Saturday, December 10, 2016

IOF Athlete of the Month: Veronika Kubínová

Four gold medals out of four possible was the outstanding result for Veronika Kubínová after the Junior World MTBO Championships this summer in Portugal. Raised into the sport is no disadvantage but behind the clean sweep is a special talent, an incredible amount of training hours – and a home-assembled bike.

Name: Veronika Kubínová
Date of Birth: 29th April 1997
Living place: Karlovy Vary, the Czech Republic
Study: University of West Bohemia – Physical Education and Sport for Education (Pilsen)
Coach: Honza Novák
Club: TJ Slovan Karlovy Vary
Highlights: 7 JWMTBOC gold medals: 2014: Sprint and Relay, 2015: Sprint, 2016: Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay.
IOF MTBO World Ranking: 32nd

Four medals in four races at JWMTBOC was the culmination of the season of a junior career that still has one year left. In Veronika Kubínová’s summary of the week, the word dream recurs:

– The hardest race was the first one – the sprint. It was a big achievement for me to make a hat trick in Sprint [she won gold at JWMTBO Sprint in both 2014 and 2015] and do it in 35 degrees. I really hate heat! I focused on the race and I tried to forget about the uncomfortable weather. After the first victory at the championships, I felt so confident. At every race, I used all my powers and I still had enough speed on the Relay. I was unstoppable this week. I usually have weird and impossible dreams but the week in Portugal was more than the weirdest dream I have ever had, she says.

No surprise

The results Veronika Kubínová delivered at JWMTBOC 2016 were amazing but they did not come from nowhere. At the age of 16, she won a bronze medal in the Sprint in her debut at a JWMTBOC. She had previously competed in the European Youth MTBO Championships, but JWMTBOC was her first big challenge:

– I regard JWMTBOC in Estonia in 2013 as my first major event. I remember every single day, especially the day when I achieved my first medal. I found new friends, gained valuable experience and had an amazing week, she says.

The following years she proved that it was not just a lucky sprint race she did in Estonia in 2013. In both 2014 and 2015, she won the Sprint distance still being among the youngest in the field. In 2014, she also got a second position in Middle, third in Long and was a part of the winning Czech relay team. Those years made the foundation for the great achievement in 2016:

– JWMTBO in both 2014 and 2015 developed my mental preparation towards events. At the sprint race in Poland in 2014, I had to be third or better to improve from 2013. I was nervous, as I had never been before. My dad and my coach helped me really much but the last minutes before the start were only my fight. I made it – both in 2014 and 2015. Achieving a gold medal on the Sprint distance taught me how to keep calm before start, she says.

Talent, training and luck

The way into MTBO was not that complicated for Veronika Kubínová. Her father was a part of the Czech MTBO national team 13 years ago and together with her sister and mother, the family has often spent part of their holidays orienteering:

– My father introduced MTBO to the family but he did not push me into the sport. I started to do a few MTBO races but for a long time I just did MTBO together with my family on holidays. It is perfect that I can share the joy of orienteering with some of the people I have closest, she says.

Even though you have been riding MTBO since your childhood, winning a medal at JWMTBOC in the age of 16 and every year since is not usual. Veronika admits that she might be especially talented:

– Talent is not everything but I agree that it is important. I think I am kind of talented for endurance sports and for working with a map. However, my success is built on training. On the other side, you also need a little bit of luck. You race on a bike so there are many risks of something breaking, she says.

As well as talent and a huge amount of training, an important part in Veronika Kubínová’s success is placed in the Czech MTBO community. The Czech Republic has managed to build up a strong groups of juniors which is described in a separate article here.

A bike from a box

For many mountain bikers a bike is not just a bike. Veronika Kubínová would not say she is that nerdy with equipment for her bike, but it is definitely not random which one she rides:

– Gear and equipment do not mean that much to me. But of course, I have had a vision of my dream bike. Dreams come true and since August, I have had a new bike from Thömus. I liked that bike since the first touch. I customized it on my own. And the best thing is that I built it on my own. Step by step pieces in a box grew to my beautiful bike, she says.

