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IOF proposal for WOC changes

Show Profile  rossmaxmo Posted: 11 March 2013, 4:17 PM  
Don't know if anyone has been following this, but basically IOF is about to introduce a whole heap of changes to the WOC format. Basically there will be a lot more Sprint at WOC and the most recent topic under revision is the removal of the Qualification races for Middle and Long. The consequences of this might be greater than some realise. In doing so they will allocate a certain amount of places to the finals based on country rankings, this means at WOC NZ will get:
Middle: 1 Man, 2 Women (as opposed to the current 3+3)
Long: 2 Men, 3 Women (as opposed to the current 3+3)

For example, this will make getting in the team (or selecting it for that matter) for WOC middle in men rather difficult.

As I see it, we have a lot of junior potential starting to come up through the ranks, and these changes will only serve to hinder our development in traditional orienteering and force our runners to focus mainly on sprint. Making the team will be difficult, and less people will get top international experience making it harder for them to improve. I fear that the amount of people that stay committed to elite level orienteering after reaching a senior level in NZ will die off if these changes go ahead.

WOC qualifications are also an important stepping stone for our national team members. Making a final at WOC (especially in Middle or Long) is quite an achievement in itself. Without the qualifications, the runners representing NZ at WOC (which will more likely than not be different people each year because of the small number allowed) will have less chance to gain experience, and the chances of them finishing at the back end of the field will be greater. Basically the rift between the top forest orienteering nations and ours will be likely to grow.

I'm a bit of an old codger now (in elite orienteering years) and on the way out, but I think that these changes will detrimentally affect the future of the sport for our up and coming runners.

It would be interesting to know what other NZers think.

If you want more info there is a discussion on worldofo at the moment:
http://news.worldofo.com/2013/03/10/comment-on-woc-qual-removal-good-or-bad-for-the-sport/

Show Profile  rossmaxmo Posted: 11 March 2013, 4:22 PM  
PS. There is a deadline of March 15th for any nations to formally disagree with the proposal.

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 12 March 2013, 1:56 AM  
My understanding is that the country allotments for middle and long are the same (so we'd get 1 & 2 for both races, plus any Oceania champions in the relevant distance BUT only in the WOC following the Oceania champs)

My overall impression of the proposed scheme is that it's very well thought out, could use a bit of tweaking, and absolutely sucks for non-European tier 2 and 3 countries. To put it another way, from the IOF's starting point that there will be no qualification races at WOC, then it's probably the best option BUT even if it's the most attractive pig wearing the prettiest lipstick, it's still a pig.

Show Profile  rossmaxmo Posted: 12 March 2013, 3:39 AM  
Yep, that's right that Oceania champions will get a place at WOC. I think Jan Kocbach took that into account with his examples of nation allotments in the link I posted above. There are some interesting comments there now. It seems even top European runners are not happy with the Quals being dropped even though it has much less of an effect on their participating numbers.

Show Profile  Neil K Posted: 12 March 2013, 3:52 AM  
On the other hand this will make World Ranking events more important to individuals and nations. It may mean that NZ shifts away from getting all our international experience from one week each year to a lot of other great events. Might be better.

Show Profile  rob.g Posted: 12 March 2013, 5:08 AM  
Yes, bring on the European multiday events, where a heap more experience is gained. I'm not convinced those outside our top one or two male/female runners should be at WOC, as shown by the number that haven't been able to qualify, and considering the expense to the federation.

Show Profile  rossmaxmo Posted: 12 March 2013, 5:28 AM  
I think a main reason a number of our athletes don't qualify at WOC is lack of experience, there will be even less opportunities for experience at WOC level with the changes (except in sprint). Of course with no qualifications at WOC, they will have to qualify for WOC middle and long (in a way) at NZ trials. The experience of running at Oringen or Fin 5 is a lot different to running at WOC, for example you're not representing NZ, you're not part of a team, there is less pressure to perform, not all the best runners are there etc. I don't think people currently unable to make the WOC team will be too keen to spend a lot of money to travel to Europe year after year for O-weeks, maybe once or twice but if the same top 1 or 2 are always going to WOC and getting better then they mightn't be too keen to keep on spending.

