OUSA has two ski orienteers representing the US at the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships in Norway starting on Monday, January 31. They are Will Freilinghaus (EMPO) and Kestrel Owens (GMOC). You can follow their progress at, http://www.skio2011.com
Ski O Team Administrator
Congratulations to them both!
Is this the first time the US has sent skiers to the JWSOC?
The Junior Ski WOC is also the European Ski-o Championships, and we have a bunch of American masters over there racing: Adrian Owens (US Ski-O Team), Jonathan Owens (BAOC), Allison Van Akkeren (GMOC), Pavel Korniliev (ROC), Sergei Dobretsov (ROC), Aims Coney (UNO), Terry Myers (UNO), Scott Pleban (US Ski-O Team), and possibly others that I've missed.
This latest update is from Adrian, who is making sure Kestrel and Will don't get into too much trouble -
So far our airplane, train, and bus travels have gone very smoothly.
We spent the first night at a hostel in Oslo, then the next day some heavy duty sight-seeing. Many log buildings and Sami culture at the Norsk folk museum, including the Stav-kirke from about 1200 CE. Then the viking ship museum, and Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-tiki and Ra expeditions. A trip up to the Hollmenkollen ski stadium and massive ski jump inspired me to get on the trails for two 3.7 km loops. Fast hard pack was wonderfully groomed. The whole city is promoting the nordic world championships that start at the end of February and continue into March.
Friday night was spent at the home of friends I made last year at the Ski-O World Cup races in Sweden. They served wondeerful potatoes with reindeer stew.
Morning tours of the nobel peace museum and World War 2 resistance museum led us back to the train station.
On to Lillehammer! Actually a couple hundred hundred meters higher in Sjusjoen.
The bus driver was awesome and dropped us right at the driveway of the condo we are staying at.
Jon and Allison went night skiing just now on the lighted trails 1.5 km away.
So Long for now, Adrian
Adrian Zissos and Charlotte MacNaughton (Canada) are also in Norway taking part in WMOC. Well, really we're just here to ski and might be exhausted before the racing begins on the weekend. Today we did a most amazing ski - the first 43km of the Birebeiner route in the backwards (easy) direction. This was such a highlight that we may just do it again tomorrow! It is highly recommended and if any of the US skiers are interested the key thing is how to get back from Rena. Which is as follows: 3:00pm train from Rena to Hamar. Then switch trains, connecting back to Lillehammer. You will arrive just before 5:00pm. Take next bus home to your condo. Trails are in super condition - just about 5km of wind-swept up top. Everything else groomed, what, yesterday?
But what is it about Norwegians? We are skiing in the middle of nowhere when a single skier approaches from the other direction. Invariably they will avert eye contact and ignore any attempt at a passing "hi, how are you". It becomes quite a game to try to get a response. The only reliable way we've found is to skate up hill in their track when they are zooming down ;-) But I'm not sure they are saying "hi, how are ya'"
A side story about our ski today...
On the way we did meet two guys who flagged us down to chat. We were amazed until we realized they weren't Norwegians at all - they were from Sweden. And in any case one of them had fallen and broken his wrist and was asking for help. We weren't able to help much, but soon a Norwegian dude came along and quick as a shot called for the ski ambulance. As he skied off we commented "wow, that guy is a good skier, eh?" The Swedes looked at us as if we were from Mars. That, they assured us, was Emil Hegle Svendsen himself - two golds and a silver in biathlon at the Whistler Olympics. That was cool.
Please keep the commentary coming. It's very interesting.
The no hello thing in Norway I can't comment on, but if it was in Finland and you experience this then, I would say it was because they probably are from Helsinki, where they have to make constant small talk with idiots all the time. They would be on vacation so they don't have to talk to anybody. You wouldn't want to ruin their vacation now, would you?
Q: How can you recognize a Finnish extrovert?
A: He looks at your shoes when he's talking.
The first time I heard that one it was "How can you tell when a physicist is an extrovert?" Told to me by a professor of physics.
Results from the Long Distance seem to be up. If anyone can post the maps, it would be nice to see the courses that the Juniors are skiing.
