Orienteering USA National Event Changes

The Orienteering USA Board of Directors just approved a new structure for our National Events. The full proposal that was passed can be viewed below.

The rules changes to support the intent of this proposal are being drafted and will be available soon. The most important changes are that our championship Events are now known as:

  • Junior Nationals (former Interscholastic and Intercollegiate Championships)
  • Orienteering USA Nationals (former sprint/middle/long distance Individual Championships)
  • Masters Nationals (former Two-day combined-time Classic Championships)

We look forward to clubs taking advantage of the new "free" ranking event days (see proposal), and building a fuller schedule of National Ranking Events in the future. If you or your club have any questions about this, please contact Alex Jospe, VP of Competition.


Orienteering in the United States is facing some challenges at the national level. National Events are seeing low numbers of participation that are static from one year to the next, and National Championship events have inconsistent and low attendance. There is a shortage of National Events in all the regions of our large country, leading to unfairly low rankings for competitive orienteers who live in an area of sparse National Events. On top of this, it is often too difficult and burdensome for small clubs to hold National Events.

Orienteering USA currently supports 12 different Championship Events in Foot Orienteering (source), and this leads to a devaluation of each championship. The National Championships have little to no arena/race environment, dependent completely on the individual race director, with no clarity for expectations of event productions at various levels of events. Moreover, Orienteering USA does not enforce or suggest a consistent timing of National Championship events. This makes it difficult to plan and prepare, from the perspective of athletes, event organizers, and sponsors.

Orienteering USA would like to make it easier for small clubs to host National Events, so that we have more National Events in more regions of the country. Orienteering USA would like our National Championship events to be closer to the state-of-the-art productions, to encourage members at all ages and abilities to race at our premiere events and to provide a top-notch competitive experience. Orienteering USA would like to be able to assist event organizers by providing tiered expectations of event production, and materials such as templates, consistent procedures, rental equipment, and branding assistance.


  • Rename US Individual Orienteering Championships to “Orienteering USA Nationals”
  • Rename US Interscholastic Championships and US Intercollegiate Championships to “Orienteering USA Junior Nationals”
  • Rename US Two Day Classic Championships to “Orienteering USA Masters Nationals”

Orienteering USA Nationals (colloquially “Nationals”), Orienteering USA Junior Nationals (colloquially “Junior Nationals”) and Orienteering USA Masters Nationals (colloquially “Masters Nationals”) will replace all current Championship Events. When combined with another event, it will be called Orienteering USA Junior Nationals at the OCIN Flying Pig, e.g. This consistent branding across events makes it more attractive to a target demographic of young athletes who have participated in other outdoor sports, and more saleable to sponsors, and gives us an opportunity to make Orienteering USA branding more prominently visible at events. Each of the National Championship Events has a target demographic. The Masters Nationals  is based around wanting an event that focuses on our masters, which is our largest age class and largest class of donors, and looks to existing models of IOF masters championships, e.g. ski-o with the two-day combined middle, and foot-o with a two-day combined long qualification.


  • Remove the US Night, Ultralong, and Relay races as championship events

These events have not drawn a large enough crowd lately to justify currently having them as championships. Having an event with only a few people in each age class dilutes the importance of a National Championship Event. We will retain the ability to have sanctioned national events in these formats.


  • Award Orienteering USA medals only to the following classes at Junior Nationals: ISVF, ISVM, ISJVF, ISJVM, ISIF, ISIM, ISPF, ISPM, ICVF, ICVM, ICJVF, ICJFM
  • Award Orienteering USA medals to the following age classes at Nationals:  F-10, M-10, F-12, M-12, F-14, M-14, F-16, M-16, F-18, M-18, F-20, M-20, F21+, M21+, F35+, M35+, F40+, M40+, F45+, M45+, F50+, M50+, F55+, M55+, F60+, M60+, F65+, M65+, F70+, M70+, F75+, M75+, F80+, M80+, F85+, M85+
  • Award Orienteering USA medals to only 35+ age classes at Masters Nationals: F35+, M35+, F40+, M40+, F45+, M45+, F50+, M50+, F55+, M55+, F60+, M60+, F65+, M65+, F70+, M70+, F75+, M75+, F80+, M80+, F85+, M85+

Junior Nationals and Masters Nationals are each only awarding medals to their target demographic. All age classes can be offered at all events, but will not be championship categories. This is to emphasize the target demographic of each Championship Event. This is most important for Junior Nationals, when the entire event focus ought to be on the juniors and collegiates at the event. Age categories beyond that will be deemphasized.