I like the idea that World Ranking events will become more important to nations, though it's hard to get any decent points in NZ or AUS and last I heard NZ was looking to be done with WRE's? Tim got outstanding points at STB stage 1, possibly the highest ever at a non-WOC race by an NZ male. If we could attract more runners to events in NZ during the European winter (currently Portugal is their mecca) then that could be one way to save us.

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 12 March 2013, 1:07 PM  
Agree with your last point Ross, I've often thought we should be marketing NZ as a premier off-season destination for the top level competitors, but have no idea how to go about that - obviously in comparison with Portugal/Spain, Turkey and even South Africa, we'd have distance against us, but even having aiming to have a dozen or so of world's top 100 here any given summer would make a difference... anyway back to topic...

If there is going to be a formal negative response to the WOC proposals I think we need to be prepared to counter what the supporters of this proposal might see as the strengths. One thing worth highlighting is how important the (traditional) relay becomes for tier 2&3 countries looking to improve their status. Great, adds a whole level of excitement to the relay well beyond the medal placings right? BUT like all the good parts of the scheme it all revolves around the assumption that all countries aiming to improve or defend their status are equally able to send their best team every year. One of our elites has already made the comment in a similar thread on attackpoint along the lines of "nobody will travel to the other side of the world just to run in the relay, therefore as long as NZ just has 1 or 2 runners in the forest races we probably won't be in the relay". I'm not sure this is completely true - I reckon there's a fair chance that most years we could find enough people happy to go to WOC knowing they'd be only running in the sprint and relay, but how often would it be our best possible team? Less often than the likes of Poland, Germany, Spain I'm sure.


Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 12 March 2013, 1:11 PM  
One silver lining - qualification in various forms has come and gone from the world champs a number of times over the years, once these proposals go through I give it about 5 years before someone in the IOF says "hey you know how we can improve the world champs? we should have relatively small finals, with qualification heats that every country can enter up to a full team in..."

Show Profile  addison Posted: 14 March 2013, 9:45 AM  
Very much in the interest of NZ Orienteering for us to submit to the IOF, and we intend to do that.

Put simply: People need pathways.



Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 14 March 2013, 11:56 AM  
Shouldn't that be "People need maps".

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 14 March 2013, 1:42 PM  
"I think a main reason a number of our athletes don't qualify at WOC is lack of experience"

I don't accept this Ross. Lizzie in 2011. Also, with no disrespect intended to the person, there has been someone who has attended the last three WOCs for NZ and not qualified for a final once. I didn't see the NZ soccer team in 2010 (or our basketball team in 2002) bemoaning their lack of World Cup/World Champs experience.

"Experience" - or WOC-specific experience to be more precise, is a minor, not major, reason. Ability and (right) preparation are much bigger influences. I agree with Rob G. that experience outside of WOC can be just as valuable.

The only negative I can see is the probable effect on relay participation. Orienteering as it continues to grow and mature will reach a point where qualification at WOC will need to be removed. (look around at other sports and their World Championships and see how qualification is undertaken - vary rarely at the event itself)

I also don't have an issue with the sprint having a greater focus. Yes, it's not the real orienteering that we all fell in love with, but from a purely pragmatic view, our best international results generally have come in this format and probably remain our best potential for future glory. Far from being "forced to focus" on the sprint, judging by the sprint training weekends perhaps our young'uns are clued up as to where their best chances for international success lie?





Show Profile  Tane Cambridge Posted: 14 March 2013, 3:03 PM  
I haven't read anything here other than to skim read over what has been said but one thing I was thinking is... Next time Oceania Champs there is supposedly a World Cup on at the same time. Going by what happened this year I guess if your wanting to go to WOC then you might have to sit out the World Cup races?

Show Profile  Tane Cambridge Posted: 14 March 2013, 3:07 PM  
Didn't explain that very well... anyway what I meant was if your are banking on the Oceania position at WOC then you might want to sit out the WC races so that you can race the Oceania Champs, but if your good enough to race at WOC or WC then which race should you focus on???

Maybe I explained it better? anyway just a random thought...

