Time of peace and harmony, Christmas is Orienteering time, too. In
Hong Kong, the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong organized the
Annual Orienteering Championships, attended by 73 athletes in the
Elite category and 135 in the Open category.With the Middle Distance
and the Sprint stages scoring for the IOF World
Rankings, the event got the presence of Annika Björk, Swedish
Orienteering star, winner of the two stages already mentioned and
also the Long Distance stage. Taking place on 26th December, the
Sprint race was held at Ngau Chi Wan Park and was dominated by Björk,
who won with 14:03 against 14:34 from Wai Lan Iris Lui. The male
winner was Tsz Wai Yu with the time of 13:09. Wai Yu had already won
the Middle Distance in the previous day, staged in Black Hill, while
in the women Annika Björk got a comfortable win in 37:45 and a 4:34
advantage over Iris Lui. Closing the event, Lui Wai Lan Iris achieved
her third National Champion title by winning the Long Distance stage,
in Pak Shek Kiu, while in the Men Elite class the victory smiled to
Lam Aby. Complete results and further information at
2. Austria, Belgium DG, Belgium
FC, Belgium FL, China P.R., the Czech Republic, England, Estonia,
France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland,
Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey
and Ukraine have indicated their interest in taking part in the 2017
World Schools Championships in Orienteering. Organized by the
International School Sport Federation and the Italian Ministry of
Education, the event will take place in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, from
22th April to 28th April 2017. The Long Distance competition and the
Middle Distance competition will take place in the Nature Reserve
“Bosco della Ficuzza”, in the territory of Corleone. The Model
Event will be held in a part of the Bosco della Ficuzza, offering
terrain similar to both the Middle and the Long Distance
competitions. The Friendship Team Event will take place in the city
centre of Palermo. More detailed information on maps and competition
areas will be communicated in the 3rd bulletin at the end of January.
Find more information at
3. Mass Start will be the fifth
format on the program for the World MTBO Championships from 2017. A
growing appetite for more head-to-head racing for the MTBO athletes
and the possibility for good media coverage are among the reasons.
Mass Start races have been a rather popular format in MTBO, and since
2010 there have been mass start events on the World Cup circuit
almost every year. From 2017, it will be an official format at WMTBOC
in line with Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay. The Mass Start format
will be added to the program for both Masters and Junior World MTBO
Championships as well. Mass Start’s winning time is set between
75-85 minutes for both men and women and is roughly between Middle
and Long. Typically, the course will start with a long first leg of
3-5 km with different route choice options to shake out the field.
Forkings and loops will be essential elements of Mass Start races to
separate the riders even more. Everybody rides the same course, but
in slightly different order to avoid blind following. The first World
MTBO Champion in Mass Start will be decided in Lithuania when the
World MTBO Championships takes place from 21st to 26th August 2017.
4. The Columbia River
Orienteering Club - http://www.croc.org/
- made a tutorial video on Purple Pen, which can be seen here. Feel
free to pass this along to anyone in your club who would like to get
up to speed quickly on this helpful software.
Close to the end of the year, the
Portuguese Orienteering Blog takes a look on the future and calls a
young athlete to the last interview of 2016. Constance Devillers is
one of the greatest hopes of the French MTB Orienteering and brings
us her story.
I would start by asking you to
introduce yourself. Who is Constance Devillers?
Constance Devillers (C. D.) -
I'm eighteen, I live in Besançon, France, and I'm in the first year
of my studies in sports at University. I enjoy practising sport with
my friends and find new passions, like juggling or slacklining, which
require concentration and motivation. I like listening to music and
watching TV series, like “Pretty Little Liars” or “The 100”.
How did you meet Orienteering?
C. D. - I discovered Foot
Orienteering in high school. I was lucky to participate in the 2013
French School Foot O Championships. We were four girls in the team
and they were all members of an Orienteering club in Besançon. I
think it was this particular first victory, shared with my friends,
which made me enjoy this sport. I wanted to keep practising
orienteering and improve. When I was fifteen, I started going to that
club, named “Balise 25”, where, a few weeks later, I learnt about
something I didn't know existed, MTB orienteering.
When did you decide to take MTB
C. D. – At first I mostly
practised FootO, which I think it's part of the training for MTBO.
The first step was to learn how to ride fast and read the map at the
same time, anticipating the route choices. Soon I was able to take
part in MTBO competitions, and I improved by attending all the French
competitions. In 2014 I was invited to a training session with the
French team but it was only in 2015 that I started to train with the
aim of reaching international goals, trying to get a place in the
French Team in order to attend the Youth European MTB Orienteering
Championships, in Portugal, which were my first Championships. One
month later I was lucky to join the Junior Team and go to the World
MTB Orienteering Championships, in the Czech Republic, where I won
the Relay along with Lou Denaix and Lou Garcin. I spent an
unforgettable week there.
What do you see in MTBO that makes
it so special?
C. D. - I find MTBO special
because it has made the past three years unique to me. I’ve so many
fond memories... I’ve become more self-confident. MTBO has made me
discover the meaning of training hard and I like it. And the most
important thing is that I love the people I met in MTBO since the
very beginning, not only in my club, but in the French team and also
in international teams. Everyone is friendly, gives advice, and it's
motivating to see what other people are capable of.
What opportunities has Orienteering
brought to you so far?
C. D. - Orienteering has given
me the opportunity to travel to Portugal and to the Czech Republic
(and maybe next season to Lithuania). Thanks to this sport I've also
been able to improve my English.
Looking back on the Junior World MTB
Orienteering Championships, are you happy with the results achieved
in Portugal. Did you expect them?
C. D. - I'm very happy with my
results that I see as a reward for the hard training. In 2015, the
participation in the Junior World MTB orienteering Championships was
totally unexpected, I didn't know what to look forward to and I was
very surprised with what I did. On the contrary, this year I was
expecting to be selected and it was more stressful, but very
I would ask you to share some
thoughts about the Sprint bronze and the silver in the Long Distance.
