Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An old interview with Hanne Staff


A re-run...something I translated almost 6 years ago. The text is an interview Johan Ivarsson did with Hanne Staff. I did a rough translation from Swedish. The link to the original interview is dead.

Hanne Staff -- A Winner!

By Johan Ivarsson

People often say you should learn from your mistakes. Hanne Staff doesn't think that is quite right. Instead, she thinks you learn from what you do well. So why not try to learn from someone who very often does a lot of things right. Let's hear from Hanne about her WOC Short Race.

Johan: Before the WOC 1999, you said you really wanted to run well in the short race. You'd won the classic event in 1997 and in Scotland in 1999. You wanted to take the short race. But, the result was a big mistake and 22nd place. What were you thinking this year when only the short race was left and you hadn't won an individual medal?

Hanne: I learned a lot after the WOC in Scotland. In Scotland, I was too focused on trying to win a gold. This time I was trying to have a good race. My runs in the sprint and the classic weren't especially bad, they just weren't good enough. On the evening before the short final, I decided to relax. The level of tension and stress had been too high. After a good last leg on the relay (despite losing the sprint on the run-in) I just wanted to go out and run to have fun. Before the race I tried to stay calm and relaxed, and to tried to have "genuine" positive thoughts from within. I wasn't thinking aggressively. I avoided people who were negative for me. I focused only on myself.

Johan's comments: Often those who concentrate and do best are those who try to have a good race rather than those who aim to win. Hanne made an effort to avoid people who were negative for her -- who could distract her concentration and cost her energy.

Johan: Did you have a tactic before the race?

Hanne: My plan was to have 100 percent contact with the map in all of the difficult areas. I wanted to run offensively but in control. I new from the other races during the WOC that I was able to hold a high speed in the technically difficult areas.

Johan's comments: Hanne has a tactic. She's thinking about what she expects will happen and what suits her.

Johan: What were you using to orienteer to the first control?

Hanne: When I got the map, I immediately decided to avoid the green area. So, I followed the vegetation boundary to the top. I was a bit uncertain on the way up, but I kept a steady pace. When I came up, the forest opened and I could easily read the two bare rock knolls north of the control and the distinct marshes to the east. From the southern of the knolls I saw the high area where the first control was. I spiked it without trouble.

Johan's comments: Hanne tries to make it as easy as possible for herself.

Johan: Why didn't you go around to the second and fifth controls where you could have simplified the controls?

Hanne: I was thinking offensively. In my mind I believed that straight was the best route. I was careful on the legs and made sure I had a safe approach to the control.

Johan: On the map it looks like the forest is a bit thicker from the 4th control to the 8th. Did you change your tactic? Adjust your running speed and be a bit more precise with keeping your direction? Why do you think these areas were the foundation of your victory?

Hanne: I didn't change my tactic. Just read the map the whole way. Don't lose map contact for a second. To 8 it is a little more diffuse, so I was careful with the direction. I checked my position with the knoll and the big boulder before 8. I saw the TV people, but I didn't think about them, and found the control.

Johan's comments: When Hanne reads the map, she reads the details she sees. But, she isn't satisfied with that, she also double checks with another feature.

Johan: To the 10th control you went off.

Hanne: First, in the beginning of the leg I probably ran a bit further to the right than I drew on the map. My first thought when I saw the leg was -- now there is a route choice. I saw the trail to the left. When I left 9, it was with the idea of running around. I stopped at the road and changed my mind. I stayed offensive and went straight instead. But, from the road I ran without really thinking. I wasn't really sure where I crossed the high area (knolls). I saw Simone Luder, who was on her way to 2, but didn't manage to relocate. I thought I'd figured it out several times, but I was stressed and didn't check the direction. I thought I knew where I was. But then things didn't fit. At the marsh, I relocated. But, I was too stressed to really check the direction. I thought I was on my way to the control, but it was soon obvious that things weren't fitting. So, I stopped -- wrong spur. I immediately saw where I was. I was very glad to see the control. I listened for Reeta (started 2 minutes after me) as I left the control.

Johan's comments: Finally Hanne stopped and read the map. Immediately it was easy; as soon as she took the time to just stop and read the map.

Hanne: I would have liked to go out and run the leg again. It is really annoying to not know what I did wrong. But, I won the race and that is most important.

Johan's comment: Is that most important? When I asked Hanne the next question it is four months after the race.

Johan: Which is you strongest feeling, four months after the race? Is it that you won or that you made a big mistake?

Hanne: I have actually thought about that mistake a lot. I wonder why I changed my mind and didn't take the trail as I first planned? Why did I lose concentration? Was it because I saw Simone in the middle of the leg?I would have be much more satisfied if I hadn't made that mistake. Maybe the feeling of trying to have "the perfect race" is what drives us? I also wonder if I really deserve to win after such a big mistake! I make a distinction between my result and how well I ran. For a World Champs it the result is more important than how well I ran (at least when I won the gold). So, I'm very happy to have won the World Champs even without having "the perfect race." But, I haven't really answered your question...which feeling is strongest? I think the happiness of winning is strongest, even though I'm really irritated that I could make such a big mistake.

Johan's comments: I don't think it is "the perfect race" that drives us. We're never going to do it. We will always be able to run a little faster or go on the right side of a tree or boulder. Instead, I think we want the feeling of doing as well as we could, to have mastered the problems the forest and course setter gave us.

Johan Ivarsson

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posted by Michael | 7:24 PM


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