EMPO Times Spring 2000


US Champs: EMPO Takes Home the Perm Trophy

After several years of coming close, the new millennium proved to be the beginning of EMPO's reign as Club Champion of US Ski-Orienteering. Actually, by our own reckoning we won in 1996 too, but because that event had to be re-scheduled and moved to Quebec, the Perm Trophy, emblematic of US Ski-O supremacy, was not actually awarded that year. But this time, we won, we got the trophy, and we're not giving it back without a mighty struggle!

Of course it was basically our Juniors and "Ski-O Moms" who won it for us. Bryan Sweet, Marty Hawkes-Teeter, Ellie George and Sue Hawkes-Teeter all took medals, as well as newer member Pam Flynn, while a recent Junior, Matt George, and a "Ski-O Dad," Steve Sweet Sr., brought in important additional points with competitive finishes. Because the final tally was so close, Glen Tryson, Eric Hamilton, Greg Tryson, and Steve Sweet Jr. also provided needed points just by finishing their arduous courses in the bitter sub-zero conditions. Glen and Eric even started early, when conditions were at their worst, in order to perform a final check of the controls before the rest of the competitors got started.

All in all, the 2000 US Ski-O Champs proved to be a lot of work and stress, in large part because of the off-again/on-again snow, but in the end it provided a very satisfying result. The elite ski-orienteers of the US, and several from Canada, all seemed to appreciate our efforts at trying to give them a Championship quality event, and were willing to overlook where we (mainly I) made mistakes. And despite the re-scheduling and the bone-chilling weather, we still had a pretty good turnout.

So now we can pass the Perm Trophy around amongst us, pack away the skis, and start enjoying Spring. But as we savor running once again, let's remember we're the Champions of the Tough part of the year!

-- Phil Hawkes-Teeter

EMPO kids with Perm Trophy: Marty Hawkes-Teeter, Rob Tryson, and Bryan Sweet, the youngest members of the EMPO team, accept the Perm Trophy from Larry Berman Matt George at Day 2 of the US Champs.
(more pictures)

ESGs: Empire State Games Wraps Up '00 Ski-O

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For several years now EMPO's Eric Hamilton has done the Empire State Games Ski-O course setting. It can be a difficult exercise to make the courses fresh, since we've used basically the same map of Mt. Van Hoevenberg since 1990. We had a couple of years at Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake, one snow-less year things got moved to Tug Hill, and in 1997 we joined the ESG's with the US Ski-O Champs at Garnet Hill. But still "Mount Van" could be growing pretty stale.

Fortunately Eric managed to get us a new angle this year, with the Start/Finish moved away from the Van Hoevenberg complex and up to Cascade Ski Center. The trails there connect into the same overall network, but the difference in perspective and the trails recently added at Cascade made it a new and different experience.

Unfortunately the trail additions also had the effect of causing some confusion in the event, as not every one was mapped (as was noted in the meet notes). This and a combination of other factors caused several participants, including a couple of EMPO entrants, to incorrectly conclude that one control was missing, which ultimately disqualified them.

While that was certainly a significant disappointment, still the day was beautiful and the race was a great example of Spring skiing at its best. No one decided to do the race in their bathing suit, but you almost could. (The next day, Sunday, I saw several people skiing in t-shirts and shorts.) Most racers opted for Classic skis because of the sometimes narrow trails and the heavy wet snow, but the wax selection (or the selection to go no-wax) was very difficult, and no one later seemed to have felt that they got it just right. In fact, several of the best times were turned in by those who went against the grain and chose to try skating despite the narrowness/heaviness factors.

EMPO members took home a number of medals once again, with Steve Sweet Jr. and Ellie George leading the way by winning the Gold for their classes. While there is no Club trophy at the ESG's, CNYO took the unofficial title with the most medals, but EMPO was in hot pursuit, just one medal back.

As we skied around the next day before traveling home, you could just see the snow melting away. The plastic tubes running from maple to maple were starting to flow with sap. The large feline whose tracks we saw on the trail (bobcat? lynx?) was doubtless starting to stretch out in his lair in anticipation of Spring. It had been a short, sharp Winter. And these Games had been a nice punctuation mark at the end.

-- Phil Hawkes-Teeter

Eric Hamilton speaks to the assembled athletes and officials before the Games begin Sue Hawkes-Teeter works hard to skate through the soft and wet snow Jack Norray studies his map before heading out from the Start

EMPO's 2000 Events: When Spring Comes, "O" is in Bloom

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We're continuing to try to rotate events around to our various venues and update them as we go. And this year should see new versions of several old favorites. We'll start off as we usually do with a "Beginners" Meet, this year at Vischer Ferry Preserve. Such events are good for starting the year because they give us all, both beginners and old-timers, a chance to hone our skills in a more relaxed environment. This year we also introduce a first-time Meet Director, Steve Sweet Sr.; plus this event will serve as a fine low-key tune-up for those venturing on to do the high-mileage Billygoat Run in New Hampshire the next day.

The May offering this year will be held on a newly revised version of the Blueberry Hill map. This map covers a section of the Pine Bush area, and offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy moving through a unique environment of inland sand dunes, grasses and pitch pines. Oh, and there are a few thorns. If you are going to try anything above the Yellow course, long pants are definitely in order. But the experience is easily worth a thorn prick or two, and some slightly more circuitous route choices can probably avoid even that. Anyway, Glen Tryson will have a brand new version of the map ready for us, and we can hope for a little more indication of vegetation thickness to help in the thorn avoidance process. Remember that orienteering is really about route choice, not about who can come in looking most like they crashed through a war zone.

The final Spring fling will be at Thacher Park, site of EMPO's first national event, and still one of our best maps (and nicest parks). This event should be the last on our existing stash of maps made for that "A" Meet in 1993. The Park has grown, the trail network has been expanded, and I have numerous notes on map corrections/enhancements, all of which will get thrown into the next version. But this will be a chance to once again celebrate the great map and Park we've been enjoying for several years now. So come on out and enjoy the view over the cliff back to wherever you've come from (well, maybe not if you come from South of the Park, like I do), enjoy the trails and the (by then) dry (but thickening) woods. There will be challenging courses and good times to be had by all.

-- Phil Hawkes-Teeter