C. D. -The Sprint was the first
race of the week and I knew I had to be fully focused on it,
forgetting the stress and thinking only about the race. It was the
first time I used the new SI-R which I think increased the
difficulty level because it's a short and fast race, so the rhythm of
the race never slows down. I was afraid of riding off the tracks
because it’s forbidden in France. I didn't find the orienteering
very difficult, but riding at the same time made it complicated; the
terrain was flat, so very fast. I must say that I like the Sprint
more and more; I find it hard to keep racing because orienteering
always slows you.
I found the Long Distance interesting
because of the route choices and the beautiful terrain. I didn't want
to take risks, so I slowed down and tried not to make big mistakes.
In the final part of the race I saw some girls who started before me
and I knew that I had to forget about the others if I wanted to keep
my self-confidence. I made some mistakes but I kept focused on the
race. At the end I was really happy, and I think it was very
important that I didn't give up.
Is Veronika Kubínová unbeatable at
the junior level? What does she have that you don't (but you'd like
C. D. - Veronika is very strong.
I remember her Sprint victory in the 2015 Junior World MTB
Orienteering Championships, which impressed me. I followed what she
did last September in the World Cup, in Lithuania, where she achieved
great results in the Women Elite class. I’ve heard the step from
junior to Elite is quite high, so she must be proud of herself. I
think she has more experience than me. It's nice to meet other girls
who are motivated and stronger than me; they are like role models.
What are your plans for the next
C. D. - I will go to 5 Days of
Pilsen. It will be my second time in the Czech Republic and I
remember I enjoyed it very much in 2015. My main goal is the World
Championships in Lithuania, but we’ll have the European
Championships in France before! It will be very exciting to take part
in a Championship in my country...
What about your future? What's in
store for you in the next five years?
C. D. - I want to have fun
during my two years as a Junior but I must confess that I'm looking
forward to riding in the Elite; I know the level is very demanding...
but I think about it and maybe this is what keeps me motivated:
having fun in MTBO and riding in the Elite.
Would you leave a message for those
who always wanted to know about MTB Orienteering?
C. D. - If you have always
wanted to know about MTBO, I have to say it's a wonderful sport which
requires many qualities. The winner is the one who makes the least
mistakes, is the most powerful on the bike but also in his mind,
while fighting against the watch. In MTBO, you learn every day; every
competition is a different one.
During the last Congress of the
International Orienteering Federation, held in Strömstad, Sweden,
the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation revealed its interest in the
possible organization of the World Orienteering Championships “in
the future”. Proving that that intention is to be taken seriously,
we get news from the other side of the Atlantic about Brazil's
application to organize the WOC 2021.
Through its Facebook page -
-, the Brazilian Orienteering Confederation (BOC) made known that its
President, Luiz Sérgio Mendes, was recently in Campo Alegre, in the
Santa Catarina state, in search of support for the organization of
the World Orienteering Championships 2021. The initiative follows the
International Orienteering Federation's statement, in the Congress of
Strömstad, that World Orienteering Championships should be held in
countries outside of Europe, an idea enthusiastically supported by
the Brazilian Confederation.
Through its President, Luiz Sérgio
Mendes, the BOC expressed its intention to move forward with an
application in the future, just not specifying when. We know, now,
that the “future” is 2021 and it's Luiz Sérgio Mendes, himself,
who confirms it: “We took the initiative to say, during the IOF
Congress, that Brazil would be a candidate to organize a WOC in the
future. We believe that we have the conditions to go forward with the
application as early as 2021 and we understand that, by proposing the
coming of this event to Brazil, we will be acting according to the
IOF's goal to make our sport Olympic, since it would demonstrate to
the World that Orienteering is, in fact, becoming global.”
Incidentally, regarding the ideal of “Orienteering's
globalization”, Mendes is very clear: “Orienteering can't truly
be present on a Continent if there are no major competitions in it.
It's based on this premise that we intend to apply. I believe that
our sport can't evolve internationally if it doesn't move outside of
The search has already begun
The search for places to host the event
began in Campo Alegre, in Santa Catarina. “We are still in a
preliminary step of the organization and we have several regions in
sight. Santa Catarina was the first to be visited because we believe
that the region has the potential to host the event.” Luiz Sérgio
Mendes also referred Paraná, a neighbouring state of Santa Catarina,
“also with great potential and suitable terrains”. But remembers
that “the decision will not be made only by the BOC; if the
application is accepted, we will have the visit of an IOF
representative who will come to check the areas, helping us to take
“As for the cartography”, Mendes
continues, “these regions have a fairly extensive area that is
already mapped. After the decision about the venue, we will start to
work on nearby areas to host local and regional events, aiming to
offer opportunities for training and competition to those who want to
know the types of terrains in the region”. Mendes also advances
with the CBO's intention to organize, next to the region considered
for the WOC, an international level event in the previous year, “to
enable training opportunities to future participants”, he says.
A winning project
The team in charge isn't lacking
commitment and resolution, facing the task to carry out the project
until the end. “From our point of view, this is a winning project
as it offers the IOF an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment in
presenting its major events to other continents and recognize that
it's necessary to support applications from those countries who are
keen on organizing such events”, the BOC's President says.
Recalling the existence of a Working
Group for South America and the accomplishment in Chile of the first
South American Orienteering Championships recognized by the IOF, Luiz
Sérgio Mendes intends to embrace South America as a whole, through
the organization of the WOC. On this subject, he says: “The
organization of this event in Brazil can boost Orienteering practise
growth in South America, as it will show to the South-American
countries that the IOF is not a distant institution, but a Federation
that really wants to embrace the whole World. This will motivate the
national leaders to organize themselves better, to be more
competitive and will facilitate the presence of their national teams,
since Brazil borders practically all countries, except for Chile and
Ecuador”. But he doesn't hesitate to also reflect about the
importance of the event, internally: “For Brazil, it would be a
unique opportunity to affirm itself as a Regional power, not in the
sense of winning Championships, but in the ability to organize events
and to show that the sport is totally formalized here. That would
also change the internal status of Orienteering, because the coming
of such an important event would give us the visibility that we need
to increase the number of Orienteering fans in the Country”, he says.
