This press release was originally prepared by US Ski-O Team Coach Carl Fey with edits by Orienteering USA. Photos courtesy Carl Fey.
The 2024 World Ski Orienteering Championships (WSOC) are taking place in Ramsau, Austria from January 23-27. The Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships (JWSOC) and European Youth Ski Orienteering Championships (EYSOC) are being held concurrently on the same maps. The US National Team has skiers competing in all three events.
Ramsau is famous for its Dachstein glacier which is the most famous place in the world for summer skiing and is also a popular place for skiing in the winter with an extensive network of cross-country ski trails and beautiful mountain scenery. The weather conditions have been challenging with warm weather and rain resulting in melting and slow snow making it difficult for organizers and skiers alike. The organizers had to change some of courses less than 24 hours before the races.
US veteran ski orienteer Adrian Owens (GMOC) has had the best US result in the men’s World Championship races this week where he has had a friendly battle with fellow US team member Ari Ofsevit (CSU). To get to the start of the sprint race skiers took a chairlift resulting in fast conditions being mostly downhill through an extensive network of trials requiring quick decisions at high speed. In the sprint race, won by Jörgen Baklid (NOR), Adrian Owens placed 63rd with Ari Ofsevit close behind in 64th separated by a mere 21 seconds.
The grueling pursuit race was a a mass-start long race run as a one-man relay with three loops and Jörgen Baklid once again taking the win. Adrian was 54th and Ari was 55th. When asked about the race Adrian said, “I went and fought and fought on the course and finally made it to the end. There were really a lot of tough climbs today.” In the middle distance Adrian Owens was 59th place and Ari Ofsevit was 61st. When asked about the races in Ramsau US skier Ari Ofsevit replied, “Our hosts here in Ramsau have done an admiral job in somewhat adverse conditions. The long and middle distance races took us through many fields and forests with significant climb before an exhilarating downhill into the stadium”.
The US was represented by Alex Merka (QOC) in the Women’s Junior World Championships. This was Alex’s debut in international ski-o racing. She ended up 33rd in the sprint, 30th in the long race where she showed off great determination and stamina, and had her best race in the middle distance finishing 33rd. When asked about her races she said, “After the sprint race, which was skied in a blinding snowstorm, it was nice to have a sunny day for the long course, but that produce slow snow. I have discovered that long courses in ski-orienteering are really tough physically. I am happy that myself and my skis are durable.”
The US was represented by Erik Fey (ROC) in the Boy’s European Youth Ski-Orienteering Championships. While not quite the results Erik had hoped for, he had impressive results for the US with a 14th in the sprint, a 16th in the long, and an 18th in the middle. Erik showed off his skiing speed staying near the front for the first five controls in the long mass-start race, however, he was not able to turn this into the results he had hoped for. Erik said, “This was my first time to race in the hilly Alps which was a good experience but created very different orienteering route choices from what I am used to. It inspires me to be here, and I will train even harder for next year.”
The racing concludes with the relay races on January 27th. Races have been covered live on TV in several countries and can also be viewed on IOF TV (live or via replay). The team expressed their thanks to the great cooking by US Ski-O Team Cook and motivator Allison Van Akkeren who is the former US Biathlon Team cook and cooked healthy dinners for a hungry team all week. The team also expressed their thanks to US Team Coach Carl Fey for his long days of waxing, support at the races, attending team leaders meetings, and briefing team members in the evening. The US team has often not had a coach at international ski-o races and several team members mentioned this was much appreciated so that they could focus more on racing.
The US Ski-Orienteering Team would like to say a big thank you to Orienteering USA and other supporters this year. The US Ski-O Team hopes to field an even larger team at international races next year. This is only possible with financial support from Orienteering USA and others. Donations, which may be designated for the US Ski-O Team, can be made at: https://orienteeringusa.org/support/
For more information about the US Ski-Orienteering Team or how to qualify, please contact Adrian Owens, Chairperson of the US Ski-O Team Executive Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org