From 2017, Veronika Kubínová and her beloved bike will get the opportunity to compete in a new format with the addition of a mass-start to the programme for major MTBO events. Personally, she is not that much into mass-starts but thinks it will be good for the sport:

– Honestly, I do not like mass-starts no matter what kind of sport it is. From a spectators and media’ point of view I can see it being attractive so I think it is a good idea for the sport. For athletes it will be a new challenge. It will be hard to race five times in a week but it will no problem in the junior class. I like all types of distances so I do not want to skip any, she says.

Junior with large ambitions

2017 will be Veronika Kubínová’s last year as junior, although she has already been racing in the women’s elite class, most recently at the final World Cup round in 2016 in Lithuania. She raced both Sprint, Middle and Long, with her best performance in the Long an 11th position as best Czech female rider – beating world champion on the Long distance from 2015 Martina Tichovska.

The senior class provides more challenges with stronger rivals and longer distances and Veronika aims to get more experience in the senior class. However, next year will still be with focus on the junior class. With the mass start added to the programme, a fifth medal is within reach for Veronika Kubínová.

You have won everything possible to win as junior. You still have one year left. What motivates you to JWMTBOC next year in Lithuania?

– Achieve 5 gold medals! No seriously, I would like to prove that my success in Portugal was not by chance. It is not hard to achieve a title; the hard thing is to defend it. I do not lack motivation. I love this sport, Veronika Kubínová says.

Text: Henrik Rindom Knudsen
Photos: Joaquim Margarido and Veronika Kubínová

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Friday, December 09, 2016

The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 - Women: Vote for your candidate!

It is great for the sport to see excellent nominations for athletes from nations which are traditionally not on top of the result lists in international orienteering, like Belarus, Canada, Moldova and New Zealand. All these athletes have done exceptional orienteering achievements in 2016 – along with the nominated athletes from the more established top nations in orienteering Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Russia. Let's take a look on the stories of the nominees to the Orienteering Achievement of 2016 – Women.

Maja Alm

Nominated for
Maja Alm was again the dominant sprinter at the World Orienteering Championships winning the sprint and deciding the sprint relay. However, her fight to take Denmark to relay silver was maybe even more impressive than the two gold medals. Repeating a success is never easy - Alm did it wonderfully!

Maja Alm won "The Orienteering Achievement of 2015" due to her fantastic results at the World Orienteering Championships in Scotland - this year her races at the World Orienteering Championships were just as impressive . In addition the smiling Danish athlete managed to take a 5th place in the most technical orienteering discipline, the middle distance. Brilliant domination in womans orienteering - with amazing physical and mental abilities.

Anastasia Denisova

Nominated for
Shocked the orienteering world by taking the first ever medal for Belarus at the World Orienteering Championships with her Sprint bronze medal. Continued to amaze everybody by finishing 8th at the middle and 6th at the long in her first World Orienteering Championships.

Already as a youth and junior Anastasia Denisova showed that she was an exceptional talent, taking sprint bronze medals both at the European Youth Championships (2011) and Junior World Championships (2013). But the step from a junior medal to a senior medal is a step which very few manage to take - especially at her first World Orienteering Championships and with a personal best in the World Cup ahead of WOC in the 20'ies. This is a story of excellent and targeted preparations, strong will and believing in the (nearly) impossible. Her 8th place at the middle and 6th place at the long distance were maybe even more impressive than the sprint medal .One of the many people nominating Denisova puts her forest orienteering achievements in some perspective: - I should note that if the sprint performance could have been predicted, then middle and long success were surprisingly high even for Anastasia herself.

Tove Alexandersson

Nominated for
After never winning a gold medal at the big championships before, Alexandersson finally showed that she is the best orienteer in the world on the day when it really counts: Winning both individual forest gold medals at both WOC and EOC. Wow!