2017, a decisive year
Luiz Sérgio Mendes also reveals the
intention to “take this opportunity to improve the general quality
of our major internal events, shaping them in the same way as those
organized in the countries where Orienteering is fully developed”.
Denying the idea of “copying models”, rather than understanding
that “we have to learn from the countries that are ahead of us”,
Mendes concludes that “isolated in South America we can't grow.”
“The next step is to finish the
written part of the project and present it to the IOF”, says Luiz
Sérgio Mendes, adding that the BOC is also in touch with the
Ministry of Sports, preparing a technical note for the Secretariat of
Sport of High-Performance, in order to get support for the cause.
“2016 was the year of the Olympics and the country was focused on
it. The arrival of 2017 changes this situation and opens up good
possibilities”, he concludes.
Like every year, the PreOEliten blog
is searching for “The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year”.
Since the beginning of December, every of each 12 candidates have
been presented on the blog and it's time now to vote.
The blog PreOEliten opened a poll named
“The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year 2016”. This is a
private initiative of Geir Myhr Øien and Martin Jullum, the blog's
administrators, and it has been organized every year since 2010.
According to the promoters of the initiative, the aim of the contest is to give attention
to the good work that is being done by the organizers, course setters
and event advisors, and it's also a good opportunity to learn from
the best and thereby increase the quality of Norwegian events. And,
of course, it's also a way to acknowledge those who spend hundreds of
hours of work to put up the best possible competitions.
Each of the twelve candidates for this
year's “The Norwegian TrailO Control of the Year 2016” have been
presented on the blog along December and it's time, now, to vote for the best control. You just need to rank five out of the twelve
nominated controls by a scoring scale 6-4-3-2-1. In other words, the
one you think deserves most to be named this year's “Norwegian
TrailO Control”, holds 6 points, the second most 4 points, etc. It
is not allowed to score the same candidate twice. As in the previous
editions, the result of the poll will decide which four controls go
to the final round. In the final round, a jury will score the final
A person can only vote once and it's required to fill
out the e-mail address when voting. It is also possible to add a comment, which will be made anonymous and passed on the jury for the final
decision. HERE you can find the twelve candidates. Take a careful
look at each of them before voting. Once you've decided, you can vote
through the webpage (in the bottom of the article). It is also
possible to submit your vote by e-mail email@example.com
but the blog's administrators encourage to use the form. The poll is open up to
and including 5th January. Vote now!
A few days ago, it was possible to see Roman Ciobanu shining
brightly, on the one hand for being nominated for The Orienteering
Achievement of 2016 and on the other hand for achieving the final
third place in the poll. With this subject as the starting point of
this interview, we try to know the athlete a little better, as well
as the person.
How did you feel, getting the 3rd
place in The Orienteering Achievement of 2016 and receiving the
acknowledgement of the whole Orienteering community?
Roman Ciobanu (R. C.) - It was a
big surprise for me to be nominated and an even bigger surprise to
reach the final 3rd place. It’s a wonderful pleasure and it
represents the appreciation of my effort and results.
How important is it from a personal
point of view?
R. C. - To be known in the world
is quite important, not just for me but also for my country. When I
talk to people abroad, not everybody knows that Moldova exists or
where it is, but now I believe that more people know that we exist
and also that Orienteering exists in Moldova. Besides that, it gave
me an extra motivation to train harder and to keep on going with my
Where do you draw your inspiration
R. C. - Probably from my
achievements. They're my main motivation, giving me the power for my
trainings and for setting new goals. And simply because I love the
great feeling after a good training or race. I also have many friends
in Orienteering and it gives me the possibility to travel a lot and
to meet new people.
Looking back on the season, how do
you evaluate your performances and achievements?
R. C. - I've set two goals for
the season. The first one was to finish my first marathon, which,
unfortunately, I missed, giving up at the 28th km. The second one was
to win the Sprint at the South East European Orienteering
Championships, a competition that involved Moldova, Romania,
Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and
Montenegro, which took place in Macedonia, in September. Here I was
able to achieve my goal, reaching a two-second win over the strong
Ivan Sirakov, from Bulgaria. It was Moldova's first gold ever in this
In the beginning of the season I didn’t
have any plans to go to the World University Orienteering
Championships in Hungary, but I made an agreement with a friend of
mine, from Russia, that if she qualified for the Russian team I would
also go to Hungary. In May she qualified and I had two months to
prepare myself. There, I got the 9th place in the Sprint, which was
my best result ever, and I was very surprised because the Spring
period had been very hard, with some results being worse than I
expected, both in Orienteering and Athletics. Also, in the Summer, I
wasn't at my best physically. Before the WUOC I had had just one
international Sprint start (Sochi, Russia, in March). All my
preparation was made in my home city, Chisinau, where we have just 5
or 6 Sprint maps, all of them not very technically demanding.
What was the best course you ran in
R. C. - Definitely the WUOC
Sprint. It was a very interesting and technical race. I didn’t do
it mistake-free , losing some 10 seconds at one control, going a
little bit in the wrong way and another 10 seconds on a bad route
choice. I also felt a great pleasure running the 1st leg at WUOC's
Relay, in a team with two Canadians. I finished my leg on the 8th
position, only 25 seconds behind the leader, having lost contact with
him on the last control in the forest, following a small hesitation.
What one or two things do you
currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
R. C. - Because we don’t have
many Sprint maps in my country and I didn’t have the possibility to
travel to many competitions abroad, my main trainings are in the
Stadium, while running on high speed and reading maps from other
countries at the same time (thank you Mikhail Vinogradov for teaching
me this on your website). I also do many trainings with virtual
fences and walls on the map.
