jeudi 13 septembre 2012

NORT and Finnish preparation

       Last week, the Nordic Orienteering Tour (NORT) was the last important event of the international season with 5 world cup races in 3 different Scandinavian countries with big eforts of TV broadcast (NORT live center).

The 2 first stages were held on the feet of the mythic Holmenkholen ski jumping hill in Oslo with sprints (Qualif + final) and Middle distance.
The sprint qualification was mostly in downhill with some forest part where I had real troubles to find a control after a long leg where I missed more than 1 minute. So, it was really tight to get the ticket for the final: Finally, I took the 30th and last qualifying spot. Then with the 1st start of the sprint final, it went rather good and even with some route-choices mistakes on the last part (too long way to go to the 12th control and too slow to the 15th losing twice 13’’-15’’), I managed to take the 7th place quite far behind the 2 leaders but rather close to the podium:
The next day, the middle distance had some really interesting parts with quite area wild even so close of the city. For me, it went rather well for almost every controls but with 2 big mistakes (1’-1’30) when approaching controls (the 3rd and 18th), I couldn’t expect a better result than a 25th place more than 3’ behind our French team-mate leader T. Gueorgiou.
The 3rd event of the NORT was held in Göteborg with a very special orienteering race: the Knock-out sprint tournament. {After a normal sprint qualification, the 24th fastest runners compete in 3 different semi-finals of 8 runners who start together on a small course with some forking. The 2 fastest of each semi-final + 2 ‘lucky looser’ compete on the same way for the final…}. Even if my qualification race wasn’t clean again, it was enough to run the semi-final where I could meet some French team-mate, club-mate and training-mate. My strategy for such race was to stay as much as possible in front of the group to keep an active orienteering and to avoid some ‘accordion effect’ when we have to stop at every controls while the other punch… This technique was working rather well, even-if I had some difficulties in the last forest part and I got attracted by a women control; I could manage to finish safe in front to get the ticket for the final.
In the final, with a fast beginning of O. Lundanes, I couldn’t be in front and should stay patient behind him before the forking in the forest part: there, I was a bit unlucky to get the shorter forking wing in first; then after some hesitations, the guys in the other wing had already caught us and they had the shorter forking left when we have the longer one (was-it a fair forking system?). So, I really had to push hard to come back on the leading group, and with a quite luckily-fast down-hill to leave the forest, I got a really good 2nd position just behind M. Kyburz. As it was no way to overtake this impressively fast Swiss guy, I finished in a good 2nd position which is my best individual result ever in world cup.

The last (but not least) part of this NORT trip was rather north in Finland (must-be my personal most north!) in the same area of the world champs 2013. On the program, we had 2 sprints (qualif + final) in Kajaani followed by the last stage of the NORT which was also the last world cup race of the season: it was a chasing start based on the results of the 4 first races of the NORT (Mostly: time of the qualifications races + bonus time got in final).
            The main difficulty of the sprint qualification was to take care of traps made with fences through the street to add some route-choices challenges. With a safe but fast race, I was 2nd just 3 second behind the fastest M. Kyburz (again), that was enough to run the final on the afternoon.
            The final was really interesting as it was often challenging to choose the fastest route-choice when it was not the most obvious. I’m quite satisfied of my performance because I was well in control all the course even-if I haven’t taken all the best route-choices and I lost the contact with the map close to the 15th control. Finally, I took the 5th place close to the podium.
KajaaniSprint TV replay Sprint

  After the 4 first stages of the NORT, I was starting the chasing-start in the 10th position some 6’ behind the leader but only 1’20 behind the 4th and just in front of a very tight starting field. For orienteers like us used to run alone, it’s always exciting to run in contact of other runners. However, with an offensive but too risky start in a technical area, I quickly lost 2 stupid minutes before the 1st control. I had already lost all my chances to catch the group started before me and I was already running behind all the guys started until the 17th position… In a very rough terrain, my race was not really clean with some strange route-choices and direction troubles. Thanks to a rather good shape, I could push hard at the end and I managed to keep the 10th place of the NORT overall ranking. To conclude this NORT, I’m especially pleased to have done several solid sprint performances this week after the really disappointed miss-punch for WOC sprint and my catastrophic European champs sprint this season.

Finally, I’ve got the 7th place of the overall world cup 2012 (few points from the 6th place) which prove a real improvement and a good stability with several top 10 result on world-cup competitions this season. It’s nice to see the improvement of my world-cup ranking the last few year and it’s motivating to train well for the next seasons especially when I see all the mistakes I’m still doing!

After the last stages of the NORT, it was smart to stay some days in Vuokatti area to get used of the relevant maps of next world champs: there, we could meet 2 opposite types of terrain: from very rough and rocky slope to smooth and fast sandy ground forest.

After some 4000 km around Scandinavia and living in 5 different accommodations in 2 weeks, it’s time for me to come back ‘home’ in Turku where I’m staying 2 more months (I have already been there 1 month for some internship works, and trainings of course). Now, we’re approaching the end of the season and we can already focus on 2013 where the main goal is the WOC in Finland, so let’s make a good Finnish preparation!

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