Sunday, August 28, 2016

PreO Day 2

The second day of PreO was different from day one in just about every respect. First, there was the terrain. Day two was held in the mountains (well, at least according to the Swedes they were mountains). The area was a windmill farm with roads cut through the wilderness to reach each windmill. The terrain was much more subtle with low marshes punctuated by higher rock areas. The vegetation varied from moss-covered open rock to heather to dense stands of small pine trees and small pockets of mature forest. Many of the controls depended upon reading the vegetation patterns accurately.

Secondly, day two was a much longer course (28 controls) split into two sections. Third, the weather was bright and sunny for most of the competition. Although later competitors had to deal with a short thunderstorm. One constant was the course setter and, by extension, the style of the course setting.

Overall scores were high. This seems to be a consequence of this style of setting. An emphasis on fairness and well defined controls leads to better scores and less conflict. The course was, however, successful in it's purpose. The gold medal winner, Martin Fredholm of Sweden, was the only competitor with a perfect score on both days. It's always nice when the PreO medal is decided by the actual PreO and not by time at timed controls.

Team USA had varying results. In the open class, Clare had a decent race with only three errors to spring ahead of Sharon in the final standings. This didn't make much difference in the overall standings, gaining Clare only one place, ending in 44th. Mika also managed to pick up one place, missing five controls total for the day.

In the paralympic class, David unfortunately misunderstood the instructions at the end of the first part of the course and left without completing the time control. He received a DSQ, although we are under the impression that it was agreed to give him a PreO result, but with a maximum time penalty for the timed control. Stay tuned. Daniel made it through the course with the same level of accuracy as day one and was very tired by the end.

Eventor - Links to results and maps

Thursday, August 25, 2016

PreO Day 1

Our first day of PreO was at the Nature Reserve on the island of Saltö. The terrain was of two primary types - forested rocks and cliffs and beach rocks and cliffs. The style of Trail orienteering is very much "feature picking" as Mika calls it. This means that the problems can be solved almost entirely by understanding the features on the map and the question is generally whether the control is on the correct feature. It is not about minor differences in placement of controls on the same feature. We like this. It is a positive trend in trail orienteering toward difficult map interpretation problems and away from trying to guess at the setter's intended solution method.

Team USA had decent, but not stellar, results. Leading the pack was Sharon with a score of 17 out of 20. Clare was not far behind with 16 and Mika behind her with 15. In the Paralympic class, David is placed 16th out of 38 with a score of 15 and Daniel is somewhat further down, but was impressed by the blueberries.

Control of the Day:
Number 18

This control on a rocky spur next to the shore was voided. The organizers received two complaints and this was the only one they upheld. Nothing was elevated to the level of a protest. This control was part of an "A" cluster - that is, a set of controls where at each spot the problem is simply to determine whether the control is correct - A - or incorrect - Z.

The control was placed on the proper spur in the correct position, but due to some minor mapping errors and variations on the rock that could have been interpreted as being where the contour went through, it could look like the control was too far to the south. The organizers decided that this discrepancy was large enough to be outside of tolerance and voided the control. Unfortunately, everyone on Team USA had gotten the control correct, so this void hurt our standings rather than helping them. I must admit that I did consider that the control looked a little bit too far south, but it was close enough for me to decide it was ok.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TempO Triumph (sort of)

Anticipation was high among Team USA as they watched the live results at the TempO arena. As competitors completed each Tempo station, the results were remotely transmitted to a system which constantly updated the standings. Clare's results showed her progressing well and in reach of a place in the finals. Unfortunately, a few mistakes on the final station pushed her down the list and out of the finals. For the first time in WTOC history, competitors were split into two separate qualifying heats. Each heat included 36 competitors with the top 18 advancing to the finals. We were allowed only four entrants, so David sat this one out and let Daniel get his feet wet. This year produced our best results yet at a Championship TempO. Clare and Mika both turned in great results with Clare placing 25th in the blue heat and Mika placing 27th in the red heat.

Thoughts from the competitors

Mika: It went well today. I'm still too slow, but getting faster and didn't make any silly mistakes. I wish we had more TempO in the U.S. I really like it.
Sharon: I decided to go slowly and carefully to get more right. I was happy to get most of the controls right, but I was too slow. My accuracy is improving at the expense of speed. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow because I'm stronger at PreO. Today was good preparation.
Clare: I was hoping to make the final, but felt that my times were too slow. I also believed I had missed two controls, but actually missed three. Still, when I saw the results it was a happy moment. I've been putting effort into constant improvement and it was nice to see improved results once again. For the first time I felt that making the final was realistically a possibility.
Daniel: There's room to improve. There were only a few paralympic competitors in the final. They should have a separate class.

Control of the Day:
Red Station 3, Control 5

This control was the most missed control of the day and Mika was one of it's victims. The control circle was on the end of the cliff, but the control itself was on the boulder cluster past the cliff. The difference between the cliff and the other rocks was easy to mistake.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Team USA arrives at 2016 WTOC

The 2016 World Trail Orienteering Championships begins tomorrow with the first model event. Team USA has arrived in Sweden and has been preparing for competition. Let's meet this year's team:
SHARON CRAWFORD of the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club is competing in her ninth WTOC. She has been a US orienteering powerhouse for decades. Over the years she has competed not only in Trail orienteering, but as a member of the Foot-O and Ski-O teams as well. She thinks it's really fun when she sees the course setter's ruse right away and feels confident about the control.
CLARE DURAND of the Los Angeles Orienteering Club is competing in her 5th WTOC. Clare hopes to continue her past improvement in the Temp-O discipline and would be especially delighted by making the Temp-O finals.
DANIEL HEIMGARTNER of the Quantico Orienteering Club is our newest Paralympic competitor. Daniel has a degenerative condition that has affected his balance. Over time he was gradually tripping more and more on his orienteering courses and he can no longer make it through a regular foot-O course. Daniel is just learning and wants to do the best he can.

DAVID IRVING of the San Diego Orienteering Club is a veteran Paralympic team member and the only USA medalist in WTOC. David won the Paralympic silver medal in 2005 and the Bronze in 2004. David also participates extensively in both caving and geocaching.
MIKA LATVA-KOKKO of the New England Orienteering Club is competing in his second WTOC. Mika wants to do better than last year and especially to eliminate his "stupid" mistakes - picking the correct flag, but saying the wrong name. He also hopes to improve his average time per control in temp-O.