Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In the saddle

The venues for this year's Jan Kjellström might not have been the sexiest of British orienteering terrain - but after a long Scandinavian winter it was enough to arouse my orienteering hormones.

Most British orienteers will have had a long term relationship with at least one of the competition areas - Ilkley Moor, Keldy and Bramham Park. But while there were no surprises for the more experienced, there was plenty of variety to add a little spice.

Top marks to the planners who managed to produce some shapely courses and nice legs, despite the limitations and constraints of the venues. A special mention too for the speakers - knowledgeable and informative with just the right balance between coverage of the elite classes and the rest.

But whilst some things change, other things remain the same. The labyrinth of tapes at the starts and the mildly chaotic relay map issue (and exchange) are just two examples of the idiosyncracies of British orienteering.

Strangest of all was the Costa del Sol of club tents that formed a wall along the run-ins. You have to put your towel on the beach early if you want to catch a glimpse of the fun ...

Monday, March 20, 2006


It's not often you see a really good orienteering photo. Let's face it, it's not often you see a quite good one. Which is a shame, because pictures are an excellent way to promote the sport.

I spent a couple of seasons submitting o-photos to our local paper - some of them even got published. When they did, an article which would normally be hidden in the depths of the sports section could quite easily be promoted to the back page by the sports editor.

But action snaps are hard to take - orienteering ones more so. You need to be in the right place at the right time. Plus you need to be equipped with little bit more advanced than your Sony Ericsson - unless you spot a tall bearded Saudi, with a hunted look in his eyes, running M45.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tiggers don't like haycorns

Anybody who's run a mountain marathon knows about that never-again-feeling you get when reaching the finish. Usually it goes over after a few hours when you find yourself subconciously planning for next year's race.

I felt the the first never-again-twinges after just half of Sunday's Vasalopp. They still haven't gone over. What I really wanted was lightning fast icy trails and not soft, slow new snow. Tiggers don't like haycorns.

But no point in brooding. Time to start looking forward to the orienteering season - if there's going to be one. Just for a change it's snowing again here and the spring season is starting to look threatened.

Nevertheless Easter and the JK is looming so I'd better look out my orienteering shoes. Last seen November - I wonder where I put them.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Snow again

It just keeps snowing. Over the last two days we've had a foot of the stuff. And that's on top of the foot we've had since the start of February. It's been hard work just keeping the drive clear - tomorrow I'm facing the prospect of going up onto the roof to do some shoveling.

No complaints though. This Sunday is Vasalopp's Sunday. 90km of skiing between Sälen and Mora. New snow tips the balance in favour of fitness rather than technique. Good news for me.

Last weekend saw the women's variant of Vasaloppet - Tjejvasan. I put myself on the line then as well - metaphorically. My Better Half was taking part for the first time and I was given ski-waxing responsibility. Nothing like a bit of pressure to bring out your best. Annika's already announced her intention to compete next year - and her waxing team has also been retained.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic arithmetic

Another Olympic Games has opened - another Games without orienteering.

Some say that orienteering will never become a full member of the Olympic movement. They are, of course, wrong. An understanding of simple mathematics is all that's required to show this.

True, orienteering will never feature at either the Winter or Summer games. But there are four seasons in a year and

4 - 2 = 2.

Once the IOC see this logic and deduce that there a two totally unexploited seasons, orienteering's chance will come.

Roll on the Spring Olympics.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Introverts in lycra

Unlikely as it might seem, I've discovered a sport that's more introverted than orienteering.

One of the things I look forward to when work takes me to Stockholm is the chance to skate round the ice track at Östermalms IP. It beats sitting in a hotel watching cable TV anyway. On Wednesday evening I found the local speed skaters were holding a competition. It took me half an hour to find somebody prepared to look me in the eyes and tell me a little about their sport.

Strange really since all those well developed, lycra clad quadriceps and gluteus maximi aren't something you need to be shy about. But like orienteering, speed skating in Sweden has suffered a haemorrhage in participant numbers. Being an Olympic sport hasn't offered any immunity to this ailment either.

Just as I was leaving the arena I finally managed to engage a friendly 'skrinnare' in conversation. Having observed that their next meet was in a couple of weeks I wondered if I might give it a try if I was in town. "You need to be a club member" was his reply.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Identity crisis

Football, cricket, rugby and tennis all have two. Golf has one. Syllables. Popular sports have short catchy names, preferably two or fewer syllables.

Orienteering, meanwhile, has a polysyllabic handicap. Worse still, the International Orienteering Federation persists in calling it 'foot orienteering'. Two words, six syllables, and just a hint of Monty Python.

And don't even think of suggesting 'foot-o'. It sounds like a treatment for an irritating fungal infection rather than a sport.

Yes I know it's politically correct not to favour any of the four branches of orienteering (cycle, ski and trail are of course the other three) - but by doing so we’ve shot ourselves in the you-know-what.

I guess we're stuck with our five syllables but let's agree to amputate that prefix.