Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, January 02, 2006

Uninformed musings about Canadian orienteering


One of the sessions at next week's training camp is a brainstorming on how to further elite orienteering training and racing possibilities in Canada.

That got me thinking about approaches organizations and people take to thinking and planning. One thing that seems to work is to think through some simple questions:

1. Where have I/we/Canadian orienteering been?
2. Where am I/we/Canadian orienteering now?
3. Where do I/we/Canadian orienteeting want to go next?

Basically these questions force you to think about the past, the present and the future. By doing that, it seems like you develop a good background for setting some goals and then thinking about how to reach them.

I really like two things about this sort of a approach. First, it keeps you from leapign straight to a discussion of "what should we do?" Those sorts of discussions tend to devolve into disagreements about the right approach. They also easily turn into conclusions like, "we need sponsorship money"; which tends to lead to discussion about how a sport might appeal to big corporate sponsors. That isn't necessarily a waste of time. But, until you've got a good sense of goals (and history) it is premature. Second, it works in almost any context. You can use those questions to go over your own training, or your club's activities, or almost anything.

I don't know enough about Canadian orienteering to answer the first two questions. The third question is really a choice -- it is whatever Canadian orienteers decide. But, not knowing enough isn't enough to stop me from throwing out a few thoughts.

Where has Canadian orienteering been?

I think orienteering got going in Ontario in the late 1960s early 1970s.

By far the best orienteer in Canadian O' history is Ted De St Croix. He has loads of great results, but he is best known for finishing 10th (or 9th?) in the WOC in 1985.

I remember a lot of excitement soon at the 1985 WOC. Everyone wondered if this was a breakthrough result that would inspire lots of training and good results throughout North America. Everyone wondered how much better Ted could be.

As far as I can tell, Ted's 1985 result didn't turn out as hoped. North American orienteering didn't take off. I think Ted either overtrained or got sick and didn't perform as well in 1987 or 1989.

I'm very much an outsider to Canadian orienteering. I never paid careful attention to the situation in Canada. But, if memory serves, the relationship between the Canadian federation and the top orienteers in the late 1980s early 1990s seemed strained. I had the impression that the best orienteers didn't always go to the WOCs. I think the federation made a decision to send orienteers if they met a certain standard, even if that met Canada wouldn't have a full team.

There are a lot of other things to look at in answering the question "where has Canadian orienteering been?" How have mapping, course setting and event organizing developed? What big events has Canada hosted (a couple of World Cup races and the WMOC, for example)? What about the junior team? Has the sport lost some promising juniors? Has the sport kept some promising juniors?

For the Canadians at next week's session, they'll know the answers to these sorts of questions and they'll have the background to help move forward. I don't have the answers, but it'll still be interseting to follow the discussion.

That's enough writing for now. Maybe I'll bit off another question "where is Canadian orienteering now?" another day. But now, I should go out and train.

posted by Michael | 11:28 AM


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