2019 Orienteering in Europe with Keegan Harkavy

This summer I was given the chance to go to Europe with the U.S. Junior National Team. As an alternate on the team, I was able to participate in a week-long training program, as well as compete in a week of JWOC spectator races. Training, traveling and racing with some of the best junior orienteers was an incredible experience and made for one of the best summers of my life. I learned a lot about orienteering, and played a lot of cards.

My summer officially began with the Boston Sprint Camp which was held the first weekend of June. This was the first time since the April team trials where I could see some of the Junior National Team members and it was super fun to spend time with them, both racing and socializing. The races themselves were also awesome and it really got me pumped for the rest of the summer. Winning the sprint camp was also very nice.

My next stop, a couple of weeks later, was the Philadelphia training camp run by Greg Ahlswede. This training camp was designed by Greg and was for any junior orienteer, with the goal of training and being together as a group. While the woods weren’t the nicest, there was a lot of good quality orienteering. A lot of juniors participated and it was great to bond with them by playing cards and getting my nails painted. When the training camp ended, I had four days before the Junior National Team was scheduled to leave for the JWOC races in Europe, which I spent with fellow teammates Bridget, Julia, and Siri, and Gata (Greg’s cat) at Greg’s house in Pennsylvania. We trained some more, made some pasta, and floated down the river. All in all a pretty good week. From there we were off to Europe.

JWOC was held in Denmark this year, and we were there for a little over 2 weeks. About 16 athletes traveled to Denmark, to race and train. Of those, 12 were competing in JWOC. We were also traveling with three coaches: Erin Schirm, Greg Ahlswede, and Sam.

The trip was pretty much all training or racing. The first week of the trip was focused on training and preparing for the races. This consisted mostly of going out to the Danish woods and doing technical trainings, like line-o’s, contour-only o’s and control picks. The terrain in Denmark was amazing and I would love to go back and race there again some time. It was mostly an open forest with large pine trees. The woods were also quite hilly and the contours very visible. Besides just woods training we did some very weird other training. This training was a mix of team-building and skill practice. For example in one, we had to balance sticks on different parts of our body and then throw the sticks at people. When we were not training, we were playing cards. I played more cards in these two weeks than in the rest of the year combined. The second week was focused on racing. At this point, the JWOC athletes and the tour athletes separated.

My favorite race of the summer was the JWOC spectator long course. I loved this course for two reasons. The first reason was that this was my first good race while in Europe. The sprint race I had done the first day did not go quite how I had wanted it to go and nailing this race felt really good. The other reason I liked this race so much was that it was a mass start. This made the race much more competitive and was really fun to run in. This race really reminded me of the BillyGoat, which is one of my favorite races in the U.S., but it was bigger and more competitive. The first couple of controls were a blur to me, akin more to a cross-country race than a normal orienteering race. At around control 6, I found myself alone for the first time in the race and it really caught me off guard. I was executing my route perfectly to the control and knew exactly where I was and where I was going but being alone really shook my confidence. I could not imagine why I would be alone except if I was lost. This resulted in me missing my control by a bit and losing two to three minutes. Looking back on the control I am pretty sure the course setter did this on purpose by separating the two different courses that started at the same time on this control, this drastically reduced the number of people going to this control and thus I ended up alone. The rest of the race I was running mostly by myself. Yet I never felt really as alone as I do in the U.S. The vast amount of people in the woods really just changed the whole mood of the forest. I ran the rest of the race pretty cleanly and fast. The navigation was mostly reading the broad contours or finding the right trail route to the control. The course, while not being overly technical, was very physically demanding. When I finished it I was more tired than after any other race of the summer. One of my biggest surprises when I finished the race. I felt like I ran a very solid race with few mistakes and even still, I was a good five to ten minutes back from the leader. This level of skill, in the nonelite category, really surprised and amazed, me and l found it cool to see such good orienteers.

After the races, I headed back to the United States. As I was going home I was surprised at how sad I was to be leaving. Not only was I sad about leaving the amazing terrain and races, I was also really going to miss all of the other juniors I had become friends with over the past month and had lived, trained, ate and played cards with. We were a fun group and really liked hanging out with each other. When I got home I took a little break from training to recover, but after that recovery, I was back in the woods. Being back in familiar terrain I realized how much better I got in Europe and how much faster I was now. It also helped me really enjoy the sport and show me how far I can still go.

