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Discussion: European Sprint Champs in Neuchatel

in: Orienteering; General

May 14, 2021 1:40 PM # 
Ricardo Schaniel - A new face on the US team competing together with Anton Salmenkylä in Switzerland this weekend.
May 14, 2021 1:43 PM # 
Live results from the Knock-Out Sprint qualifiers:*Q...
May 14, 2021 3:32 PM # 
They'll have WebTV and everything tomorrow:
May 14, 2021 8:57 PM # 
Thanks Bubo! We're excited to have another Euro-American on our team.
May 14, 2021 10:12 PM # 
Is there a profile of Ricardo somewhere? I'd love to learn more about him.
May 14, 2021 11:22 PM # 
Tim, know that half the world is cheering for you.
May 15, 2021 1:54 AM # 
Ricardo is a first-year senior. Check out his AP log at ricsch.
May 15, 2021 5:39 AM # 
Can anyone who watches the broadcast report back on whether during the longest off season it has been explained to Jonas Merz that he should actually listen to Katherine Betts from time to time?
May 15, 2021 6:33 PM # 
I wish someone would explain to the TV producers that an orienteering race is easier to follow if they occasionally show the map on screen - or, better, just show the relevant leg on screen at all times in a cut-out.

I can understand their unwillingess to show the GPS tracking, given the way that the runners' dots jump around at random - as far as I can tell, the "world premiere" of TracTrac's "special algorithms and supporting systems" has if anything made this worse - but a map without dots would still be pretty helpful in following what's going on.
May 15, 2021 6:50 PM # 
lost>> I was thinking the exact same thoughts during the broadcast. Really surprising that they weren't doing that given the high production values otherwise.
May 15, 2021 8:29 PM # 
Yes, I should say that I've been very impressed with the production values overall. It's perhaps not quite up to the very high standard of the Laufen KO sprint in 2019, although - to be fair - the topography today, while making for interesting courses, presumably made it less feasible to follow the race with panning shots from long distances or atop buildings.

The races have been pretty good entertainment value as well. As a spectator, it helps if you get familiar with the course, so it's quite helpful to have the men and women running the same KO sprint courses. (Also interesting to compare Tove's time in the final with the men's times...)
May 15, 2021 9:09 PM # 
I watched the sprint relay on Thursday and they were showing the gos tracking a little at the start but it wasn't very reliable and then after 10 minutes or so of the race they just stopped showing it. Presumably the tracking qant working as expected so they decided mid event to just skip it.
May 15, 2021 9:25 PM # 
I could not figure out how to make TracTrac's replay work reliably (the UI is nuts), everything else was great.
May 15, 2021 9:55 PM # 
Leaving the accuracy of the tracking to one side, I certainly find the GPS-seuranta UI much more comprehensible than TracTrac's.
May 16, 2021 7:09 AM # 
Agree - GPS-seuranta UI is much easier to use especially on mobile devices
May 16, 2021 8:43 AM # 
If the map and gps tracks where shown more often, then one would certainly miss some of the deciding moments on camera as they often happen at the blink of an eye. The KO sprint finals were a good example of hectic changes in the lead.
The typical elite spectator setup to follow the action is to have a big screen/beamer for the main TV footage and a second screen for the gps map.
May 16, 2021 12:36 PM # 
Sandor, is that you chuckling I can hear?
May 16, 2021 1:04 PM # 
frichte - it should really be possible to do either a split screen or an inset so that you can have both map and camera footage on screen at the same time. The problem with the KO sprint final coverage was that the changes in lead were pretty incomprehensible if you couldn't see the different routechoice options.

The GPS tracking for EOC appears to be so inaccurate as to be basically useless, at least in real time, so a split screen of camera footage alongside an orientated, dot-less map excerpt of the current leg would probably be the best option.

The whole point of having a professionally-produced TV production should be that spectators at home don't need to be looking at a second screen at the same time...
May 16, 2021 4:33 PM # 
I'm sure that the folks that are producing TV for orienteering have already or will very quickly come to this conclusion but...

For sprints the route choice options are finite. The route choice that each competitor takes is very important. Their exact position via GPS really isn't.

