> Announcement of 2017 U.S. National Orienteering Team
|Alison Crocker||Gregory Ahlswede|
|Tori Borish||Jordan Laughlin|
|Alison Campbell||Wyatt Riley|
|Cristina Luis||Ian Smith|
|Ken Walker, Jr|
|Isabel Bryant||Teddy Fong|
|Evalin Brautigam||Morten Jorgensen|
|Mariama Dryak||Michael Laraia|
|Amanda Johansson||Hans Sitarz|
Home: Stanford, California
How did you get into orienteering? My friend from high school, Holly Kuestner, told me about orienteering and invited me to come to one of the WIOL (local school league) meets. I went, and after spending at least 5 minutes hiding behind a tree near the start just trying to orient my map, I enjoyed the rest of the course. I went to all the local meets that season, and after my ﬁrst A-meet (an Interscholastics championship), I was hooked.
What changes to your training have you made over the past year to make you more successful? I'm trying to focus more on physical training this year since that's easier in the Bay Area (there are lots of hilly trail running opportunities). I've found some groups of people to do intervals and strength training with, and that's been important for me because having people to motivate me during workouts helps me push harder.
What events have you been to that were really special for you? In the past year, two events come to mind. The first was NAOC 2016 because the majority of both the American and Canadian teams were there, so there was a lot of camaraderie and good competition. I always enjoy the excitement of relays. The other meet was the Cerkno Cup in Slovenia in the summer of 2016. I was at the 5 day event (2 trainings + 3 races) to get out on some maps before WUOC. What made it special for me was the improvement I saw in myself from the first training to the last race. It was in Karst terrain which I don't have too much experience with, and not only were there similar-looking negative contour features everywhere, but the ground was also very rocky with dense vegetation. The first four days, I was pretty clean navigationally, but I had to go incredibly slowly both to not get lost and to fight through the vegetation. Then, on the last day, everything finally clicked for me. I was able to move at speed through the vegetation and not get lost all at the same time, and I had a great race result. It gave me the confidence I needed going in to WUOC.
Home: Bethel, Connecticut; Grenoble, France until the end of April
What is the best part of being part of the National Team? I'm happy to be on the National team because I have people with similar goals and who are training for the same reason around me. It's nice to have someone who I can ask for help and learn things from. It's also helpful since I'm moving up to the elite category and having teammates and friends at the same level will make things easier.
Home: Cambridge, Massachusetts
What event/s have you been to that were really special for you? In August 2015, I went to Scotland to spectate WOC and run in the Scottish 6 Day event. It was really fun to support the American seniors and inspiring to watch Emma Waddington race in the sprint. I ran one of the best races of my career on Day Three of the competition at Darnaway, ending up as first in my age category. That experience gave me a taste of what it is like to be a successful, competitive orienteer outside of the U.S.
What is your training focus this year? My training focus this year is consistency. Last year this was my largest challenge. I struggled with injuries that forced me to take breaks from training, so that I was never able to get into a good flow. This year, I am starting with small amounts of quality training and slowly working my way up to more quantity. The key is to get on a strict schedule and to have a good coach (shout out to Becky Carlyle) that keeps me accountable for my training. This year I will not only be consistent in my running, strength, and orienteering training, but also in keeping my body healthy. This includes sleeping enough every night, eating and drinking healthfully, and stretching/rolling!
Year of birth: 1991
Occupation: Graduate Project Engineer
Club: Delaware Valley Orienteering Association, BASOC
International experience: JWOC 2009-2011; WUOC 2010, 2012, 2014; WOC 2013, 2015
That reflection has really boosted my confidence and I have been able to focus on my weaknesses. Over the last year or so I have also focused strongly on my physical fitness, which was found to be one of my key weaknesses. So I have added in a lot of strength and conditioning, watching my nutrition, and trying to just get some consistency and quality training in. But mostly I have learned that I enjoy orienteering, I enjoy being out in the woods challenging myself and that my best runs are when I go out and just enjoy doing what I love.
Who are your orienteering idols? I don't really have one idol. I have many and all for different reasons. But mostly the people I'm about to list are my idols for the fact that despite being from smaller countries they have all excelled while also studying or working. They have also spent time talking to me and sharing their experiences. So my idols are: Emily Kemp, Tessa Hill, Jessica Tullie, Niamh O'Boyle, Murray Strain, and Scott Fraser.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes? My advice would be get on as many maps as possible and as different as possible. If you have limited maps you can get to start night orienteering as well, it totally changes your perception of the terrain around you. Also make sure you have a strong physical fitness base. Then it is all about consistency and process!
