May has been the month when, albeit with strict precautions against Covid, international orienteering came out of hibernation with the European Championships aka. World Cup Round 1. At home the NOL continued with the rescheduled Riverhead Orienteering Weekend. On the administrative front discussions have continued on a trans-Tasman league and on how best for New Zealand to prepare for an anticipated full-scale return to international competition in 2022. All below.
World Cup Round 1 – European Championships
When the decision to split WOC into forest and sprint versions was made The Europeans decided that match that change for their regional championships. Thus, with WOC2022 a sprint WOC, this year’s version of EOC, doubling as the first round of the 2021 World Cup, was all about sprint races. The venue was Neuchatel in Switzerland, lying on the northern shore of the lake of the same name and featuring steep topography that lent sprint racing a feature that is not often seen. In the Covid world Tim Robertson was the only NZL entry, travelling and staying with the Swedish team.
With no NZL team mates for Tim, New Zealand was obviously missing from the first event – the sprint relay. A feature of the sprint relay was the fact that at two points in the courses “mazes” were inserted to complicate the navigation. One of these was in the stadium where the changeover took place at the end of each leg.
Nevertheless, apart from an early lead for Sweden through Lina Strand, the race proved to be a relatively straight forward progression to a victory for the host nation, although their lead was never more than 1 minute. Through the 4 legs positions changed behind these two nations with Hungary in 3rd place after leg 1, and France in that position after leg 2, until Norway claimed it and held it over legs 3 and 4.
1. Switzerland 56:55, 2. Sweden 57:50, 3. Norway 58:24, 4. Czech Republic 59:18, 5. Finland 59:38, 6. France 59:39.
Perhaps the most anticipated race of the championships was next up – the knock-out sprint. Unlike previous KO’s qualification took place a day ahead of the knock-out rounds and Tim went through comfortable in 7th place in Heat 3. Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and France made up 25 of the 36 qualifiers in the men and Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland the same number in the women. Whereas tracking was available for the semi-finals and finals the following day there was no such coverage for the quarter finals. It was here that Tim exited, finishing an uncharacteristic last in his quarter-final, well down on the three qualifiers. The only hint of what may have happened comes from the IOF website which commented on the wet conditions resulting in slips and falls on the many steps.
The semi-finals used the map choice option for splitting the field with three variations between controls 1 and 4. Those who struggled to make a choice in the recent Auckland KO can take comfort from the report that even at this level several competitors found this aspect of the race “stressful”. Look below and give yourself 20 seconds to choose.
There were two interesting aspects of the finals. Firstly, they used exactly the same area as the semi-finals, simply different control sites but often very close to those used in the semis, and secondly, there was no splitting at all, relying on the natural route choice to provide this. It is hard to tell how effective this was but, with very short winning times, only 7 seconds covered the top 5 men, led by the Swiss duo of Matthias Kyburz and Joey Hadorn. Kasper Harlam Fosser of Norway was third just ahead of the third Swiss in the final. The women’s final was more clear cut with Tove Alexandersson showing that she is still the one to beat withan 8 second margin over Simona Aebersold, and with Andrine Benjaminsen giving Norway a third bronze of the championships.
Men: 1. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 6:30, 2. Joey Hadorn (SUI) 6:31, 3. Kasper Harlem Fosser (NOR) 6:33, 4. Riccardo Rancan (SUI) 6:34, 5. Vojtech Kral (CZE) 6:37, 6. Audun Heimdal (NOR) 6:52. Women: 1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 7:19, 2. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 7:27, 3. Andrine Benjaminsen (NOR) 7:37, 4. Natalia Gemperle (RUS) 7:54, 5. Vilma von Krusenstierna (SWE) 7:57, 6. Tereza Janosikova (CZE) 8:02.
EOC finished with an individual sprint. A feature of this was a highly complex long leg. The men’s version of this is shown below but the women had exactly the same leg. This kind of long leg where a significant route choice has to be made right at the start is something that is very rarely, if ever, seen in the kind of campus based sprints that we usually have in New Zealand. Being able to cope with such a choice is essential for success on the JWOC/WOC stage. In this instance there was a very stark split between those who went north (up hill and then down) compared to those who went south (down hill and then up). A full analysis of this is on World of O website, but basically the best choice was down hill.
