Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, May 08, 2006

Word Wars and orienteering


Watching "Word Wars," a documentary film about Scrabble, gave me a few ideas about orienteering.

The film follows four very serious Scrabble players as they prepare for and compete in the national championships. I'm always interested in learning about people who are both fanatic and good at just about anything (except I'm not really interested in golf). So, I enjoyed the movie.

Scrabble as a sport is a bit like orienteering in that it isn't a big professional sport and the top competitors seem to be (don't take this wrong) real odd balls.

The movie showed a couple of interesting ways the players trained that could probably be translated to orienteering:

One guy practiced while he drove to and from work. He'd prepared a bunch of flash cards and studied them while he drove, taking short looks at the cards.

Two of the players practiced by organizing a one-on-one competition. They played something like 50 games in a row, with the winner taking $1000 (which the loser would put up). Certainly playing under those conditions would simulate the stress of a big competition. It turns out that they didn't finish all 50 games. Matt, who was trailing, offered to settle for $500 after about half of the games were completed.

I'm sure there are ways an orienteer could figure out to practice or train while going to/from work. I'm also sure that one-on-one "bets" in training would help simulate the pressure of a big competition (which is something that is otherwise quite difficult in the U.S.).

At the sprint race at West Point, Peter put pressure on me by betting me that I couldn't beat Pavlina. If I'd won the bet, Peter would have bought me a Starbucks espresso brownie (which I've never had, but sure sounds good). I had a terrible race (booming the first control and then skipping a control half way through the course). Maybe the pressure got to me.

A note on the European Champs Sprint

Halden Arbeiderblad has an article about Emil Wingstedt's win in the European Champs sprint. Here is a little bit of it translated:

Phenomenal concentration

Goran Andersson, the Swedish team's trainer who also works with Halden, points to Emil's drive to be best when it matters as he explains his wins.

"Emil is so good at focusing an performing at races when he wants to do well. At less important races he doesn't do so well."

posted by Michael | 7:10 PM


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