The best option for TV for sprints therefore is to have a set up that shows the various routes highlighted and shows who is taking each route. This would be easy enough to do without gps tracking (or with poor tracking).
May 18, 2021 12:14 AM # 
Another aspect of the races not yet discussed yet here in AP. ie the athletes’ performances. Here is an interview with one of the medalists - Yannick Michiels
May 18, 2021 1:10 AM # 
That's a great interview!
May 18, 2021 7:17 AM # 
I'd have trouble with 8-9 too. Wonder what the mapper is hoarding their slope tags for? Have we ever seen such poor GPS tracking?
May 18, 2021 8:27 AM # 
Usually I pay to view live, but this time I was busy and couldn't do so. Is there any coverage available to view in 'catch-up'? (free, of course - not going to pay after the event)
May 18, 2021 11:05 AM # 
TV coverage is often/sometimes free to watch after the event, but nothing is available yet.
May 18, 2021 2:03 PM # 
@gruver - no chuckling, just sheer joy that this did not happen in China
May 18, 2021 2:04 PM # 
Makes you think... my wife set the Vic MTBO long champs on the weekend and I won the M21 category.
May 18, 2021 2:11 PM # 
I noticed that too ;-)
May 18, 2021 2:19 PM # 
Do you seriously think that the reason Switzerland won the sprint relay is because one of the runners was related to the course setter? Give me a break.
May 18, 2021 2:24 PM # 
Boris: I actually don't think he is saying that, but he is saying that we trust implicitly that it's being done right if it happens in SUI, whereas if something odd happens in CHN the assumption is foul play. (Rather than home terrain.) That is, if you took this sequence of events and it happened in CHN, there would be insinuations aplenty. It's the contrast of assumptions that's the problem.

That is, in a serious international sport, you can't base the understanding of what's acceptable on an implicit agreement to 'trust people' in SUI and 'be suspicious' in CHN. The limits of what's acceptable have to be the same on paper for everyone.
May 18, 2021 2:28 PM # 
feet>> If your reasoning was described in the blog post linked above, I would certainly be fine with it. As it is, standing on its own, it is simply a baseless allegation of impropriety that casts an unnecessary shadow over the competitors. I urge the author to remove the post or to provide context along the lines of what you described.
May 18, 2021 2:29 PM # 
I agree that the venue and timing is not well chosen. This is the time for celebrating the results in SUI, not casting aspersions at them. (Or nasturtiums, for that matter.)
May 18, 2021 2:30 PM # 
Just the facts, Boris, just the facts.
May 18, 2021 2:32 PM # 
@stalas: but by choosing to point out those facts and only those facts, you are implying something, and it is not totally clear what you are implying.
May 18, 2021 2:40 PM # 
If you think that the facts do not look good, then maybe the organisers and the IOF should have thought about that before and considered how things might look like
May 18, 2021 3:02 PM # 
@ BorisGr: I already acknowledged that EOC 2021 was exemplary regarding Fair Play
May 18, 2021 3:08 PM # 
Is there something so unusual about the Sprint Relay results to suggest that the results would quite probably have been significantly different with a different course planner?
May 18, 2021 3:15 PM # 
Is there a Fair Play problem, when siblings of favourites are tasked with course setting for a major international event?
May 18, 2021 3:24 PM # 
@ BorisGr: I already acknowledged that EOC 2021 was exemplary regarding Fair Play

If you expect to be taken seriously, then a passive-aggressive post that does not provide a single shred of evidence of impropriety is not the way to do that.
May 18, 2021 3:25 PM # 
While I don’t believe there’s any reason to think that the athletes gained any advantage by it in this case, it is true that having sibling and coaches of team members as course setters is not a very good look.
May 18, 2021 3:52 PM # 

You say "Just the facts, Boris, just the facts." but the header in your linked 'article' is not. "Thanks God, it was not in China" is an open ended insinuation. If you want to claim just the facts I'd suggest you change your headline. Or back it up with researched facts and arguments.

