Per Stensby died August 17 at age 89. A Norwegian, he loved orienteering – it was in his blood. He was one of the first in the early evolution of the sport in the United States intimately involved in the beginnings of USOF (now OUSA) and was a founder of Backwoods Orienteering Klub in North Carolina in 1978. Per Stensby was the driving force behind the 1993 World Orienteering Championships held at Harriman State Park in NY serving as the Event Director. Per was also instrumental in the hosting of the Veterans’ World Cup in Minnesota in 1997.
The following memoriam was provided by Sara Mae & Larry Berman (CSU), publishers of Orienteering North America from 1985-1999 and long time supporters of US Orienteering.
Orienteering in the USA should be very grateful to Per, because of his work for the sport here, and his ability to use his contacts in Europe, where he grew up, to promote the sport here. Per was born in Norway and came to the US in 1959; he started the Backwoods O-Club in North Carolina. Per served as OUSA President in the 1980s, and represented North America at the International Orienteering Federation Congress during that time. He was passionately devoted to our sport.
In 1987, he got the IOF to grant the USA the Orienteering World Championships for 1993 at Harriman State Park in NY. To help prepare us for these international events, he got the IOF to grant us a World Cup set of events in 1992 at Pawtuckaway State Park in NH. He had to work hard to convince OUSA officers and members that this would be good for US orienteering. He had to work very hard to get the big sponsors, who support these events in Europe, to support the events in North America for the first time. He struggled for funds to have the maps made, get the volunteers organized, make the technical arrangements, and the set up venues and accommodations. His enormous efforts resulted a quality set of events, a landmark in OUSA history, earning the respect of the rest of the O-world. Eventually, volunteers from O-clubs all around the country, attracted by the wonder of a world championships on home terrain, stepped forward to insure the success of the events.
Per’s relationship with the OUSA Board was difficult at times, because they were worried that these events were too ambitious, and would result in OUSA going bankrupt. But between the sponsors and the USA Booster Club (donations from US members), the events resulted in a profit of $50,000. This helped fund the Veterans’ World Cup in 1997, also arranged by Per with the IOC.
Per made his mark on US orienteering, and those of us who worked closely with him remember his drive and vision fondly. One of a kind, no one recently has come forward with Per’s skills and energy.
With the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic showing no signs of abating in the next few months, most of the high level orienteering events scheduled for Fall of 2020 have now been cancelled or postponed. Recently cancelled events include: 42nd Annual Billygoat (WCOC), New England Championships (NEOC), Run the RotaryNRE (EMPO) and Chapel of the Four Chaplains Trail-O Championships (CRNA). Other national events have previously made the decision to move to 2021 and beyond.
While it is certainly disappointing not to have these major events to look forward to on the fall calendar, the increase in DIY/BYOM events over the past few months has shown that there is considerable interest in the sport of orienteering in the US. Many clubs across the country, utilizing recommendations developed by OUSA, have held successful summer events fully compliant with local, state and federal guidelines for group activity. As school districts around the country look to resume with a variety of in-person, remote & hybrid teaching formats, educators are increasingly looking for alternative ways to safely engage their students.
Perhaps the silver lining of the pandemic is an opportunity for the orienteering community to focus on building the base by highlighting local fall and winter events and programs like OUSA’s Zero to Orange & Level 1 Coaching programs (currently in transition to an online/hybrid model) and expanding the inventory of local maps through initiatives like the Youth Mapping Program. Experienced orienteers can hone their skills by using readily available technology to re-imagine familiar local maps in new and creative ways such as corridor/maze courses and contour-only maps, easy to administer flag-less courses using software such as UsynligO, O-Range and more.
2021 is gearing up to be a busy year of national level events and we look forward to being able to safely travel to more distant terrains around the country. In the meantime, let us know what your club is doing on a local level and how Orienteering USA can assist in those efforts.
Capital Region Nordic Alliance (CRNA), in cooperation with the Chapel of the 4 Chaplains has decided to postpone its Trail-O originally scheduled for Sept 11-13 in Philadelphia, PA to the Spring of 2021 due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Details regarding the new date will be forthcoming.
The International Orienteering Federation Council, at its digital meeting held this past Friday July 31st, decided that the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Turkey in October and the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Portugal in October will be cancelled due to the continuing effects of the Covid-19 virus pandemic.