Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good orienteers; bad orienteering


David Andersson wrote about his big mistake at the middle distance race. You have to feel bad for Andersson. I look at his mistake and think, "man, I wouldn't want to do that, and it must really suck for it to happen at a WOC." Good orienteers sometimes orienteer badly. It is a bit like the "not the top ten" plays on ESPN Sportscenter. It hurts to watch, but it reminds us that those great athletes can, with just a little bobble, look mortal.

Andersson wrote up his mistake on his blog. If you can read Swedish, the whole report is worth a look. If you can't, I'll translate a bit of it. But, first check out the snapshot of Andersson at Oringen super-elite (below), where he won the middle distance race (and where I got a crappy snapshot of him on the run in).

Andersson's map from the WOC middle final is below. Check out the last bit of the course, from control 11 to the finish.

What happened to Andersson is that he ran most of the last loop backwards (going from control 11 to 22, 21, 20, and so on. In the end, he was DQ'd for failing to follow the marked route from the spectator control, 11, through the field and toward control 12.

What happened? Here is a rough translation of what Andersson wrote:

What happened is that I was on the way toward the spectator control and made a mistake reading the map. I thought the thick contour line on the map was the line between controls 11 and 12 (actually 11 and 22). Incredibly sloppy and I've wondered many times how that could happen. I still can't really understand that I managed to do that, but the contour line is my best explanation for what happened.

Despite studying the sketch of the competition center the night before the final, and drawing the marked route and second start point on an old map, I forgot everything when I ran and was convinced I should head off to the right when I came out on the field, where I didn't see or hear any alternative.

At the spectator control I understood from Per Forsbeg [the announcer] that I was 1:01 after Holger Hott Johansen and that Micha Mamleev had just finished in 2nd place, just under 1:30 behind Holger. "Now it will be decided," I remember thinking when I ran from the marker and went into the forest toward control 22. I then took controls 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16 and 15 without any problem and enjoyed the technical area that I knew suited me perfectly. At 15 I unfolded the map to see how the last part of the course looked and quickly noticed that the course I was running didn't lead to the finish.

At this point, Andersson figured out what he did and thought about DNFing. But, he decided to correct his mistake and finish the course. He did that, but was DQ'd for failing to follow the marked route from the spectator control.

Andersson went back to the 12th control, and began finishing the course.

He was, at this point, just behind Valentin Novikov, who was in second place in the race at this point. At the 12th control, Novikov's time was 24:05. Novikov was ahead of Holger by 52 seconds and behind Jarkko Houvila by about 10 seconds.

Novikov took the lead at the 13th control and stayed in first place to the 16th control, where he gave us another example of a good orienteer, orienteering badly.

Novikov leaves 16 and, instead of going to 17, heads toward 18. About half way to the 18th control, he realizes his mistake and returns to 17. The damage was done and Novikov dropped from the lead to 8th place (fighting back up to 5th by the finish).

Check out Novikov's map below. It looks like he might have been reading the map from 17 and he left 16.

You have to feel sorry for both of these guys. Learning lessons at the WOC must hurt.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


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