EMPO Times Spring 1997

US Ski-O Championships

Photo Album

A disappointing snow season was capped off by less than ideal conditions at our biggest event in a few years, the US Ski-Orienteering Championships and Empire State Games Ski-O at Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center. Nevertheless, we pulled off what seems to have been generally regarded as a very successful Meet, thanks to everyone's enthusiastic good will and the help and hard work of various EMPO members, along with the Garnet Hill staff. Participants came from around the world and ranged in age from 9 to 69. Many races were hotly contested, with some medals decided by only 1 second.

Unfortunately EMPO members couldn't bring home any ESG Gold medals this year, but we did get a Silver and a couple of Bronze: Sue Hawkes-Teeter took Silver in the Female Masters, and Matt George in the Male Scholastic class and Ellie George in the Female Masters got the Bronze. The Perm Trophy for best overall performance by a club over the two days of the US Champs went to Rochester Orienteering Club, barely edging out Central New York Orienteering. Individually, in the very competitive Male 19-39 class, the visiting Swedes and Canadians outdid their American hosts, maybe because they actually had snow at home this year; while Sandy Stripp from Old Forge blew away the sadly limited field in Female 19-39. Even more limited was the field for Male 14 & Under, where EMPO's Marty Hawkes-Teeter won easily, being the only contestant. This was a new US Ski-O class, inaugurated this year, and not part of the ESG's yet, so the low number isn't too surprising. Next time maybe we can get some of the "Bill Koch" kids to give it a try.

In the end, the club about broke even on the event financially, and we got a new map and generated some good will across the "O" community. There are no definite plans for the next use of the map, as yet, but we'd be interested in your thoughts about using it for a "mini-ROGAINE" (essentially a large scale Score-O event, where you must travel in teams of at least two people, and the time period would be something like 4 hours) or a "Mountain Bike-O", or both at the same time, or something else you can dream up. Tell us what you think about it before or after one of our local Meets, or call or drop a line to one of the club officers.

A New Ski-O Participant

The 1997 Ski Orienteering Champs and Empire State Games Ski-O Finals hosted recently by EMPO at Garnet Hill in the southern Adirondacks was 1) my first time as Registrar for a national-scale event and 2) my first Ski-O competition. I think things went very well in both situations.

With less than 80 attendees, keeping track of registrants was made easy with the use of a spreadsheet. Other meet officials (the meet director, publicist, start chief and results chief) all used the information I put together, so I had work at keeping it accurate. Packets were stuffed ahead of time with the help of meet director Bill Jameson, results chief Glen Tryson and my 8-year old son Robert. Once we got to Garnet Hill, setting up the packet pick-up area was made easier with the help of other volunteers and the staff of the ski center. I don't recall any problems or complaints with the packet pick-up procedure or the registration process in general.

E-mail registrations were allowed for this event. To do registration for a larger event, I would not allow e-mail registration because there's too much opportunity for abuse of the system; that is, registering but not paying, and then deciding not to show up. At this event, were only a couple of cases where people registered but didn't come (or pay). Because a large number of the participants had access to the Internet and e-mail, they could get information quickly and easily from me if needed; get updates on weather and snow conditions; and receive information on results shortly after the meet ended.

As my introduction to ski-orienteering, this event was both fun and educational. The people who excel at this particular sport spend a lot of time preparing for it - I could tell that my lack of preparation influenced how well I performed on the course (I hadn't been on cross country skis for over a year and it showed!). The challenge of ski orienteering is keeping track of where you are on a gridwork of trails as you challenge yourself physically on cross country skis, much like Foot-O offers you a similar challenge on foot in the woods. Personally, I get more opportunities to run than I do to cross country ski, and so prefer the foot version. I made a route choice (tactical) error on the second half of my course and ended up knee-deep in snow in a misguided bushwhack attempt, where taking the time to ski down the trail and then back up to the control would have been more efficient. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, and every event is a learning experience. All in all, I thought the course was well-planned and enjoyable. I may even try ski-orienteering again, if we ever get enough snow in our area!

My thanks to every one of our club members at the event [I'm sure you've listed them elsewhere, Phil] including my sons and helpers, Greg and Robert; plus Carol and Tom Moran of the Rochester O Club who helped out Saturday morning as they collected Empire State Games registrations and distributed ESG uniforms; and the staff of Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center, who were always there to lend a hand and provided a great location to have this competition.

- Janet Tryson

Comments From US Champs Attendees

I'd just like to drop you a little note to tell you how happy the Canadian contingent from Hamilton was with the weekend. The trails were in great shape considering the conditions and we were really happy with the event. Mark Tarno and Mike Waddington have talked about coming down there for a training camp next year. It was only my fourth time on skis this winter and first ski-o race in about 4 years, but I was quite pleased with my results.

Once again a job well done.

- Nevin French

On behalf of the HKF group we would just like to thank you for an excellent weekend fo ski orienteering. The map was fantastic and the Garnett Hill people did a great job given the less than ideal weather conditions.

The long course offerred great route choice and the fast (at least for the first starters) conditions made execution tough. The route from 1 to 2 cost Mark Tarnopolsky some time. He went left at the east end of the tailings and I went right and follwed the trail east. My route was probably 90 seconds faster. As a result he was making up time the whole race (notice his excellent split - only 3 seconds I think worse than the top Swede from the split time to the finish). The route to 4 was also a tough one. I was feeling tired so I elected to run straight up along a small trail. The climb to the finish killed me.

The short course was good and the problem with the bridge was not an ideal situation. I think a leg from the old #5 to #8 directly would have offerred more route choice or perhaps a few more "connector" trails would have reduced the bush wacking. The area around the lodge could have been used more (e.g., ski through the start area and back out again?). By the way, are you sure the finish line didn't melt down hill on the second day? Losing to my training partner by 1 second was tough :-)

All in all it was a great weekend.

