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


Shaving Ross Smith

Take one normal American.

Well, perhaps not fully normal.

Shave a triple mohawk using a mouse-shaver.



Let the subject run free for a few days to determine if he likes the haircut.

Apply hair gel liberally

Give him back the vuvuzela

Clean a patch on each side of head, for tattoo application.


Apply tattoo en route to opening ceremonies

Temporary tattoos require some moisture.  What are clubmates for if not to lick tattoos to your head?



Running into a ski-o friend of mine at the arena, she mentioned how cool it was that we had groupies with our team this year.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ali 18th in WOC Long distance!

Alison Crocker had USA's best-ever finish in a WOC race today by coming 18th in the long distance final. She ran very well technically from start to finish and was helped by a great route choice on the long route from 10 to 11. She was 3rd fastest on that 14-minute leg and picked up five places in the standings. Congratulations Ali!!!

See below Ali's route (red) compared with the race winner and 22-time world champion Simone Niggli (green). Ali's split for the leg is 14:18 compared with Simone's 14:29! Only two other women in the final chose an around route similar to Ali's.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ali 9th in Long Qual!

Ali stormed through the Finnish forest today and placed 9th in her qualification heat, easily qualifying for the final, which is on Tuesday. Here's Ali talking about her race:


Long Qualification Report from Wyatt

Pull up a chair and get ready for a race report from Wyatt, who ran the Long Qualification today:
I had a pretty good race, for me, today, in the WOC Long Qualification.  With my best 5k in the past 2 years (and ever) of18:28, I know I’m about ~30%+ behind the best orienteers in the world on fitness, so my goal is to navigate just as well as the best orienteers in the World, and thus finish about ~30% back.   At 34% back today, I came pretty close.  That wasn’t enough to qualify for the finals – but I was only 9 minutes out of qualifying, just over 10% - and while I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach that 10% faster, if I can hold onto the speed I have, it’ll hopefully help in future WMOC’s – where I’m running M40 in a little less than a month.  
  Also, on a less competitive and more fun note, it was some really gorgeous, fun-to-run terrain – a place I hope to take the family to when they hold another multi-day on these maps, some upcoming year.

