Australia O Trip, Fall 2002

[31-Oct-02] 

    Back from Australia

    I'm back from spending a couple of weeks in Australia for the WMOC. I managed to get in a several other A meet like races as well. I had some good ones and some bad ones, tho most were pretty good, I guess. I was mostly happy with my WMOC qualifiers, but I really tanked the WMOC final. I mean really tanked it. I intend to put up maps and routes from most, if not all, of the races over the next couple of weeks.

    I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed orienteering in Australia. It seemed to have the best of both worlds -- the quality of a European meet with the laid back fun of an American meet. It seemed a couple notches above the quality of a typical North American A meet for example, and that makes it more fun. I guess one should expect this sort of quality from something like WMOC, but I was lead to believe that it was just like North America there.

    I just want to jot down what was good about it.

    No map problems. I only remember one case where I whined about the map, in 12 races. The mapping was consistent. You easily learned which features made the mapping threshold, and which ones didn't. I think that's a problem with various North American maps.

    The biggest plus was the course setting. I really thought it was good. Lots of changes and I think you really had to be sharp on most of the maps. I think I encountered some O problems I've never seen. I think I learned a bit about course setting -- I hope anyway. I think USOF needs to strengthen its "course consultant" role.

    Material quality. The maps, paper, cases, and course printing seemed high quality (except the cheap bags they used for the Tasmanian meets). I'm really picky about this, I guess. I guess I see it as a cheap way to double the quality of a meet. The economic argument against doing this must be bogus (tho I've never looked at it with real numbers). Look at the fees for road races or adventure races. Look at the meet fees relative to the travel costs. O'ers will pay $5 more to assure the best quality materials available. O'ers will forgo buying the T-shirt to get this quality. Or maybe most American O'ers don't care. I dunno. I don't think these meets were orders of magnitude larger than a large US A meet. There is no excuse for there not to be some minimal standard of quality that is met at a USOF A meet.

    Standardization of control placement. I've never thought about this before, but it was nice to know how the flags were presented, and that it was consistent. I guess this is forced by the stands they use for e-punching, but it seems flags should always be hung on the same size stands in the same way. It seems that at some American meets, sometimes you see the flag from 200m, and sometimes its under a rock, and sometimes its on the closest branch to the feature, and the punch is on some other closest branch. I guess this is picayune but its fun to know what you are dealing with as you attack the feature, and that the flag is on a stand drilled exactly as described. If we are thinking about doing sprints and other short race formats, and people are requesting 100 msec timing, I think we need to prove we can eliminate the unfairness introduced by inconsistent control placement.

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