Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, October 04, 2002

20 years of change


How has international O' changed in the not-quite-20-years between the 1983 WOC in Hungary and the 2002 European Champs in Hungary?

I think there are three big changes: more variety (lengths and terrain types), a longer season and more strong nations.

More variety

In 1983, the WOC had two events -- a classic (with a qualifying race) and a relay.

In 2002, the European Champs had a sprint, middle, long and relay. The individual races all had qualifying races.

The top orienteers in 2002 either have to be able to prepare for a wider variety of demands or they need to specialize.

World Class orienteers are also racing in a lot of different types of terrain compared to 20 years ago. In 1983, a world class orienteer could prepare themselves by thinking and training for a type of continental terrain in Hungary. But, in 2002, a world class orienteer was racing in everything from extreme central European continental terrain to Nordic terrain to street/park O' terrain.

Longer season

In 1983, a world class orienteer might focus on the WOC week. There was no World Cup, for example.

In 2002, a world class orienteer could easily plan to race the Park World Tour, World Cup and European Champs. The European portion of the Park World Tour season began in May and ends in October. The Asian portion of the Park World Tour is in November. The World Cup ran from June through October. The European Champs was a week in late September.

More strong nations

When the USSR split up, the O' world suddenly got a bunch of new nations that have some very strong orienteers. In 1983, the USSR didn't have a team at the WOC. It wasn't until 1987 that the USSR had runners at a WOC.

In 2002, the European Champs had runners from countries that had been part of the USSR: Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Russia and Latvia.

What hasn't changed?

I'm not as sure about what hasn't changed. My guess is that the course setting and map quality haven't changed much. I suspect that the top runners are training about the same (though I think there are more runners training really well now than in 1983).

posted by Michael | 7:47 PM


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