  • Award each club a single day sanctioned event once per year with no sanctioning fees for OUSA members.

The intention is that all sanctioned events go into the same ranking system. The reason for these Orienteering USA Ranking Events is to set expectations for competitors. We want to capitalize on existing high-quality local events that clubs are already staging, and allow competitors at those events to get a ranking from that event. The benefits of this include developing a more robust ranking base across all regions, allowing clubs to be part of the national ranking system without additional burden, and exposing more people to Orienteering USA. The differentiation between these OUSA Ranking Events and National Ranking Events is meant to indicate the draw of the event, where event production is more in line with what is expected at a local event.

This "free" day is not intended to replace a day that would already be sanctioned (such as one day of a two-day National Ranking Event), but to allow clubs to sanction existing high-quality events they’re already hosting. This restriction is to be enforced via the sanctioning process. Non-Orienteering USA members will still have to pay the non-member surcharge. As these events are intended to expose more people to the concept of national events, we want to provide a reason for conversion to Orienteering USA members.


  • Refer to Junior Nationals, Nationals, and Masters Nationals as National Championship Events
  • Refer to Orienteering USA sanctioned National Events as National Ranking Events
  • Refer to club “free” sanctioned days as Regional Ranking Events

Continue to move away from the term “meet.” Consistent modern naming allows us to put together better branding packages for these events that will appeal to people who have not been long-time members of the community. The term ranking in the name of these events emphasizes that one of the major benefits of these events is to get ranking points.


  • Change wording of OUSA discount to be a “Non Member Surcharge” instead of a member discount.

Non-members to Orienteering USA must buy a day license to Orienteering USA, to make it clear that non-members are paying their share of the insurance. This is in alignment with how the discount is actually calculated on the sanctioning payment forms, and in alignment with how other sports handle the member/non-member situation at sanctioned events. This also allows us to advertise events at their member price, rather than the non-member price.


  • Open start times for all age classes on White and Yellow courses.

This is a change intended to make events more family-friendly. This allows parents who are at events with their children to be able to compete, and still shadow their children. It should be encouraged to clubs to have the white/yellow start as close to the start as possible, and to simplify the start procedures as much as possible.

This open start time does not apply to Junior Nationals, because Junior Nationals does not offer age-class awards.


  • Allow time before the start with the map for all age classes on White and Yellow courses.

Allowing some time with the map before the clock starts allows parents to review the course with their children, helps them to plan for legs and review where problems may occur. This will help to ensure that children are successful on their courses, having fun, and progressing in their orienteering skills.

This pre-race map time does not apply to Junior Nationals, because Junior Nationals does not offer age-class awards.

Future directions: Where is this set of changes pointing the Orienteering USA Competitive Event structure in the next five years?

  1. Develop a consistent branding package for our National Championship events that includes templates, physical banners, physical signs, and design elements to be used in other applications. This allows our Orienteering USA brand to permeate our National Events, and be consistent year to year.
  2. Review the junior nationals program to include team competitions, such as a relay.
  3. Investigate ways to make a relay competition attractive enough to become a well-attended premiere North American event. Recent attendance at relay championships has been abysmal.
  4. Investigate ways to bring some of our alternative-format mass start events into the national picture.
  5. Develop best practices and expectations for how National Event starts, finishes, timing, and arenas should be organized. Developing the atmosphere at our premiere events is as important as finding awesome orienteering terrain.
  6. Revamp the ranking system to be simply and quickly calculated (similar to other sports). Use this new ranking system as the base seeding for start lists at National Championship Events.
  7. Strive to have all races at Nationals be World Ranking Events (only applies to M/F21+ classes).
  8. Continue to investigate how to make events more family-friendly for those families with children in younger age categories.
  9. Investigate ways to build a calendar of Championship Events with consistency of event timing year to year.

posted 28 September 2017