Saturday, July 30, 2016

SOW you think you can orienteer!

Swiss O Week (SOW) 2016 took place in the Engadin valley in the eastern part of Switzerland, very near to the location of this year’s JWOC races. Because of this, many JWOC athletes also raced the SOW races, along with some other Canadians. HPP athletes racing SOW included Pia, Nicole, Emma W., Emma S. (me), Robbie G., Jan Erik, Tomas, Leif, Christian and Michael. There were some very good results by Canadians including top 25 results in their respective categories on individual races by Robbie, Leif, Jan Erik and Emma W.

Here’s a picture of Christian getting ready for his race in our the small section of the arena that we’d claimed:

This was a fairly big competition, with about 4000 competitors. Each day, everyone would drive or take transit to the arena and then proceed to one of three starts (as indicated on the bibs). Here are some competitors walking to the arena on the 4th day:

The format of this race series was 3 middle or long distance-type races, a rest day and then another 3 races. My favourite race was probably the last day, which started with some fairly physical legs before a map flip for forking and a more technical section.

Here is the D20 map for the last day. What routes would you have chosen (especially for 2-3 or 15-16)? You can see the route choices of a couple of the competitors including Pia and me here.

Canadians took advantage of the rest day by going exploring: hiking up mountains, wandering through towns, or even going to Italy. It was a really cool area with lots of fun things to do. This is a picture of Samedan, a town where many of the Canadian juniors and were staying.

The Engadin valley also had plenty of interesting orienteering terrain. Some of the days included a variety of different terrain types, such as high-up open, rocky terrain on days 3 and 5. The elevation was over 2000 meters above sea level on those days! Unfortunately, due to potentially dangerous weather conditions people with late starts (including me) did not get to race on day 5. Athletes took a gondola up to the start, and then raced through a very rocky area which had good visibility until the fog rolled in (as you can see from the panoramas that Pia took below):

All in all, it was a very fun week where we had ample opportunity to test our orienteering skills. For me and some other Canadians, it was a nice week too rest and recover a bit for upcoming events but still appreciate the awesome Swiss terrain! Most of the Canadian team is continuing on to other competitions such as the Canadian Orienteering Championships in Alberta or the World University Orienteering Championships in Miskolc, Hungary. Stay tuned for updates on those competitions!

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