Looks like our Americans had some good legs and bad legs. Kestrel and William both had relatively slow first legs, was the terrain around the start especially tricky?
Exciting to follow the races and to cheer on the USA!
The live tracking (under results) shows the maps and courses for the M/F21 classes. Looks like some really hilly, technical terrain. Unfortunately none of our guys have a GPS tracker.
The boys did pretty well - lets remember Kestrel is like 10 years old, and racing in the M17 class! The splits make it look like Will made a pretty bad mistake right near the end.
Good luck in the next race, all!
Kestrel was born in 1998. He is at least 12.
Question: Why does the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championshps have M/F21+ categories -- and for that matter M/F-17 -- when (foot-O) JWOC does not?
See Alex's first post, above.
A quick update from Norway...
GuyO - this is not only JWOC, but also WMOC plus a few other championships. All very neat.
One surprising thing is the small number of people. WMOC for SkiO in Norway will attract only about 300 people.
There are many difficulties in hosting skiO, notably weather conditions and snow conditions can make for unpredictable last minute problems. So we are told that quite often maps are not printed until the day before! For example, for a sprint (with 12-minute target winning time), if there is fresh slow snow then it may be necessary to shorten the course length at the very last minute to achieve these winning times. I was very surprised to hear this (especially having had some experience with IOF Map Commission's attitude toward laser-printed maps ;-).
Another surprising thing was how tough the skiing is. We have had about 3"-4" of fresh snow. Usually my mouth would be watering. But here is simply makes the smaller tracks difficult to see. This was especially true on the WMOC model event (Thursday) - but I hope the snow-mobiles will be out remaking the tracks before Friday's competitions. And the downhills!! Oy oy oy. Not for the faint of heart. We understand that some competitors have been taking off their skis for some downhill sections on the narrow (snow-mobile created) tracks.
The course planning is quite tricky. The competition venue has been created by adding a number of snow-mobile-created-labyrinths in an area that normally has only a few wide permanent tracks. These existing tracks basically circle a big hill which has a couple of ski runs and a ski lift on it. The Long Distance race started at the top of the ski lift (where there is one labyrinth) then used long legs to take racers from on labyrinth to another. Since most of the labyrinths are on the side of the hill the access paths get quite crowded with skiers heading in both up and down directions. If the access path is not wide (as it wasn't in the Long Distance) then there can be serious right-of-way issues.
One last surprising thing for this report - we have found friendly Norwegians! Perhaps all the sour-pusses go for long remote skis - as JS suggests, to get away from irritating small talk ;-) But in the towns and at the ski hills we find normal friendly happy humans.
And it is so flipping beautiful here!
Can we get some photos? maps?
Good luck tomorrow!
Well here are our snapshots
- but nothing from the competition area yet
The best place for maps
is, I think, the event website which has tracking on the M/W21 from the European Champs
Today's WMOC news...
In the morning the JWOC, EOC, etc Sprints took place. The WMOC races took place in the afternoon. Charm & I took advantage of this schedule and skied 16km into Lillehammer in the morning. Normally this would be a doddle - all downhill - but we have another 2" fresh snow overnight so it was hard work all the way! Made it with just a few minutes to spare to catch the bus back to Sjusjoen. Why would we do such a dumb thing on the morning of a sprint competition? Because the skiing is absolutely fabulous and it would be crazy not to enjoy it all!
In the afternoon we picked up our touchless EMIT punches - strap them on the wrist and almost literally "punch" the control as you go by. Superb for skiO.
Great weather - and the "scooters" (aka snowmobiles) had been out packing down the narrow trails.
I started calmly and took the first control with surprising ease. But as I left control one I was heading into the thick of the competition terrain with skiers going in all directions on the narrow tracks. I was very distracted by the obvious collision possibilities and blame that misdirected focus on my navigation error - I misinterpreted a complex junction and lost a couple of minutes.
Took the second control from above - that might be good advice for foot O, but in this case I came hurtling down a steep back and went flying past the control. I threw out my arm to try to 'punch' the control as I went by but missed and lost balance and face planted in the snow. Ugh. But the worst thing was I now had snow all over my map and misread control 8 as control 3 and started on the obvious hill climb - I got to the top of the hill before realizing I was going wrong and had lost another four minutes.
