, sometimes long before hanging streamers or reflective tubes... Volunteer time that many clubs do just not have. Ah, yeah, and would one need a permit if more than e.g. 25 show up? ......
I would have to ask my son, or you, ACampbell, how much of this is something that you guys in the UK do not have to really worry about? But if you do, I assume that having a higher density of orienteers would make it a bit easier to find a big enough group not spread out over a radius of 50 miles or more, to divi up the workload of putting on a training, where you do not have to drive more than 1 hour one way to the training... usually on a weeknight.
Access to training in places where one does not have to drive to, where one could take public transportation, and be able to take your bike along would also make it easier for people not only to get to a training, but also be the ones volunteering to put on a training. Answer would of course be university or college campus clubs with access to maps near campuses or at least to public transportation or bikable... and there we are again, probably having to deal with campus permits? And would U or college clubs be accessible to non-U people?
And then one looks at all the questions one faces before putting on a training, and probably reconsiders.....
I’ve never dealt with permissions or entries for training here in the UK. We stuck our name on a blank piece of paper and paid £1 to cover map printing costs. But I do believe for insurance if your a club member (of any British club) your covered and non-club members are covered for 4 times or something. Which for BASOC was a month of Tuesday nights. We hold them in the same place for a whole month and focus on one skill but progressing through the month. I would also like to point out that BASOC I believe is the second smallest club in Scotland and has about 45-50 people. I also drove an hr both ways to go to this training because I knew it was the best thing for me. A few others (1-4 maybe) also drove 40-45mins to get there. We normally had 10-20 people depending on school holidays/exams. In the winter we also had a volunteer each week make soup for after in a community hall if there was one so that people were fed and got to chat about the training after. That drew even more people.
It can be done!
DVOA was similar. No entry fee just a club run.
Don’t try to over complicate the weekly things. It’s more difficult for say the hickory run training camp they run. Which come to think of it would be the PERFECT place to start an annual training camp for elites.
Night-o is harder to do than you might think.
Most mapped parks around major cities in the US tend to be pretty serious about dawn-to-dusk parking only. And for good reason, honestly.
Where I'm living now night-o is more possible as there are state forests without parking hours. But what I've found is that animals tend to be more active at night and I'm disrupting their lives even more when I go out at night compared to during the day.
While I can't say that the Eastern US has a completely self-sustaining ecosystem, we have MUCH more wildlife than many orienteering locales in Europe. And honestly, we should respect the wildlife here. It is their home.
I have staged a few night-Os on a golf course in the Ottawa area and they are good except the early runners tend to leave tracks in the dew which the later runners can follow.
I have had permission to stage a night-O on a golf course in Florida but besides the more active wildlife issue there is a risk of some property owner using his 'Stand Your Ground' rights if some orienteer makes a wrong turn. So I've decided to stay away from that.
That being said I'm all for clubs putting on more orienteering events of more types. One event per month just doesn't do it for participants wanting to take up and get passionate about a sport.
Night time orienteering is just insanity. My advice is to stay away, and be safe.
TNT wasn't so much organized by DVOA as it just happened to consist of DVOA members who got together to train and then eat at somebody's house. It was not any kind of official thing - no registration, no fees, etc. Just friends getting together to run or whatever. I went once when I happened to be in Philly for jury duty, but it was too far away for me to do after work on a normal day.
That’s what club trainings should be.
I just caught up on this thread. I like the joint Canada/USA training camp idea, although, like Acampbell, I find it very difficult to do high quality training immediately after mentally and physically exhausting myself at a high-priority set of races, like NAOC. At least a few days rest would be needed in between for me to be ready for action again. I very much support going to a schedule of alternating forest and sprint NAOCs. Would the IOF offer a rules variance to accelerate this transition?