2019 Orienteering in Europe with Bridget Hall

Bridget Hall, NEOC

In 2018, I set the goal of being selected to represent the U.S. at the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC). A year of steady training, both physical and technical, led to good runs at the Junior Nationals in April; and, thanks to a generous grant from NEOC, I was on my way to Denmark!

When we first got to Denmark we had a week with all 18 U.S. athletes (JWOC team, JWOC alternates, and just very involved National Junior Program members) during which we did lots of technical training to get used to the Danish terrain. Danish terrain is quite different from the terrain here in New England—they barely have any rocks! Some of the woods barely had any undergrowth, because it was maintained, which made for some fast and easy running. Other areas had young pine trees that made for some thick green. During that week of training we worked to get our technical speed up, did team building exercises (check out the Junior Team Facebook page for some pretty entertaining videos), did strength training (before breakfast every morning as a full team), and, most importantly, played cards. Oh wait…that’s not right. Sorry. Orienteering was definitely the main focus….

After the first week, the JWOC team headed to the official JWOC accommodations, the dorms of a local university. Being in the official accommodation allowed us to get to know and socialize with teams from different countries. We all ate dinner together in the dining hall, and a lot of times we were joined by the South Africans and Lithuanians who we got to know quite well. The relationship building between teams is something that the International Orienteering Confederation prioritizes during JWOC.

U.S. JWOC Team during Opening Ceremony Parade

The week of JWOC started with an opening ceremony in which all of the teams paraded through the host town. It was the first time all of the teams were together which was overwhelming, but also very exciting. Following the opening ceremony, we went to the model event for the long and sprint which allowed us to see the terrain and what the mapping style was like. The long training helped me to see what each type of green was vegetation-wise, which would be possible to push through, and which to avoid completely. While out in the woods there were athletes from many teams, so there were constantly people running near you which was interesting and very different from running in the U.S. For the sprint model the whole team walked around together and discussed mapping styles, especially what features would be mapped, and what wouldn’t. When we got back to the dorms we also attended the technical model. This involved learning the start procedure–when to get the GPS tracker, all the different SI Air checks, and what would happen at the start line with maps—as well as the types of control stands that would be used for each race, and the finish procedure.

2019 U.S. Juniors in Europe

The first race was the sprint which was in a small town about an hour away from the dorms. I didn’t have a perfect run, but it was a good way to experience my first JWOC race, and I knew I still had many to go. The second day was the long which required an interesting style of orienteering with lots of finding routes to connect trails and avoid climb. I made a lot of mistakes as I learned to deal with the pressure of international competition, and I physically crashed halfway through, but it was still fun.

Start of JWOC women’s relay
(photo: Pål Runde)

Two days later it was time for the middle qualifiers—the best race of my week. With one three-ish minute mistake and limited others under 90 seconds, I managed to qualify for the B-final, which was quite exciting as a first year JWOC athlete. Sadly, the middle finals the following day and the relay the day after did not go as well as I had hoped. This did leave me extremely motivated for next year, though, and I learned a lot that I can take with me for years to come.

The JWOC races ended with a coaches race for which athletes from all over joined together to cheer on each other’s coaches, which was a cool bonding experience. The day after the team moved out of the dorm and spread all over as some headed back home and others stayed in Europe to travel and orienteer more.

2019 JWOC – Coaches’ race
(Athletes hanging around talking while waiting for the coaches to
come through the spectator loop)

I continued my travels in the UK, spending a week at the Scottish Six Days. I stayed at the event campsite where many juniors from the UK were also staying, so I got to know them a bit. It was a really interesting week with many different types of terrain which required different skills. Some days were a lot more technical and others less so, requiring more physical speed. I was able to apply my experience from Denmark, and with that came a number of strong races. There were 28 athletes in F17-18, and I finished 8th overall.

Me covered in mud after my first race at the
Scottish 6 Days

NEOC’s generous grant helped to make this trip possible. Thank you to everyone that supported my trip to Europe and my year of training—I couldn’t have done it without your support.


