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

Pictures!

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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TempO Qualifiers

The TempO qualification course consisted of two heats, each with five stations with five controls per station. Each country gets four entries. Our team consisted of current US Champion Richard Y. Ebright, Sharon Crawford, Clare Durand, and newcomer Matthew Pietro. Clare led the US results with a score of 464.5, followed closely by Richard, with a score of 496.5. Differing heats put Clare in 29th place and Richard in 25th.


How did you feel about the course?
Matt: It was wonderful, set up great, and an awesome life experience being in Lithuania and seeing lots of different adaptive and non-adaptive athletes.
Richard: It went pretty well, not quite well enough for the finals. Was hoping for a little faster, but pretty happy about 23 out of 25 correct.
Sharon: I only missed five of the 25 and cleaned the last 14. Some of them were fairly easy if you didn't talk yourself out of it. Today I said let's go careful. You spend an extra 10 seconds versus losing 30 seconds for getting it wrong.
Clare: I liked it a lot. There was a good diversity of challenges. I think I did pretty well. It would be nice to work at getting faster, but mostly I felt that I was going the right speed for my current level - not wasting time, but not going so fast that I made mistakes. Overall happy with my performance, but a little bummed that it wasn't good enough to make the final.

What was your favorite station?
Richard:I liked most of station four. You were looking down at this island with a bunch of trees, trying to figure out which tree was which. I thought it was challenging, but very well set. I felt comfortable while I was going through it.
Matt: Fourth, with the lake. I got almost everything right. That was an easier set-up with a lot more distance between the controls.


Clare: I really liked station number five. I started looking at the flags and thinking they're all just in the middle of the grass. And then I realized there were all these trees - it's going to be a bunch of betweens. It was nice to have figured that out before I even flipped over a map. I thought that was an interesting and fun station.
Sharon: Station five was difficult. It was all trees - big trees, little trees - and somehow I worked my way through that. By then I was warmed up and I nailed it. Also the one across the lake.





What was your least favorite station?
Sharon: Station two was my downfall. It was way across the lake and I just couldn't quite see the distances between those ones on the far side.
Richard: Station two, I missed two of those controls. You were looking way off across a lake. I had a little trouble seeing what I was trying to see off in the distance. Felt pretty uncomfortable and wasted a lot of time. That one's where I really bit it.
Clare:  By far the most difficult and frustrating was station two, because it had flags pretty far in the distance and with enough vegetation that it was obscuring some of the features. It made it difficult to tell exactly what the flags were on or not. I missed one of those far ones for that reason. You're looking at it and thinking it's in approximately the right position, but there's vegetation there, so does that mean it's not on the pavement, or is it close enough and that's just what you are expected to discern from this distance.
Matt: I messed up on the first station. I've never done one with water in front of controls before and that threw me off a little bit.



Anything you want to add?
Sharon: It was a lot of fun, it really was. If we could do this a lot more, like every weekend, I would be a lot better. Clare did well, she's our Champion today.
Clare: It's nice to have these new guys who have real enthusiasm for what they're doing here. It's been really fun seeing Matthew go out and how excited he and Christ and Curtis are about everything. Also excited that after a few years of trying to improve, I still haven't made a final, but in the results, I'm in the company of people who have. It's inspiring me for the future that there is a goal that may be in reach.
Richard: it's always an honor to be at the World Championships. Today could have gone better, but pretty happy with how I did and looking forward to the PreO competitions for the rest of the week.
Matt: Thank you for having me out here!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Meet the 2017 USA Open Trail-O Team


SHARON CRAWFORD, one of the most successful US orienteers of all time, will be competing in the WTOC for her 10th time. A member of the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club, Sharon has represented the US at the elite level in Foot Orienteering, Ski Orienteering, and Trail Orienteering over her long career. She holds numerous US titles along with many international age group awards.









CLARE DURAND of the Los Angeles Orienteering Club is competing in her sixth WTOC. A past President of OUSA, Clare not only competes in TrailO, but she also serves as the primary team organizer as the Executive Steering Committee Chair. Clare hopes to improve on her performance last year in the TempO, where she missed making the final by only a few missed controls. Clare can be found training in the deserts of Southern California by studying flash cards, sketch mapping nearby parks, and relocating herself at any opportunity.

