Monday, February 24, 2014

Team USA uniform news

Noname to outfit Team USA!

Orienteering USA has announced that it has come to an agreement with the Finnish athletic high performance clothing manufacturer Noname to be the uniform supplier for the United States Orienteering Team.

For more information see the press release on the OUSA site.

Orienteering USA announces Team USA uniform design!

Orienteering USA has announced the winner of its Team USA uniform design competition. The winning designer is Frank Cucciarre, President of Blink Concept & Design of Newark, Delaware, USA. The winning design was chosen from over 70 designs submitted by artists from North  America, Europe and Asia. A committee made up of Team USA members selected the winner.

Look for your favorite Team USA athlete sporting this fresh new design this summer!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bergen Sprint Camp

Last weekend I made the trip from Oslo to Bergen to participate in the famous Bergen Sprint Camp. This was my first time going to the annual event and I may have been slightly skeptical about the conditions. Winter? For a sprint camp in Norway? In the city where it always rains? Sounds miserable!

Thankfully the weather proved to be the opposite of miserable (I think I doubled my sun exposure for the entire month!) and the camp itself was fabulous. The agenda for the 3 days:

Friday midday: untimed forked training courses with changing OOB areas
Friday night: night sprint race, staggered start
Saturday morning: city sprint race, staggered start
Saturday afternoon: competitive o-tervals, 5 timed loops completed within 2 hours
Saturday evening: dinner and presentations by Mårten Boström and Jan Kocbach
Sunday morning: Final competition, mass starts in heats of 6

There were a few things that made this training camp special:
- Terrain. Bergen is one of those European cities with a complex network of twisty roads and alleyways that North Americans can only dream about. It's also decidedly not flat (there's a reason they use 5m contours!) so you can expect a healthy dose of stairways and a dash of quivering quadriceps.

See, it's nice:
Insanely awesome Bergen sprint terrain.

- Analysis. I don't even know where to begin with this -- the sheer quantity of analysis available for each and every leg is almost overwhelming. Almost. But not if you're an orienteering data junkie, in which case you may need someone to do an intervention after you click the link in the next sentence. Jan Kocbach (Mr. World-of-O) put together the web-based Splits Analysis System (SPAS). Every leg is presented with a series of route choices and each runner can easily select which ones they ran immediately after each race. Once split times are incorporated you can see calculated estimates of which choices were fasted, who took which route, how much time you lost, and how much you can blame on route choice.

A simple SPAS example

- Details. The Camp is extremely well run. The recommended accommodations were central and within walking/jogging distance to most events. Information online was up early and detailed. We experienced pre-printed waterproof maps, smooth starts, and quick results. It really felt as though there was thought put into every single leg we faced. With 100 controls over the weekend, that's 100 opportunities to test sprint skills at speed and makes for a tremendous reinforcement of discipline.

Training event map. See what they did there with A and B?
A repeating theme during the camp was to have additional obstacles added to the map to make the navigation more challenging or the route choices more interesting. In the map above, used for the Friday training, a small and relatively simple area was made more interesting by simply marking different areas out of bounds on different loops. It's a good way to make use of a less complex area for training.

The intensity of the courses in Bergen have shifted my 'sprint mode'. I felt the difference already the following weekend at a sprint training in Oslo, where the memory of the challenges from Bergen helped me to focus on reading ahead, checking all my options, and being prepared for traps.

If you want to see more from the camp I've posted writeups about each event with links to the maps on my Attackpoint log.

Whoosh. Just looking at this picture makes me feel faster.
Oh, and btw, the Vancouver Sprint Camp is also great. Next year pick one and go!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Introducing the athletes of the 2014 US Orienteering Team!

We are incredibly proud to welcome the members of the 2014 US Orienteering Team. This fine group of athletes represent the best in US orienteering. Collectively, they have competed, trained, and served the orienteering community for dozens of years.

For 2014, there is a new structure for the Senior team. Now there are Elite, Performance, and Development squads, which will support the strategy of facilitating growth and moving improving orienteers through the system and on to the Senior Elite Team.