  My preparation for the race consisted of arriving 3 days before race day (at 2am – long drive from Helsinki…), doing 2 trainings (WOC training map & a local meet 5k) at moderate-hard pace on Day -3, followed by about 5k at moderate-hard pace on Day -2, and relative rest (easy jog @ Sprint Models) on Day -1.  Maybe not the best taper physically, but I find it’s important to run hard enough in terrain to understand your navigation strengths and weaknesses at speed, to learn to correct those. 
  On top of that, I drew a few sample courses on an old map of nearby terrain, and while I predicted the start completely wrong, the course planning exercise was very useful in understanding the types of navigational challenges they might throw at us – parallel features on hillsides, routes around marsh edges, routes through/near green, and the 3rd, 5th, etc... subtle contour feature from the nearest obvious attack point.   Planning what I’d do on those sample-course legs really helped in decision making today.
  As for the course itself, I’ll pick a few meaningful legs…  You can find the GPS track online.
  S-1: Noticed a road collecting feature that would lead me into 1, so decided to compass-bearing it while reading ahead – in particular studying the long leg ~2.4km from 4-5.  Probably messed this route up a bit, as a hard bail 45-90 degrees left of the line to the road from the triangle looks like it would’ve been better – and I didn’t pick up on that in the bumpy 90m run to the start triangle.  Stayed on the road for an easy attack off a hill, and down a reentrant.
  4-5: Had decided that bailing right to the trail partway around, was better than up/down-ing my way along to the left of the line – which might have also had to mix with (easy-ish) marsh, or non-straight marsh-edge running.  As I ran down the road, and had more time to read the leg, I decided that going even further along the road would make more and more sense – almost to the point of taking the road all the way around (which in retrospect looks like it might have been the best – though almost no one took it.)  In my case, about halfway there, I noticed the forest on the left really opened up to Catching-Features-white, so I decided to angle over past the field – which had the added advantage of checking out some of the 9-10, and 11-12 terrain.
  7-8: Decided to run straight line – through the non-wet white-marsh – to use the long rectangular buildings (greenhouses I thought?) to attack, as I pushed through the medium green approaching the “green-house”, I ended up right at the corner – and the overgrown field looked awful, so I decided to try the other side of the building when – whoa, I can see all the way through – the… chicken coop.  And buildings are not out of bounds on ISOM, right, so… run right through the building to the end – then – another awful field to cross…  Oh, wait!  What’s that just to my left? Another chicken-coop…  Probably a good 10-15 seconds faster than bashing through the green-slash fields would’ve been!
  11-12: Started out okay, with some kinda crappy sidehilling, connected to a road then a repeat of a fast veg. boundary I’d seen 4-5, then up, nailed the corner, and attacked – inverting a contour – something I did only once today (vs. ~5 times in one of the training maps – learning, but not quite…)    So in some fairly low-visibility pines (mapped with the same white as the ~200m visibility CF-white woods…?), I was checking out one small bump, and then another, neither of which were mine.  So I decided to bail SW to the semi-open, seemingly likely en-route to a ~3 minute round-trip bail to the road – when the ground dropped again – and as the depression shape match continued, I had found my attack point!  Turned a ~3+ minute error, into a 1 minute error. 
  13-14, and then 18-19: Were like some of the best technical parts of Colorado/Wyoming (as were a few of the other rough-open bits), where both an attention to the contour detail – and a head-up to identify (with lots of compass help) which far set of tall pines was which was important.  On the latter (identifying white patches) - in both of these legs I had mis-identified one of the pine clusters en-route, but frequent, disciplined compass reads, and continual re-assessment corrected both of those with no harm done.  

  Speaking of compass reads – it’s worth nothing that only about 25% of total magnetic force is horizontal here (we’re at ~63 deg. North), vs. ~40% in the US – so lots of us have been struggling to keep our compass-bearings accurate on the run.
  21-F: Was really hot and feeling quite tired – and was struggling against that as I worked hard to avoid too embarrassing a finish chute – which was good enough to tie several of the other NA men (phew) – but not enough to beat all the NA women (fast Ali!)
  Now, to think about the Sprint tomorrow!

Trail-O Pre competition

The Trail-O team of Clare Durand, Sharon Crawford, and Peter Goodwin got some practice in over the past two days. A competition set by Lauri Kontkanen - past Gold Medal winner - gave us an opportunity to get used to the terrain and practice against the world's best. On Friday we completed a model event and then a standard competition. Clare had the best result with 21 controls correct out of 27 and in 48th place of about 90. Saturday was the TempO format where all controls are timed and your placing is based on total time. Peter had the best result this day, coming in about 40th. We're looking forward to moving on to Vuokatti. Next up for Trail-O is a model event on Tuesday. The competition begins on Wednesday.

Team USA gets in the spirit!

Last night Alex helped fellow team member Ross get ready to race. It involved a par of clippers and some new snazzy racing stripes! 


While the rest of the guys tried on their GPS "sports bras" for the long

And the girls went stars and strips on our nails! 

And Brendon and Boris are ready to cheer in all our amazing long runners later today! 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Meet Team USA!

video

Long Qual tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the Long Qualification race, where 3 of our men and 3 of our women will compete places in the Long Final -- top 15 in each heat move on to the final, which is on Tuesday.

Start teams for Team USA:

Ross 9:39
Hannah 9:46
Alex 9:58
Eric 10:15
Ali Crocker 10:22
Wyatt 11:06

The terrain is fast, so even though the courses are 8km and 12km, you can expect to see some very fast times!