Year of birth: 1984
Occupation: Astrophysics post-doc
Club: Columbia River Orienteering Club, Cambridge Sports Union
International experience: WOC 2010-2015; Ski-WOC 2011 and 2013; World Games 2013
Do you have any pre-race rituals? Not too dedicated ones. I run for about 10 minutes and do a set of warm-up drills. Mentally, I think about what the terrain will be like, what choices the course setter might have put on the course given the terrain, stuff like that. But I’m now convinced that for long races, I need the during-race ritual of taking water and energy gel, which I hadn’t really done before this year. It really helps after about an hour in, and definitely if the race is longer than 90 minutes.What do you currently do in your training that is key to your success? I think be consistent. Improving in orienteering isn't about one killer workout or training camp, it's about training consistently year-in and year-out. Doing both the armchair studying of maps and the hard track or terrain intervals to have the speed. Most of all, it's getting out orienteering as much as possible, to make your brain expend minimal effort while ﬁguring out orienteering puzzles.
Home: Alma Center, Wisconsin
What is your training focus this year? My training focus this year is to get better at precise and accurate navigation. I want to maintain connection with the map at all times, learn how to think ahead and making decisions on the go. My goal is to get more confident in my navigation, so that I can then exercise my strengths on the running front.
Who is your "O" idol? Pippa Whitehouse
Home: Karlskrona, Sweden
Home: Sudbury, Massachusetts / Oslo, Norway
Do you have any pre-race rituals? One physical ritual that I like to do is to run 1cm pickups or strides. That is, if the map for the competition is printed at a scale of 1:10,000 then I run 100m strides several times during the warmup (I usually use paces to estimate). Similarly, if it's 1:4000, 40m pickups are in order. This means I have quicker/shorter pickups for the larger scales (which are usually sprints), and slower/longer pickups for the smaller scales. I will also try and pick up a target in the distance that I think is "1cm" away and see how close I am. These pickups add structure to my warmup, help calibrate my eyes, brain, and legs to the scale, and get my focus in the right place.
What changes to your training have you made over the past year to make you more successful? Over the past year I've adjusted my training to fit in with having a small bundle of awesomeness at home. It means that most of my training is commute running, a big change from before. This in turn means a lot more running on pavement and a lot less in the woods. This was a contributor to deciding to focus more on sprints, too.
Home: Philadelphia, PA. Currently Madrid, Spain
What do you currently do in your training that is key to your success? Lots of kilometers, lots of intervals, lots of maps, and lots of error analysis.
What is your training focus this year? The 2017 WOC Long Distance
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes? Enjoy the sport before taking it seriously. Motivation is key to succeed both in and out of competition.
Year of birth: 1991
Occupation: PhD Student in Medical Physics
Clubs: Cambridge Sports Union; O'Jura (France); Agrosso (Italy)
International experience: JWOC 2011; WUOC 2014 and '16; WOC 2012, 2014-16
What is the best part of being part of the National Team? Having friends all over the US, and all over the world, who are training toward a common goal, and who are sharing your love and commitment to this team. Also, Linda’s [ESC chair] patience with my late responses to emails is great. And so is hanging out at least once a year at Team Trials with inspiring teammates and our fearlessly dedicated and faithful team supporters.
What terrain suits you the best? I enjoy flat Scandinavian forests as well as technical rocky mountain slopes, and I’m very comfortable in karst terrain. My performances, however, usually depend more on the type of course than on the terrain itself.
What race format do you like the most? High-stake mass start relays, for sure. The higher the environmental pressure, the more I am able to focus on doing my best and forget how tired I am. I really like when that happens.
What event/s have you been to that were really special for you? O-Ringen 2008 in Dalarna was the first time I made it to a Scandinavian O-race, and it was an incredible experience. More than 24,000 runners were signed up to run in one of the most wonderful forest areas of the country, and it made me so happy to find out for the first time that so many other people in the world love the same sport I love. I haven't been back to O-Ringen since then, but this experience always stays with me and positively influences my daily trainings.
Home: Seattle, Washington
What changes to your training have you made over the past year to make you more successful? I'm aiming at the WOC Long Distance race again, so I'll be doing a lot of long runs. I had a very strong competitive year in 2016, but toward the end of the year, I noticed some ways that my body was not performing at its best that I attributed to insufficient strength. So this winter, I've renewed a focus on strength training, using some of the suggested exercises for developing strength and power from coach Erin Schirm.
What is your training focus this year? As a complement to preparing to run the Long Distance race at WOC (if I am fortunate enough to be selected), I am planning to train and compete in what will be my first marathon in September.
Home: Seattle, Washington
What is the best part of being part of the National Team? Though the team may be spread thin geographically, it's great to be a part of the cohesive whole, experience the team atmosphere, and have the spoken or unspoken connection, even with those team members you might not know well, of working with a group of intelligent, motivated people toward common goals.
Home: Fremont, California; currently stationed in Okinawa
What event/s have you been to that were really special for you? The 5th Asian Orienteering Championships in 2016 was really special to me. Despite the competition of all the different countries, I placed high in a sprint and middle, which meant a lot to me, because my hard work paid off!
What terrain suits you the best? I love sprints. Urban-O is my absolute favorite because speed is one of my biggest strengths.