What does it mean to be an orienteer
R. C. - Orienteering in Moldova
is just a hobby. We don’t have support from our Government and we
don't have sponsors either. So, we need to work to have money to go
somewhere to competitions. We have some good runners but
unfortunately we don’t have the possibility to enter many
competitions and to show the world the best we can do. Sergiu Fala
usually gets the podium at competitions in countries near Moldova.
Also the three Fomiciov brothers, two of whom reached the final A at
JWOC Middle. We also have many good Juniors, but most of them don’t
see a big motivation in training hard to achieve good results.
Are you already looking forward to
the next season? What will be the main steps in your preparation
during the winter?
R. C. - After my WUOC results,
the best Romanian club, Universitatea Craiova, offered
me a place in it. Financially, it will be easier to prepare
for the next season. The goals I've set for the Winter period are to
improve my running speed and reach a new PB on 3.000 meters, which is
now of 8:51. In March I will go to MOC Training Camp and
Championships in Italy, where I’ll try to improve my Orienteering
technique. I'll also attend the Danish Spring (thanks to worldofo.com
and Ana Grib, who won this prize and
transferred it to me).
Have you ever
considered joining a Scandinavian club?
R. C. - Actually, I've been
thinking about trying to join a Scandinavian club and maybe moving
there. It would be a dream come true. [Hopefully, there's someone
reading this Interview in Sweden, Finland, Norway or Denmark...]
What would be your ultimate
achievement in 2017?
R. C. - My main goal for 2017 is
the WOC Sprint where I hope to qualify to the Final and there,
run a fast and mistake-free race.
Last but not least, I would ask you
to say something about yourself.
R. C. - I’m 25 years old and I
was born and live in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. I finished my
University studies in Finances as major-accounting and I’m learning
programming. I work as a financial operator from morning until 3 p.m.
and after that it's training time.
I started practising Athletics at the
age of 7. At the Junior level, I reached the podium in almost every
national race and I got some good international results for my
country. At the Senior level, my results remained almost the same and
I reached the National gold for three times (twice in the 10.000
metres, in 2011 and 2013, and once in the 3.000 metres Steeplechase,
this year) and was on a podium for many times.
The first touch with orienteering was
in 2005, but I got lost in the forest. From 2005 to 2011 I took part
in a few competitions, but I used to run safely, not leaving the
paths, and I didn’t know what contours or vegetation meant or how
to use a compass. In 2011, thanks to my friend Ana Grib, I met my
coach Ivahnenco Serghei. I consider that as my starting point in
Orienteering. I've been getting good results in Sprint since then and
I was National Champion seven times [three times in Sprint (in 2014,
2015 and 2016), twice in the Sprint Relay (2014 and 2015), once in
the Ultra Long Distance (2013) and once in the Long Distance (2015)].
At an international level, I took part
in WOC twice: 2013 Finland and 2015 Scotland, but unfortunately
without good results, because of injuries, health problems and no
experience on nordic terrain. In the South East European Orienteering
Championships, I was 5th in the Sprint, 3rd in the Middle Distance
and 2nd in the Long Distance, in 2011, in the M20 class. In the
Elite, I reached five medals: Three in the Sprint (bronze in 2014,
silver in 2015 and gold in 2016) and two bronze medals in the Relay
(2013 and 2014).
Do you have a saying or motto that
you live your life by?
R. C. - “If you really want to
do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an
excuse”, Jim Rohn.
[Photo: Roman Ciobanu /
1. The Calendar of the 3rd
edition of the Portugal City
Race was announced yesterday. The 2017 Portugal City Race will
conquer new cities and will have a set of 13 stages, starting on 5th
February, in Esposende, and ending on 1st November, in Sesimbra.
The cities of Esposende, Santo Tirso, Vila Real, Tondela and Sesimbra
made its debut in the Circuit, in which we can notice the return of
Penafiel. Barcelos and Viseu leave the Circuit in 2017 and the cities
of Braga, Vila do Conde, Leiria, Águeda, Figueira da Foz, Porto and
Aveiro remain. In total, it will count for the Rankings the seven
best results out of the thirteen possible. The 2016 Portugal City
race consisted on nine stages and counted almost four thousand
participants. All information at http://www.cityrace.pt/.
2. Following the election to the
Board of Directors of the Spanish Orienteering Federation, celebrated
on 10th December, José Enrique Barcia is the FEDO's new Chairman. Cristina
del Campo (1st Vice-President), Mercedes Jiménez (2nd Vice
President), Raúl Ferra (Technical Director), Marta Armisén (Women
and Sport Project), María Isabel Fajardo (Economic Director) and
Jesús de Miguel Rey (General Secretary) are the remaining members.
Promoting the General Assembly and ensuring its executive functions
is the first and foremost goal of Barcia. Resources optimization and
transparency are also key words of the new paradigm. Among the
priorities, one can found the creation of the General Direction of
Marketing and Communication, strengthening and betting on MTB
Orienteering as a growth factor of the Sport and also the creation of
the Spanish Ski Orienteering Championships (two stages). To the new
Board of Directors and its Chairman, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog
wishes the greatest achievements and a long and successful campaign.
3. If you like “cool” events
and you're a fan of PreO you are not going to miss the coolest PreO
event ever. The 4th annual Aurora Borealis PreO Event will take place
on January 6th 2017, with the Event Centre located in the Vuosaari
Golf course main building, Helsinki, Finland. The course will have 22
– 26 controls to the Elite (12 – 15 controls to the Elite B) and
2.000 meters length, set by Ari Tertsunen on a completely new map
with his signature. The winner gets the great “Aurora Borealis PreO
Challenge Cup” for the period of one year (get it your own after
three victories). The winners so far are Aleksei Laisev (2014), Pinja
Mäkinen (2015) and Anna Jakobson (2016). In the case of extreme
weather conditions, the Event shall be cancelled only if the
temperature falls below - 40 degrees celsius. However, “cancellation
is very unlikely, as last year we had only - 26 degrees”, the
organizers assure. Please find all the the information at
4. The first trailer for the
Austrian MTBO Days 2017 is online. Enjoy!
