Wednesday, April 3, 2019

OUSA 2019 WTOC Selection Process

Details of the selection process for this year's World Trail Orienteering Champs have been posted on the Trail-O Team page of the OUSA Website.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Some thoughts on PreO

The Paralympic Team relaxing on TempO day
Christ Rasmussen is a Paralympic Team member competing at his second WTOC. He greatly improved his performance between the two PreO days. His thoughts going into the second model event:

Going into Model #2, is a training day to maximize learning experience of not only the map maker, but more importantly where I am making the mistakes from lack of experience. Going back on the course and discuss where I made the mistakes is crucial and beneficial to compete at a higher standard. 

Building confidence with quick decisive problem solving techniques with precise positioning and zero expectations to compete on higher level. I will become better for myself and team USA.

From Mika:
Based on last year's European Cup event in similar location I knew to expect a challenging set of problems for the preO day 1. The process of solving them was to read everything on the map and determine where each flag was. Not easy but fair. That is why so many people got so many answers right. My problem was second guessing myself. On five controls I changed my mind from the correct answer to the wrong one at the last minute. Oh well, I'll try to do better on Day 2.

From Mike:
I was hoping to do better at Pre-O, but that didn't happen. I felt rushed from the beginning, with 28 controls at 5 minutes each. I was 10 minutes behind at halfway, but started making faster decisions, and finished with 2 minutes to spare. I will work on distance estimation into terrain at the second model.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Team USA thoughts on the TempO

Mika Latva-Kokko had the best USA TempO result to date, just missing a spot in the final. Mika is a member of the New England Orienteering Club and is competing at his third WTOC.

Doing the TempO qualification I felt slow so I kept pushing. I knew I had gotten at least two of the problems wrong and suspected I had possibly missed some zero answers. The problems felt easy and I thought I would need to be around 25 s per station averaging 1 mistake per station to qualify.

When I finished and saw my result I thought that I would probably just miss the final. Being the first starter it was tough to follow the scores coming in. At times I felt like I might make the final, at times I was convinced I would not. In the end I was 19th missing the final (18th spot) by 1.5s. The person I lost 1.5s in the qualifier to went on to win the world championship. He is a young guy from Finland and I know him quite well. I am happy for him, and had it been me that qualified I could not have done as well in the final.

I did all the stations at the upper limit of my skill level. If I go any faster (which I need to do) I'm going to miss a lot more. I'm happy and upset of my result at the same time. In hindsight the 1.5s could have been gained in multiple different ways.

Mike Poulsen of Columbia River Orienteering Club is competing in his sixth WTOC after a number of years hiatus. His best past result was 9th place in Ukraine in 2007. To prepare for WTOC TempO, he has been designing TempO courses and participating in photo-O and sprint events.

I am getting better at TempO, but clearly not at a high enough level. It was good to see Mika do so well. He carried the flag at the opening ceremony, which was actually much nicer than the WOC ceremony in Riga.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Final Thoughts

The WTOC came to a close about two weeks ago. The final competition was the second day of PreO. This was not a stellar day for team USA. Richard, who was in a great position entering Day 2, only scored 19 out of 28 and fell significantly in the standings. Clare and Sharon both scored 21, and Clare ended with the top US result in 36th place. Our Paralympic team continued to learn and, despite low scores, managed to keep out of the last spot. Best Paralympic finish was Matt Pietro in 35th place. Richard H. Ebright completed all three days of the Public competition and ended in 5th place overall in the public combined scoring.

We've had time to rest and recuperate and think about our performance. Here are some closing thoughts from a few team members:

Richard Y. Ebright:

How would you assess your performance at WTOC? 
Overall, my performance was worse than in my previous WTOC appearances (2008, 2011, 2012). However, this was driven by a poor showing on PreO Competition Day 2; on the first day, I did very well, ending at 9th place, which I'm proud of. 

What was your greatest strength at WTOC? 
For the most part, I've gotten much more accurate with timed controls. Of the 53 timed controls this year, between models, TempO, PreO, and the relay, I only missed 4. That's a lot better than at previous events, TempO or PreO. 

Where do you feel you most need improvement? 
In the same vein as my greatest strength, while my accuracy was high for the timed controls, my speed was not internationally competitive. My overall times for TempO were similar to those from the US Championships at Camp Scherman this year, but I found that international competition was simply much faster. So a big goal of mine is really to speed up those timed controls while maintaining at least some of the accuracy I demonstrated this year.

