Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ski Orienteering in August?

I had the opportunity to ski in the Australian Ski Orienteering Championships at Perisher Ski Resort, in the Snowy Mountains. I had met some Australian orienteers (David Poland and Toni Brown) at Ice-O in Iceland earlier in June and I was able to connect with them in Australia. They were kind enough to invite me on a ski trip David was planning and had gear that I was able to borrow. 

I had just finished a four and a half day ski tour in Mt. Kosciusko National Park, with David, on the morning of the Ski-O and would be skiing the race on the ski touring equipment I had just been using. While it was nostalgic to be using leather boots and 3 pin bindings it meant that I was not able to ski as fast on the trails as I could have done if on skate gear. However the heavier equipment did have an advantage when cutting between trails. I had never skied on the trail network that the Ski-O took place on and so that made it feel much more like a real orienteering event. The snow was good and you could cut between trails without sinking in very much. I made use of this several times, but definitely not as much as I should have, considering the ski equipment I was on. When comparing times and routes afterwards, I figured out that I could have gained several minutes just be skiing more between the trails, as I wasn't particularly fast on the trails with the heavy equipment. 

There were 3 courses set, beginner, intermediate and long. I competed in the Long which had a distance of 7.5km. The Long course had 14 controls and the SI units were just hanging on a sting from whatever tree the flag was on. This did make it a little slower to punch, but at least it was warm and so I was able to wear the SI stick over my gloves. The event did not have Ski-O map holders you could rent and so I ended up pinning the map to my jacket. This saved me having to carry it in my hands, but did mean that I couldn't rotate the map to my direction of travel.  After a bit of a mistake going to the first control I was able to keep track of where I was, although I did make some major route choices errors. Overall though I skied fairly well and finished in 2nd place.

All in all it was a very fun and memorable event to attend. I definitely enjoyed skiing in among the Gum trees and it was a great way to end off 5 days of skiing in the Snowy Mountains.

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