The main goal of the season with the WorldOrienteering Champs is over with no success at all for me, let’s make a quick feedback:
First and foremost, in order to prepare well this event, I spent some 3 and half months in Finland (in Turku) last summer-Autumn where I could improve my orienteering skill in Finland while getting a work-experience for my studies and learning a bit of the Finnish culture… The great time there was really fun, of course, but it was also encouraging to perform well when competing in Finland.
On one hand, after last year WOC long distance with an okay but improvable performance (ranked 8th), and knowing the fast runability of this year WOC long-distance terrain, I was motivated to train for this year long distance as well. On the other hand, WOC 2012 sprint was a huge disappointment (miss punch the spectators control whereas I had the 5th fastest time), so I was also willing to take my revenge this year. However, with the tight program of this year WOC, it seemed impossible to run and perform well in both long and sprint: a choice had to be decided. With an up and down winter training, and with the good idea to make solid performances in sprint while missing in long distance in early spring, the choice to run the sprint was obvious. Furthermore, the relay team was planned to be decided during the WOC week and I knew I had some good chances thanks to fine previous experiences.
Sprint qualification: 9th
The qualification terrain was not as easy as it seems to be on the map because of a visibility limited by trees, hedges and a lot of spectators all around, and everything was looking the same so it was important to keep the contact all the time. The atmosphere was great especially for a qualification event! I was running quite safe despite few bad route-choices before to do a big mistake running along the wrong houses in an incorrect direction. This fault was an important warning signal to refocus and it added some challenges to qualify, but it had no consequence and I mad it to the final finishing in the 9th spot of my qualification heat rather far behind a fast Danish guy (R. Thrane Hansen).
Sprint final: 43rd
With the start-finish arena in Sotkamo stadium full of noisy spectators, it was a quite impressive atmosphere: perfect feeling for a WOC sprint final! The legs felt in top notch form and ready to push hard therefore I was extremely eager to start this race. However, it didn’t start as well as I would like with several troubles right in the beginning (like misunderstanding in which side of the fence is the 1st control, the route choice to the 2nd…), but it went even worse when I added on extra loop on the course (Was it maybe too short??)! Actually, I lost contact on the way to the 6th control (reading the map of the rest of the course) and when I got back on track, I thought I was going to the 7th. Then, I realized my mistake at the 8th control when I wondered where to go (it looked like it was 2 times the 9th control but I finally understood that one was the 6th control and I had not been there yet…). Of course, it was no chance to do a correct performance from there and it was complicated to focus on something else than this mistake during the rest of the course where I managed to take almost all the bad route-choices. Finally, I finished the race with one of the longest time far behind the very happy home-winner (M. Boström). It’s again a huge disappointment in sprint in important competition after several other crashes (miss punch…) the last few years.
In a team with P. Adamski and T. Guergiou, I was, of course, extremely happy to run the 1st leg of the relay and I felt ready for this mission because of confidence from former experiences. Indeed, contrary to the sprint, my statistics in 1st leg relay in competition was really good after last 2 European champs (2012 Sweden, 2010 Bulgaria), Swedish champs 2012, Military World champs 2010, and some other good performances in mass/chasing start… With teammate really well prepared to orienteer in this terrain, everything sounded good for a good performance. But I screw it up!
The relay is an elimination race: every team start in the same line and use to run in a front group until some team miss and are eliminated. For us, it already happened on my way to the 2nd control. Over there, I was still confident few tens of meters before the control where I wasn’t accurate enough with the map and the compass, influenced by other teams. I missed the control and I had big difficulties to relocate putting suddenly the stress level high enough to inhibit to stay calm and to make proper orienteering. Then, taking the left route choice to go to the 4th, I had some extra time lost going down as fast as possible to the track but going in the wrong direction…
Finally, with an okay last part of the race, I launched our 2nd leg runner in 15th position with some 4’20 delay to the leader which was far too much to expect a correct result at the end and it’s again a huge disappointment (especially for the team)!
To conclude, my performances have been really poor during this WOC and I can be quite frustrated for that. However, when we do elite-sport, we know that it’s hard to succeed as well as we would like all the time. But when performances are far from expected, it may have some essential questions to be answered… Anyway, this major event was again a great experience for every participant; and hopefully, it will be other occasions to do a better job: Next chance in 2 weeks with the World Games in Colombia:
Pictures by: World of o and WOC 2013 photographers team (Aapo Laiho, Juhana Pakkasmaa and Kimmo Rauatmaa)