Here's a video from the long model area, taken earlier today:

  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

View from the Tour

Janet Swartz: The Tour juniors at the Sprint

I am Dan's mother -- he is doing the JWOC Tour but was not able to do the training in Trutnov because of his school schedule, so we joined teh group in Hradec Kralove. This is our first JWOC and our first orienteering in Europe -- a little over a year after our first A-meet, to put it into perspective. It has been really exciting (and really humbling) to watch the European kids race. Today was a great experience for a lot of reasons. First off, it was the first day the JWOC Tour kids didn't have to take a 20-minute public bus ride to the Tour center at Strbny Rybnik to catch the bus to the event. It was the Sprint in the old part of Hradec Kralove, and you could walk to the arena. We got there by noon to see the start of the JWOC sprint. Big Jumbotron with shots of kids running through the city plus GPS images of route choices (fascinating on this fast paced course). It started raining lightly about an hour into the race, when some of the US kids were still on the course. It was fun that Izzy came into the arena to huge cheers, even if they were for the Czech boy in second place! It started pouring but slowed down for the JWOC awards ceremony.

After the awards the crowds left, the announcer left and the Jumbotron with the race feed from the course shut down. The JWOC Tour starts weren't until 4:00 so there was a while to wait. The really impressive thing to see was the support and positive spirits among the JWOC Tour competitors (6 boys, 2 girls, plus 4 adults -- Connor was still resting his toe). The boys all ran between 4 and 5 o'clock, reported that it was a tough course running on cobblestones and up and down a lot of stairs. Kudos to whomever designed the US team shirt: there were a lot of red, white and blue shirts, but the stars on the US shirt really stood out as athletes neared the finish. The US competitors came in and compared their route choices. At this point it was really cool that Ethan came back to the arena (JWOC athletes can take public buses for free) to talk to the Tour runners, ask about their route choices and bring them cookies. Although the JWOC Tour boys finished by about 5:20, they all stayed at the arena to wait for Elina's 6:01 start. We all went to the Finish chute and gave a rousing cheer as Dave Y and Tim P came in from their courses and waited for Elina to come in. I was really proud of these athletes on the Tour who had a great time and really positive attitude. At about 6:30, we ran out of the arena to catch a bus back to the hotel for dinner.

Bud O'Leary: The Tour juniors at the relay

Wow, Czech gold for men and women in the relay! The home crowd was elated. And so am I at our wonderful JWOC Tour juniors. They truly personify the best in sports and sportsmanship. They arrived at the event arena at the 10 am JWOC starts and cheered our JWOC teams in a hot field with no shade. Only after the awards ceremony and departure of all JWOC teams did they get start times for their own courses - most started between 3:30 and 4pm!

Then a long series of bus transfers brought them back to the JWOC area for a well-deserved shower and dinner. What a long day in the hot sun for our JWOC Tour athletes. They deserve all our cheers and applause. JWOC is closed but what great memories.

Sunday off to Olomouc for extra training.

Duncan Miller: Blog post for Wednesday

A lot has happened since I last blogged. We’ve been busy. Monday was the start of the JWOC Competition and JWOC Tour. Being an alternate, I am participating in the tour which consists of 6 races. No rest days. No slowing down. One race a day, every day this week. At this point in the week I’m starting to feel general fatigue in my body. It’s nothing I can’t handle, but its noticeable the Tour’s schedule is more rigorous than the JWOC one.

So yesterday was a middle with almost no climb. Jake and I being from West Point love this type of terrain. I felt good physically and once I got going I got a great flow of movement while making decisions. I almost never stopped moving. I kept a good pace throughout the course that enabled me to move fast but also navigate and maintain really good contact with the map and compass. Everything was clicking together and my training really came through. I focused a lot on checking the next control when moving to punch the current one. This is one of the reasons I was so successful. Navigate, punch, and take off again. The map excerpts below are from the course. It was a 6.5k H20A course and I completed it in 48:12.

Click on the map images to see a larger version.