Men’s middle distance final. Click on map for larger image
Åsne in action in the middle distance. 
Anton sprinting to the finish.

The biggest event of the international racing scene, the World Orienteering Championships, took place in Norway in the middle of August. Team USA had some outsanding performances. Anton Salmenkylä (CSU) finished 37th in the middle distance final, just over 8 minutes behind the world champion Olav Lundanes of Norway. This was the best U.S. men’s middle distance result at WOC of all time, improving on Brian May’s 44th place from WOC 2003. The men’s relay team (Morten Jorgensen, Anton Salmenkylä, Greg Ahlswede) ran very well, finishing as the 20th nation – the best U.S. men’s result since 1991, when considerably fewer countries participated in WOC.

Morten in the relay (photos by Matias Salonen)
Ali in the long distance

The women’s team also had strong results, led by Alison Crocker’s 41st place in the long distance and Åsne Skram Tromborg’s 49th place in the middle distance. As a result of the U.S. women’s successful performances during WOC, Team USA has been promoted to “Tier 2 nation” status, meaning that we will be able to field at least two women in the long distance final in the next forest WOC (2021 in Czechia). Note that WOC in 2020 in Denmark will only be contested in the sprint distances, with subsequent WOCs alternating between “forest” and “urban” every other year.

You can see full WOC results and maps here.

US Team Results at World Orienteering Championships 2019

Middle Qualification, August 13

  • MEN
    • Heat 1
      1. Olav Lundanes (NOR), 24:20; 2. Daniel Hubmann (SUI), 25:12; 3. Oleksandr Kratov (UKR), 26:25; 20. Anton Salmenkylä 30:25; 29. Michael Svoboda (CAN), 37:39; 35. Jordan Laughlin, 44:41
    • Heat 2
      1. Lucas Basset (FRA), 24:49; 2. Magne Daehli (NOR), 25:40; 3. J.V. Guildys (LIT), 25:53; 27. Robert Graham (CAN), 33:45, 30. Eric Bone, 34:41
    • Heat 3
      1. Matthias Kyburz (SUI), 25:21; Gustav Bergman (SWE), 25:38; Aleksi Niemi (FIN), 26:17; 23. Jan Erik Naess (CAN), 31:39, 34. Greg Ahlswede, 37:54
    • Heat 1
      1. Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg (NOR), 28:59; 2. Natalia Gemperly (RUS), 29:28; 3. Evely Kaasiku (EST), 30:13; 23. Emma Waddington (CAN), 39:27, 33. Sydney Fisher, 61:14
    • Heat 2
      1. Kamilla Olaussen (NOR), 29:16; 2. Lina Strand (SWE), 29:23; 3. Marika Teini (FIN), 29:57; 24. Åsne Skram Trømborg, 39:39; 27. Pia Blake (CAN), 41:56
    • Heat 3
      1. Cecilie Friberg Klysner (DEN), 28:45; 2. Tove Alexandersson (SWE), 28:51; 3. Marianne Andersen (NOR), 29:20; 14. Emily Kemp (CAN), 34:58; 29. Alison Campbell, 49:40; 32. Jennifer MacKeigan (CAN), 71:26

Commentary from Boris Granovskiy (U.S. National Team member):

The 2019 World Orienteering Championships (WOC) got underway today in Ostfold, Norway with the middle distance qualification race.

This year’s WOC is the first forest-only WOC since before the introduction of the sprint discipline in 2001. Forest and sprint WOCs are set to alternate annually starting this year.

In the middle distance qualifiers, top 15 competitors in each heat qualified for the finals outright. Additionally, the top runner from each country that did not have an automatic qualifier also made it through to the finals, up to a total of 60 finalists.

The top U.S. performance of the day was by Anton Salmenkylä (CSU / Helsingin Suunnistajat), who finished 20th in his heat, less than 2 minutes from qualifying outright. He will race in the middle distance finals on Friday along with Åsne Skram Trømborg, who had the best U.S. result on the women’s side, finishing 24th in her heat.

The full results can be found here, and the U.S. results are summarized below.