Keith Dawson. The name may sound unfamiliar to most readers, but everyone in the MTB Orienteering family
knows him. Keith's enthusiasm and expertise make him a reference,
both inside and outside the forest. To meet this true Master of the
Masters, we dive deep into the MTB orienteering world, in
a fascinating and enriching journey.
You've been participating in most of
the MTB Orienteering events in the last seasons and we could see you
attending 14 out of 15 World Masters Series stages this year. At the
age of 58, where do you find the motivation to keep on competing so
Keith Dawson (K. D.) - I have
learnt through some very tough times in Life that Life is not a dress
rehearsal! “If in doubt do it - you will always regret more what
you don't do than what you do”! These are two of my Life memes,
true whether you're setting up businesses in the “Wild East” in
Ukraine and Cuba or competing/organising in MTBO! I have had two
major knee constructions in the last four years and missed the
TransRockies 6 day race, with my son, this summer through a shoulder
injury - so absence makes the heart grow hungrier! That is motivation
enough but meeting the great MTBO community and searching for that
elusive “Perfect Run” are important too. In 42 years of FootO I
only managed it twice and never in MTBO - not yet!
Is this passion for bikes and MTBO a
K. D. - I constantly thank my
two teachers, Dave and Mike, who introduced me to Orienteering back
in 1975! I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like without
this treasure of friends, landscapes, races and travel that
Orienteering has gifted me. I took up MTB in 1995 after a succession
of FootO ankle injuries and have been fortunate to travel the world.
Andes, New Zealand and Costa Rica the highlights. My first ever MTBO
was the World Masters near Gdansk in 2010 and from the first race I
What do you see in MTBO that makes
it so special?
K. D. - The blend of speed,
problem solving and technical riding is unique. The return of speed
would be an exciting aspect for Masters FootO competitors if they
tried it! Particularly those with “bad” knees! The MTBO community
is also very special and quite unlike that in most sports. Solving
the problems, at speed, set by our hard working planners and mappers
in new landscapes at speed is a legal “high”.
What kind of “family” is the
K. D. - As I say a uniquely
friendly and inclusive one and of course global! There is also the
good aspect of hard but friendly competition whether in Elite or
Masters. I have had a unique opportunity this year with my 63 MTBO
races in 15 countries to savour this delight to the full! Riders such
as Jean-Charles Lalevee, Wolf Eberle and Charlie Somers-Cocks give
all of us, Masters, something to admire and aspire too!
We all appreciate your enthusiasm
and dedication in keeping us well-informed about the MTBO events,
sharing maps, results and pictures, sometimes even before the
official releases. How big is your concern about the communication
K. D. - Thank you! Communication
is important in any aspect of Life and I've been pleased with the
positive feedback. This helps to bring our community closer together.
Even if you couldn't attend the race you can ask that great old
question “Which way would I have gone?” Fix your map board to the
turbo this winter! We need more communication, not less!
Talking about the MTBO in general,
are we going in the right way?
K. D. - I would say we are
generally heading in the right direction. Sandor [Talas] has ably
guided us within the IOF framework and with HJ [Hans-Jørgen Kvåle]
now as an IOF marketing manager the sport is moving forward with more
events and rising standards.
There are a few areas I would comment
on: MTBO should be a race not an “eye test”. The use of the
correct scale, especially for Masters, is critical for full
enjoyment. If in doubt use the larger scale option - we all know how
to fold if necessary :). Some otherwise excellent races have been
rather spoilt by use of the wrong scale. Masters expend a lot of
income when they come to races both within our MTBO community and
beyond, their needs need to be catered for too. I have also seen
situations where not breaking a circle or covering a vital path have
spoilt an otherwise great course. I would implore planners to
consider these issues more carefully going forward.
We need to increase the number of women
in our Sport and a “buddy” system could help. If all women
brought a “buddy” along to an event and guided them this would
increase numbers and quality of competition. It is a wonderful Sport!
I think we also need to be slightly more inclusive with older age
group classes and recognise that a five year age increase post 60 is
different to post 50 and even more marked post 70. The last thing we
need to do is to discourage older competitors, they are an
inspiration to us all and also do a lot of organising! We can't
afford to lose them.
Finally I would say that, in the light
of recent independent press and also official reports, together with
IOF Olympic aspirations, we need to increase our monitoring and out
of competition testing of prohibited substances. Glib denial is not
the way forward. All houses need to be put in order. We must show
that we are, and will remain, a prohibited substance free Sport which
is fair for ALL high level competitors. Not least we need to
safeguard the long term health and freedom of these same competitors.
When I read “World Masters
Series”, your name immediately comes to my mind. How close is your
relation with the WMS?
K. D. - Whilst it is true the
initial concept was mine, Sandor has been highly supportive and WMS
now belongs to the whole Masters MTBO community. Tamas Janko has been
brilliant putting in a great deal of dedication to calculate the
results, often under pressure, as in Lithuania. I have been delighted
with the positive feedback and constructive comment and the rising
standards it has undoubtedly engendered. My class M55 is almost as
competitive as Elite! We have two good sponsors in Continental
Farmers and Havana Energy who help produce the rather nice medals!
Now in its third year I believe it will go from strength to strength
with Masters Relays again in France and the new M/W35+ class to
bridge the gap from Elite and avoid competitors leaving the sport at
that point. It's great that organisers are now competing to have
their events included in WMS. The format would be easily applicable
to Ski-O and even Foot-O.”