In the women’s race Tove was again at the front ahead of Swiss Elena roos and Simona Aebersold, with two more Swedes in 4th and 5th. Sweden also took the men’s race through Emil Svensk who had 13 second margin over Yannick Michiels of Belgium. Tim was just under a minute down in joint 13th place.
Men: 1. Emil Svensk (SWE) 16:06, 2. Yannick Michiels (BEL) 16:19, 3=. Gustav Bergman (SWE) 16:28, 3=. Kasper Harlem Fosser 16:28, 5. Daniel Hubmann (SUI) 16:31, 6=. Riccardo Rancan 16:42, 6=. Joey Hadorn 16:42, 13=. Tim Robertson (NZL) 17:04.
Women: 1. Tove Alexandersson 16:10, 2. Elena Roos (SUI) 16:15, 3. Simona Aebersold 16:16, 4. Lina Strand (SWE) 16:31, 5. Sara Hagstrom (SWE) 16:33, 6. Andrine Benjaminsen 16:47.
Riverhead Orienteering Weekend – National O League Round 3
After being postponed from early March due to a Covid scare in Auckland, the Riverhead Orienteering Weekend, the third round of the NOL, went ahead on the 8/9 May but with a reduced field to what might have been expected two months earlier. As promised the terrain was a fascinating gully spur mix of varied runnability which made map contact and route choice crucial.
Saturday’s race was middle distance with the 20E’s running the same courses as the 21E’s. Although both owned to errors there were clear wins for Matt Ogden and Lizzie Ingham. Duncan Morrison continued his good form from the ONZ Champs in finishing second to Matt and well ahead of Devon Beckman in 3rd. Tommy Hayes, putting in his first race in the 2021 NOL, was closely behind Devon, with Ronan Lee the first M20E. Kaia Joergensen, first W20E, was in second place behind Lizzie after overtaking Lara Molloy on the lengthy run-in to the finish from the last control.
M21E/M20E: 1. Matt Ogden (NL) 32:17, 2. Duncan Morrison (AK) 41:08, 3, Devon Beckman (NW) 46:30, 4. Tommy Hayes (AK) 46:46, 5. Ronan Lee (HB) 50:23, 6. Stuart Engleback (WN) 66:39.
W21E/W20E: 1. Lizzie Ingham (TK) 35:18, 2. Kaia Joergensen (PP) 41:26, 3. Lara Molloy (WN) 41:34, 4. Kayla Fairbairn (NW) 53:18, 5, Heidi Stolberger (NW) 56-:57, 6. Zara Stewart (AK) 58:54.
Notwithstanding Lizzie’s 3 minute winning margin, the closest race in Sunday’s long distance was between Lizzie and Lara. Lara was never more than 30 seconds behind until a poor route choice from 10-11 cost her over 3 minutes opening a gap that could not be recovered. Greta Knarston was a relatively distance third in W21E, some 30 seconds slower than M20E winner Ronan on the same course. In M21E Matt and Duncan repeated their 1-2 with Tommy taking 3rd. Kaia was untroubled in W20E ahead of Sofia Toes and Zara Stewart.
M21E: 1. Matt Ogden 1:04:54, 2. Duncan Morrison 1:14:21, 3. Tommy Hayes 1;19:37.
W21E: 1. Lizzie Ingham 58:28, 1. Lara Molloy 1:01:39, 3. Greta Knarston (CM) 1:08:34.
M20E: 1. Ronan Lee 1:07:58, 2. Michael McCormack (AK) 1:19:38, 3. Mitchell Cooper (AK) 1:33:03.
W20E: 1. Kaia Joergensen 1:00:22, 2. Sofia Toes (AK) 1:29:34, 3. Zara Stewart 1:32:15.
Remarkably, although there are still 6 races to go in the NOL (3 each at Queen’s Birthday and Labour Weekend) both W21E and W20E are effectively decided. With 8 races to count overall Lizzie already has maximum points in W21E and cannot be overtaken. In W20E Kaia can theoretically be beaten but it would require someone to win all 6 remaining races which, given her dominance so far, is extremely unlikely to say the least. In M21E, although Matt currently holds a commanding lead over Kieran Woods, Joseph Lynch, with only 6 races counting so far can overtake him with two wins. This class is highly likely to go down to the wire. Any of Will Tidswell, Zefa Fa’avae and Cameron Bonar in M20E, who have all run 6 races and are covered by less than 40 points, have a large gap over the rest of the field. Top 6 points totals in each class with the number of counting scores in brackets are as follows.
