Du svarer på indlæg fra Indsat af Morten Fenger-Grøn m. tilladelse af AL (2005-08-18 09:32:18)
"Open letter to the IOF-EEC-Reference Group from Alistair Landels, New Zealand:
To the IOF EEC Reference Group,
I have heard in the last couple of days that the IOF have decided to implement a Micro-O course in the Middle distance race at the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) next year in Denmark. Upon consideration of this, the history of development of orienteering race formats, and general fairness I wonder under what mandate the IOF have the right to implement such a radical change in race format.
After talking to a few people and following the Micro-O race in Norway I’ve come to the following conclusions regarding Micro-O:
If a TV company and organizer are prepared to lay down the resources to the extent they did in Norway they’d be better of trying to televise a normal race well. The general public has enough trouble trying to grasp what orienteering is without requiring them to understand:
The difference between the un-coded and coded controls on the course
How the runners determine the difference between the un-coded controls and bogus controls on the course
The system of penalties based on missed-controls, wrong controls, extra punches etc…
What orienteering actually is – running and navigation with map through un-known terrain etc…
The runners in Norway were equipped with GPS which were apparently used to direct the cameras as to where the runners were and follow those runners who were in/near the lead. It would be better for the (TV) audience if that information was also used to present the positions of runners on a map to the audience – they would then at least understand the tool (the map) that the runner has to use in order to navigate through the terrain.
One potentially big problem with Micro O’ is that it requires a relatively fail-safe punching system to provide a fair race. If one of the punching units from the un-coded section fails this could mean that the runner would maybe have to run an extra penalty. The organizers apparently said (I didn’t read it in the rules) that they’d film all the penalty loops and remove one from the runner’s time if this occurred.
An area which came up “on-the-side” in Norway which I’m sure hasn’t been presented, was how the non-competent English speaking teams coped with the very complex rules (which are a few pages long in complicated English). It begs the question whether this makes the competition fair – orienteering is great in that it almost a language-independent sport (map, compass, control-descriptions, start/punching/finish systems are all language independent). Orienteering is not wealthy enough yet for teams to employ interpreters in order to accurately translate the rules so that coaches and runners can fully understand the complex rules.
Finally Micro O creates an incredible burden on the organizer and controller to have everything technically correct. A few times in the last few years things have happened (at WCs mostly) which have been at the least dubious with regard to implementation of rules etc. These have led to unfair races for one reason or another (Gate-rules; too long races; too much following….). By introducing the Micro O’ dimension to orienteering it will create another large area where things could go wrong.
I’ve seen many TV-like big-screen presentations of orienteering in the past 5 years here in Scandinavia (WOC 2004, Jukola, Tiomila etc.) which could with a little finesse be suitable for the general public. Micro O’ is an unnecessary complication.
The driving force behind Micro-O has been the Norwegians – a country where Biathlon is a relatively big sport which includes the concept of penalty loops. While this concept may be familiar to Scandinavian (and some European) audiences who follow this sport I think it is otherwise a relatively unknown sensationalist concept which some Norwegians have successfully sold in to Norwegian TV. I’m sure if equally as much effort was made to sell for example GPS tracking on the map etc. to such a TV company I’m sure it would be equally as successful – if not more so.
These arguments don’t mean I’m totally against Micro O’…
If Micro O’ is to be implemented then I feel some changes to the rules should be made:
The biggest change should be that controls must be placed on features which mean that a runner is not required to change their orienteering technique significantly in order to find the correct control. In Norway a few controls were placed on features or in such a way that meant that the orienteer had to perform an unnatural execution of what is considered to be the best way to find a control. E.g:
The use of non-point features (such as long re-entrants on hillsides) where many bogus controls were placed at differing heights in the re-entrant but only one was correct. This degree of accuracy in orienteering is pointless and frustrating to the orienteer. It means that all “reference attack-points must be absolutely correct on the map. Only one control should be placed on each individual feature.
The use of point-features in areas such in 1 above where the only attack feature is not on a normal line of attack to the control. This happened in Norway where on the women’s course runners needed to run down a parallel re-entrant to another feature in order to establish the height at which a rock in another re-entrant was at. There were bogus controls on other rocks in the re-entrant very near to the control. In a normal course the runner would use the re-entrant where the control was to attack the control – not some other feature in another re-entrant…
“Controls in the forest” – those in the middle of nowhere seem silly and against the general principle of orienteering which is to find features – not to: “find where features are not”!
Controls on un-mapped similar features shouldn’t be allowed. They are distracting and dependant on the mapper’s interpretation on what should be on the map.
The point with Micro O’ should be to encourage accurate orienteering based on those features that are on the map and visible in the terrain. The demands on the map are extremely high to say the least. The idea should be to force the orienteer to read more features to accurately select the correct flag. To place controls in areas which have few features would probably be an unlikely scenario.
The rules regarding penalties should be reviewed and simplified. Why should the option to miss out a control be beneficial to the runner if they punched too many times at another control. There are possibly other improvements too.
Finally the rules need to be simple! I don’t even know if this is possible but the current Nordic rules seem overly complicated.
Historically, the IOF has used World Cups to test new race formats. Why has this not been done in this case? It sounds to me that the IOF are selling themselves out just to get on TV. I believe compromises can be made to standard formats sometimes to get races onto TV but think that if the IOF had really thought about the possibilities they could’ve sold fairly “standard” orienteering without introducing a such a radically new set of rules to a race. Micro-O has only ever been tested once internationally – and only a few other times (mostly in Norway) – certainly not enough in my opinion to warrant such a hurried introduction to a WOC race.
Lastly – who have the IOF consulted before approving such a radical change to a race format? Certainly not this forum which was set up as a vehicle for consultation of such matters! I have heard they questioned they Foot-O committee but am unsure of how they collectively responded to the IOF. I am almost certain that if the proposition to implement Micro-O had come up at an IOF congress for voting on whether it should be included in a forthcoming WOC it would have failed given it has only been tested once earlier. It would’ve been passed on to the Foot O committee for review and testing at an event such as a WC. This is what has happened previously with such new race formats.
In conclusion – I don’t think Micro O’ is mature enough and the rules well-thought-out enough to be a WOC level event in 2006. How to go forward from here I’m unsure about. But initially it would be interesting to hear if the other members of this forum agree with me or not and their opinions.
Best orienteering wishes,
New Zealand WOC Team Coach 2005
New Zealand WOC Team Member 1987-2001 alistair.landels (at) triona dot se