I'm not interested in weighing in on the China vs Switzerland debate.
May 18, 2021 5:40 PM # 
@ Canadian: What are the facts you are missing to see that two members of the home team performed better on days when their siblings were the course setters vs the day when no siblings were involved?
May 18, 2021 7:43 PM # 
I didn't say I'm missing anything.

What I'm saying is that your link to your article does does NOT include JUST facts.
May 18, 2021 8:20 PM # 
We´re not the only ones complaining:

"WHISTLER (Reuters) - Aksel Lund Svindal fueled a debate on national team coaches setting the courses at Olympic Alpine skiing races after skiing out of the slalom of the men’s super combined on Sunday.
The slalom course had been set by Croatia coach Ante Kostelic and might have helped his son Ivica, who was in ninth position after the downhill run, clinch a silver medal.
Norway’s newly-crowned super-G champion, who was leading after the downhill section, mentioned a “Kostelic gate” to describe the spot in the middle section of the slalom course that ruined his hopes.
The question of course setters was also raised on Saturday, when Austria’s Andrea Fischbacher won the women’s super-G. The course had been set by Austrian coach Juergen Kriechbaum, who said afterwards he had tried to favor one of the Austrians.
But what may seem controversial to Alpine skiing outsiders is a routine practice used at World Cup races and major events such as world championships and Olympics.
A national team coach is designated in advance to set the course, which means he decides where to put the gates. And while coaches might try to favor competitors from their team, it is commonly accepted that the best skiers can win on any course.
May 19, 2021 6:43 AM # 
Except, that there is no "tradition" to task siblings of favourite athletes with course setting responsibilities in orienteering. Just the opposite, for very obvious reasons of conflict of interest.

But in this case, the organisers could not be bothered, how things might look like. The IOF could not be bothered either. Neither the course setters, when they accepted the job. Not even the athletes who should have known that it might cast a shadow on their performance.

So why are people upset when one calls the attention to the fact that it does not look very nice?
May 19, 2021 10:48 AM # 
In a small, incestuous sport (even in Switzerland) where we do not enjoy commercial organizing operations, what threshold of purity must we require? OK, I guess siblings/parents, but clubmates, country mates? Where does it stop? Should we expect a greater susceptibility to impropriety in the easier case to flag from afar (family connections) than perhaps more compromising but less evident allegiances?

Anyway, not really intending to be a gadfly but merely to make the point that in orienteering we are not really in a position to clutch our pearls in horror about the nexuses among our extended “family.”
May 19, 2021 11:04 AM # 
Actually there is a tradition. Way back in 1974 Mona Norgaard (DK) won WOC - her husband was the event director, mapper etc. I am sure similar 'conflicts' have happened at similarly high levels more than a few times since. There very much is a tradition in orienteering that just because someone close to you is involved in the organisation doesn't mean you cannot compete. We agree to trust those involved to act honorably.

You have a valid point that since that is the case we should be very careful about setting a double standard if and when we want to question the fairness of event management practices in other countries that are not among the usual orienteering heartland. But I think you have well and truly made that point by now. The way you are framing things regarding EOC, even if it is not your intention, most people are going to interpret it as more or less saying these Swiss siblings must have cheated.

You say we should be very careful how we speculate about potential cheating when it involves (for example) Chinese athletes. Again - that is a fair point. Perhaps you should show the same the respect to these Swiss athletes and stop implying that they must have cheated.
May 19, 2021 11:37 AM # 
Stalas you are also disrespecting the Swiss event controllers and the IOF Advisors by suggesting that they could not restrain the setters from helping their siblings.

Anyway, for me the relay and KO events are unimportant - 'mickey mouse' events made up for tv and to extend the EOC/WOC programs unnecessarily. Only the 'real' sprint event was what counted for me.
May 19, 2021 11:40 AM # 
KO sprint was tough race, plenty of climb and stairs. As a spectator it felt like most of the men running strong in KO did not quite have the legs next day. I wonder how big difference it made to skip or not qualify early in KO. Women ran just fine both days, but women are stronger than men in general anyway.
May 19, 2021 11:41 AM # 
There is a difference between setting courses in a style that favor a person's strengths, and divulging information about a secret course. Which is being alleged here?
May 19, 2021 11:56 AM # 
I would not call a 47 year old precedent a "tradition". But even decades later some of the participants of WOC 1974 whom I talked to considered it a glorious case of double standards of "better nations".