The Development team has been specifically established to support younger athletes and those new to the sport as they target a transition to the senior level. This structure is part of a commitment to fostering more interplay between the Junior and Senior teams closer and making the progression from Junior to Senior Team cleaner and easier to understand.

Please join us in congratulating the following orienteers:

Senior Elite Team:            
Giacomo Barbone        
Eric Bone                    
Wyatt Riley
Ross Smith

Ali Crocker
Hannah Culberg
Alex Jospe
Kseniya Popova
Samantha Saeger

Senior Performance Team:  
Ethan Childs
Jordan Laughlin
Ian Smith
Ken Walker Jr.

Alison Campbell
Cristina Luis

Senior Development Team:
Greg Ahlswede
William Enger
Jacob Grant
Zachary Shroeder
John Hensley Williams

Tori Borish
Anna Shafer-Skelton

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Greetings from Cali!

This week Alison Crocker, Eric Bone, Ross Smith and myself (Samantha Saeger) are in Cali, Colombia to participate in the World Games. Ross wrote an update on our personal blog, which you can read here,

Tomorrow we race the sprint and you can find start times, results, and maybe even live tracking here. We race in the morning and are on central daylight time, so you can watch without having to get up in the middle of the night! Well, most of you, I assume.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Departure from the serious -- what the heck does a team leader do?

Sometimes it feels like the world is against you.
The US team to WOC this year was made up of 10 athletes (5 women, 5 men) and two "team leaders". Everyone already knows what the athletes do -- eat a lot, get nervous, race against the best in the world, make us proud. But what do the team leaders do? Surely these runners, the very best in the US, can feed themselves, dress themselves, start their own race, and turn in their own EMIT bricks? Yes, that's true, they mostly can. But sometimes, when you have 10 of them all together, things get a bit more complicated.

Take this year. We had the poor luck of being assigned accommodations several kms from the event center. Event center == meals. This meant that we had to drive to every meal, including breakfast. With a limited number of vehicles, a limited number of drivers (did you know there are orienteers who can't drive stick?), plus different sleeping and eating habits, start times and training needs, this made for a fun time coordinating the logistics.

A sample of daily schedules from WOC 2013, aka masterpieces.
Another thing the team leaders do is just exist. I don't mean that Erin and I are just so awesome that our presence makes everything better (though that is an interesting hypothesis), I mean that sometimes it's nice, when you're getting ready for the race you've been preparing for for months, to have someone there to do some of the thinking for you, ask some of the tough questions. Things like, "Are you wearing pants?" As a team leader I've handed over emergency headbands, backup compasses and lace tape, loaned watches and control description holders, and saved essential equipment from being thrown away by over-eager volunteers. I have yet to have to take my pants off and hand them over but it's just a matter of time on that one.

A team leader is a familiar face at the start and end of the race, someone to say, "You know how to do this, go out and have fun!" before the run, and "Well done!" at the end of the run. You're allowed to ignore us and storm off when your run sucked. Or you can spend 15 straight minutes talking in excruciating detail about every step of your race, and we're guaranteed to listen and actually be interested.

Humor aside, the most important thing a team leader can do is make sure the team is well fed with sugary deliciousness. This means buying exotic foods like Angry Birds gummies and giant Kvikk Lunsj bars, and making them available to the team as often as possible. A satiated team is a happy team.

It's something I'm working on.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

WOC 2013: It's a wrap!

WOC 2013 in Vuokatti, Finland is finished and US team members have once again set off to various destinations around the world. 

We're a good looking team, aren't we? (All photos by Kenny!)
As in most years, this WOC had its ups and downs. Some people finished their races with big smiles, happy with their runs, thrilled with their placement. Other times... not so much. There were a few tears, a few maps tossed in disgust, and it least one case of someone beating themselves with some awesome socks as punishment for a mispunch. However, there were a lot of ups! Some highlights:

- Ali had top 30 finishes in all three individual races (25th in sprint, 18th in long, and 29th in middle). This is not only an awesome set of results, but her 18th place in the long is the best ever result by an American at WOC. 