What was the high point of the week for you? 
Though I was riding high after seeing my top 10 finish after the first PreO day, I would say that the high point of the week was meeting the members of our Paralympic team. It was the first time in a long, long time that the US has fielded a full Paralympic team, and our group, though fairly new to the sport, was ready and eager to represent the red, white, and blue. They're just getting started, and I hope to see them at future US and international events! 

What was the low point of the week for you? 
Probably also after PreO day 1, while waiting for results. It was downpouring all through the course, and when I finished, I was soaked. But I had forgotten to bring a change of clothes, and as one of the early finishers, I had to wait for hours in my soaked uniform. So that's my lesson from WTOC2017: always have extra, warm clothes. 

Curtis Schreiner:

How would you assess your performance at WTOC?
Trail O was a total learning experience. After seeing what it entailed and the level of skill required I am satisfied with roughly 50% accuracy. I was expecting much poorer performance considering the level of competition and am satisfied with how we did as a para team.

Where do you feel you most need improvement?
I need to recognize better the subtleties of each terrain feature. 

What did you feel well prepared for?I think I have a pretty good grasp of the control descriptions. 

Do you plan to continue with trail orienteering?I would like to continue in the sport and learn it much better. My goal is to try to attend events in the US and practice as much as possible. 

What was the high point of the week for you?
Seeing and experiencing the camaraderie between teams and meeting new friends. 

What was the low point of the week for you?The upper level organization at the event left a bit to be desired. Luckily we all returned home in one piece.

Any other thoughts or comments on your WTOC experience?I think we had a great team and all were totally willing to help instruct the new guys. Lithuania was great and the staff of the hotel was very nice. The volunteers from the O clubs there did a great job and worked very hard to make the experience a good one.

Clare Durand:

How would you assess your performance at WTOC?
I was hoping for better, specifically to make the TempO finals and two nice days on PreO. I only had one good PreO day. This sight line style of TrailO does not play to my strengths. I am really best at reading detailed terrain and contours and there wasn't a lot of that this year. 

What was your greatest strength at WTOC?
Probably increased speed at TempO. There is still much room for improvement, but I'm happy with how much I've already improved. 

Where do you feel you most need improvement?
Distance estimation for sure! I need to get much better at estimating how far away things are from me and from each other in the terrain. I missed a few controls that I might have gotten right if I were better at this. 

What are your goals in regards to trail orienteering over the next year?
Continue to improve in TempO and PreO. Win a U.S. Championship and help to get more TrailO and training happening here in the US. I don't want to lose the enthusiasm of our new Paralympic members, so we need to make sure they have opportunities 

What was the high point of the week for you?
10th place in the Relay.

Any other thoughts or comments on your WTOC experience?
Loved having the new Paralympic team with us. It was really interesting to see how these novices approached the sport, how much they still have to learn, and to share their excitement and growth. 

Russ Myer (Paralympic team organizer and coach):

How would you assess your performance at WTOC?
For a fresh face to trail O, I set no hard performance expectations. Realizing event formats and rules provided a platform from which I could gage assimilation more than anything-mission accomplished!!!. My Foot O background helped me work with the Para Trail O supporting their growing performance event to event.

What was your greatest strength at WTOC?
As a Para team coach…being adaptive and supporting the athletes so their experiences and performances would be positive.

What did you feel well prepared for?
Handling so many unique event and trip scenarios

What were you poorly prepared for?
Lack of precision for complex/tricky control stations

What are your goals in regards to trail orienteering over the next year?
Set up a Trail O course and program in NY’s Capital Region

Any other thoughts or comments on your WTOC experience?
A HUGE Kudos to Clare Durand for all her work….BRAVO!! Thank you to all the team members

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Relay Mayhem

The day began with an early breakfast. With all of the competitors needing to be in quarantine by 9:00am and breakfast starting at 7:00am, the line snaked into the hotel lobby. Upon arrival at the Capitals Golf Course venue, however, we saw that had been unnecessary. The quarantine was still being set up, along with the course. Eventually we filled the quarantine tent and were entertained by Clive Allen's occasional announcements that he still didn't know when the starts would actually happen. That finally occurred around 11:00am, nearly two hours later than planned.