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 14 March 2013, 3:44 PM  
Tane, I picked up on this very point when the details were first announced and asked Blair about it - in his opinion (as one of the architects of the scheme) where there is such a clash between a world cup race and a "continental" championship, the WC results take precedence. So for example if the qual model was already in place this year, the Oceania places for the middle distance would go to Chris and Grace as top Oceania runners in the World Cup middle as opposed to Kasimir and Lauren (technically the actual oceania middle distance champions). Not sure what would happen though if the WC and continental championship races were different disciplines though, I guess this would be best avoided especially as it looks like WC races piggybacked onto Oceania (and maybe N America, Asia...) champs may start to happen a bit more often...

Show Profile  rossmaxmo Posted: 14 March 2013, 6:41 PM  
Some good points peoples.
I still think that WOC experience goes a long way towards being able to qualify, that was certainly the case with me. Some may struggle with the learning curve, a full-time national coach or even a personal mentor might help in that respect. Having experienced people in the team also helps, for example Karl was able to assure me that qualifying was possible after my disbelief at the level from my first WOC. Lizzie is an exception, she has had a lot of experience and success at JWOC, she's mentally very strong and has had a chance to get her routine down and stick to it. Lizzie will get a good many other chances to prove herself again, I'm sure. She is dominating the NZ girls at the moment and part of the new programme is that athletes now have a chance to run all races. If Lizzie was to do this for say the next 5-10 years, then someone is going to be thrown in deep end when she retires.
Not changing my tune here, but I can of course live with the new programme, and personally my results will no doubt be better than they have ever been with more sprint (my un-chosen specialty) involved. I am just more concerned with the classification of NZ as being bad forest orienteers. When the better countries get even more chances than they do already to compete in the world class event against the best athletes each year and we get less, this will just hinder development. I'm not saying it will destroy us, but it certainly puts us at more of a disadvantage than we already have, being from the opposite side of the world from the majority of world cup races. If we don't have a current Oceania champ, how to choose between say Matt and Chris to run WOC middle? Seasoned veteran vs. up and coming super-star... Hard results from one national trial race surely can't be enough to make that decision? Also if one person is sent to WOC and fails miserably, then the chances of them being sent the following year are slim. Likewise if they have a stellar performance, the chance of someone else going to WOC for middle the following year is also slim. Another point to be made is without these quals, starting times will be taken on World Ranking points, leaving us at a further disadvantage. Generally speaking, you would have a better result in a middle by being caught up 6 min by Gueorgiou and following him than starting earlier and doing your own thing. Similarly if you started mid-field and caught or were caught by another runner, your result would more than likely be a lot better than if you started early in the field because of your world ranking points. The quals give everyone a fair chance to get a good start place in the final. I think the World Ranking system is not so fair, especially when it's hard to get good points when you live in NZ.

I know some of you may think this is nitpicking stuff, but these small things are important to the athletes. They are the ones who are competing.

It's great that the NZ juniors (and some fresh seniors) are taking the initiative to organise their own training camps. The training mentality in NZ orienteering has changed a lot since I was a junior, and that's great to see. Now when we are starting to have more people capable of good results at WOC coming through, it's a shame to see them having less of a chance to shine. If this change were to happen in say 5 years time, that would be better for NZ. I'm sure we'd qualify for more start places by then.

I do like the idea of orienteering advancing to the Olympics and gaining more media attention. If this new format is the best way to go about it then I'm OK with it. But if it flops, I do hope that things can go back to the way the athletes like it.

A couple of quotes from Gustav Bergman on the subject:
"This proposal will see to that fewer runners from smaller orienteering nations will be at WOC, which then leads to that fewer runners get the chance to get WOC experience, and thus making the gap between the big and small o countries bigger."

"This makes it harder for runners who has developed a lot over a short time or for another reason lacks the appropriate World Ranking (ie due to injury or being a first year senior). A runner who really is the best (or among the 3 best) in a discipline, but has a worse World Ranking, may not be selected because he or she wont be automaticly qualified to the finals, or/and be given an early start time, and thus a lesser chance to make good results.

This will then lead to that the big names are always favoured, and the young and upcoming will have a harder time making the teams and making good results, which will slow the development of the sport."


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