Sunday, December 18, 2005

Equipment problems

Equipment problems are rarely a deciding factor in orienteering. A smashed compass is about the worst that can happen. For an experienced orienteer this is usually just a minor setback. On one occasion it proved to be an advantage.

When running the 2000 World Cup final in a forested sanddune area north of Lisbon, I somehow managed to smash my Silva Jet. Post race analysis showed that my splits improved after this incident.

The explanation was revealed a year later on a training camp in the same area. It soon became clear that something was seriously amiss. The map's meridian lines were 10-15 degrees out. Curiously, despite racing twice on this map, none of the world's leading orienteers had noticed.

Equipment problems in cross country skiing are another matter. There's so much that can go wrong - and it's usually catastrophic when it happens. My particular speciality is pole problems. Misfortune struck again yesterday. This time it was my daughter who suffered a pole strap failure - though I was undoubtably to blame having spent the previous evening waxing skis and "fixing" poles.

She seems to have forgiven me now - but I won't be making that mistake again. Things went better for me. Admittedly I came last, but only 90 secs off-the-back over a hilly 15km of skating, which counts as success in my book.

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