What is the best part of being part of the National Team? I joined the National Team to get the opportunity to continue to improve my orienteering while sharing it with people that also enjoy the sport.
Who is your "O" idol? Jordan Laughlin! He was a big role model while I was at West Point. Jordan is passionate for the sport and great at it, but I admire his humbleness. He would always take the time to mentor any Cadet or someone asking for help. From my experiences, he's a quiet professional, which is admirable in the Army.
Home: Kristiansand, Norway
What event/s have you been to that were really special for you? The most fun races last year probably were the American [U.S.] Championship, Jukola, and the middle qualification in JWOC. Even though my shape in the American Championship was just OK, the technical part was on point, and I felt like I was in charge the whole time. It was the same in Jukola. I ran second leg and started running in 250th position, but by just running safe without mistakes, I changed over in 140th position. The middle qualification in JWOC was a bit different. I started running high speed and was in the lead at the second control, but I was too crazy, and ran faster than I could orienteer. I ended up barely making the A-final, and that was a really good feeling.
What terrain suits you the best? Terrain similar to Kristiansand. A lot of change in direction and quite demanding terrain. Probably the type of terrain that most orienteers dislike. It is very similar to Strømstad where WOC is held this year.
What is the best part of being part of the National Team? It is a really good motivation to train hard because you want to perform for your teammates in relays.
Who is your "O" idol? I have a teammate in KOK, Gaute Friestad, who is really good in sprint, but also a fast runner in the woods. That is always my goal to improve in both these diciplines.
Home: Watertown, New York
What changes to your training have you made over the past year to make you more successful? Recently I have worked on increasing my speed and endurance in road/trail racing to increase my speed in the woods.
What event/s have you been to that were really special for you? The Hudson Highlander and the West Point National Event are really special events to me. The West Point National Event because of how much time I spent on it as a cadet and the amount of knowledge gained through the process that vastly helped my orienteering. The Hudson Highlander because it is a great combination of speed, endurance, and metal fortitude in Harriman State Park. The course is one of the single most important events to get me hooked on orienteering.
Home: Hudson, Wisconsin
Home: Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania
What do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? I've recently found that a focus on hill running when training (on roads or trails) is especially helpful, as orienteering tends to be steeper, and has more leg lifting over the forest floor, that running hills prepare you for better. This applies to both recovery days (slow hill runs) and harder days (intervals and tempo runs). I've also found the Strava app's segment leaderboards to be helpful in getting a strong push vs. virtual partners for interval days.
Home: Birmingham, Alabana
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes? I'd offer a small slice of inspiration. My high school cross-country coach used to preach about our potential every practice. But after we earned the Alabama 6A State Championship as seniors — breaking a 25 year dry spell — I've been obsessed with his message of hope, endurance, and character. Four years of blood, sweat, and tears back then now makes sense, and I carry those hard-fought lessons with me today. I've expanded my deep belief in potential and love of endurance at West Point. Be it finishing the North Face 50k, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, or making the U.S. World University Team as a freshman, I learned that with a serious goal, dedicated spirit, and a team of friends, you can achieve anything. As the current Team Captain of West Point's O-Team I try to inspire with this mentality every day, helping others find the hope to challenge themselves. Be it a small practice or a big meet, working hard and dreaming big pay off. And the best part is: there's always a new mountain to climb.
Who is your "O" idol? Albin Ridefelt. I ran into this Swedish orienteer at the WUOC '14 banquet. Besides seeing him on the podium a few times, we'd never spoken but he was thrilled to learn I serve in the military. We exchanged Facebook information and left as acquaintances. A year later in 2015, I found myself studying abroad in Hamburg, Germany. Eager to orienteer on legendary Swedish terrain, I contacted him for recommendations on a meet to travel to. Not only did he point me to a meet or two, but also invited me on an elite training weekend with OK Linné's best. We trained hard in the bluffs of Falun, Sweden that November weekend. His humility, dedication, and compassion to include a mere amateur orienteer continue to impress me. He's currently ranked 16th in the world.
Home: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
What are your aspirations in orienteering? My athletic experience is not extensive; I rowed crew for a year in college and have tried to mold myself into a distance runner as part of my orienteering. However, I am very competitive and ambitious. It's not realistic to think that I could win a world championship, but there are many degrees of success. I want to race against the very best in the U.S. and world, to represent the U.S. at the World Championships, and to find out how good I can become.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes? Train hard, intelligently, and consistently. Orienteering is a unique combination of skills, requiring speed, endurance, strength, concentration, problem solving, and ability to perform under pressure. A regular distance running training regimen is critical, as is time spent thinking about and working on orienteering problems. Ideally, all our training would be specific — running in the woods; running on maps. Training to orienteer well is much like learning to play a musical instrument. Each skill must be practiced repetitively in isolation and in combination.
Home: Bethesda, Maryland
What is your training focus this year? I am focusing on flexibility, strength, and recovering from a lower-back problem I have been having for the last year.