It pains me to read Runner99's plight, and I'm impressed by what he has achieved through his own dedication. We are challenged in North America with a small sport spread over a very large area, and this is perhaps even more the case in Canada. I agree with those that have highlighted the importance of club training and the importance of a social structure to support it, both at a senior and (especially) a junior level. I see this as a chicken and egg problem. It is hard to build a critical mass when one doesn't previously exist, especially when the club culture is to focus on events (because that is what most people are used to and want; it is what it was like when they were attracted to being involved, so there is naturally inertia to keep it that way.)
There are additional cultural and geographic challenges:
We still work too much in NA and have too little time for recreation. This seems at least partly driven by wealth and income inequality and consumerism and the actual and perceived needs they generate to make and acquire more to keep up with others. (Actual = rising costs of living outstripping wage growth. Perceived = desire to have the stuff and experiences that others have.)
Many large cities are not close to much high quality terrain. By "close", I mean close enough to have regular club training that doesn't require most people to drive a long time. We have unhealthy cultural norms with regard to nature and land, which result in disordered land use policy. For example, a large amount of land around populated areas is private, and our default attitude (and legal framework) is that this means no one should be allowed to go there, even when there is no good reason to exclude people. And we have a virgin/slut orientation toward nature: Some think the natural world needs to be protected from people (no going off trail, or the fragile ecosystem will be harmed or even perish!) Most land managers who purport to be taking an ecologically aware management approach don't understand (or at least acknowledge) the difference between disturbance and ecological impact. But the culturally/historically dominant view is to have a frontier mentality and see the natural world as something to be mastered and taken advantage of, so much so that settlement, natural resource development, and the resulting trophic downgrading is the norm, and it is now hard for most of us to find a landscape that has not been drastically altered by human activity, and most people's idea of "nature" is substantially human altered (and they don't know it.) On top of all this, everyone is afraid of being sued. None of this is good for the availability of land for orienteering.
I guess that may have been a longer-than-necessary detour, but I think it is one that is important to understanding our situation. I'm not sure what action is indicated to cure our cultural maladies, but I do think that getting more people orienteering (or doing other sports in the terrain) is a big part of the solution, at least when it comes to having a more reality-based view of the natural world.
Finally, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the way we often use language to distinguish elite and non-elite participation. I find these artificial distinctions to cloud rather than elucidate my view of what is true (in the same way that distracting trains of thought can cloud one's thinking when orienteering.) I've competed in 19 WOCs. Among people who know the most about orienteering, some consider me elite while others consider me recreational. This alone should convince us that these are relative rather than absolute terms, yet we use them as if they are absolute labels. Also, I don't understand the term "meaningless fun runs". Is that a term of art that I am not familiar with? If not, then it seems to be an oxymoron (or to rely on a seemingly very narrow--but not explicitly stated--definition of what is meaningful.) Also, as someone who likes having fun, I feel personally attacked by it. Does it somehow advance the discussion to classify some people's orienteering experiences as meaningless? If not, can we agree not to do that?
To put a finer point on the above paragraph, I think that elitist thinking and language actually hurt elite development. The orienteer that engages in frequent practice (and has fun doing it) will likely find that their "fun runs" go from 12-15 minutes per km to 10 min/km to 7 min/km, while the orienteer that does less frequent but "serious" training may eventually go through the same transition but will likely progress more slowly. The primary means of improvement is the same in practically every other sport: Frequency is king. Of course this assumes that you are actually practicing reasonably good orienteering technique versus doing things very wrong, but effort and seriousness are--in my opinion--overrated. If you have to try super hard, then it is probably a sign that you aren't prepared to train, and maybe you should rest or deal with distracting thought patterns or whatever is making it so hard to orienteer and come back to it later. You don't get good at running by going out and trying really hard all the time (rather, you burn out by doing that); you get good by doing easy runs pretty frequently, along with some faster running that often feels pretty good once you get in shape. "Fun" versus "serious" is a distracting distinction that has little to do with improving performance but much to do with bolstering social or self-perception. How much fun is it to be so concerned about living up to ones performance aspirations that one is beating oneself up for making an error, especially in the middle of a race? On that note, one of my top pieces of advice to most aspiring orienteering athletes would be to let go of insecurity and to turn that liberated mental energy toward engaging more fully with the amazing experience our sport provides, whether at a training event or a championship. How can that not give you more focused races, a lifetime of motivation, and a lifetime of fun?