More important that people overlook the fact that it is not about cheating per say. A course setter intimately familiar with some of the athletes, who spent potentially countless hours analysing route choices with them, may even subconsciously set courses that favour some athletes, or subconsciously avoid situations that some athletes do not like. When medals are decided on seconds, these little differences may well matter.

Switzerland is one of the few countries in the small world of orienteering where there are dozens of course setters who were better qualified for the job than some of the rather inexperienced members of the course setting team. So why chose folks who are clearly conflicted by any standard?
May 19, 2021 12:00 PM # 
Actually JJ I am pretty sure Stalas is not alleging any cheating, the point he is making is that given the results one COULD come to the conclusion these guys cheated, therefore it is hypocritical to make allegations against Chinese athletes doing well at a WC in China - as happened back in late 2019.

And of course he is saying the IOF should not allow such close relationships between athletes and officials.

But you see Stalas - even if those are the points you think you are making, most people just read what you write and, like JJ, come to the conclusion you are alleging cheating or something similar.
May 19, 2021 12:01 PM # 
@jjcote: Nothing is being alleged. Just trying to call attention to the fact that the end result does not look good. A picture that could have been easily avoided by following some basic principles of fair play.
May 19, 2021 12:02 PM # 
Simmo I think you just inadvertently disrespected the course setters by saying they had to be restrained from helping their siblings. :)
May 19, 2021 12:12 PM # 
@robplow That's exactly the point. It is a very interesting phenomena of tribal thinking. Unconditional belief in Fair Play is the cement of international orienteering.

This goes to the extent that for many even a hint that something may not be perceived as Fair Play should be forcefully rejected for the threat to a key identity attribute of the tribe of international orienteers. If any doubt creeps up regarding the practices of core nations, our little world may fall apart like a house of cards.
May 19, 2021 12:14 PM # 
Given the first WOC ever was only 57(?) years ago I would say 47 years is enough to qualify as a 'tradition'.

But I really think you have made you your point - you think such close relationships are not appropriate and should not be allowed. Fair enough. But it seems to me the overwhelming consensus on AttackPoint is that such relationships are common and generally acceptable. Maybe it is time to let this issue go.

I think you are very brave bringing up the issues you do about the IOF. Often I think what you say , though provocative, is well worth hearing and should be discussed openly even though I certainly don't always agree. But continuing to press this point in the way are (implying these guys cheated) is not doing yourself any favors. You are just undermining your own credibility on other issues.
May 19, 2021 12:17 PM # 
@robplow The answer is above - our posts crossed each other.
May 19, 2021 12:19 PM # 
Answer to what? My last post was not a question.

I got the points you are making on this issue a long time ago.
May 19, 2021 12:43 PM # 
Sorry, comment would have been a better word.

It seems that this whole phenomena of the role of trust as a key identity attribute for the tribe, and the nature of different forms of trust in insiders and outsiders may well deserve a proper post on the blog.
May 19, 2021 1:21 PM # 
@robplow: Perhaps 'common, not ideal but not unacceptable' would be more accurate. Agreed otherwise.
May 19, 2021 1:52 PM # 
'not unacceptable' is a double negative which is grammatically anti not unacceptable.
May 19, 2021 10:19 PM # 
May 25, 2021 8:30 AM # 
@Parkino, it seems the EOC streams are now available on Youtube at - I'm not sure if it's legal, because IOF live-centre still has the paywall, but the Youtube about page says they only repost content "available free on other websites". So... not sure.
Jun 11, 2021 2:07 PM # 
Some food for thought for the ones whose trust in orienteering fair play made them reject even the notion that the EOC 2021 results did not look good.

Deep Trust, the Cornerstone of Orienteering

There are two important cornerstones of major international orienteering events: deep trust in Fair Play, and willful blindness to acknowledge that this trust is supported only by a near religious belief in this very trust itself.

In Trust We Trust.

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