WOC continues tomorrow with the Long Distance final. Racing for the U.S. are Jordan Laughlin, Morten Jorgensen, Syd Fisher, and Ali Crocker. You can follow the races live here. Go Team USA!

Plc    Name                  Heat       Time    Time behind leader
20     Anton Salmenkylä       Men 1     30:25        +06:05
24     Åsne Skram Trømborg  Women 2     39:39        +10:23
29     Alison Campbell      Women 3     49:40        +20:55
30     Eric Bone              Men 2     34:41        +09:52
33     Sydney Fisher        Women 1     61:14        +32:15
34     Gregory Ahlswede       Men 3     37:54        +12:33
35     Jordan Laughlin        Men 1     44:41        +20:21

Long Final, August 14

  • MEN
    • 1. Olav Lundanes (NOR), 1:30:09
      2. Kasper Fosser (NOR), 1:31:48
      3. Daniel Hubmann (SUI), 1:33:07
      59. Morten Jorgensen, 2:07:18 (+37:09)
      60. Jordan Laughlin, 2:09:10 (+39:01)

      68. Will Critchley (CAN), 2:24:39 (+54:30)
    • 1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE), 1:09:00
      2. Lina Strand (SWE), 1:15:16
      3. Simona Aebersold (SUI), 1:15:50
      41. Ali Crocker, 1:37:27 (+28:27)
      62. Syd Fisher, 2:10:51 (+1:01:51)
      (Canada’s Emma Waddington dns)

Commentary from Boris:

On Wednesday the first medals of WOC 2019 were handed out, and long distance world champions were crowned. For the fourth year in a row on both the men’s and women’s sides, the champions are Olav Lundanes (Norway) and Tove Alexandersson (Sweden). Olav won an exciting close race, defeating teammate (and still junior!) Kaspar Fosser by 1:39, while Tove won in dominant fashion, finishing a whole 6:16 ahead of silver medalist Lina Strand (Sweden).

Team USA had four competitors, and four solid performances. On the women’s side, Ali Crocker held the lead when she finished and ended up in 41st place. Sydney Fisher ended up 62nd in her first WOC long distance race. Among the men, Morten Jorgensen finished just ahead of Jordan Laughlin, as they took places 59 and 60.

You can read the race report on World Of O, and see the full results on the WOC website.

Follow Team USA on Facebook (@usorienteeringteam) or Instagram, as they have been great at posting photos and videos direct from the races!

Middle Final, August 16

  • MEN
    • 1. Olav Lundanes (NOR), 34:18
      2. Gustav Bergman (SWE), 34:29
      3. Magne Daehli (NOR), 34:47
      37. Anton Salmenkylä, 42:29 (+8:11)
      42. Jan Erik Naess (CAN), 43:15 (+8:57)
    • 1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE), 38:20
      2. Simona Aebersold (SUI), 38:25
      3. Natalia Gemperle (RUS), 40:05
      26. Emily Kemp (CAN), 44:48 (+6:28)
      49. Åsne Skram Trømborg, 55:47 (+17:27)

Commentary from Boris:

Today at WOC was the middle distance final. The story at the top of the leaderboard was the same as for the long distance, with Olav Lundanes (Norway) and Tove Alexandersson (Sweden) becoming double gold medalists, albeit by much smaller margins than on Wednesday. Lundanes held off Sweden’s Gustav Bergman by 11 seconds, while Tove had just five seconds to spare in her win over Switzerland’s Simona Aebersold. (Places 3-7 were about 1:30 behind Simona, but within 7 seconds of each other!)

On the women’s side, Team USA was represented by  Åsne Skram Trømborg, who was in the lead early on and finished in an excellent 49th place. Running later in the day, Anton Salmenkylä did even better, finishing 37th, just over 8 minutes behind the world champion. This was the best U.S. men’s middle distance result at WOC of all time, improving on Brian May’s 44th place from WOC 2003. Congratulations Anton and Åsne on some great races! You can see full results here and maps and route choices here.

Tomorrow WOC concludes with the relay races. The U.S. teams, in running order, are as follows:

Alison Crocker
Åsne Skram Trømborg
Alison Campbell

Morten Jørgensen
Anton Salmenkylä
Greg Ahlswede

You can see the full start list and follow the race live here. Go Team USA!!

