Thursday, July 23, 2015

Final words from WTOC 2015

On our last day in Croatia, I asked the team to share their thoughts about the competition and the future:

Mika Latva-Kokko: Very good problems. A lot of work that I need to do - contour reading, sight lines, sighting to a distance, being more accurate about reading all the stuff on the map when it's needed to figure out the flag. Overall, I'm happy. Every day could have gone better, but all the mistakes I did were my mistakes. Some of them were punching mistakes, some of them were other type of mistakes. They're my mistakes that I can fix for the future. Hopefully, someday we'll get the same level of competition in the US.

David Irving: I thought it was pretty well done, especially after the weekend at Varazdin. They need to do more to speed up at the timed controls - more separation of the Paralympic and the Open. Particularly today at the tempO relay. If they had sent all the third leg runners to the timed controls after the start, you could have got them done instead of stacking everybody up so much that you give up on trying to get the third runners through the timed control.

Karen Dennis: Yeah, I'd like to see them work on the relay some more because that was almost exciting. They need to fine tune it.

Clare: I'm really happy with how I did this year. I mean, it still wasn't close to a podium or anything, but it's been overall just about my best trail-O yet. I don't remember exactly where I landed in the final results in the Czech Republic, but this has definitely been a good one. I was especially happy with my day two Pre-O performance and with the fact that the work I did to increase my speed on the TempO really seems to have paid off. I'm still not way up there, but I can see that there was progress so I'm hoping that continued work will get me further. So I'm looking forward to hopefully making the team again next year and going to Sweden and improving even further. That's my goal.

Sharon Crawford was not available for this interview.

Pictures of the U.S. Team courtesy of the Portuguese orienteering blog


Friday, July 17, 2015

Punch Routine

The final event at this year's WTOC was a demo relay event. This year's course consisted of a single loop of 11 controls that each team member visited. Each team member's map was slightly different, with varying tasks at each control site. Team USA had a complete open team (Mika, Sharon, and Clare) and David teamed up with Russia on a paralympic team. Our team did reasonably well, coming in 26th out of 47 teams, but the real point of today's post is lessons to be learned from Sharon's only mistake on this course. She would have had a perfect score, but mispunched on number 5 -- choosing the correct control, but naming it incorrectly.

What led to this mistake? Parallax was the culprit. Sharon named the controls based on the view from the punch rather than the viewing station. An easy mistake to make given how close they were to each other, but changing the name of all but one control.

View station and Punch 
View from the view station
View from the punch

Foot orienteers often practice their routine for moving through a control site to improve their efficiency and avoid errors. Trail-O is no different. I think it's important to have a punching routine that becomes habit. By punching routine I mean the steps you take between choosing which control answers the problem and punching a box on your control card. Here is a rundown of how I handle this.
  • Solve all problems that use the same viewing station and punch.
  • Return to the viewing station and properly identify the name of each control.
  • Look at the map and check the number of the control(s) that you solved. If there are multiple controls, take note of their proper order.
  • From the viewing station, label your answers in the proper order. I might, for example, walk away from the viewing station thinking 4-B, 5-A, 6-Z.
  • Proceed to the punch and punch carefully in the proper boxes.
I follow this routine even when my solution is Z. Partly to avoid giving away that Z is my answer, but also to make sure that this routine remains a habit and I won't miss an important step when it matters.

Would love to hear what routines others use to be sure their punch card truly reflects their decisions.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

PreO Day 2

We're home now, catching up on all the things we put off while we were in Croatia, one of which was posting about the final competitions. Day 2 of the PreO was not as difficult as Day 1. Partly just because of the high visibility of Golf Course terrain, but also because the weather cooperated this time. The course consisted of 26 problems requiring subtle contour reading, feature identification, distance estimation, and just figuring where best to sight from.

This was also the team competition day. For team competition, each country gets to enter a team of three, which must include one paralympic competitor. We haven't competed in the team category for a few years because we haven't had a paralympic member for a while. This year we had David Irving and the question was who else should make up our team? Clare had the highest, most consistent results thus far, so she seemed like an obvious pick. Mika had the next best results, but was also a newer team member with less experience. Sharon had a lot of past experience under her belt. In the end, Sharon deferred to Mika, since his results had been better. This turned out to be a fortuitous call.

Clare had an excellent day, missing only one of the controls. Despite that, she only placed 16th. Many competitors did well and Clare had already missed two timed controls on Day 1, so she was very careful to be correct today, even at the expense of being slow. Mika and David also had good results and we all aced the timed control for the team event. The result was a placing of 13th out of 20 teams, just behind Great Britain. In terms of percentile ranking and percentage of controls correct compared with the winning team, this was our best showing in all of the years that the team competition has had it's current format.

Overall, a successful WTOC for Team USA. While we did not achieve any new top ranking compared with past performances, we did manage to show improvement in TempO and Team competition and had some individual performances to be proud of. I know there is motivation to work to be even better next year.

Most Missed Control of the Day - #5

Number 5 was a Z answer that caught about 40% of the competitors. The viewing point was across the lake and the control description was reentrant. You could clearly see the four controls and try to line them up with various trees to determine which might be correct. What doesn't show on this solutions map is the streamered pathway that competitors had to stay on. This was a N/S path on the flat area between number 3 and 6. It allowed travel to the south toward the end of the lake. From there it was clear that the line of controls wasn't anywhere near the center line of the reentrant or the control circle.

Here is a link to a nice video of photos from the WTOC. These photos are by Joaquim Margarido, who runs the Portuguese Orienteering Blog.

I intend to keep this blog running through the year. I'll be adding posts every Thursday, starting with some more recaps and review of this year's WTOC and then covering training and competition issues of interest nationally. See you next week!