Back in July, Orienteering USA sent a strong team to Portugal to compete in the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC). Most of the 10-person squad arrived early and got in a week of quality training under very hot conditions. Unfortunately, conditions were so extreme that Portugual closed all forest access across the country, forcing the organizers to pivot and essentially create a ‘sprint-JWOC’ for all the athletes who trained so hard. At that time, the decision was made not to hold formal closing ceremonies, but to postpone the forest races until later in the fall after the danger of fires was gone.
The TeamUSA Executive Steering Committee is now excited to announce the team that will return to Portugal this November to finish what they started. Due to school commitments, many of the team members from July can not attend the forest races. Of the original 10 athletes, four will be returning: Lily Addicott (GAOC), Anna Campbell (NEOC), Alex Merka (QOC) and Holden Sopoti (USMAOC). Joining them will be Oriana Riley (DVOA) who was originally selected as an alternate for the original team, and Emilia Schmidt (QOC) who was selected to compete on the 2020 JWOC Team, but due to the cancellation of JWOC ’20 to the pandemic was unable to compete.
Emilia also brings along her personal coach, Kari Jussila,, who has agreed to be the coach for the US Team. Jussila is the general manager of the elite team for Tampereen Pyrintö – a well-known & regarded Finnish multi-sport club – and has about 50 years of experience in orienteering. Coaches Evalin Brautigam and Thomas Laraia, who coached the team in July, will remain as backup coaches and assist the team remotely, but are unable to attend the competition. Also accompanying the team will be parents Tuija Schmidt and Angelica Riley.