+1 @ebone. I definitely agree that one should enjoy everytime out there, 'elite' or not.
+2 @ebone. I don’t think anyone could disagree that we all do this for fun. And the enjoyment is what motivates us to get out. I think we should be focusing on how we get more people more frequently out enjoying orienteering!
Norway made an important change 20+ (?) years ago, when we changed the national championship for youngsters (H/D-16) from a single race in the fall to a full week training camp during school summer break.
This is where young orienteers get to meet all their age-mates, and they get a lot of quality trainings and evening lectures, as well as pure fun races like the county relay with prices for best team costume, and with the actual championship race at the end of the week.
Sounds like this year's Canadian Champs...
sounds like a lot of years' Canadian Champs
Except that 2019's went the full week between races (ECOCs -COCs)
That sounds like Hovedloppet or something (pardon my butchering of the spelling). I went there once I think. One big difference is that its only for people up to 16 and there are a couple hundred kids I think, with lots of fun trainings.
At COC's there are many more older people 17+ actually its like the inverse. We don't have any kids at COC's so I wouldn't really say its too similar in that sense.
Its not like we could replicate it right now anyways because we don't have enough juniors across Canada doing orienteering.
@Runner99: You are absolutely right: "Hovedløpet" (lit. "The Main Race") for youngsters are, as I wrote, only for those below junior age. Good for you that you got to attend!
We weren't comparing it specifically to COC, but to the Sass Peepre junior camp that typically accompanies COC. (except for whatever reason it wasn't called Sass Peepre this year)
@fossil: Oct 5, 2019 5:21 PM
# We weren't comparing it specifically to COC, but to the Sass Peepre junior camp that typically accompanies COC. (except for whatever reason it wasn't called Sass Peepre this year)
2018 Sass Peepre National Junior Orienteering Camp, held in Yukon, just before NAOC and COC, had 18 registered participants from the North American continent. Statistics as per Zone 4 registration. This is a far cry from Norwegian Hovedløpet which was averaging around 300 kids 14-16 age range (500 in 2011).https://zone4.ca/report/c23f17be-1bff-11e8-a510-0a...
Bug, go back and read Terje's description of the Norwegian training camp. Note that there is no mention of numbers. Then Guy and I both made a comparison of that format to the Sass Peepre (and non-Sass Peepre) camps. There are a few differences but the comparison holds true. Talk to some people who have participated. They've apparently been doing this for quite a long time. (Maybe Norway copied Canada?)
Regarding numbers, sure, feel free to draw a trend graph using a single data point. There might be some politicians around with room for you on their team. The Yukon camp was in fact unusually low in numbers, but they also had a scheduling constraint that fed into that. That camp was scheduled before the first races began. More typically the camp is held mid-week during the off-time between two weekends of racing, and the numbers are accordingly higher. Look up e.g. how many participants were at the 2016 camp in Cochrane(I think?) on the west side of Calgary. Or 2014 in Whistler just to name a few.
@fossil: Oct 6, 2019 6:04 AM
"Talk to some people who have participated."
Runner99 has participated in both camps.
@Runner99: Oct 4, 2019 11:21 PM
"One big difference is that its only for people up to 16 and there are a couple hundred kids I think, with lots of fun trainings.
At COC's there are many more older people 17+ actually its like the inverse.
There is a huge difference in orienteering abilities between kids attending Hovedløpet and kids attending Sass Peepre. The difference in orienteering abilities of those kids is very similar to the difference in results between Norwegian and Canadian National Teams at JWOC. The content of both camps reflects the orienteering abilities of participating kids.
The fact stays that orienteering in North America is a sport organized primarily for Masters, not youth. The statistics from NAOC 2018 just confirm this. Almost 50% of participants were in categories 55+. I have over 12 years of experience of seeing kids being discriminated against in the sport and I would prefer not to expand on this, at this time.