For the first time in many years, Team USA fielded full teams in both the Paralympic and Open categories with the following lineups:

Paralympic Team:
Leg 1) Curtis Schreiner
Leg 2) Matthew Pietro
Leg 3) Christ Rasmussen

Open Team:
Leg 1) Sharon Crawford
Leg 2) Clare Durand
Leg 3) Richard Y. Ebright

Sharon takes off in the mass start

The TrailO Relay course consisted of 27 controls. Each competitor solves exactly nine of the controls, with the first competitor having their pick of the lot and the second choosing nine more. The third leg runner finishes off whatever is left. The single time limit applies to the team as a whole. Each runner can use as much or as little as they need as long as the third leg finishes before the time limit has elapsed. Additionally, each team member solves one TempO station. Scoring is done by adding up all the TempO times along with a 30-second penalty for each TempO miss and a 60-second penalty for each PreO miss.

Curtis considers the controls
The Paralympic team planned in advance to split the controls chronologically, so Curtis started by completing numbers one through nine. Matthew quickly determined, however, that this strategy didn't make sense for him given the difficulty of the trails in his wheelchair. He instead concentrated on tasks closer to the start/finish and left those further away for Christ.

The mayhem continued as the Open team waited for first leg runner Sharon to return. The time limit meant each runner should use between 70 and 75 minutes. This mark passed and still no Sharon. Eventually, Clare was the only remaining Leg 2 runner in quarantine. Sharon finally finished, using a little over 90 minutes. She had run into difficulty solving a few problems and had also been caught up by a one-way route section that prevented her from returning to the finish as quickly as intended.

Christ working it out
Clare and Richard had been busily recalculating the time they had remaining per leg. Upon seeing the map, Clare decided to do the furthest out controls. She figured that, given the time pressure the team was under, it was best not to have Richard worried about covering a lot of ground. Going too fast can increase silly mistakes. Clare mispunched on control 22, where control labeling was intended to be shared with control 21. Christ was not caught by the same situation and he solved number 22 successfully.

As preliminary results came in, one control had been voided and Team USA found they were in reasonable position in both classes. Open was in 13th and Paralympic was in 9th. Russ Myer, USA Paralympic coach, had promised the team champagne if they weren't last and it was looking good for the guys.

It was now mid-afternoon and Richard and Christ were quarantined until after the third leg finished the spectator TempO control. This meant they had spent at least six hours in quarantine or on the course. And lunch was not provided in the quarantine.

Is that another Zero?
The final TempO control was set up to allow spectators to watch and learn whether competitors were correct or not on each questions. Paralympic went first followed by the Open class, in reverse order of results so far. The TempO solutions were almost all zero and this caught less experienced Christ, who answered none correctly. Richard escaped with only two misses (a common score).

Then came the big wait for protests. While most of the team headed back to the hotel, Clare and Sharon stayed at the event center to monitor the proceedings. They eventually left when the jury finally rode out into the field in a golf cart to check a number of protested controls. The jury didn't return to the hotel until about 10:00pm and they had voided an additional two controls. Three teams were also disqualified for rule violations.

When everything was settled and the final results came out, Team USA Open was excited to find they were in 10th position out of 19 teams and Team USA Paralympic had earned their champagne.

Relay Results

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wet and Wild PreO

Thursday was the first day of the PreO competition, held at an outdoor museum showcasing Lithuanian traditions of various ethnographic groups. The weather was very wet and the course was quite challenging. With one control voided early on, no one had achieved a perfect score for the day. The course of 21 controls included a variety of challenges in terrain ranging from forest to buildings. After protests were handled an additional control was voided and three top competitors ended with the now perfect score of 19. 

Richard led Team USA with a score of 18 (9th place) and Clare was close behind at 17 points (28th place). Sharon scored 13 and stands in 61st place. 

In Paralympic competition, Matthew Pietro had the top US result with a score of 9 (34th place). Christ scored 8 (35th place) and Curtis scored 7 (37th place). 

This year the two days of Pre-O are separated by a day of Relay competition, so the second day of PreO won't take place until Saturday.

Richard seems surprised at the result of his solution method.

Curtis using his patented "map on the ground" method.

Christ is determined to conquer the course despite the rain.

Clare measures carefully to avoid any errors.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Today was the PreO model event. The team spent a long time at the model trying out the course and receiving training tips from Richard Y and Clare. Since there wasn't any competition today, here are a few team pics:

WTOC 2017 USA Team
Team USA at opening ceremony in Lithuania, WTOC 2017
Back: Richard Y. Ebright, Christ Rasmussen, Sharon Crawford, Richard H. Ebright (Team Official), Curtis Schreiner, Russ Myer (Team Official).
Front: Matthew Pietro, Clare Durand

Christ Rasmussen solves station five at the TempO public event.

Curtis Schneider carefully prepares at the same station.

Matthew captures Christ on the way to a TempO station.