Tove Alexandersson has been the best woman orienteer in the world for most of the season for years - but until this season she never won an individual gold medal at either the World Orienteering Championships or the European Orienteering Championships. This year she did something different: Instead of running everything like she often has done, she focused fully on the forest races in the championships - even with excellent gold medal chances in both sprint and sprint relay. This sacrifice did however give Alexandersson 4 shiny gold medals - compared to zero in her previous successful career! On top of that: Overall World Cup victory in both the foot-o and ski-o World Cup and several medals in international ski-o championships.

Simona Aebersold

Nominated for
18 years old and already the dominant junior orienteer in the world with three gold medals of four possible at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Switzerland. A new Swiss Simona after Simone?

Simona Aebersold started JWOC on home ground with a clear sprint victory. At the long distance the next day she was on her way to another clear victory, but she forgot a control in the last half of the course and lost many minutes by running back to it. One rest day, and Aebersold managed to be on top mentally again and take another gold medal at the middle distance. On the last day she continued her impressive performances and took Switzerland to gold. Fantastic achievements by a fantastic, young athlete.

Emily Kemp

Nominated for
A breakthrough result in forest orienteering for an athlete from a non-European country after showing loads of dedication: Best ever result for Canadian orienteering with 4th place at both WOC and EOC middle distance. Add to that 8th and 7th at WOC and EOC long distance.

The story about Emily Kemp is the story about the Canadian orienteer who moved from Canada to France at young age just to become a better orienteer. A few years later she moved on from France to Finland for the same reason. Always looking to improve, and this year making her breakthrough at the very top international level with her best performances on the days when it counted the most - the WOC and EOC middle distance races. One of the readers nominating Kemp puts it like this: - Emily Kemp, for showing real passion, persistency and dedication to her sport which required her to move continents and constantly challenge herself and seek new opportunities. A tale of dedication and talent rewarded.

Natalia Gemperle

Nominated for
Big breakthrough for Natalia Gemperle with WOC medals in both WOC long (silver) and middle (bronze) - and being a key player in Russia's two relay gold medals in WOC and EOC.

Natalia Gemperle (formerly Vinogradova) started her senior career with a very strong 5th place at the exceptionally technical WOC middle distance in France in 2011. Since then she has struggled to take the next step - until this season when she took very big steps, and proved herself as one of the biggest challengers to Tove Alexandersson. In addition her great relay runs gave her two gold medals - especially the last leg on the WOC relay was impressive. To put it in the words of on the readers nominating Gemperle: - Natalia managed to become both European and World champion with a strong Russian team in relays. I’d like to mention here especially her cool-headed execution in a last leg of exciting WOC relay.

Russian Women Team

Nominated for
The first ever World Orienteering Championships women relay gold for Russia with Anastasia Rudnaya, Svetlana Mironova and Natalia Gemperle. Also bronze medal at EOC relay.

Russia has been among the top teams in the world for years, but this year was the first time ever they managed to win the relay gold medal in the women's class. After good legs by Anastasia Rudnaya and Svetlana Mironova, Natalia Gemperle ran the last leg. The battle for victory was very close, with 6 teams in the fight for the medals at the start of the leg. Gemperle decided for Russia after an exciting battle.

Finnish Women Team

Nominated for
Taking Finland to the top again with EOC relay gold medal and WOC relay bronze medal: First victory in an international relay after Minna Kauppi's time, when Finland dominated the international relays.

In Minna Kauppi's era, Finland was the best relay nation in the world - winning five World Championships relays in six years from 2006 to 2011. Since then the Finnish women have struggled to get back to the very top. But this year Finland was back - with Marika Teini, Merja Rantanen and Sari Anttonen taking the gold medal in an exciting European Championships relay. At the World Championships they nearly managed to do the same again, being in the lead at the arena passage on the last leg, but a bronze medal was still an excellent result for the Finnish team.

Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg

Nominated for
Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg - for her will to keep fighting hard: Her bronze at the WOC long distance is her best ever result at the WOC long distance at the age of 40.

Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg has been part of the World Orienteering elite for many, many years, taking her first international championships medal back at the European Championships in 2002 at the sprint. Hausken Nordberg has been a good long distance runner for years, but never managed to take a World Championship medal at the long distance until in Sweden this year. Her results in the WOC Long since 2006 are 6-4-4-7-8-pregnancy-5-skipped-pregnancy-7-3. As one of the readers writes: - Inspired by Rune Haraldsson, she is herself a true inspiration to all of us who are convinced that age is only a number.

The annual poll to find the best Orienteering Achievements of the year is organized by the major source for international orienteering news on the Internet – World of O. You can vote for the Orienteering Achievement of 2016 – Women here or by clicking on the image below. 

[Press Release: Orienteering Achievement of 2016 / Jan Kocbach]

The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 - Men: Vote for your candidate!

It is great for the sport to see excellent nominations for athletes from nations which are traditionally not on top of the result lists in international orienteering, like Belarus, Canada, Moldova and New Zealand. All these athletes have done exceptional orienteering achievements in 2016 – along with the nominated athletes from the more established top nations in orienteering Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Russia. Let's take a look on the stories of the nominees to the Orienteering Achievement of 2016 – Men.

Jerker Lysell

Nominated for
Fantastic WOC Sprint gold medal on home ground in Sweden after spending more of the preparations running in a swimming pool than running sprint orienteering.

Jerker Lysell has been one of the best sprint orienteers in the world for several seasons, even if he has been more injured and ill than injury free. When he won the WOC Sprint bronze medal in Scotland last year after barely being able to run the weeks before, he showed that he can do wonders with minimal specific preparations. This year was again a year with many injuries, but in 2016 the fast Swede had at least been able to run in the forest from late spring. As he said himself, the race was perfect. He managed to get the most out of physical and mental capacity when it most mattered, even if there must have been some uncertainty because of the long break from running and competing. Next year Lysell wants to be on top also in the most important races in forest orienteering. Who knows what is possible for this remarkable runner if he manages to keep injury free this winter?

Joey Hadorn

Nominated for
Dominated the Junior World Orienteering Championships on home ground with three out of four gold medals and one silver! Incredible running speed combined with great orienteering

Hadorn has been known as an exceptionally good runner and a good orienteer. At JWOC in Switzerland he had the highest speed of all athletes with a big margin - but he also did goo technical performances in every race, making choices where he could use his strengths all the way. To use the words of Swedish silver medalist from JWOC long in Norway in 2015, Simon Hector, who was clearly beaten by Hadorn in all races in 2016; - We all knew that he was a good runner, but in those races he had really good technical performances. Really good mental strength to run so well in so many races in a row. I felt like a background actor during that week!

Matthias Kyburz

Nominated for
From entering the world orienteering elite as sprint specialist in 2011 to master of the most technical orienteering discipline in 2016: Gold at both the World Orienteering Championships and European Championships in middle, his first individual championships medals in forest disciplines! Also overall World Cup victory, and several other WOC and EOC medals

Matthias Kyburz entered the world orienteering elite in his first senior year with a big bang with victory in the first sprint competition in the 2011 World Cup. From being a sprint specialist in the beginning, he soon started to use his incredible physical abilities to also win long distance races. 2016 was not the first time he won middle distance races on top level, but this time the Swiss won the two most important middle distance races of the year - the EOC and WOC middle distance. He managed to keep a very high performance level during all of the season and in all disciplines - also giving him a clear overall World Cup victory with victories in all disciplines including EOC gold medals in middle and sprint and WOC gold medal in middle!

Tim Robertson

Nominated for
First year senior taking best ever WOC result for a man from New Zealand at WOC sprint, three times Top 10 in the World Cup Sprint, topping it with a 4th place at the World Cup final Sprint.

Halfway through the WOC Middle Distance in 2015 Tim Robertson had a big fall and crawled out of the forest with a dislocated shoulder. He got surgery back in New Zealand in November with the support from orienteers all over the world, and came back to Europe after a long recovery period. His best World Cup results before the 2016 season was a 20th place - in 2016 he was three times in the Top 10: 5th in the World Cup Sprint in Poland, 7th at the European Championships Sprint in Czech Republic, 13th at the WOC Sprint in Sweden and 4th in the World Cup final Sprint in Switzerland. That’s the story of patience, persistance and determination - and of a runner for whom the sky is the limit in the years to come....