Sorry bugaboospire you cannot open a door and then shut it. You should not put out an hypothesis like 'kids are discriminated against in this sport' and then not write a single word to back it up. It's BS anyway.
Orienteering is a sport organized primarily BY masters but not primarily FOR masters.
Here is an organizational problem that orienteering has that very few other sports have, not hockey, not football (either type of those sports), not swimming, not athletics not ...on and on.... In all those other sports people have their short careers in the sport and then they retire as athletes. Some retire from the sport, some become coaches, some become administrators. But look at the list of orienteering administrators, coaches, mappers, course setters and every other officials job. They are all still competing at their own level! They are travelling to participated in national events across the country. In pretty well every other sport their counterparts are staying home and readying the local club for its next tournament or taking the kids to the next town for their next tournament.
There is no doubt in my mind that our taking the 'lifetime sport' idea to heart means that potential volunteers and youth leaders are not available to help build the clubs' youth programs. But that doesn't mean the kids are being discriminated against or that the sport is organized for these masters. It's just the way it is.
Sorry Gord, orienteering is no different from other sports. Orienteers are nothing special, though many may believe otherwise. All other sports have masters, organizers, officials, 'lifetime sport' idea etc. However, other sports have thousands of kids in the sport, races and the future. Unlike in orienteering, the masters are not blocking them. My wife and I stopped participating in orienteering races in 2013 because we could not stomach discrimination against kids, anymore. I resigned from FWOC Board of Directors in 2017 for the same reason. I can publish here my resignation letter, should you wish. All events I organized were primarily for youth, and masters were welcomed too. Masters usually boycotted these events. When Ida and Soren Bobach were here in 2015, FWOC masters wanted to know who they were, because they never heard of them. Just this fact alone tells you everything about the state of orienteering in North America. Unless there is a drastic change in the ways how orienteering is run in North America, the sport has no future and it will die with the current generation of masters.
Bugaboospire you write of a situation in Calgary with the FWOC. It is sad to hear anything about a problem, particularly when FWOC is reputed to have one of the best kids' programs in North America.
However when I googled the Bobachs I found the website of the Calgary Camp 2015 and I can guess some of the Calgary issue. But I'm happy to leave it at a guess. Not my hill....., as they say.
I'd be interested in hearing from others. Do the masters age athletes boycott the events staged primarily for the youth in your clubs? If so why? What can we do about it?
I am originally from Ukraine, I started to orienteer after I left the country, but I know a little bit about how orienteering is run there. It's very much like other sports indeed. There are sports schools for kids with paid coaches in different sports, including orienteering. They are at least heavily subsidized by the government, parents probably contribute something, but not a lot (not entirely sure about that, to be honest). This is totally separate from the club system, which is very weak. As a result, at a typical orienteering competition about 60% of the participants are kids brought there by their coaches, about 20% are elites and only the remaining 20% are masters. It is, in a way, a good system, if the success is measured by the results in top elite international competitions, but it has its shortcomings. In any case, I am not sure this would be feasible in North America.
Bugaboo>> I am still trying to understand this accusation of 'discrimination' against kids in our sport. I think we can all agree that we'd love to see more kids at North American orienteering competitions, and I see many volunteers working tirelessly to improve the situation.But discrimination is a pretty strong word to throw around, so I am curious what that is based on.
@MChub: Oct 7, 2019 6:59 AM
As a result, at a typical orienteering competition about 60% of the participants are kids brought there by their coaches, about 20% are elites and only the remaining 20% are masters.
This is the right approach. It is used successfully by other European countries. In Finland juggernaut clubs fulfill this function. For example, Tampereen Pyrintö (TP) is a juggernaut and they can teach your 10-year-old to orienteer but they can also win Jukola. Other European countries have similar systems.