- The relay men (Eric, Boris, and Ross) each had solid runs and all were satisfied, resulting in a 27th place finish -- two places higher than last year. In the relay it's a good day when all three runners feel good! 

- The relay women (Ali, Sam, Hannah) beat Canada! 

- There was coverage of WOC on TV. In the US! Check it out!

- The team came together and bonded over positive mantras, games of Seven Wonders, and angry birds candy. A happy team is a good team.

You can find all results on the results page of the WOC 2013 site and results for US team members specifically at the OUSA site.

The team was also lucky to have Ken Walker, Jr. with us, along with his big box of camera toys, snapping photos of us in the forest and out and about. You can see his photos on his SmugMug site.

Remember that you can follow us on our Facebook page!

Everyone on the team really appreciates all of the support and fan comments from back home. Thank you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Middle Qual: whut.

Yesterday (Thursday) was the Middle Qualification race and we had a full line-up: Ali, Sam, Hannah, Boris, Eric, and Brendan. Those watching the coverage online or in the arena, with gps-tracking, witnessed a lot of creative manoeuvring. Some of the world's best orienteers were seen making 5 or 10-minute mistakes, circling around controls, standing still... it was either entertaining or horrifying, depending on your perspective. The terrain is detailed and rocky, the ground lumpy and the visibility not as high as you might expect for white forest. In other words, this is not the smooth jazz woods of the long terrain!

For the US it was a mixed day. Ali Crocker, continuing her brilliant performances so far this week, managed a fairly clean and controlled race, finishing 11th in her heat and qualifying for the final -- her third this WOC! Sam and Hannah both had uncharacteristically rough days, though not as rough as some of the others. They were 17th and 18th in their heats, both less than 2 minutes from qualifying. On the men's side it was Eric who came through with a very satisfying run in this extremely demanding terrain. At 24th in his heat it was the best for guys.

You can see results and GPS tracking linked from this summary page from World of O.

The middle Final is today, Friday, and Ali starts at 15:26 Finnish time (7 hours ahead of east coast). Gather your friends around your glowing monitors for the online coverage. I'll try to tweet from the arena. And, best idea ever, get out to a sports bar and watch the tv coverage!

I leave you today with exciting shots by Kenny of Brendan and Sam from the Middle Qual:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trail-o day 2

Sharon had a fantastic day today. Once again she got all of the timed controls correct and she only missed two controls on the course. Her score of 19 out of 21 placed her 17th for the day and pulled her up to a two-day finish of 30th. Peter and I both did poorly today with scores of 13 and 14 respectively. Oh well, there's still the tempO to go.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trail-O team thinking hard

Today was the first day of competition for the Trail-O Team. 20 controls and four timed controls made for a challenging exercise. I had our best result with a score of 18 out of 24 correct, placing me 30th out of 52 in the open class. I had a really hard time on some of the early controls and spent a ton of time there. Then I was having to really push it through the rest of the course. I sprinted into the finish with 9 seconds left! I also ended up missing the three controls I spent the most time on, so it didn't pay off.

Sharon had a score of 16 for 37th place. She was excited about her success on the timed controls, which are often a weak spot for her. Today she got all four correct. Disappointed, however, with a lost point due to a mispunch. She accidentally punched control 16 on the line for control 15, making two punches on that line. Unfortunately, in Trail-O this is a mistake you cannot recover from. Even though she had solved #15 correctly, it didn't count.

President Peter Goodwin made his WTOC debut with a score of 15 and a placing of 44th. The dreaded Z tripped him up today, with many of his misses being cases where he chose Z and one of the flags was actually the correct answer.

But it's not over yet. This is a two-day combined competition. Tomorrow we tackle more map problems to see if we can best our rivals. Stay tuned for the final results.
Peter considers a model control

Clare's pics from the opening ceremony

Ross and Eric show USA spirit
Team USA is attentive
Ross hangs with Clare's photo pal Jersey