Today was another middle but with 235 meters of climb and the shorter distance of 5.8k. It was not fun. Some of the worst boulders ever existed in the area and it was very technical. I made two major errors. One was on a parallel feature and the other was due to bad compass usage and attentiveness. I was going pretty smooth until point 10. I had maintained good contact with the map and moved up the hills at a steady pace. However, 9 to 10 was a longer leg and I completely screwed up by racing this other orienteer to my point. I beat him there, but I wasn’t really there. I misestimated the distance and had gone through a field and along the cliff face where I was SURE the control was located. However it was further to the SW on a different cliff face south of a different field…almost identical to where I was at. I should have relocated sooner, but I was stubborn and was overconfident from doing so well on the first 9. Lesson learned…relocating, confidence, and distance estimating. The other mistake was on the shortest leg of the whole course. 17 to 18. So naturally I sprinted downhill without much attention to my compass. I was running around in a large rock field for quite a long time before I realized it was wedged between two massive boulders. I had forgotten that short legs can be very technical.

So today, my performance wasn’t great but the rest of the night was a blast. The team treated me and JWOC graduates to dinner. Barb and Erin planned a nice Italian dinner since next year this time five of us will be 21 and no longer be eligible for JWOC. Dinner was delicious and afterward Erin and Barb started presenting each JWOC graduate with a short speech and gift. Jake and I both got new compasses which we were quite grateful for (Super psyched). Erin also when on to say I was the “heart” of the team…which struck me pretty hard. I felt truly blessed to be thought of in that way. The rest of the team also said some very nice words about me as well. I am bummed that I will see them infrequently once this is all over. Since arriving I have become a big brother to some of them and a great friend to the ones of the same age. I have loved having the opportunity to get to know such an incredible group of individuals. Some of them are so young...and seeing them grow in the coming years is going to be quite fun.

Tomorrow the Tour has another middle. More rocks. But hey…it’s just more good training. Tomorrow is also the Fourth of July. My favorite holiday. Jake and I have already talked to the French team and allied ourselves with them. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow but since the British team is here it is going to be interesting. USA! USA! USA!

Duncan at the team dinner

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Middle Finals

Most of the JWOC team was happy after finishing, feeling good about their races. Both our B final runners had really good performances. One of the best things about this trip to Europe is building solid friendships that will last a lifetime, and may build a base for the junior orienteering program. Tonight we had a dinner out at a restaurant, to celebrate the 5 members of our group who are aging out of being juniors after this year: Duncan, Danielle, Jake, Nate and Carl. In addition to the team, Coaches Erin and Anna, "Mama Bear" Marianne and me (Barb) and Dave, we were joined by Tim and Ben Parson, Bud O'Leary and Janet Swartz (Dan's parents), and Isabel's grandma and grandpa (Jan and Stan Moore).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2, 2013: JWOC Middle Qual and JWOC Tour Middle

Bud O'Leary (Dan's father): Recreational orienteering at the JWOC Tour

Each day affords teh non-competitive orienteer opportunities to enjoy the terrain and courses of the JWOC Toru.

We decided to experience European orietneerign on Day 2 of the Tour. The terrain was flat so we chose an intermediate course. We DNF'd the course but had a lot of fun and learned a lot.

We realized why everyone says you need to experience the courses in Europe! The mapping is subtly different than US maps at A meets and club meets. That subtly confounded our mediocre orienteering skills for almost an hour to locate a relatively simple feature /control. Gradation of trails and vegetation are subject to interpretation. We find the maps we've used in the States much easier to interpret than the maps we have reviewed here. For this experience alone joining the JWOC Tour has been well worth our effort.