This approach is feasible in North America, if the current establishment allows it. Government subsidized clubs and programs with incomes like SOGO are definitely able to adopt this approach should they decide they want to go this way.
In Canada we need to:
1- allow kids into the sport and adopt "all inclusive" approach, which would mean that kids from non-orienteering families would be encouraged and enabled to participate in COC, NAOC and be encouraged to try for JWOC.
2- Establish the sport structure, ranking system, fair and transparent, not constantly changing selection criteria to the National Team, at the NSO level. Our current family-based system has to move to an all-inclusive system based on meritocracy and fair competitions.
3- PSOs need to implement a set of ranked local races, based on NSO's ranking system, in addition to current recreational programs. Retention must be given higher priority than maximum participation/profits. All kids and their parents have to be aware of the opportunities to race, to be ranked, to participate in COC, NAOC and the opportunity to be nominated to JWOC. JWOC is the driving force behind kids orienteering programs in European countries. Currently, most of our kids who are NOT from our established orienteering families, and participate in our programs, do not know that JWOC exists. Parents of kids can volunteer during competitions the same way as it is in other sports in Canada. Provincial governments support sports and give enough money to implement this system in other sports.
4- Annual COC and NAOC in the WOC format, held during the time when all the best athletes from North America are around (as proposed at the beginning of this thread) is necessary.
5- The system must become kids centric and the funds must primarily go to their development.
If these points are not implemented as soon as possible, then we are going the way of Saskatchewan orienteering. They went extinct overnight.
What is being implied as the reason why Saskatchewan orienteering went extinct? I thought it was because there were no orienteers in SK to begin with, just visitors from other provinces.
>trying to understand this accusation of 'discrimination'
Boris got triggered. Maybe there is something to it after all.
I guess Bugaboospire was describing junior orienteering in Canada, or locally in his area, with a powerful family, or a group of families, who dominate the club setting up the rules that create an entry barrier for newcomers to the sport...
..like the one I recall a woman from Boston was trying to set up a few years back, when juniors, to be eligible to compete internationally, instead of participation in the trial race had to apply to the "team", have their FB evaluated for content, write an essay to prove their good character, as determined by some "educational specialists" , etc. At that time it was an obvious attempt to put down a promising group of juniors from GA.
Just a guess.
Bugaboo>> There are a lot of things you wrote that I don't agree with, and some that I do, but one in particular that I want to refute is the claim that JWOC is the driving force behind kids orienteering programs in European countries.
This most certainly is not the case. Most kid orienteering programs in European countries are club-based, with an emphasis on fun, inclusiveness, and participation from an early age. Only a very few of the kids go on to be elite orienteers and even fewer ever make it to JWOC or WOC. Instead, priority is given to social activities, club trips, and training camps that bring kids closer together and create the kind of social atmosphere that promotes retention. Once you have a critical mass of juniors rising through the ranks, results will follow. Without that critical mass, it is very difficult to develop a sustainable program.
I agree that it is harder for kids from non-orienteering families to get into the sport - this is the case in North America just as much as in Europe. Those barriers should be minimized, but I don't think anyone on this thread is arguing against that. So once again, it seems like you are very angry at someone for something, but it is unclear at whom or for what.
Totaly agree with Boris above, that's skiing in Canada as well, Jackrabbit first, then the pyramid narrows to racing programs.
At Latvia WOC I spoke to Norwegian coach Jurgen Rostrop and the one thing he was super impressed with Canadian Orienteering was the sheer number of kids in the ARK program, said Norway should look at it.
The 2 clubs that have ARK in Canada: DGL and Foothills (SOGO) have also sent the most jrs for Canada's recent JWOC teams. Well that and offspring of the 80s Canadian national teams.
@Nev-Monster: Oct 8, 2019 9:56 AM
The 2 clubs that have ARK in Canada: DGL and Foothills (SOGO) have also sent the most jrs for Canada's recent JWOC teams. Well that and offspring of the 80s Canadian national teams.