How did you see the WMS along the
K. D. - It was disappointing
that more competitors did not race in Cappadocia in the first races,
as all who did agreed it was indeed very special. The series went
well, with both rising numbers and standards. The five year age
classes have been very popular, especially in 60+. Many of the medals
went down to “the wire” in Lithuania and so did many “mini
competitions” between individuals within the classes. The WMS is a
Marathon not a Sprint and a good season long strategy is crucial as
well as within races. One mispunch or mechanical can lose a lot of
points and places if the season strategy is not optimised. Organisers
have realised hosting a WMS race increases numbers, so now in its
third year, organisers are competing to be included and several
offers for 2018 are already in, as well as a very exciting 2017 in
prospect. July will be an MTBO Festival with races in Pilsen, Vienna
and culminating in a season “finale” in Orleans. This has
encouraged more racers from south of the equator to compete. The aim
of the WMS was to increase standards for Masters competition, help
development in outlying countries and to increase the Fun! I think it
has been successful on all counts thus far.
In the meanwhile, the World Masters
Series 2017 has already started (!). Apart the earthquake, would you
like to share your thoughts about the event in New Zealand?
K. D. - Yes, despite the
difficulties caused by the quake, numbers and standards of
competition were high and all aspects of world class standard. The
area used for the North Island Champs the week before the WMS races,
“Marquita's Garden” is my all time favourite MTBO area. The
WMS/NZ races near Rotorua were outstanding and the Sprint race was
particularly high quality. I really hope NZ can host the World
Championships in due course. So much great riding, a wonderful
country and such a welcome! I hope more NZ and Australian competitors
will head North for our exciting summer this year.
You were a privileged spectator of
the MTBO Elite season and I would ask you to highlight some of the
strongest moments in 2016?
K. D. - At the risk of (wrongly)
being accused of bias I would choose Emily Benham's Two World Champs
Golds in Portugal and her exciting World Cup win. This edges other
excellent performances, as it has sadly been achieved without
National Federation support or within a squad, but solely by
individual determination and motivation, with a little help from HJ
of course :) A great example to the whole Orienteering Family, not
just MTBO. In the Masters I would select Jean-Charles Lalevee's
triumph in the WMS this year in a very competitive class and after a
disappointing injury robbed him last season. True Gallic Grit!
Contrary to the last season, we
didn't have either MTBO courses or MTBO achievements suggested or
nominated for the World of O's polls this year. So, I'm going to ask
you to pick up the best course and the best achievement of the MTBO
K. D. - Yes, that lack of
nominations was disappointing. This is a very difficult task with so
many worthy candidates! I will allow myself three - Sprint, Middle
and Long. So many great courses. So for a purely personal view: The
Sprint was the NZ/WMS race in Rotorua, a fantastic mix of three
terrain types including a tricky university campus with covered
walkways. The Middle from Cappodocia in March, a privilege to race
amongst the complex rock pillars and caves of a UNESCO World Heritage
Site! Although the “Ironworks” race was a close second,
illustrating the wide variety of terrain we enjoy! The Long from
Portugal, again with a mixture of terrains and with the temperature a
truly Long tough Challenge. Special mention too to the Middle in
Lithuania with putting a capital O in MTBO for the quality of map and
course planning. I'm very much looking forward to Vilnius!
How is it going to be the winter
season? How hard it will be staying away from the bikes and the
events' atmosphere for so long?
K. D. - A great trip to NZ with
6 fine races helps! Thankfully my great physio Dagmar, two great Drs
in Ireland and lots of physio exercises mean I can avoid a planned
major shoulder operation this winter, and I can plan for M60 in 2018!
The prospect of so many great races and a new season of WMS in 2017
will keep the winter “blues” at bay! Fortunately the biking
trails in Vienna, Scotland and Ireland, where I split my time, are
never too snowbound, so I can get my regular “fix” on the bike. I
do miss FootO though :(
What are you goals for 2017?
K. D. - To continue to play my
small part in building the success of WMS and Masters MTBO in general
and also to play my role in the MTBO Commission, where I have
recently been appointed. Oh and maybe push for a Masters Relay medal
for GB again in France :) and “to fill each hour with sixty minutes
Is there anything else you'd like to
K. D. - Just to wish ALL the
MTBO Community a Happy Festive Season and everything they wish for
themselves and their loved ones in 2017. Remember, “Life is not a
40 men and 40 women will compete in
the Sprint and Middle Distance of the 8th edition of The World Games.
17 national teams are qualified to compete in the Sprint Relay.
The International Orienteering
Federation has announced last Friday the list of qualified nations
and athletes for The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, from 25th to
27th July 2017. Poland, as host country, qualifies two male and two
female athletes. The results achieved at the 2016 World Orienteering
Championships mean that another thirteen countries will join the
list, with two male athletes and two female athletes each. Such is
the case of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland,
France, Great Britain, Hungary, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland
Canada and New Zealand have two spots
each, both in Men and Women, for being the best nation from the North
American and Oceania regions at WOC 2016. The last qualifying spots
are personal spots for reigning World Champions, Asian Regional
Champions, South American Regional Champions and the highest ranked
individual athletes from non-qualified nations in the IOF World
Rankings and Sprint World Rankings as of 1st November 2016. Names
like Maja Alm, Denmark, Tove Alexandersson and Jerker Lysell, Sweden,
Matthias Kyburz, Switzerland, will join Elmira Moldasheva,
Kazakhstan, Yuta Tanikawa, Japan, Inga Dambe, Latvia or Sidnaldo
Farias de Sousa, Brazil at the starting line.
Franciely de Siqueira Chiles is another
qualified athlete and expressed this way her satisfaction: “Yes, I
received the invitation to participate and I'm very happy. This is
the result of a lot of effort and dedication. I still had the chance
to participate four years ago in Cali, but that was my first year in
the Elite and I didn't have the same experience as I have today. It
was amazing to see all the best in the World gathered the same event
and I to be part of it was a huge opportunity and an inspiration for
me. The World Games 2017 are another great opportunity and my goal is
to represent Brazil the best way, seeking to learn and get some good
Unlike Franciely, the Spanish Andreu
Blanés Reig will make his debut in Wroclaw at The World Games. He
also shared with the Portuguese Orienteering Blog some of his
thoughts: “Well, it's a very good opportunity. I've never run in
The World Games and I'm very excited to be able to experience it for
the first time. Also for the Spanish Orienteering, because it's the
first time that a Spanish athlete will participate. My goal is the
same as in every World Cup stage, i.e. make a good Games and try to
be as close as I can to the first athletes.”