Relay, August 17

    • 1. Sweden, 1:35:49 (Strand, Alexandersson, Ohlsson)
      2. Switzerland, 1:35:53 (Hauswirth, Aebersold, Jakob)
      3. Russian Federation, 1:36:56 (Rudnaya, Riabkina, Gemperle)
      18. Canada, 1:58:24 (+22:35) (Waddington, Kemp, Blake)
      22. United States, 2:14:41 (+38:52) (Crocker, Trømborg, Campbell)
  • MEN
    • 1. Sweden, 1:40:42 (Runesson, Svensk, Bergman)
      2. Finland, 1:42:16 (Niemi, Kuukka, Kurmula)
      3. France, 1:42:25 (Rio, Tranchand, Basset)
      20. United States, 2:01:54 (+21:12) (Jørgensen, Salmenkylä, Ahlswede)
      29. Canada, 2:18:48 (+38:06) (Naess, Graham, Svoboda)

2019 US Team to WOC Announced

Below are the selections for this year’s World Orienteering Championships in Østfold, Norway, August 12–17. We saw some great performances at the Team Trials at West Point, and we hope all the athletes are able to stay/get healthy and train well. for those of you who didn’t make the team this year, please keep training and competing. I enjoyed watching you all race (except Greg limping into the Long finish).

Thank you to West Point (USMAOC) for hosting a great Trials, and to my fellow Review Panel Members. This year’s Review Panel (RP) consisted of Peggy Dickison, Tori Campbell, Will Hawkins, and Glen Tryson. If you have any questions, please direct them to Peggy and/or Erin Schirm, depending on your question.


  • Greg Ahlswede, DVOA
  • Eric Bone, COC
  • Morten Jørgensen, KOK (Kristiansand orienteringsklubb, Norway)
  • Jordan Laughlin, HOC
  • Anton Salmenkylä, CSU / Helsingen (Finland)


  • Alison Campbell, DVOA
  • Ali Crocker, CROC
  • Syd Fisher, WPOC
  • Åsne (Aasne) Skram Trømborg, NTNUI (Norway)

Race assignments

Middle Qualification, Tues, Aug 13 (Final on Aug 16):
Anton, Greg, Eric, Jordan | Syd, Åsne, Alison

Long, Wed, Aug 14:
Morten, Jordan | Ali, Sydney

Forest Relay, Sat, Aug 17:
Anton, Greg, Morten | Ali, Åsne, Alison

Review Panel notes:

Pavlina Brautigam qualified for the Middle by finishing second at the Team Trials, but has declined the automatic selection.

We have chosen to not name any overall team alternates.

In the announcement for race assignments , numbers in parentheses represent placing at Team Trials in the relevant discipline. “Performance” indicates the athlete either petitioned or was injured during Team Trials and was selected based on performance in National Ranking Events, World Ranking Events, or other events with a highly competitive field.

In selecting the best athletes for each race, the Review Panel considered automatic qualifications, strengths, and maximum number of races each individual could race competitively. For the remaining positions after automatic qualifications, the Review Panel considered whether petitioner or injured athlete’s body of performance indicated higher potential than another athlete’s documented team trials performance prior to naming an athlete based on performance.

Asterisks indicate we leave the selection of the men’s relay reserve (if needed) and the final call on Alison’s injury recovery for the WOC relay to the chair of the ESC, to be made during WOC as necessary. We wish all our athletes strong, healthy training in the upcoming months. Go, Team USA!

2018 OUSA Competitive Award Winners Announced

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.

Previous Competitive Award winners

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.

Honorable Mentions

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.

Honorable Mention

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.

Honorable Mention

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.

Honorable Mention

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.

2019 Texas Junior Orienteering Camp

Looking to take your junior orienteering skills to the next level? TJOC is your summer break destination. This intensive 6-day skills-based orienteering training camp is specifically designed for 13–19-year-old orienteers with orange-level course skills and above.

NTOA again hosts this year’s training camp from June 2–7, 2019, and all training, lodging, and meals take place in the air-conditioned spaces at Sid Richardson Scout Ranch in Bridgeport, TX.