Olav Lundanes

Nominated for
The dominant forest orienteer at the World Orienteering Championships with two gold and one silver medal - only some meters in dark green forest from sweeping the table and taking all three forest gold medals. Best championships ever!

Olav Lundanes has been one of the absolute top athletes in forest orienteering since his WOC gold medal in Trondheim in 2010, but never managed to take three medals in a championships before. This time he had excellent performance in all three disciplines, giving him his best championships ever with three medals; gold in long, silver in middle and finally playing a big part in Norway's relay win. An amazing athlete with amazing results.

Norwegian WOC Team

Nominated for
Carl Godager Kaas, Olav Lundanes and Magne Dæhlie took Norway's mens' first WOC gold medal since Japan in 2005 after a impressive performance - running alone in the lead from the second control of the first leg.

The Norwegian men have worked hard to take back the relay throne. After victories in 2004 and 2005, it took 11 long years without victory before Norway was again on top in 2016. The victory was a power demonstration by Norway: Carl Godager Kaas getting a gap early on the first leg, Olav Lundanes running alone in front on the second leg without being caught - and finally Magne Dæhlie letting the other teams get closer for a while - but never close enough. Often the last 10 years Norway has had a strong enough team to win on paper - but relay is all about team performance, and there the Norwegian men excelled this year.

Roman Ciobanu

Nominated for
9th place at the World University Championships sprint is the first Top 10 result in the history of Moldovian orienteering - surprising all organizers, participants and own federation, improving his best previous result, the 55th place in the middle WUOC2014.

Great orienteering achievments is not only about gold medals at the World Orienteering Championships. For a Moldovian orienteer who is not even able to travel to the World Orienteering Championships due to financial reasons, a 9th place at the World Orienteering University Championships is a great personal achievement, and a great achievement for his country. Later he has set another best result for Moldova winning East European Orienteering Championship (Balkan Championship) for the first time in Moldovian men’s elite history.

The annual poll to find the best Orienteering Achievements of the year is organized by the major source for international orienteering news on the Internet – World of O. You can vote for the Orienteering Achievement of 2016 – Men here or by clicking on the image below. 

[Press Release: Orienteering Achievement of 2016 / Jan Kocbach]

Two or three things I know about it...

1. Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the University of Valencia, through the Chair Divina Pastora of Adapted Sport, promoted a three-day journey where the Trail Orienteering was the main subject. Pointed to teachers of sports physical activities, teachers of physical education, sports technicians related to the natural environment, specialists, persons particularly interested in Trail orienteering, interested in the training of trainers, the Clinic was held on the 2nd and 3rd December having a total of 44 participants. To prepare the participants to design, plan and organize a TrailO event, such was the goal of the Clinic, which had in Joaquim Margarido, assisted by Niclas Gil Nieminen, the responsible for the theoretical and practical panels. In addition to the Clinic, there was also a colloquium under the motto “Inclusive vocation: physical activity and sport in the University", on the 1st December and, in the following day, a workshop of initiation to the TrailO, whose proposal was to disclose to the 118 participants the basic principles and goals of the preparation and development of a TrailO event.

2. To recognize the notation of Orienteering maps, to train your memory, to develop the visual perception, attention and reaction, to improve your concentration levels and to create spacial imagination. All of it at home or in a short break during a competition or a training camp, or while travelling on bus, train, car, ferry or even airplane. Such is the Orient-games' offer when Christmas is approaching. There are four games translated to English: Quartet, Memory, Double and a cardboard game called “Orienteering”. “Quartet” is a legendary game that can be interesting for children as well as for adults. Children get an utterly fascinating process of perceiving the notation of orienteering maps and adults can check their knowledge. “Double” is a fast fun game that develops visual perception, attention and reaction. Undoubtedly suitable for all ages, is recommended for children from 6 years old. “Memory” is a fascinating search for the pair of cards, which promotes the development of concentration and visual memory. The game is suitable for all ages, as the children can play with adults as equals, having a great chance to win. Finally, “Orienteering” is a game for the whole family. Translated in six languages, it's suitable for both athletes and those who are simply interested in Orienteering. The game is presented in the versions “classic”, “night orienteering”, “sprint” and “hunt for the KP”. By playing “Orienteering”, you can also judge distances by planning it for the other participants. Several playing fields allow you to create a huge number of different variants of the terrain and distances. Interested in knowing some more? Please find extra information at or send a letter to