From there on I was calm and skied well with only two more crashes and a number of close misses. Made one hideous route choice (more climbing) that probably cost another minute or so.
So much fun - even though I was close to dead last! And just over twice the time of the winner. But I am very satisfied with the experience.
Tomorrow we WMOC have the first of our two long distance races. The real elites in JWOC and EOC will have a mass-start middle distance event - with butterfly forking. I really encourage you to check out the live tracking if you have half a chance.
Some final observations from the fabulous Norwegian winter land.
Sorry I don't have much information about the US Juniors or WMOC team. But here's what happened to me over the last couple of days.
Yesterday was the long distance. It was long and tough. I guess that's how it should be, but I wish I could say I had a lot of fun. Mostly it felt like endless climbs on narrow snow-mobile tracks that were super frustrating. A couple of crazy downhills and the odd long boring ski (where I proved I can stay fairly close to the top guys on wide hard pack ;-).
Today was the middle - it was awesome fun. Still lots of narrow tracks, but they were mostly on the flats and, after three days of competition, the narrow tracks are getting a bit wider - and maybe I'm starting to get better at skiing them. Still a couple of crazy downhills! One in particular was awful - I came hurtling down, with trees tight on both sides, quite impressed with my growing downhill-skiing skills, when I came upon a slow moving uphill train of four people. So lucky that they all jumped out of my way or it would have been carnage. I yelled "so sorry" as I flew past (trying to use my most USA accent possible ;-). Personally I have to think this was terrible course planning, and heard several comments about the dangers of the narrow tracks being used for both up and down routes.
The event was great fun. The weather cooperated. The touch-free Emit was great. The arena was super. The atmosphere relaxed (despite all the championship status races).
I have many thoughts about ski orienteering following this immersion. The main thought is - were are all the slow people?? Charlotte & I were both really close to dead last - and we're not bad skiers. There were huge gaps between us and the top in our class. My thought about this is that the sport in its current form is ultra-elite, and toning it down a bit would open it up to more participation. For example, cutting down the percentage of snowmobile tracks would help. Having some "skills based" classes rather than all "age based" would help too.
One other point - we were at an IOF Event Advisor clinic for SkiO and it is very encouraging to see the IOF's more relaxed attitude in skiO, including such heresies as:
* print maps on laser printers is okay
* less secrecy is necessary - open the entire area to all competitors right up to the start of competition (two reasons for this that I can think of: a) some places have nowhere else for skiers to train / warmup, and b) if some people know the trails, opening the trails to everyone will even things out a little bit
* even people that know the tracks are welcome to take part (reason for this I think is that giving home club a chance to "shine" on home field isn't so bad, especially in such a small sport, where it is appreciated that clubs go to the effort to put on the races)
A great week in Norway for us.
(and a side note - it really makes me appreciate even more the great atmosphere and attitude at the skiO events in California put on by Tony & the BAOC crowd)
The latest news from Adrian, reporting on the long distance:
Long Distance Wednesday Feb. 2
This kind of race is designed to be physically challenging and it was.
Kestrel was racing in the M17 category, which had an advertized straight line course length of 10 km, and the shortest route would be 75% on the poorly packed, twisty, and narrow (1.2 meter wide) trails. Will's was even longer at 14.2 km in the M20.
Scott Pleban and I entered the EOC long distance for the good quality practice and the chance to see some of the terrain that might be in the masters races on the weekend. We both talked about the need to take it easy physically on this course so we could recover adequately with one day of rest. We were looking at 21 km with a climb of 650 meters.
The one easy part was that the remote start involved a chair lift ride to the top of the Natrudstillen Mtn. Guess what came next. Screaming downhills followed by a climb back up the same mountain and then another two climbs up a second mountain separated by a map flip. All four of us faced the same big decision on the way back to the stadium for a final map exchange: go over the mountain on steep trails or way around it on a big wide nicely groomed trail?
Scott went over the top while the rest of us went around. Looking at the GPS tracking afterward revealed that the winners in M21 (Staffan Tunis) and W21 (Helene Soderlund) both went around, but may have lost a little of their lead while doing so. Helene came into the finish chute with blood soaking through a large section of her uniform from a leg wound.