Dan:

Since in the excitement of the start of the tour we fell of the radar, I guess that I get to recap the last two days. Yesterday was the JWOC Tour long, occurring concurrently with the JWOC long. We were on a map that was adjacent to the map the competitors used. This let us both: be close to the arena and be able to race on the same terrain as JWOC. The terrain was not especially challenging but it was hilly. The thing that messed with most of the juniors in this race wasn't the terrain but the start procedure. You were not given clue sheets at the start but had to have gotten them at the arena, 1 kilometer away down hill the whole way. By the point that many of us couldn't run back and had to run sans clue sheet, not too bad if it was printed on the map, which (of course) it wasn't. Otherwise the races went well and we finished in time to see most of our racers finish, which was quite exciting.

Today we had a middle race, held at the campgrounds most of the people on the tour are using. The terrain was very flat and pretty open, due mostly to the logging in the area. A grid of trails kept route choice quite import on every leg. The run was quite fast and the vegetation was much kinder compared to the New England variety. Personally I felt that the race went well with a few slight navigational errors, mostly misreading vegitation boundaries. Thus far Europe has been very exciting and fun. The team has been bonding really well and our karioke skills have been steadily improving over the course of the week.

Ethan's take on the JWOC Long race

Ethan:

The JWOC long was a race I was both dreading and looking forward to. I didn't have to wake up early because of my late start, but this also meant a lot of sitting around with nothing to do for a few hours. Finally the time came for me to warm-up, and the warm-up was just dandy,but it didn't have much climb. The course was much different, having virtually no areas where running was easy (or physically possible for me despite my training), unless you wanted to add considerably more distance, and even then it hardly was easy. This course was designed for people who were very, very, VERY strong runners. For example, the Swiss did extremely well because that's all they can run anyway: hills. The hills were also steep enough that running up was unrealistic (in my case), and they There were also usually at least three options for long legs, so picking the best one was extremely difficult as welt-I'm not sure if I picked the optimal route even once. were steep enough going down that you couldn't go top speed and had to exert energy to slow yourself town. I'm really interested to look at the routes for the top runners, because it feel they will be very different from my own, and if they aren't, it says a lot about how much more I need to prepare.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Early bird (angry birds?) team USA takes on Finland!

I don't want to detract from the Junior Team and their great posts, but three of the Senior Team got to Finland a week and change early for the World Champs.  Ali Crocker, Brendan Shields, and Alex Jospe decided to take on a Regional Championships race on our way north from Helsinki to Vuokatti (a 6.5h drive), in the Käyneinen region.  With a sprint in the morning and a middle in the afternoon, this seemed like a worthwhile use of our time.

We spent the night in an adorably cute little cabin on a lake.  Thankfully just one night.



11:30pm photo of the lake that little cabin overlooked.


Ali won the overall, with a 1st in the sprint, and a 2nd in the middle.  Brendan was 10th in the sprint, and Alex was 8th.  (Results).  Below is Ali's quickroute from the Middle Distance race - those woods were not easy, with deep moss and fairly thick trees impeding your forward movement.


Looks sort of like an A meet.




Go CSU!  Waiting for awards and looking at the river (that doubled as a shower).

Shower area! What they meant by that was buckets by the river.


Investigating the posted old map of the area before the middle distance.

After the race, we drove north to Vuokatti, which is where WOC will be held.  We're spending the week before living in a [much larger] cabin that is situated right ON one of the training maps - sweet!  Vuokatti is actually a ski school and ski resort, so naturally Ali and Alex are excited about that part of things.  The early birds are here to train for a week, and then the rest of the team arrives, and we'll start racing!  Sidenote - Finland is home of Angrybirds, and there is an Angrybirds amusement park in town here...


Newer cabin! lots of space!


Base of the Vuokatti ski area.


Tiiiiired after racing twice in a day!


Alex's route from long-distance training this morning, on some really sweet terrain at Pöllyvaara, with incredibly sexy forest (see below).




Brendan's track from this morning's middle distance training, at Pökkelopera.

The event center is a cute little cabin.  In the woods.

Event center has a wall of training maps!  Ali is excited.


Event center also has cute little WOC figurines!