Monday, July 7, 2014

Making history - Mixed sprint relay today!

International orienteering's newest discipline, the mixed sprint relay, premieres this afternoon in Trento. That sentence may illicit a cascade of questions. I'll do my best to answer them all!

Q. Newest discipline?
A. Yes. This year is the first year of a new WOC program that includes fewer qualification races and more medal races. This means there are no middle and long qualifications (countries are allocated starts in the final based on how well they performed in previous WOCs) and there is one new medal event: the Mixed Sprint Relay.

Q. Mixed?
A. Yes! Men and women race together!

Q. Together?
A. Well, okay, on the same teams. Technically women race against women and men against men. Each team consists of two women and two men, and the running order (at least this year) is W-M-M-W. I think this will be exciting but nobody asked me.

 Q. Okay, sounds like fun. But, where the heck is Trento? I thought they were sprinting in Venice?!
A. They *were* sprinting in Venice! Two points for you! But the rest of the races are up in the mountains the northwest of Venice.

I stole a handy map and added a circle and an arrow!
Q. With all those teams running around how will everyone punch?
A. This year they are using a touch-free SI system. Runners do not need to physically insert the SI stick into the unit, they just have to pass within 50cm of the unit. The stick beeps and flashes to let you know you've registered a punch.

Team USA at the Opening Ceremonies (photo: Eric? but he's in it!)
Q. Great! But, uh... when is it?
A. This afternoon! The mass start is 17.30 local time, which is 11:30am on the east coast -- perfect lunch break spectating timing! As for the other events there will be live results, audio from the arena, gps tracking, video, etc. all available from the organizers/IOF. See for more info.

Q. How long will it take? Relays are long!
A. This is a *sprint* relay! Each leg is only supposed to take about 15 minutes, which means the whole thing will just about as long as an episode of Game of Thrones.

Q. Who is running for Team USA?
A. I can't believe you left this question for last!

The line-up for USA:

1. Sam
2. Ross
3. Ethan
4. Ali
Sprint relay team in pre-race relaxation mode! (click to en-goofen)

The men were unavailable for comment this morning, but the team's tallest member, Ali Crocker, is psyched to have a better race today and is looking forward to being a strong anchor in the first-ever WOC sprint relay!

That's all for now, get ready for some cheering this afternoon!

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