At the end of 2011, the IOF MTBO Athlete's Commission distributed a questionnaire which sought to ear the various opinions in regard to sensitive matters of the current moment of the discipline. Michaela Gigon, the Commission’s Coordinator, made for the Portuguese Orienteering Blog a point of the situation.
When the IOF MTBO Athlete's Commission decided to ear the opinions of the athletes,
send to them a questionnaire, what did you have in mind?
Michaela Gigon (M.G.) - As the coordinator of the Athlete's Commission I should not tell the MTBO-Commission my personal opinion about MTBO matters but should collect the ideas of as many riders as possible. As I can't remember what every single rider says it is better to get the rider's opinions in a written form.
In your opinion, is there so many things that must be changed?
M.G. - There are always some things in rules and map standards that should be improved. MTBO is still a quite young sport and there still might be loopholes and problems that you find out by experience. For example, before 2010 it was not forbidden to have electric bikes. The rules just said that you had to have a roadworthy bike which is also valid for electric bikes. As far as I know, nobody ever took advantage of that but such bugs have to be fixed.
I believe you are now in the analytic process of the questionnaires. Do you still have some conclusions?
M.G. - I got answers from 36 people of 14 countries. I had actually hoped for more answers. About some conclusions, the athletes would rather have 4 World Cup Rounds than 3. GPS-tracking should be used to improve fairness; in the same way, riding everywhere should be allowed to improve fairness and forbidden things should be made clearer and really be controlled by marshals. Several athletes think that punching the controls belongs to MTBO, but slightly more think that Punch Free Controls would be nice if they work well. About the Mixed Sprint Relay there is also no clear YES or NO, but it will probably be part of EOC 2013 anyway.
Changes in MTBO WOC’s future program, as we can see in Foot-O, are essential in order to make MTBO events with more quality and fairness?
M.G. - As it looks now, the Foot-o World Champs will not change too soon. In MTBO, the Mixed Sprint Relay might become an official discipline at European Championships in 2013. Personally, I don't think that this discipline has much to do with the original idea of independent Orienteering in unknown terrain.
A couple of days ago, you've been in Finland, in the traditional Joint Meeting of IOF Council and Commissions. What news do we have from the meeting?
M.G. - We are looking for organizers of international races, for example for WOC and EOC2015 and World Cup 2014! WOC 2014 will take place in Bialystok, Poland. Portugal has applied for a World Cup round in 2013, which should take place in September or October, south of Lisbon. Punch free controls shall be tested in minor MTBO races first, but the Commission is generally positive in the question of introducing them. The rule that the Chip has to be fixed on the bike will probably disappear in 2013.
In Portugal, instead the organization of WOC 2010, we feel that MTBO is not as good as it should be, specially because we are losing athletes every year. What can we do to stop this?
M.G. - That is a difficult question. Generally, I think that in most countries the amount of MTB-orienteers is not going up or down very much at the moment. Many athletes meant that we should cooperate with other cycling or orienteering events. Others meant that we should try to get more articles for example in MTB magazines.
Considering the big events of 2011 (MTBO WOC, MTBO EOC and World Cup), could you share with us what were, in your opinion, the best moments? And the worst?
M.G. - Winning Middle Distance gold again was surely my greatest success of this season. But actually I enjoyed the terrains in Russia and Sweden most even though the weather at those two places was rather awful. In Sweden we probably had the coolest terrain ever used for MTBO World Cup. It was really a pity that the Long Distance Race was totally destroyed by the almost unforked mass start race. Organizers could have saved the work of mapmaking an putting out the controls there because it was a cross country race in which the leader of the pack was the idiot who had to activate the controls. Generally I didn't like the WOC in Italy too much.
Talking a little bit about yourself, what are your main goals in 2012?
M.G. - Winning at least one medal at the World Champs, if possible in gold. Winning the World Cup.
In the beginning of a new season, I would ask to let a message to all orienteers.
M.G. - I am not Jesus, I am not giving any messages to other people.