After a calm qualifying heat, Iva Lovrec was brilliant in the TempO final of the World Trail Orienteering Championships, improving her performance enormously, both in the average of correct answers and answering time. A risky strategy that had as a result an exceptional 4th place and that is a pretext for a nice talk with the talented young Croatian.
I would start by asking you about yourself. Who is Iva Lovrec?
Iva Lovrec (I. L.) - I am 19 years old and I live in Zagreb. I just finished the High School and got into the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. In my free time I enjoy reading books, browsing the internet or playing games and going out with my friends. Besides TrailO I'm also in foot orienteering.
It's great to see a young girl doing TrailO at this level. How did you meet Orienteering?
I. L. - I come from a family which was involved in orienteering even before I was born, so orienteering was our family tradition and still is. I worked my way up from children races to competing in junior classes. Orienteering was always interesting to me and different from other sports because it didn't involves physical activity only but was also combined with thinking and using your brain. Also it often brings you to beautiful places and wonders of nature which you probably wouldn't see otherwise.
TrailO was just a kind of “upgrade”?
I. L. - My parents always encouraged me to try TrailO when it was introduced in Croatia. At first, it was not appealing since it took too long and wasn't as interesting as Foot-O races. But luckily there were some people (like Ivana and Damir Gobec, Ivica Bertol, Zdenko Horjan, to name only a few ) who tried to make TrailO popular and were also kind enough to explain the sport which helped me to improve my skills. On the Pre-WTOC I could realized for the first time that I was good at TempO when I got the silver medal on the Croatian Championships and it motivated me to try harder.
What do you see in TrailO that makes it so special?
I. L. - TrailO doesn't depend on your gender, age, physical fitness and ability but only on your judgement and capacity to connect the map and the terrain in front of you. Also as the competitions are mostly in the nature it is relaxing to get away from the city a bit.
By the way, has a friend of yours ever asked you about TrailO? How difficult is to explain the “game”?
I. L. - It is quite difficult to explain TrailO. People often don't understand that it doesn't matter how much time you take to finish the competition. FootO can be compared to treasure hunts but there isn't any sport which can be compared to TrailO and that's why it takes much more time to explain. Also there are a lot of rules and two very different formats.
And how difficult is to be a trail orienteer? What trail orienteers have that foot orienteers don't?
I. L. - It's much more complicated to succeed in TrailO than in FootO. You can train alone if you are competing in FootO and it doesn't need to take much time, but to practice Trail-O you must have a map made for TrailO, you cannot make tasks for yourself so it is nearly impossible to train alone. The only trainings you have are the competitions, so it's much harder to improve.
What skills do you have that makes you an excellent trail orienteer? And what is missing to be the “special one”?
I. L. - I am mostly good at reading the terrain, I can think and make decisions fast which is important for TempO, I am able to think of good ways to decide which is the correct flag, but there are some terrains which I'm not familiar with and I use the wrong thing to help me decide. Sometimes I just don't concentrate enough or don't see the details which I should use.
Two great races and a fantastic 4th place in TempO last August, in Sweden. Did you expect it?
I. L. - On WTOC, in Sweden, I was hoping to qualify to the final. Last year I made it barely to the finals due to canceling of the last station so I didn't have high hopes for this WTOC, Also I have never been to Sweden before and I have never competed on a such terrain. A few days of training in Sweden obviously helped me a lot to understand how the details were mapped and what to expect. But even after qualifying I still didn't think I would be that good, I was hoping for a place higher than 17th because it was the best result ever for a Croatian athlete in TempO.
Was your preparation as good as it could be or did you feel some difficulties to train properly along the months before the World Championships?
I. L. - As I said before, training TempO can be difficult and takes time, so I tried to go to competitions instead. Of course, with more trainings I think I would be able to place even better but I'm satisfied with the result especially because I had a very busy year since I was finishing the High School and was concentrated on studying to get into a good College.
Can you point some strong ideas from your week in Strömstad?
I. L. - Strömstad really impressed me. Even though the city isn't large, the nature is stunning. I have never seen anything similar and having tasks on the beach was a wonderful experience. I will definitely remember this WTOC, not only for the great result but also because of the beautiful scenery.
What was the best and the worst of the Championships from a personal point of view?
I. L. - The best is undoubtedly the 4th place which wasn't expected at all and caught me off guard. I can't think of anything that bad that I would call it the worst of the whole WTOC. I was an amazing experience and the races for which I was in the national team I did my best and got great results. The worst are some pretty things like rain and colder weather the last few days but it is almost not worth mentioning when compared with the whole week.
If I asked you for a moment - the great achievement of the Championships - what would be your choice?
I. L. - It was nice to finally see the TrailO Relay introduced to the Championships. Even though I wasn't competing, the concept seemed be working well.
We have now a time lapse of ten months until the next WTOC, in Lithuania. What do you have in mind for keeping your shape during such a long break?
I. L. - Till the next WTOC I'm planning on going to as much competitions in Croatia and Slovenia as I can, but other than that I don't have anything special in mind. I will try my best to free some time for TrailO and I'll try to do well both at College and in sports.
What are your plans for the future. Are we going to see you doing TrailO at the highest level for the next fifty years?
I. L. - I don't plan that much ahead. For now I like TrailO and I'm planning on continuing but who knows what the future holds. I hope I'll be able to compete for that long.