This time, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog follows Riina Kuuselo and the start of her season. Here we talk about Portugal, Finland and New Zealand, "a wonderful experience".
The season started in New Zealand with the World Cup's first round. Was it too late for such an important event or every occasion is fine to compete?
Riina Kuuselo (R. K.) - It was a bit strange to run the World Cup in the middle of winter in Europe; otherwise, it was a wonderful experience and the races were very well organized. I was really happy to be part of it.
Talking about New Zealand, how did you feel?
R. K. - It was my first time in New Zealand. It's an exotic country, with its volcanic and geothermal areas, but the terrains where we ran weren't that different from Europe. Sand dunes are found in many countries and the last World Cup event, on open hills, reminded me of Wales. The organization was relaxed but they put together excellent events with really good courses.
Were the results what you expected?
R. K. - I was just recovering from an injury and hadn't orienteered for a while so my expectations weren't that high. But it was nice to see that I wasn't totally out of shape. I had hoped to get a few top 10 places, which I didn't achieve, but I was nevertheless pleased to make it twice among top 15 (12th and 15th). It was very good, considering where I came from.
I'm going to «steal» the question to Jan Kocbach and I would like to know what do you think about the chasing start format? Is this the future format of orienteering?
R. K. - Oh, I really hope that chase start will not be the future of orienteering (I wouldn't want to see it in WOC program) but I think it's okay to have it once in a while in the World Cup. I know that many orienteers don't like it at all, but I understood it was really entertaining and exciting for the crowds. It favors, of course, strong runners but everyone needs to gain their starting place by orienteering well in the prologue. It's a way to make orienteering more sexy & visible.
What's next in your agenda? Portugal?
R. K. - I have just decided to come to Portugal and run both POM and MOC, like many others. I have very good memories from the first edition of NAOM and that's why I keep coming back to Portugal :)
For the first time ever, we'll have in Portugal three major races (WRE) in three consecutive weekends. What's your opinion?
R. K. - I think it's very good and they seem to attract many orienteers all over Europe. They are great events and many Scandinavians want to escape winter and travel to south to be able to orienteer. When some of the races are WRE events it makes them even more attractive.
Finally, the big competition of the year will take place in your country. What WOC can we expect?
R. K. - I'm sure WOC in Vuokatti will be a great event in every aspect. It's very beautiful there and it's the best time of the year to go there. For me, as an athlete, it's a wonderful opportunity to have WOC in my home country.
And what about yourself? Do you think it's possible to repeat 2010 and be there representing your country?
R. K. - I really hope I will make it to the Finnish team. It's my biggest dream to be able to compete there.