Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Sweden-U.S. comparison


One of the big differences between Swedish and U.S. orienteering has to do with how soon after starting to orienteer people start running technically difficult courses.

In Sweden, many (most?) orienteers start as juniors and put in a few years of running easy courses.

In the U.S., many (most?) orienteers start at an older age and begin running difficult courses as soon as possible.

What this means is that Swedish orienteers learn to navigate and move fast, while U.S. orienteers learn to navigate and orienteer with lots of stops and mistakes.

Some of the kids I know from the Texas Junior O' Camps will run red (F21/M35 course) or blue (M21) at national meets and be satisfied to just finish the course. But when you look at the results list, these juniors might have double the time of the winner on the course. To me that suggests they're running a course too far above their current abilities.

This difference between Sweden and the U.S. might explain some of the difference in propensities to ask for help in the forest. In the U.S., the goal of a lot of orienteers is to finish, to find all the controls on their own. So, asking for help defeats the purpose. In Sweden, the goal of a lot of orienteers is to finish fast. Asking for help might make it easier to finish fast.

Or maybe I'm just imagining differences that aren't really there...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


I believe adults, as well as juniors have a very strong inclination to move up to advanced courses prematurely. I agree that this not good for long term performance, and skill development for the reasons already stated.

Assuming one's goal is to maximize performance, I think it is very important to learn to orienteer quickly and cleanly (no errors), with map reading on the run as a primary skill. I believe it is much easier to develop these habits on easy- to-read lower level courses, rather engraining the stop-to-read habit.
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