The annual OUSA Competitive Awards are given to top American orienteers in several categories for outstanding competitive performance over the course of the past year. The Awards Committee members are Susan Grandjean, Boris Granovskiy, Linda Kohn, Patrick Nuss, and Ken Walker Sr.
This is the ninth year for these awards, and the fourth year that Orienteering USA members had the opportunity to vote for the candidates. The committee thanks all those who submitted nominations and who took the time to vote for your top OUSA athletes. We had a near-record number of votes cast this year! The vote totals were used as the main component in final award selection.
The Orienteer, Junior, and Comet of the Year award winners each receive a $500 travel grant to help them continue to improve their skills. Additionally, the Honorable Mentions in the three individual categories will receive $100 travel grants.
The Awards Committee would like to thank two anonymous donors for their generous contributions to the travel grants.
Here are the 2018 winners and recipients of honorable mentions (HM). Congratulations to all the winners!
Orienteer of the Year
Awarded to the best U.S. orienteer in 2018, based on results at national and international events
Greg Ahlswede (DVOA / Escondite Nature Sport, Spain)
Greg was among the very best U.S. orienteers at almost every race this year, with top-3 finishes at NAOC (3rd – long, 2nd – middle, 2nd – sprint) and at the U.S. Champs (2nd – long, middle, sprint).
Greg also finished 54th in the WOC long distance final and anchored Team USA to NAOC relay victory.
Alison Crocker (CROC)
Ali made a strong return to the world elite in 2018, finishing 36th in the sprint and 40th in the middle at WOC, Team USA’s best two individual performances.
She also exchanged in 10th place after the first leg of the WOC relay and anchored Team USA to relay victory at NAOC. A win in the long distance at NAOC earned Ali an automatic qualifying spot for WOC 2019.
Anton Salmenkyla (CSU / Helsingin Suunnistajat, Finland)
In his first year as a senior, Anton distinguished himself by qualifying for the middle distance finals at the European Championships in Switzerland, finishing 48th against an extremely strong field. Other highlights include 55th place in the middle distance at WOC and a gold in the middle distance at NAOC, earning an automatic spot for WOC 2019.
Also at NAOC, Anton was part of the relay-winning US Team and finished 3rd in the sprint and 6th in the long distance.
Junior Orienteer of the Year
Awarded to the best U.S. orienteer in 2018 under the age of 21, based on results at national and international events
Tyra Christopherson (COC)
In her final year as a junior, Tyra qualified for the senior WOC team for the second year in a row and was perhaps the top U.S. junior at JWOC, where she finished 66th, 63rd, and 72nd in the three individual distances.
At NAOC, Tyra anchored the dominant U.S. junior women’s relay team to victory and added a sprint gold, middle distance silver, and long distance bronze in F-20 to her collection.
AJ Riley (DVOA)
Though still an M-18 runner, AJ had a dominant year in North American racing, sweeping the individual golds at NAOC in M18. He is ranked 1st in the U.S. in M-18 and 4th in M-20 and is the reigning U.S. High School Varsity Champion.
AJ tried his hand at racing against the seniors at the U.S. Champs, winning a bronze medal in sprint in M21.
Comet of the Year
Awarded to the US orienteer who has made the most progress in their orienteering results during the 2018 season
Keegan Harkavy (CSU/NEOC)
As just a 15-year-old, Keegan made the jump from the Orange course to Green in M-18 and finished the year ranked 2nd in that category.
He also earned the bronze medal at the U.S. High School Varsity Championships, and had top-10 finishes at the Billygoat and the Harriman Fall Goat races.
Sydney Fisher (SMOC)
Sydney improved from a ranking of 8th to 4th in the F21+ category over the course of the year, raising her OUSA score from 74.75 to 78.85. She was named to the 2018 USA team for the first time as a development member. After training hard through the spring, she came in 3rd in points at her first team trials and was named an alternate to the WOC team for the first time.
She also recorded her first solo overall wins in Rogaining with wins at Green Corn Moon (6 hr) and Legend of the Dogman (18 hr) and earned a silver medal at the U.S. Champs in the long distance.
Team of the Year
Awarded for the best team competitive performance during the 2018 season
U.S. Senior Team at NAOC
Team USA went all the way to the Yukon, Canada and took the Björn Kjellström Cup back from the Canadians. This was a true team effort, as four different team members (Ali Crocker, Tori Borish, Morten Jorgensen, and Anton Salmenkyla) winning individual gold medals, and both the men’s and women’s relay teams claiming golds as well.
Fifteen different competitors contributed to Team USA’s victory.
U.S. JWOC Men’s Relay Team
Composed of Thomas Laraia, David Runde, and Martin Borge Heir, the team finished as the 15th country, just 17 minutes behind winning Norway.
This is the best-ever U.S. men’s relay finish at JWOC, improving on last year’s 18th place.
Competition Awards eligibility
To be awarded any of the individual awards a nominee has to be a USA citizen, and must be a member of Orienteering USA in good standing during the current calendar year. Additionally, for the Junior Orienteer of the Year award, the nominee has to be no older than 20 at the end of the calendar year. To be selected for the Orienteering Team of the Year award, all team members have to be Orienteering USA members and represent the U.S. or an OUSA chartered club in competition.
Competitors in any forms of orienteering are eligible, including Foot O, Ski O, Mountain Bike O, Trail O, and Rogaining.
The award winners were selected by a committee appointed by Orienteering USA from a list of candidates nominated by members of the U.S. and international orienteering communities, with voting by OUSA members again guiding the selection this year.