Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is start interval relevant?


Over at Attackpoint, folks are discussing the start interval for the U.S. team trials sprint race.

Several people have made the point that the start interval at the WOC sprint, one minute, is the same as at the team trials sprint.

One person wrote:

Finally, one significant rationale for doing it this way is that it is how it is done at WOC. The WOC finals are all based on qualifiers with best starting last. If 1 minute intevals are OK for a WOC sprint final, then I should think they should be just fine for the US trials.

And another person wrote:

And it does make sense that a trial to determine the WOC team should take place under the closest we can simulate to WOC conditions, rather than under some alternate set of conditions in which interaction never occurs.

Another wrote:

But I also think that mimicing WOC practices is probably the best route to follow - they may be unfair in some regards - but that same element of unfairness will be present at the championship event - so why not consider it akin to training specificity and just accept it?

This line of reasoning begs the question -- how relevant is start interval?

I've got to think that when you compare the U.S. sprint trials to the WOC sprint qualifications and finals, the start interval is essentially irrelevant. There are much bigger differences between the events (e.g. the team trials is likely to be held in cool weather and will be on a non-sprint standard map; while the WOC will likely be held in hot weather and is sure to follow the sprint standards). And even if there weren't much bigger differences, a difference in start intervals is a very, very minor difference in relevance.

The idea of designing a selection race to be as relevant as possible is interesting, and worth thinking about. I can imagine, for example, it might be interesting to require the team trials participants go through a process like a WOC. You could make them eat food similar to what you'd get at a WOC, travel to the event site by bus (taking about as long as it'll take at the WOC), and so on.

I'm interested in the idea of relevance. So, I'll keep thinking about it (and thinking about how to think about it) and will probably write more over the next few days or weeks.

posted by Michael | 7:09 PM


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