Pieces of the Games' History
With the organization of the Olympic
Games in 1896, the International Olympic Committee became the
governing body for international sport. When the international sports
federations expanded, the International Federations felt the need to
establish a dialogue with the Olympic leaders and in 1967 founded the
"General Assembly of International Sports Federations",
which in 1976 was transformed into the "General Association of
International Sports Federations - GAISF, the formal organization
with Statutes and headquarters in Monaco.
The Olympic Federations within GAISF
used the GAISF meetings to coordinate their position regarding the
International Olympic Committee. The non-Olympic federations also
came together to discuss their specific sport issues. One of the
ultimate objectives of almost all of these federations was to become
an Olympic Federation and to obtain, through participation in the
Olympic program, publicity, fame and honor for their sport. When it
became evident that the growth of the Olympic Games was limited, the
sports from this NOF group understood that there were only minimal
opportunities to be selected for participation in the Olympic
Program. The non-Olympic federations nonetheless wanted publicity and
fame for their sports, so they decided to form their own showcase
event which was named World Games. In May 1979 the steering group
announced in a letter to the International Federations that they had
found a venue in the United States of America: the City of Santa
With 1745 athletes representing 58
countries distributed by 15 Sports officials (plus one Invitational
Sport, the Water Polo), the first edition in 1981, in Santa Clara,
the USA, was first and foremost a pioneer event, testing the concept.
With less participants but more Sports (20 + 1), London hosted the
second edition of the Games, in 1985. Karlsruhe followed in 1989, The
Hague in 1993 - here with the two thousand participants' barrier to
be broke (2264 athletes from 72 countries) - and Lahti in 1997.
Orienteering enters the Games
The first edition of The World Games in
the new millennium has a special meaning for Orienteering, marking
the debut of the Sport. It was one of the 22 official Sports of the
Games organized in Akita, Japan, whose edition had a record number of
150,000 spectators. The Australian Grant Bluett, the Norwegian Hanne
Staff and the Norwegian team (Birgitte Husebye, Bjornar Valstad,
Hanne Staff and Tore Sandvik) were the outstanding names of this
inaugural presence, as they snatched the gold in Men and Women
individual competitions and in the Mixed Relay, respectively.
Duisburg, in 2005, welcomed Orienteering once more as one of the 27
official Sports of the Games, with the French Thierry Gueorgiou, the
Swiss Simone Niggli-Luder and the Swiss team (Daniel Hubmann, Lea
Müller, Matthias Merz and Simone Niggli-Luder) getting the gold.
In Kaohsiung in 2009, Orienteering
strengthened its position in The World Games by reaching one more day
(read “one more stage”) in the program. The Russian Andrey
Khramov and the Finn Minna Kauppi won the Sprint, the Swiss Daniel
Hubmann and the Australian Hanny Allston got the gold in the Middle
and Russia - with Andrey Khramov, Dmitry Tsvetkov, Galina Vinogradova
and Yulia Novikova - was the Sprint Mixed Relay's winner. In 2013,
The World Games made its first incursion to South America. The event
took place in Cali, Colombia, and was marked by really impressive
numbers: 2982 athletes representing 103 countries, 26 Official Sports
and 5 Invitational Sports, 915 Media representatives and, last but
not least, 550,000 spectators. On the competitive plan, the
Orienteering program kept the same format and the great figure of the
Games was Matthias Kyburz, winner of the Sprint, Middle Distance and,
along with Daniel Hubmann, Sara Luescher and Judith Wyder, the Mixed
Sprint Relay. The Women victories in the individual competitions were
the Swede Annika Billstam and the Finn Minna Kauppi, in the Sprint
and Middle Distance, respectively.
Topped with one gold medal, two
silver and one bronze in the Junior World MTB Orienteering
Championships, the 2016 season closes a cycle in Sauli Pietikäinen's
career. The time as Junior comes to an end and it's time for a break.
But the idea is to return later... and stronger than ever!
Would you like to introduce
Sauli Pietikäinen (S. P.) - My
name is Sauli Pietikäinen, I'm 20 years old and I'm from Kouvola,
Southeast Finland. I study economics and business at the University
of Jyväskylä. My hobbies are basically all kinds of sports and I’ve
also done some mapmaking.
Why Orienteering and why not, for
example, Ice Hockey?
S. P. - I’ve always been into
endurance sports. I've always been strong at ballgames, such as
Football and indoor Hockey, seeing them as a good way of training and
having fun. Still, endurance sport has been the number one. I’ve
chosen Orienteering and MTB Orienteering in particular because, in
it, one can combine all kinds of features together. You can train so
versatilely and that’s what I like. It is fascinating to see
yourself improve in this kind of sport – both physically and
Was MTB Orienteering an upgrade from
S. P. - That is the case for
many MTBO riders, but not for me. I have competed in FootO, as well
as in skiO and ridden a bike a lot. I just like to do Orienteering
with bike. I rode my first MTBO races in the National Championships
in Finland when I was 15. After the World Championships in Estonia,
in 2013, I decided to take MTBO as a major sport. I was 17 but, even
making solid races there, my best position was the 13th place in the
Long Distance. In Estonia, the strongest men Junior was Cedric Beill.
He won every single gold medal out of four possible. In the prize
giving ceremony of Relay, I looked up to the podium and decided that,
at the age of 20, in 2016, I would also win four gold medals out of
four. Close, but no cigar. One could say he was my idol.