Camp cost is $300 for junior participants and $100 for adult leaders.

Many of the best youth orienteers in the nation have graduated from TJOC. Join future champions at TJOC 2019!

Registration is open now! Sign up today!

Contact TJOC Director, Lt Col William Malpass, at wmalpass@nullpasadenaisd.org or visit the TJOC website at hoc.us.orienteering.org/texas-junior-orienteering-camp-2019 for more information.

2019 U.S. National Orienteering Team Announced

We are excited to announce the U.S. National Orienteering Team members for 2019:


Greg Ahlswede, Giacomo Barbone, Eric Bone, Tori Borish, Alison Crocker, Morten Jørgensen, Jordan Laughlin, Anton Salmenkyla


Alison Campbell, Will Enger, Sydney Fisher


Brigitte Bordelon, Siri Christopherson, Tyra Christopherson, Martin Heir, Michael Laraia, Asne Tromborg

According to OUSA Rules of Competition section G.1.6.2, Senior Team selection is based on:

a. The results of national and international competition.
b. Dedication to the sport of Orienteering.
c. Demonstration of sporting attitude.

From the OUSA website, Criteria for Selection to the Senior Team:

Selection is based on those who submitted Athlete Agreements, indicating their desire to be named to the Sr. Team. From that pool, National meet and international M/F-21+ performances during the preceding year were used to divide the members into Elite, Performance and Development teams.

  • Senior Elite Team — athletes who consistently produce top-level U.S. results in F21/M21.
  • Senior Performance Team — athletes who frequently produce strong U.S. results in F21/M21, at or near the level of the Elite Team.
  • Senior Development Team — athletes who have demonstrated potential to reach Performance/Elite level with further training and experience.

Youth Development and Coaching in Orienteering

The Future is Fun

by Erin Schirm, Junior Team Coach

I recently attended the 2018 U.S. Olympic Committee American Development Model (ADM) and Youth Sports Symposium in Colorado Springs withBarb Bryant [current VP-Youth Initiatives]. The conference brought together a mix of people ranging from youth sports initiative leaders, to people heading up national sports governing organizations. There were two and a half days of presentations and conversations focused on improving sports and making them more kid-friendly. The ADM highlights stages of development similar to the Canadian Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD), which suggests how to approach children at various ages and/or starting out in the sport. It was interesting to note that orienteering is not the only struggling sport and that many of the other national governing bodies are having similar issues.

Throughout the entire conference, there were a number of themes that continued to resurface. The four big ones include: (1) children are the future; (2) great coaching is key; (3) picking focus areas to develop rather than trying to do everything, and; (4) marketing and presenting the content of your sport well. In the following paragraphs I will discuss these themes in more detail.

Children are the future of the sport

This seems like an obvious point of development because kids bring families, and more kids in the sport means the continuation of the sport. The big question is, how to attract kids and retain them? The resounding starting point made in the conference, from a variety of sports, is “FUN!” For example, U.S. Archery starts kids off shooting at a variety of fun targets such as balloons full of paint and powder. U.S. Lacrosse is introducing the sport through fun games, such as keep-away, which naturally develop ingenuity, spacing, and moving to the ball without the coach having to spend a lot of time talking about the concepts.

Another key point is age-appropriate activities. Here, it is important to think back to our childhoods and remember how we played: The variety of games that we made up, the creative play that engaged imagination, our freedom of movement, and the sense awareness that we developed. Yet, it is all too common to think of a child as a small version of an adult, and to introduce sport to them in the way that adults and professionals practice the sport. It is becoming clear that this approach does not work and does not meet the kids’ needs. It ends up bringing in the intellect too fast. A common phrase many of us have here is, “get out of your head,” describing the experience when all activity is jammed up in the head and connection is lost to the surrounding environment. An adult who has had healthy play development and healthy skills development will be able to stay connected while working with a thinking concept.  Introducing a child to concepts too early essentially puts them right into their head, bypassing the stages of play and skill. The question arises, what is the right approach and how might we bring it to orienteering?