As far as I know, SOGO in their 6 year long existence, did not send any kids to JWOC. All FWOC kids who attended JWOC were from the old JDP program that ceased to exist 6 years ago.
A real marker of success for a youth program is not how many go to JWOC or national championships or get ranking points, but how many remain involved with the sport in the future, at any level. It's silly to focus on the top of the pyramid when 99% of the effort needs to go to the base levels.
I agree 100% with Cristina! What matters is the number of youngsters who go on a active orienteers for the rest of their lives, not how well they did in junior competitions.
If we counted success by JWOC appearances here in Norway, pretty much every club would be a failure: We have several hundred clubs and 6-8 JWOC slots, so in any given year 98%+ of the clubs have zero JWOC runners.
Since strong juniors tends to happen in batches, it is often the case that those 6-8 runners represent half as many clubs, i.e. the clubs who happened to have a strong youth/junior group over the preceeding years.
My own club Nydalens is a case in point, due to a lot of volunteer effort as well as a lot of orienteering families who moved to Oslo as the same point in the careers, we have now had a very strong youth group (many podium results from the Youth 10-mila) along with becoming the largest O club in the country.
A bit further west we have Heming who have had more or less a single really strong junior with no close to equal level relay team mates, but he happens to be Kasper Fosser who you all should know about now.
I.e. the single most important requirement might be to have a strong peer group, but the very best will do well no matter what.
@Cristina: Oct 8, 2019 1:36 PM
how many remain involved with the sport in the future
The retention is almost zero. 99% of effort goes into kids who never continue with the sport.
Why? If we have this perfect system with no structured races, no rankings, then why are kids not staying in the activity?
@Bugaboospire: Oct 7, 2019 4:34 PM
3- PSOs need to implement a set of ranked local races, based on NSO's ranking system, in addition to current recreational programs. Retention must be given higher priority than maximum participation/profits.
Most kids leave sports in their teens because it gets too competitive, not because it lacks competitive structure. Kids stay in a sport for the social aspects, and that is often true of the successful, competitive athletes, too. Someone who is really good at orienteering at age 15 is probably also really good at some other sports. Why would they stick with orienteering if they are the only kid in their region (of any ability) and all of their friends are playing soccer or running cross country?
And I think people have too high an expectation for retention. Most people don't continue participating in their childhood sports for decades after they finish school. I'd be surprised if youth to adult retention was even 1% across the popular sports. Even most of the people I played with competitively in high school and college are not participating in the sport any more. This just means you need really, really big numbers at the bottom of the pyramid, and it needs to be fun.
@Cristina: Oct 9, 2019 7:51 AM
Why would they stick with orienteering if they are the only kid in their region (of any ability) and all of their friends are playing soccer or running cross country?
Exactly! Why would they stick with orienteering (which has no structure, no team relays, no structured races etc.) when they can join soccer teams, play soccer matches, tournaments, or race at cross country local, city, and provincial races with their teams? Of course that majority of kids almost always opt for the real sport with the structure and a social aspect wrapped around it. That's how it is.
I think we're talking past each other. Most kids don't care about the tournaments and the trophies, they want to have peers they can high five after a game or practice and have fun eating pizza with at the post-game dinner. Pushing kids to focus too much on the competition drives them away. You're right, there needs to be some kind of structure, but it's not about rankings and championships, it's about "every week at 6pm we meet at this park and have fun with friends". Seems to me programs like ARK have that right, and they'd be right even if no one ever went on to run JWOC or be a Canadian Champ.
@Cristina: Oct 9, 2019 9:40 AM
You are 100% right about the fun with friends. I can talk only about SOGO, not ARK. Both programs have something right, otherwise they would not have the numbers. The retention in SOGO is not great. Kids leave to real sports that have a structure, tournaments, fun etc. You said that, Oct 9, 2019 7:51 AM A real marker of success for a youth program is not how many go to JWOC or national championships or get ranking points, but how many remain involved with the sport in the future, at any level. According to your measure, SOGO is a failure. Kids keep leaving to real sports with a structure. The activity SOGO does is at the level of a 'community sport', not at a club level; like soccer for kids who play at early age before they join the soccer clubs. The age distribution of SOGO kids confirms it. Majority of kids are in L1 (6-12y). There needs to be a structure of the sport to retain the kids and stop them from leaving to real sports. The structure can not be created by SOGO or ARK. It has to come from NSO/PSOs. SOGO never had a program for competitive or elite athletes.