Cheers, Mike Waddington

Thanks a lot for putting on this meet. I have no complaints at all. The courses were fun. The bad weather seemed to happen around the courses, but not during them!

- Rick Lavine

Old Timers Day(s)

You might notice the "Empire State Senior Games" orienteering event on the schedule, which will be taking place on June 7th this year at Green Lakes State Park in Fayettville, just east of Syracuse, about a 2 hour drive from EMPO-land. This is a nice map, which I've run (and skied) on a couple of times before, and I would encourage everyone of the qualifying age (50 and up) to make the trip. It's not too hilly (except for one or two spots) or thickly wooded; just good running (or jogging, or walking) territory. There are other sports available in the Games, too. To get on the Senior Games mailing list, or get moe information, drop a line to Barb Sleight of CNYO at 6187 Smith Road, N. Syracuse, NY 13212, or call her at 315-458-6406. Personally, this is my first year to qualify, so I plan on trying to make it.

There are a couple other orienteering events coming up focused on us geezers: The Veteran's World Cup, is an international event being held this year in Minnesota in October, and it's the second big international Meet run by the US Orienteering Federation (after the World Orienteering Championships in 1993). After that, the World Masters Games, an Olympic-type large scale event, which will include orienteering, are being held in August 1998 in Portland, Oregon, with large scale sponsorship from a famous shoe company from that area. These are both multi-day events, and there will be courses for the younger set as well, so if you might be getting into those areas of the country at the right time, think about signing up. I'm sure there will be some other EMPO folks at each of them.

Vischer Ferry Ski-O

We haven't had a lot of luck in putting on our scheduled events for the ski-O season over the last few years. Last year, in fact, we held none out of two. In January this year, our first scheduled meet was at Blueberry Hill, in the Pine Bush, but there was not a flake of snow to be found, so we canceled once again. Finally, as the month wore on, the weather seemed to change a bit, and some snow was produced. It wasn't a lot, but at least the ground was white, and you could think about skiing on it. Maybe we could hold the event after all.

North of the Capital District, more serious snow had arrived, and various other skiing events that had been postponed were being rescheduled, which would have been fine except they chose to reschedule them on the day chosen long ago for our Ski-O. This resulted in many of the regular Ski-O participants being unavailable due to Cross Country and/or Biathlon conflicts, and also drove the Ski-O's Meet Director to ask if I could do the Meet so he too could go to one of the conflicting events. We thought about trying to re-schedule our meet, but it was too late, and we didn't want to cancel it despite the limited snow because local people badly needed an Empire State Games Qualifier. So, I agreed to go ahead and do it.

By the time of my field checking the course, the snow had been squashed by numerous snowmobiles, then melted, then re-froze. This resulted in a surface more akin to a hockey rink than a ski trail. I discovered that I really couldn't ski on most of it, but it was such a flat area that you could pretty rapidly "double pole" yourself around in the snowmobile tracks. I used pretty much the same technique when the day came and I hung the controls. By now my shoulders and triceps knew that there was something different going on here, which they weren't used to, but they didn't really rebel until it came time to pick the flags up.

Meanwhile, a few lost Ski-O souls drifted in to register and make their own best way around the course. As the day wore on, the ice softened up a little bit, and actual skiing became more possible. In fact, on the whole people's times weren't too bad, though that's probably more a reflection of the flatness than of the quality of the snow. Also several other desperate skiers and a lot of dog walkers came by, some of whom seemed genuinely interested in what orienteering was, and I did my best to convince them to join us at some future event. Hey, you never know.

I think most of the participants ended up glad they'd come, and I know several qualified for the Games who otherwise might not have been able to, so the event has to be counted a success. I was actually able to use my legs and ski when I picked up the flags at the end of the afternoon, which was nice too. Next year we've just got to be due for more snow! But I said that last year too.

Spring Schedule

As has become our pattern, we have three Meets lined up for the Spring "O" season. We start off at Peebles Island in April. If you haven't been there, it's a nice area with wonderful views of the rivers (Hudson and Mohawk) and an intricate trail network. Since you can't possibly get lost (there's only one way off the island), it makes a nice opener. Given our recent weather luck, and the fact that it will be April ("showers bring ...."), be prepared for a little dampness, but Peebles tends to dry out sooner than some other places. And by May, it's likely that Thacher Park will be in great shape for us. We gave Thacher a rest last year, so some of those places we've visited a few times now may not seem as familiar. Plus, we'll be starting from Hop Field, which we've only used for Ski-O before, so the White/Yellow courses will definitely be over territory not previously used for them. Finally we wrap things up with a visit to Vischer Ferry Preserve on the day before Father's Day in June. This will be our first try at something some other "O" clubs have been doing, holding a "Daddy-O" with special recognition for Family Teams ("Mommy-O" and "Uncle-O" teams, etc., are fine too). Naturally we'll still have the usual advanced courses as well. Hope we see you at all three!

As you can see from the schedule page, there are a lot of Orienteering Meets being put on by other clubs around us. We hope you'll make it to all of ours, but if you want to up your "O" habit to even higher levels, and have some fun, see some new places, and increase your skills and fitness, try traveling a little further afield. Most of the Meets listed are 2-3 hours from Albany and can make a nice day trip. Further information on any of them can be obtained from the contacts listed, from the WorldWideWeb, from Orienteering North America, and usually from your EMPO club officers. Yes, Colorado is a bit more than 3 hours away, but that's listed because it's such a great event; a few EMPO folks will be there, so if it fits in your summer vacation plans, join in. Our Relay Team could use some help.