U.S. Ski Orienteering National Championships

FasterSkierFebruary 16, 2010

The national championships in ski orienteering wrapped up this Monday with a U.S. Team fundraiser sprint, after two days of intense racing in Northern VT. Saturday was the middle distance, 5.8km for the elite women and 7.2km for the elite men, designed by Ernst Linder at Beaver Brook Farm, a ski area maintained specifically for orienteering and ski orienteering by Mike and Vivian Fritz. Their massive barn served as race headquarters and space for the social after the races, and despite the low snow conditions, the race went off without a hitch. The courses were very technical, both physically and mentally. Due to the low snow conditions, the trails were pretty bumpy, and required very good balance to ski fast. Because the area is maintained for orienteering, there were many tricky trail junctions and an interesting series of snowshoe-width mazes in the woods. This made for a great event that left most competitors smiling.

In the elite classes, the men’s race was won by Adrian Owens, a skier on the U.S. Ski-Orienteering team from Green Mountain Orienteering Club, who won in 45:54, 32 seconds ahead of Greg Walker, from the Cambridge Sports Union, also on the U.S. team, with Nikolay Nachev, from Cascade Orienteering Club, another 36 seconds back. In the women’s race, Alex Jospe from the Cambridge Sports Union and the U.S. Ski-O team won in 42:42, 2:52 ahead of teammate Alison Crocker (CSU) and another 3:20 ahead of Erin Nielson, of Up North Orienteers. Full results can be found on the website: www.usskiochamps2010.com.

This is the map from the female elite course. As you can see there were many decisions to make on the fly.

Sunday’s race was the long distance, 19km for the women and almost 30km for the men, at the Craftsbury Outdoors Center, with courses designed by Adrian Owens and Krum Sergiev. It was snowing all day, which made the skiing quite slow. The course featured some long climbs and less technical orienteering than Saturday’s course, favoring good skiers. In the elite classes, the women’s podium remained the same. Alex Jospe (CSU and U.S. Ski-O team) took the win again, in 1:23:07, 5:12 ahead of Alison Crocker (CSU). Erin Nielson was another 12:49 back. The men were led by Scott Pleban (Quanitco Orienteering Club and the U.S. Ski-O team) in 2:00:58, followed by Greg Walker (CSU and U.S. Ski-O team) 2:20 back, and Nikolay Nachev (COC) another 1:07 back. The competition on the men’s course was fierce through the whole 30km, and there were many other guys in close contention until near the end. Splits from each control are available for each race, where you can see how the lead changed three times during the men’s race, as some people made mistakes and others made better route choices.

The men raced on the blue course, and the women races on the red course: Course Maps

Ali Crocker starts on the long course in the snow.

The most important competition of the day was the Valentine’s day couple’s cup – statistics were used to normalize age classes with fewer skiers, and in the end, Alex Jospe and Ed Despard took first place, Pavlina and Joe Brautigam took second, and Janet Findlay and David Hunter took third. The Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) took first place in the club competition, with Up North Orienteers (UNO) in second and New England Orienteering Club (NEOC) in third.

This year’s U.S. Championships concluded with a team fundraiser sprint on Monday in Chester, VT. Competitors could ski the course as many times as they would like, paying the team for each extra run they did, and the fastest overall time of the day took home the grand prize of a cowbell. Trails were narrow, icy, and fast, with a series of snowmobile mazes to make things really interesting. Scott Pleban took the overall fastest time (although course setter Greg Walker had almost a minute on him, his time couldn’t count because he already knew the course) in 17:10, and Alex Jospe took the fastest time for the women with 19:12. Scott Pleban and Greg Walker tied for the fastest finish split, which is naturally the most important split of the day!

There were two other races bookending the championships races, and you can see results from those races and find more information on ski orienteering in general on the website: www.usskiochamps2010.com.


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