Just like the Romans, what has ARK or SOGO ever done for Canadian Orienteering???
The kids who I watched most closely as they grew up didn't stick with the sports they did as kids (neither orienteering nor the other sports). The competitive structure of things like soccer may not have driven them away, but it certainly didn't entice them. What did they stick with? Dance and theater. No structured competition there (well, very little), but they sure did get to hang out with friends.
According to your measure, SOGO is a failure. Kids keep leaving to real sports with a structure.
I'll note that to the best of my knowledge, this is exactly what happened with Will Critchley in that he orienteered when quite young then disappeared into nordic skiing for most if not all of his teens though early 20s. And yet somehow, here he is, back orienteering for several years now and about to be the only Canadian participating in the World Cup in China, if I'm informed accurately. Maybe you shouldn't be in such a rush to write SOGO off as a failure just because it appears to retain fewer of the participants that you would like (if anyone has offered anything ressembling hard numbers, I missed it).
@Nev-Monster: Oct 9, 2019 11:29 AM what has ARK or SOGO ever done for Canadian Orienteering?
They created a huge pool of kids with a massive potential.
DGL has organized a fantastic COC in 2013 and they have the capacity to organize first class local ranked orienteering races, another COCs, NAOCs, and other high profile races. ARK has a wide base of Adventure running kids who can run orienteering races as well. ARK has an experience with raising some of our elite athletes like Emma W., Jan-Erik, Christian. Jan-Erik trained in Norway for a year and made a massive leap forward, placing very well at JWOC and WOC. Christian trained in Denmark for 2 years, and placed well at JWOC. Emma W. was 6th at JWOC sprint and lived in Hamilton. We need these athletes to stay at home, develop at home and motivate other athletes here. They need a sport with a structure like they have in Europe.
SOGO has a huge potential and under the right leadership, they could turn Canadian orienteering around. Should they be willing to hire a high calibre coach with a proven track record (someone like Lars Lindstrom, Libor Zridkavesely, or any other European coach of the same calibre and experience), someone who can lead kids at all levels, FWOC can have a very successful recreational, competitive group of kids who would stick around and carry the sport into the future (not only to the podiums). Existing masters would also greatly benefit from such coaches. The environment would enable everybody to grow. The outflow of our athletes to Europe could be reversed. European athletes could start coming to North America to orienteer, rather than the other way round. The Danish athletes absolutely loved orienteering here. Many young European orienteers want to come orienteering to Canada and keep asking about local opportunities. Canada has a potential to be another Switzerland. We do have athletes with equivalent talents like Hubmanns, Nigglis, etc. They just do not have an environment to grow and thrive. Most of our athletes leave the sport or leave the country. Looking at revenues and past salaries of SOGO administrators, there is absolutely no reason why the top coaches could not had been hired in the past. Everybody would had benefited. The structure of the sport could be set up as well. There is a massive potential if the right steps are taken and status quo cancelled. ARK and SOGO have a base of 3000+ athletes.
Other sports in Canada thrive. They face the same challenges as orienteering (long distances etc.) but they still thrive. There is absolutely no reason why orienteering could not thrive here as well.
I think it is wonderful that this thread has highlighted the need for more programs like ARK, SOGO and NG in North America. When my club started ARK almost 10 years ago now we never viewed JWOC or WOC attendance as a key metric of program success but rather the numbers of kids having fun and running on a map was one. With that we have succeeded. Now that there is another thread on ways to grow the successful kids programs nation wide i will post some ideas on that thread soon.