Life is an adventure






RICHARD Y. EBRIGHT began orienteering 14 years ago as a Boy Scout. He immediately loved the combination of mental and physical challenge and began competing in earnest. A member of the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association and MD/PhD trainee at Harvard Medical School, Richard discovered Trail-O just a few years later and began representing the US in international competition as a teenager. He is competing in his fourth WTOC.  In 2012 he was briefly at the top of the WTOC leader board for a day prior to the removal of a control. Unfortunately, his second day did not compare and he fell in the overall standings.

Competing in his fourth WTOC, Richard hopes to repeat his 2012 success, but this time for both PreO days. Richard is the current US Champion in both PreO and TempO and he loves the rapid, mental gymnastics of the faster TempO discipline where, in his words, literally seconds separate the competitors and gut instinct is often the best you have.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Meet the US Paralympic Team Members



MATTHEW PIETRO of the Capital Region Nordic Alliance joined the Marine Corps in 2006 and left active duty in 2010. He served with an Osprey squadron and in Afghanistan aboard the LHD Bataan.

Matthew lost his leg in an above knee amputation after a no fault motorcycle accident near his home in Upstate NY. Since then he has become a motivational speaker to bullied school children in local schools, a sponsored adaptive athlete traveling America and participating in obstacle course races, and a member of Team Freedom/Team Achilles diong marathons on a handcycle.

My mission in life is to spread as much motivation as possible to install the fact it does not matter how many limbs one has or mental and emotional scars, and that our dreams and goals can still be obtained.



CHRIST RASMUSSEN of the Capital Region Nordic Alliance is a Desert Storm Disabled Combat Veteran who served in the US Army for 7 years, including deployments to Iraq in 1990, Canada in 1989, and REFORGER in 1987 and 1988. Christ held a variety of positions including Tank Gunner, Unit Armorer, and Company Driver. He holds several military awards and left the service honorably in 1993. Christ is a below knee amputee and currently participates in Biathlon in Sit Ski and well as Para Cycling. Christ is expanding his Paralympic pursuits into Para Canoe and Trail Orienteering. 

I look forward to continuing my training and seeking my goals of representing the USA in both Paralympics.



CURTIS SCHREINER of the Capital Region Nordic Alliance has been involved in military land navigation for 20 years and has competed occasionally in foot and ski orienteering in the Lake Tahoe area. Trail Orienteering is new to him.

Curtis is retired from the New York Army National Guard and commanded the 29th Personnel Services detachment in Tikrit, Iraq. Curtis competed internationally in biathlon from 1984 to 2002 including three Olympic appearances. He currently coaches cross country skiing and runs biathlon races for the Saratoga Biathlon Club.

Curtis was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007. He misses competing and has been searching for something to fill that void. He hopes that Trail Orienteering will be a sport that he can successfully compete in and enjoy.

To prepare for the World Trail Orienteering Championships Curtis has studied map and control description symbols and practiced with online TrailO courses and exercises. He is looking forward to learning the sport and meeting some great people.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Richard Y. Ebright sweeps U.S. Trail-O Champs

Richard studies the map at a PreO control

For the first time, the 2017 U.S. Trail Orienteering Championships featured both PreO and TempO competitions and Richard Y. Ebright of DVOA went home the big winner. The competition, hosted by LAOC, took place March 18 and 19 at Camp Scherman. Course Setter was U.S. Team member Clare Durand with vetting being done by Paralympic team member David Irving and Karen Dennis.

The 16-control PreO course featured a variety of problems set in the rolling terrain. Most required careful attention to the vegetation features. The field was small but strong with a number of past WTOC participants competing. Mike Poulsen had a strong showing in the PreO, coming back with a perfect score, but a challenge to one control resulted in that control being voided and propelled Ebright to the lead due to a faster timed control station. Daniel Heimgartner, a relative newcomer to Trail Orienteering, took the gold medal in the Paralympic class.

The TempO Champs consisted of five stations with four controls each. While starting out with two mistakes at the first station, Ebright eventually dominated the competition with fast times and accuracy for the remaining stations. He ended up a full 100 seconds ahead of the next best score. Second place went to Ebright's father, Richard H. Ebright, whose speedy strategy failed to pay off when mistakes came in to play. Third place went to local orienteer Alex Kiperman, who called the medal a nice surprise.

Full Results