3. The organization of a World Orienteering Championships (WOC) has grown significantly over the past years. The requirements and expectations of national teams, athletes, TV, on-line and print media, spectators, sponsors and partners, have raised the standards for quality at the most prestigious of orienteering events. This has increased the requirements not only on the organizing committee, but also upon the IOFs event advising and controlling resources. Traditionally, a WOC has had an appointed Senior Event Advisor (SEA) responsible for advising on and controlling all aspects of the event. As organizational complexity has grew, the appointed SEA became a part-time professional position and an Assistant SEA role was added to control certain aspects. But with the introduction of annual live TV productions, a constantly higher IT content and increased commercialization there is a need to further strengthen the quality controlling organization. The SEA role has evolved into a Project Management role, which involves coordination with the Event Director and the local organizer, and management of an event advising and controlling team. A general description of the team can be found here: New WOC Event Advising structure. As the current WOC SEA, Jørn Sundby, will be taking on the role of event advising focused on TV and Arena aspects, the IOF is now looking for a new Senior Event Adviser/Project Manager for the World Orienteering Championships. The position is part-time and preferably on a contract basis. A description of the SEA/Project Manager position can be found here: Work description WOC SEA/Project manager. Questions about the position can be answered by IOF CEO Tom Hollowell. If you are interested in applying for this role, show interest by mailing a brief personal letter and CV to by Sunday December 18, 2016.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Orienteering Achievement of 2016: Vote now!

16 athletes from 10 countries are nominated for the annual poll to find the most impressive achievements in international orienteering. The poll is organized by World of O – the major internet presence for international orienteering news. Voting is open until December 12th.

Winning a Gold medal at the World Championships is always a great achievement – but sometimes winning a Bronze medal can be an even bigger achievement – based on what your starting point was. The stories behind the medals and the great achievements is what makes the sport truly fascinating! In “The Orienteering Achievement of the Year” these stories are highlighted – to make it possible to get a background for the amazing achievements.

It is great for the sport to see excellent nominations for athletes from nations which are traditionally not on top of the result lists in international orienteering, like Belarus, Canada, Moldova and New Zealand. All these athletes have done exceptional orienteering achievements in 2016 - along with the nominated athletes from the more established top nations in orienteering Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Russia.

Voting is open from December 7th until December 12th using the following links:

In the women's class Maja Alm (Denmark), Anastasia Denisova (Belarus), Tove Alexandersson (Sweden), Simona Aebersold (Switzerland), Emily Kemp (Canada), Natalia Gemperle (Russia), Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg (Norway) and the Russian and Finnish relay teams are nominated. In the men's class Jerker Lysell (Sweden), Joey Hadorn (Switzerland), Matthias Kyburz (Switzerland), Tim Robertson (New Zealand), Olav Lundanes (Norway), Roman Ciobanu (Moldova) and the Norwegian relay team are nominated.

The international sponsors for the Orienteering Achievement of 2016 are Five + Five days of Sicily (Italy), Scottish 6 Days (Scotland), Durmitor Orienteering Challenge (Montenegro), Aguiar da Beira “O” Meeting (Portugal), Antalya Orienteering Festival (Turkey), OOCup (Slovenia), Wawel Cup (Poland), Lipica Open (Slovenia) and Danish Spring (Denmark). Prizes valued to more than 5000 Euro are drawn among lucky voters & the ones suggesting nominations.

[Press Release: Orienteering Achievement of 2016 / Jan Kocbach]