The US ski orienteering team just returned from a successful week in Moscow, Russia. The world ski orienteering championships, or â€œski-WOCâ€, as it is informally known, took place over one week at the Planernaya Sport Complex, with athletes from 24 different countries. The Russians did an amazing job running the event, and I was very impressed with the overall efficiency of everything. There was good competition and interesting courses, which led to a very enjoyable week.
The four races at ski-WOC were the sprint, the long distance mass start, the middle distance, and the relay. For mass start orienteering races, there are several different maps handed out, with a complicated system to make sure that everybody ends up doing the same route in the end. The purpose of the different maps is to make sure that nobody follows another competitor, since you never knowwhere your other competitors are heading.
The US ski-o team was a mix of well-experienced veterans and some ski-WOC rookies. Easily the most experienced ski orienteer in the US, Sharon Crawford led the US team in her 11th (!) world championships. Candice Raines, Julie Raymond, and Alex Jospe rounded out the women’s team. Each team is allowed to race four men and four women each day, although many teams bring specialists, so we brought five guys: Alan Oprsal, Carl Fey, Scott Pleban, Greg Walker, and Randy McGarvey.
Highlights from the week include a Russian on the podium in each race, the Swiss men nabbing third place in the relay after the Finnish team made a mistake, and rookie Alex Jospe’s 24th place in the long course (one of the top female US finishes we’ve ever had). Sharon Crawford skied well and consistently, proving why she’s been to 11 ski-WOCs, and Scott Pleban had an excellent week of racing after a brief hiatus with the ski-WOCs in the last couple of years. Full results can be found at: http://moscompass.ru/wsoc2007/ .
After a week of racing, it was great to relax and hang out with our competitors at the post-banquet party. The next ski-WOC is in Hokkaido, Japan, so the Japanese team was very excited. I can’t wait to try out for the team going to Japan! If anyone is interested in learning more about ski orienteering, this is the USOF site: http://www.us.orienteering.org/ . Generally, to find a ski-o in your area, contact your local orienteering club (clubs can be located through the USOF site). Ski orienteering is a great sport to be involved in, because it is a â€œthinkingâ€ sport, requiring route choice and navigational decisions in the middle of your race. I would not trade my experience at the ski-WOC for anything, and I hope I can go to the next one.
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