2016 OUSA Competitive Award Winners Announced

The Annual OUSA Orienteering Awards are given to 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 seventh year for these awards, and the second 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.  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. The Awards Committee would like to thank the following clubs for their generous contributions to the travel grants:

Cascade Orienteering Club
Green Mountain Orienteering Club
Quantico Orienteering Club
Rochester Orienteering Club
Western Connecticut Orienteering Club

Past Competitive Award winners are listed here, with links to the respective announcements.

Here are the 2016 winners and honorable mentions (HM). Congratulations to all the winners!
(view announcement with photographs as a printable PDF)

Orienteer of the Year

Awarded to the best U.S. orienteer in 2016, based on results at national and international events.

Greg Ahlswede (DVOA and Escondite Nature Sport, Spain)

Greg has established himself as the highest ranked American in M-21+. He has demonstrated physical and navigational prowess by winning the 2016 Classic Championships and taking the podium in both the Long and Sprint at the North Americans.  Greg, NAOC Long Distance  Champion, is the first American man to earn a personal WOC berth for WOC 2017.

In addition to his results, Greg has demonstrated a commitment to the sport through his lifestyle choices, his dedication to training, and his mindset as a full-time athlete. Given Greg's personal WOC spot, 2017 brings exciting potential as he strives to attack the international orienteering scene more emphatically than any American man in the past decade.

Greg currently lives in Madrid, Spain and trains with Escondite Nature Club.

[photo credit: Dave Yee]

Honorable Mention: Sharon Crawford (RMOC)

Sharon had a great year competing in Ski-O, Rogaine, and Foot-O.  In the Ski Orienteering World Masters Championships in F70+ she took gold in the long and silver in the middle.  Along with teammate Robin Spriggs (AUS) she went on to win the Women's Ultra Veteran Category at the World Rogaine Championships in Australia.  At the World Masters Orienteering Championships in Estonia, in a field of over 150 F70+s, Sharon went on to earn top-10 finishes in the long and sprint distances. Once again, Sharon did an excellent job of representing the U.S. in international competition across many of our sport’s disciplines.

[photo credit: Dave Yee]

Junior Orienteer of the Year

Awarded to the best U.S. orienteer in 2016 under the age of 21, based on results at national and international events.

Michael Laraia (MNOC)

Michael set himself up nicely for this year with a semester in Switzerland and had a string of consistent top results in the U.S. at competitions from West Point to NAOC. He finished 18th in his JWOC middle qualifier and made the 'A' final.

Dominant in M-20 and in his last year of junior eligibility, he made his move to M-21+ and earned a berth on the WOC Team.  At NAOC, Michael had the second fastest U.S. sprint time in M-21+ and finished with the 5th fastest U.S. time in the middle.  He is currently the 5th ranked American in the M-21+ rankings.

[photo: Dave Yee]


Honorable Mention: Anton Salmenkylä (CSU)

Anton made the U.S. JWOC Team after winning the middle distance at the JWOC Trials. He was the best U.S. male junior at JWOC, finishing 33rd in the long distance, 36th in the sprint, and 4th on the first leg of the relay. Anton then helped the U.S. juniors win the Future Champions Cup at NAOC by earning gold medals at the long and sprint distances.

[photo: Dave Yee]

Honorable Mention: Kestrel Owens (GMOC)

This year Kestrel developed into a strong ski orienteer, following several competitive seasons gathering experience in the U.S. and Europe. At the North American Champs in March 2016, he placed 2nd overall and won the M-21+ Middle North American and U.S. categories. He took 2nd for the North American and U.S. Sprint distance, finishing 3rd overall. He continues this year in college, spending the January break in Europe at the Ski-O Tour World Ranking Races in Switzerland and Austria.

[photo: Greg Walker]

Honorable Mention: Åsne Skram Tromborg (Kongsberg OL, Norway)

Åsne's performance at JWOC, with a 16th place in the middle, 24th in the long and 7th on leg one of the relay, combined with multiple top-6 finishes in Norwegian Championships this fall, have been some of the best performances in U.S. junior history.

[photo: Dave Yee]




Comet of the Year

Awarded to the U.S. orienteer who has made the most progress in orienteering results during the 2016 season.

Will Enger (COC)

Will made the WOC team for the first time this year with a decisive performance on the Long course at the team trials. Despite some injuries towards the end of the racing season, he put up solid results throughout the year.  Will is the reigning U.S. Sprint Champion and finishes the year as the third ranked American in M-21+ after being ranked 6th in 2015.

[photo: Dave Yee]


Honorable Mention: Abra McNair (CROC)

Abra had two top-40 finishes at the 2016 WMTBOC (middle–36, long–37) as well as showing evidence of a breakthrough in her fitness level, competitive drive, and mental game.  Her consistency this year at the WMBTOC in Portugal has shown that she is making great advances in the Elite level of Mountain Bike Orienteering.

[photo: orienteering.it]



Team of the Year

Awarded for the best team competitive performance during the 2016 season.

U.S. Junior National Team

The U.S. Junior Team, under the leadership of Coach Erin Schirm, had a tremendous year in 2016, culminating in great results at JWOC and U.S. domination at NAOC. When JNT members compete at National Meets they usually win or sweep the podium in the junior classes. The JWOC women's relay team finished 14th this year and the men's team 18th, showing some of the best U.S. results in recent memory. Led by JNT members, the U.S. juniors won the Future Champions Cup at NAOC with a great team performance. The depth of the team was on full display at NAOC, as Tyra Christopherson, Evalin Brautigam, Isabel Bryant, and Anton Salmenkylä all earned individual NAOC gold medals.

This team works together year-round to support each other in training. They make a strong commitment and over the years the improvement has been amazing.  We look forward to following the results of these juniors as they move up the ranks.

[photo: Dave Yee]


Honorable Mention: Henry County (GA) High School Warhawks

The Warhawks Team, under the leadership of Chief David Moss, finished their season winning all of its regular season and championship season events.  Highlights of their season included Team Championships in:

  • U.S. Interscholastic Championships, Flying Pig, OCIN—Interscholastic Varsity; JROTC Varsity and JROTC JV
  • South East Interscholastic Championships, Georgia Navigator Cup, GAOC—Interscholastic Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Intermediate as well as JROTC Varsity and JROTC JV.
  • JROTC Navy Orienteering Championship Invitational (NOCI), Cascade Orienteering Club—Varsity, JV, Intermediate and Overall Team competitions.
  • U.S. “All Services” Interscholastic Nationals (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps), Cincinnati—JROTC Varsity & JROTC JV.

[photo: Petina Moss]

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.

Previous Competitive Award winners

posted 23 February 2017