What makes MTB Orienteering so
S. P. - I think MTBO is a
beautiful and challenging sport. I like the challenge of the route
choices, demanding terrains, up and downhills, the speed and fast
How is your training routine?
S. P. - I use road cycling to
improve my speed and strength. Road races last up to 4-5 hours so an
hour-and-half MTBO Long Distance doesn’t feel that tough once one
gets used to road races. Naturally I also have to train with my
mountain bike to convert the speed from the roads to the paths. I do
some technical mountain bike trainings, and trainings with map, of
course. Basically, my training is pretty simple, just a good mix of
riding, weight lifting, easy trainings, hard trainings, rest days,
skiing, ball games, power trainings, long trainings, races, etc…
Actually, not so simple to make the right combination. I aim to do
the right things, things right and at a right time! In my mind, I do
train quite a lot. I’ve tried to train as professionally as
possible. Last winter I worked hard to improve my skills so that I
could ride faster in the summer. I’ve found it easier to orienteer
in MTBO races when you can ride fast. When you know you’re a strong
rider you can take more time to do Orienteering and thus make less
mistakes – this is how self-confidence is built, at least in my
Looking back on the season, how do
S. P. - Well, I’m satisfied.
Although my goal was to win an individual gold I am now happy with
the results. Not just and only the World Championships, but also all
the Nationals, WRE races and other races I rode. I’m satisfied with
the way I prepared myself heading to the World Championships. I also
attended the World Cup in France, in May, but I feel I wasn’t at
the top of my shape back then. Also the vineyards were a real
challenge for my orienteering skills. I think that by training you
can improve your skills and strength, yes, but the final step is
taken just by competing. I’m satisfied I got to take part in so
many races this summer, from Finland to Sweden, France, Spain,
Portugal, Estonia, and so on.
How hard was it to lose the Sprint
gold by two seconds and the Middle gold by three seconds in the
Junior World MTBO Championships?
S. P. - Well, needless to say it
felt bad. As an athlete, winning is the goal to aim for. After both
races I felt disappointed with not being able to ride the courses
some seconds faster… In sprint it was a twenty-five-second mistake
and in the middle one a fifteen-second. I tried to figure out the
route choices that cost me the gold. Despite the small marginals in
Sprint and in Middle, the saddest race was the Long Distance one. I
knew that race would fit me better than shorter ones and the course
was good for me. I led the race but had a crash that broke my bike
and it took me about five minutes to get everything together. It hurt
to ride the race until the end and the bronze medal didn’t warm my
heart at all. After the race it just felt so bad knowing that that
race was the last chance for me to win an individual gold as a
junior. Even having “won” three medals out of three races, I felt
I had undercut my goals, as I actually had. I was asked then, and
many times after, if I'd give these three individual medals to get
the gold one. Back then, after the individual races, I would have
done it. Now, I do appreciate those silver and bronze medals more and
they tell me that I was in very good condition and ready to win. The
gold in relay topped the World Championships and my team mates must
be thanked for the astonishing job they did, letting me start the
last leg in second place.
If I asked you to choose a moment -
the great achievement of the Championships -, what would it be?
S. P. - This is an easy one –
without a doubt it was the last 200 meters, from the last control to
the finish line in the Relay. It had been a stressful race, battling
for the win with the Czech guy. Before the spectators control I had
made a big effort and was leading the race. However I didn’t know
the advantage I had. Upon arriving at the last control, it was great
fun to grab the Finnish flag and ride to the finish line seeing my
team mates waiting and celebrating. That was something I had never
What about Portugal and the JWMTBOC
S. P. - I think the races and
everything else were well organized. The model event reflected how
the terrains would be well. Personally I didn’t see the importance
of an unofficial mass-start but that’s just my opinion. I’ve
raced twice in Portugal - European Championships 2015 and the World
Championships, this summer. Both competitions have been successful,
so the organizers must be pretty good at arranging MTBO races in
What does it mean to be part of the
Finland MTBO team?
S. P. - It means good training
camps, races and people who have become friends. I’ve been a part
of the National team for four years. In that time we’ve driven a
lot by car, flown a lot by plane and got to ride our bikes in a great
spectrum of terrains and races.
Are you ready to face the
challenging MTBO Elite next year? Do you already feel “butterflies
in your stomach”?
S. P. - I have to say that I
will concentrate on road cycling now. I’m not saying I will quit
MTBO but, in the next seasons, I won’t ride MTBO races or practice
for them. But, maybe if, for example, the WMTBOC were to be arranged
in Finland, let’s say, in 2022, you might see me there stronger
than ever! Taking part in Elite races this summer was a good
preparation for the Junior races. The Sprint in Åhus, in April, was
a good race for me but not a perfect one. It was good to measure my
performance there, three weeks before the World Cup, in France. So,
my goals are in Time Trial - and road nationals and to ride good
races with the team I ride with in road cycling. This summer was the
first one I rode road races alongside MTBO races.
I found your motto, “I've always
got time for the media!”, interesting. How do you see the
relationship between the media and Orienteering? Does it please you?
S. P. - As an economics student
I see self-promoting as an important way of making MTBO interesting
for sponsors, race organizers and federations. I’m always ready to
give an interview and I bring MTBO up in social media. That’s what
my motto means. The more people do this, the better and bigger MTBO
looks in the eyes of others. We must face the fact that MTBO is such
a minor sport – just like Orienteering, if looked on from a global
point of view. At least in Finland the amount of MTBO riders have
increased steadily each year and in the Nationals there are already
over 300 riders. The media, and national orienteering federations can
be counted as “media” in my opinion, have a huge role in making
MTBO an even greater sport. Thus, it is important how we, MTBO
riders, are seen in the media and in social media. Am I pleased with
the way it is now? Well, yes. At least in Finland, MTBO has got some
visibility in the media.
Now that we're about to “turn the
page” and go into a new year, I would ask you for a wish for 2017.
S. P. - I wish some nice and
warm weather, good legs, good races and good training!