The new American Development Model describes that between ages 0-12 activities should be playful and discovery-based.  An example of an orienteering game is Vampire-O. It is a tag game with a navigational theme. Now, Vampire O as we know it usually requires a map. However, it can be simplified by giving a boundary and saying find as many flags as you can without getting tagged in the allotted time.  My experience of orienteering in the U.S. has been that we have great skills development which is appropriate for ages 10-12 and up. From 0-12, kids are developing their basic movement capacities and senses. Thus when you take the map out of Vampire O, kids have to now become aware of their surroundings, remember how to get back without a map, develop their visual sense to locate flags, and above all they enjoy it. All of these are precursor skills to using a map and compass in hand. Another example game is Pirates and Explorers. It’s set up with a base in the middle and a circle of bases at each of the eight cardinal directions. The Pirate starts in open space. The Explorers are given a direction such as NE and have to run to the base without getting tagged by the Pirate. The game ends when either all Explorers are caught or at least one Explorer makes it to all the bases when called and back home without getting tagged. The game teaches spatial awareness, seeing a variety of route choices to get from point A to point B, orientation to the cardinal directions, and gets the kids running, dodging, and playing. To attract more kids to the sport we can start with activities such as these to teach basic skills and make it fun. Once they realize what a great sport we have, the concepts of map reading and compass use make much more sense because the child has an experience of the activity before using the tool.

Great coaches

This is very closely tied to previous theme of children being the future. A coach is often one of the most influential people in an athlete’s life. A poor coach can push a child away from sport altogether. A good coach can inspire an athlete for the entirety of their life. Having a solid coaching program, and people who are passionate — and knowledgeable — about working with and inspiring kids is key. A kid may come back after their first experience because of the impression a good coach left them with. The people signing them up (i.e., mom and dad) pay attention, and if a child comes back glum or down versus energetic and fulfilled you know the answer to what will be cut when the going gets tough.

So how do we attract coaches and then retain them? It starts with finding candidates: keeping an eye out for someone who is good with kids, passionate about youth development, and interested in helping. Once you find them, talk to them, and encourage them to give it a go. And finally, educate them: provide them with information about how to work with kids, and tools to make practice planning easy. This recipe will help retain both coaches and kids, because everyone is thriving and having fun. In short, when you have a good coach, take care of them because they are the lifeblood of your programs, and kids often come back because of the coach. My goal out of this is to mainstream coaching education for the U.S. community and create a simple introductory program, along with the levels and models to highlight a healthy approach, so that the information is readily available when you find someone who is ready to be a coach.

Focused areas of development

You could say the first two themes that I talked about provide the answer for this theme: Where to focus our efforts. Many sports have many applications and arenas. For example, in orienteering we can offer training and events to scouts and JROTC, schools and after-school programs, boys and girls clubs, running groups, and many more. We can provide it in an urban setting, a forest setting, a school setting, a business setting, or an indoor setting. There are many directions to choose from.

It was clear at the symposium that decision makers need to choose a couple of directions and not try to reach everyone all at once. It’s important to note that you can always return to other areas of development once one is sufficiently underway. More importantly, if you can choose areas of development that can be adapted for the future areas of growth, you’re setting yourself up for long term success. For example, kids’ introductory programs will get more families involved, which means more volunteers, which means new potential coaches and potentially new course setters and mappers in the long term. Good education material can easily be adapted for schools, scouts, JROTC, etc. This way you can start expanding with a good core to many areas. Here are some basic steps to decide how to choose a focus area.   

  1. Figure out what you’re interested in and set some goals based on the interests (e.g., more schools doing orienteering in your area)
  2. Figure out what you already have that could serve as a starting point (e.g., a teacher or parent at the school or schools)
  3. Research what makes a program for your target audience effective (e.g., fun, age-appropriate, aligned with teaching standards)
  4. Create a program that is aligned with the best practices from your research (e.g., a game-based navigation activity with a lot of movement and very little talking). Something that can be effective for this step is partnering up with programs and people who can support what you are trying to accomplish with materials or advice.
  5. Track the implementation and make improvements based on observations of what’s working or not working (e.g., the scavenger hunt for the younger kids needed to be more picture-based because not all of them could read)

Once you get started you can use what you created to expand. Using the example above of a school program, once you’ve done it a few times you can adapt it to offer an after-school program for kids, or take elements of it and help incorporate them into kids’ running programs that already exist. At the conference we were introduced to programs such as TrueSport, an education-based program for ethics in sports. Another program was How to Coach Kids, an app with thirty minutes of video to give new coaches the basics for teaching kids. I’m excited to incorporate tools like this to already existing programs to enhance them and highlight even more some of the values in the junior program and Orienteering USA.