M21E: 1. Matt Ogden (8) 794.3, 2. Kieran Woods (8) 617.8, 3. Joseph Lynch (6) 596.3, 4. Jonty Oram (7) 592.8, 5. Stuart Engleback (8) 584.1, 6. Daniel Monckton (7) 575.9.
W21E: 1. Lizzie Ingham (8) 800.0, 2. Briana Seven (7) 591.6, 3. Kia Joergensen (6) 551.9, 4. Lara Molloy (6) 549.0, 5. Renne Beveridge (5) 451.8, 6. Amber Riddle (5) 377.8.
M20E: 1. Will Tidswell (6) 591.6, 2. Zefa Fa’avae (6) 569.0, 3. Cameron Bonar (6) 552.9, 4. Michael McCormack (4) 296.3, 5. Ronan Lee (3) 284.5, 6. Felix Hunt (3) 279.7.
W20E: 1. Kaia Joergensen (8) 794.6, 2. Amber Riddle (6) 504.9, 3. Daisy York (6) 464.2, 4. Anna Cory-Wright (6) 445.9, 5. Emily Hayes (3) 252.0, 6. Anya Murray (30 247.2.
High Performance planning for 2022
New Zealand based athletes have now been without international competition for over a year. At this stage the assumption has to be that, although competition with Australia may resume this year – the latest outbreak of Covid in Melbourne notwithstanding, it will be 2022 before the opportunity for European adventures resumes. This gives us a year to prepare for this in the best possible way and, all things being equal, 2022 will be a big year internationally. Not only will there be the first sprint only WOC in Denmark and JWOC in Portugal, but a re-scheduled World University Championships and World Games are also on the programme. The full list, including Oceania in January is
9-17 Jan: Oceania Champs Christchurch
25-29 May: World Cup Round 1 Sweden
26-30 June: WOC (sprint) Denmark
7-17 July: World Games USA
11-16 July: JWOC Portugal
3-7 Aug: World Cup Round 2 Estonia
16-21 Aug: WUOC Switzerland
1-3 Oct: World Cup Round 3 Switzerland
What was noticeable about the non-competing team selected for JWOC in 2021 was that it is one of the youngest that NZL has selected for this event and, despite visits by some to the European Youth Championships and the World Schools Championships, comparatively lacking in international experience. It is probably a fair assumption that many of the same athletes will be eyeing JWOC2022, if not WUOC2022, and therefore there is the potential for a long build-up to 2022. Thus, under consideration are:
(1) prior to the 2021 Australian Carnival and Schools Championships (which several of these athletes are likely to contest), weekend training camps in different regions such that they are accessible at minimal cost;
(2) the opportunity post-Australia for significant “de-briefing”/coaching sessions to plan the way forward for the remainder of 2021 and 2022;
(3) the December U23 HP Camp (probably in Manawatu) drawing on these sessions in preparation for Oceania;
(4) in the first quarter/third of 2022 suitable regional camps for those anticipating JWOC 2022.
At the elite end of the spectrum, the events at and around Oceania are qualifying events for not only the World Games, but for “individual” places at both WOC2022 (in sprint) and WOC2023 (in middle and long distances). Thus, it is proposed that after the U23 HP Camp there will be a 3-4 day elite camp in preparation for Oceania. With the sprint focus of both WOC2022 and the World Games there will also be a need to arrange a suitable series of trials above and beyond the ONZ Championships (note: these fall in late April in 2022), and sprint training camps. In the early stages of development is also a plan for a HP trip to the Australian Carnival. Preliminary expressions of interest have been sought and suggest a relatively widespread keenness for this. At least, prior to the new Melbourne outbreak. There will be some discussion of this at Queen’s Birthday.
CUOC – help with training
Canterbury University Orienteering Club (CUOC) have been increasingly evident in both event planning and running training over the last couple of years. Their most recent training event, perhaps in anticipation of the sprint relay at Queen’s Birthday, include training in that aspect of orienteering. It also took advantage of the availability of the HP leader to plan training activities remotely – something that means that on-site individual does not have to give up their own training possibility to plan for others. Others are invited to do the same – all that is required is an OCAD map of the area.