The hardest part navigationally was right after the final map exchange, where the spaghetti of green trails at 1:15000 scale looked to Kestrel "like mostly green with islands of white". Additionally confusing were one pond and one marsh that looked similar covered with snow but were about 300 meters apart along the same flat trail. Many skiers were confused. I had one male racer in a yellow suit, Lithuania?, ski up and gesture to see my compass mounted on my map holder. Then seeing a conference, a Czech woman came over to ask where we were. We were at the marsh even though I thought I was heading for the pond.
I am proud of both Will and Kestrel for finishing the race, the first of that distance, difficulty and complexity for them. It is great prepartion for several more years in those same age classes. The graphic split analysis showed very steady racing for both of them except the first leg on each map. Will said he got onto one big trail right after the map exhange but went the wrong way and promptly skied off the map, where nothing made sense until he came back.
Kestrel finished the course in 1 hr 49 minutes for 33rd place of 33 starters. Will was out for 2:37 for 39th place out of 46 starters (they were on different courses).
In the M21: I crossed the line in 2:34 for 48th place and Scott was 4 minutes back for 50th place out of 56 starters.
To add to Adrian's report - as part of the IOF Event Advisor clinic we were lucky enough to have Staffan Turnis (M21 winner) attend one of the sessions and talk about the racing. The two things he said that relate to Adrian's report:
1. going over the hill was much faster than skiing around. He lost over 30 seconds by going around and felt he had made a very bad route choice. (personally, being in a different league all together, I would have skied around for sure since a) the climb would have exhausted me, and b) the descent would have scared the crap out of me)
2. the "green with islands of white". The IOF Event Advisor suggested that this was not good course planning to use such an area, but Steffan seemed to disagree. "You have to read more than just the trails in ski orienteering" was more or less how he put it. He pointed out some other information that was quite clear (some contour lines I think) that he used, ignoring the mess of tracks. I found that a very insightful and useful comment.
(I had one of the USA guys ski past me on the WMOC Day 1 (after the big climb up to the lake). Not sure if it was Adrian or Scott (or someone else) but I was impressed how fast they were going)
Was the map flip two sheets of paper? or two pages on a folded sheet? or one page printed front and back.
In the WMOC long there were two map exchanges. The first (after the fourth control) was a "flip" - the paper had a map printed on both sides (clear violation of IOF rules ;-). The second (after about eight controls) was a "drop your map and take another".
@Az - The longer courses in ski-o races in Norway usually have the map printed on both sides. It makes it possible to make a longer course in a smaller terrain, and you don't need to "waste" resources on having a manned map exchange.
I agree that it makes a lot of sense to have the two-side printing for long courses - for all the above reasons from hennings and also as a competitor I found it much simpler to flip the map over compared to picking up another one and inserting into my map holder.
I guess I was being a little indirect in my previous post, but I was trying to show another example that in SkiO the rules seem to be taken with a touch of practicality. In this case (and I'm a bit astonished that I even now this) there is skiO rule 15.6 that specifically states: "The map shall only be printed on one side of the paper." There didn't seem to be any reason to not break this rule
Umm, it was only printed on one side...
Sorry, couldn't resist. Spent some time today with a 4 and a 5 year old, this is the sort of humor they appreciate.
I always worry about the map on the other side being distracting if it shows through. On decent paper, it only shows if you hold it up to the sun, so it really isn't a problem.
For the Blue Hills Traverse, there were two maps, west, and east. Both are 8.5x11, and were printed side by side on an 11x17 sheet. With that sheet folded in half, it was still just a flip to get to the second map, but the second layer of paper ensures that there are no bleed through issues.
As long as the competitors are told ahead of time about a two-sided map, it's fine. But I clearly remember that at the APOC 2002 relay in Calgary, runners on the long, anchor leg of the relay had a two-sided map, but the organizers forgot to mention this--oops! Several runners lost a lot of time when they went back to the start to pick up the "correct" map, not realizing that it was on the other side of the map they were looking at...
This discussion thread is closed.