Marketing and presentation of the sport

This seems to be one of the main places that eludes us as orienteers. How do we present the sport? One point from the conference is to create good material that lays out core values, philosophies of sport, and educational approaches. For example, U.S. hockey has the slogan “no hockey is bad hockey.” So this means one of their values is to use any kind of hockey for development. This allows them to work together with roller hockey, floor hockey, and other fun versions of the sport. For marketing purposes, this suggests to people that you can start in any version of the sport and still be welcomed in ice hockey.

The slogan that we use for the junior national team is, “it starts at home”. This means that if we can’t do it in the U.S., and if the athletes don’t focus on their training in their local area, we will never reach our highest goals. This suggests a direction for the program as well as a nice marketing concept to use as a rallying cry.

The ADM provides a framework to describe, for example, how to progress the presentation of activities for various audiences participating in the sport. By aligning with the ADM, you are saying that you value play first, age-appropriate activities and elite development, as well as a life-long connection to the sport. At the conference, a multi-sport approach was referenced. It’s becoming common knowledge that a variety of sports at an earlier age is better than focused specialization. So rather than think we have to compete with soccer or baseball or basketball, we should think how can we work with them. This is quite a change from the current environment where the trend is specialization. If you can find ways to work with the youth sports programs in your local areas and fit schedules together, this is a huge selling point. Parents ultimately want what’s best for their kids and by offering programs that work towards healthy growth and child development, you are aligning with what parents are actually looking for. The hardest step is reeducation and I think for us in the orienteering community we have to start with education.

At the foundation of everything here is fun and joy. So my challenge to myself and my challenge to the orienteering community is, how can we make our sport fun in 2019?  Go USA: it starts at home!

2019 U.S. Junior National Orienteering Team Announced

The JTESC and the coaches of the Junior National Program, Erin Schirm and Greg Ahlswede, are happy to announce the members of the National Junior Program’s Development Team and National Team.

Please join us in welcoming the following athletes to our group for 2019: 

Junior Development Team (JDT):

  • Itzel Barbiere, SOAR
  • Jolie Barga, COC
  • Anna Campbell, COC / NEOC
  • Nathan Collinsworth, ROC
  • Corey Cutshall, QOC
  • Amalie Ertmann, BAOC
  • Isaac Freierman, Cambridge Rindge Latin School
  • Victor Frolenko, DVOA
  • Jacob Hook, LAOC
  • Wyatt Isaac, OCIN
  • Maxwell Janke, QOC
  • Zachary Kuder, QOC
  • Nathan Linardi, GAOC
  • Sam Loustaunau, (club tbd)
  • Kirsten Mayland, DVOA
  • Alexis Merka, QOC
  • Annika Mihata, COC
  • Salinda Miller, OCIN
  • John Phillips, LAOC
  • Ethan Powers, OCIN
  • Oriana Riley, DVOA
  • Alex Suarez, QOC
  • Robert Weller, SOAR

Junior National Team (JNT):

  • Diana Aleksieva, QOC
  • Siri Christopherson, COC
  • Jessica Colleran, COC
  • Julia Doubson, BAOC
  • Christiane Fletcher, GAOC
  • Bridget Hall, NEOC
  • Keegan Harkavy, NEOC
  • Thomas Laraia, MNOC
  • Kai Mihata. COC
  • Aidan Minto, ICO
  • Anthony (AJ) Riley, DVOA
  • David Runde, MNOC / Kristiansand OK (Norway)
  • Caroline Sandbo, COC
  • Adrian Vartia, OK Löftan (Sweden)
  • Piotr (Peter) Zakrevski, HVO

More information about the National Junior Program can be found on their page.

The work starts at home and we are looking forward to a great year. Go USA!!