But when I started this thread in ways to improve elite NorAm orienteering it was mostly coming from my role as a coach and mentor for many juniors that started (or were associated with) the ARK program. As I stated in the initial post
“... some of the young athletes in my club found Canada's HPP application process complicated, redundant and tedious. I know some positive changes have been made but would inviting some top athletes to join the HPP be a better and more positive process? (i.e. take a process where one needs to 'prove' they are worthy to make the HPP and turn it into a process where people reach out and invite top athletes and automatically select those athletes that are achieving certain continental and international race performance benchmarks). Target action: Create a talent identification group”
We developed a program with a strong base at the bottom of the pyramid (ARK) brought in a teen program (ARX) that had linked recreational and competitive groups. We lost many kids along the way. That happens in all sports but we lost some talented juniors in part due to issues farther up the development ladder. Partly lack of training and racing opportunities and partly lack of critical mass (Ottawa is the closest other junior group to our ARK/ARX program in the Golden Horseshoe). Some of those kids made it to JWOC with several from non orienteering families. But many of those would not have made Canada’s HPP were it not for the hard work of our experienced coaches and tremendous number of former National Team members helping the athletes negotiate the HPP application program.
How can we make that process easier and recruit athletes from other sports at the same time (or recruit back talented orienteers that now make O sport number 2 or 3)?
Great post Hammer.
You know what I like best: It's the thought in the last paragraph of 'how can we... recruit athletes from other sports....?'
Here is the well known fact: most sports have a pyramid structure where they start with the wide base and the participation rate gets smaller and smaller as the kids get older and the competition gets tougher. Only a very small fraction get to the professional level or the Olympics.
However I look at a sport like rugby in the US that has a small base all the way up but couldn't they have a great national team if just a few of those young men who were graduating from the hundreds of university football teams but not making it to the pro level were recruited to play rugby? They could. Bobsled is grabbing them so why not rugby?
But what has this to do with orienteering? National level orienteers need great stamina and brain power. We in Canada and the US have lots of athletes with great stamina not quite making it to the Olympic/ national XC ski and track teams. Some among them could maybe just have the brain power to be national level orienteers. Case in point in my years as a high school track coach I had two exceptional middle distance runners who went on to 'full ride' scholarships at top US universities. They never quite made it to the Worlds or Olympics. I reflect that when they were in high school nothing would have diverted them from their track training to the woods but at some point they must have seen the end coming. The right invitation at the right time could have produced two top orienteers.
But as another one of my ex-students, John Sleeman of the brewery fame, says "if you don't ask you won't get."
Maybe we should position someone at the finish line of the track, cross country and cross country ski championships and hand out invitations to the finalists just off the podium. Or something a bit more subtle.
I don’t believe fast track runners will directly translate to great orienteers.
I know many very good cc and track runners who just can’t manage rough Orienteering terrain and map reading...
of course being fast definitely helps in Orienteering- but fast on terrain is a different story then just fast on a grass or pavement..
Of course fast track runners will not directly translate to great orienteers. Who would ever be thinking such a thing?
But if you don't find them, train them and test them you will never find the few gems that will.
Another thing for sure is that even if a kid is a really natural navigator in the woods if he or she is not working his/her butt off to improve stamina and speed the results will not be there at JWOC.
I think that track runners have the best chance of becoming a really good orienteer. Especially in the Sprint discipline. For example look at Michael Kondro. Orienteering is 50% navigation, and 50% running. At the highest level navigational losses are minimal and thus the greatest differentiation is running.
Michael was able to learn sprint orienteering in 2-3 years of doing it minimally. The earlier you get them on board, then the more time they have to learn.
Another example I would say is Jan Erik, he started orienteering consistently rather late, and in the last 3 years has developed his navigation to an elite level.
I think what hammer is saying is a great idea, and I wouldn't start with just university athletes, I would also include invites to middle and high school athletes too from XC races.
The only problem is that, currently we don't have sufficient training structures to guide and support these athletes in Canada (imo).
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