High Performance News #86 – February 2022

With omicron leading to there being very little to report on during February I deliberately delayed this HP News until after the first round of the National Sprint League. We also have Godzone currently under way with its usual significant number of orienteers scattered through the teams. Aside from actual events there has been progress on deciding the fate of the ONZ Champs at Easter and preparations for the first set of JWOC trials later in March.

Malcolm Ingham

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NSL Round 1

With the cancellation of Super City Sprints and the Northern Champs the new National Sprint League finally got under way on the evening of Friday 3 March. The turn-out, perhaps understandably in these omicron times, was smaller than hoped, but there was a healthy attendance from down south, the usual culprits from the central region, and a pleasing appearance of the top juniors from Auckland. The women’s field was especially strong featuring the top three domestic based sprinters Lizzie Ingham, Penelope Salmon and Imogene Scott as well as top juniors Kaia Jorgensen and Zara Stewart.

Friday evening’s was at Freyberg High School and Pit Park, the originally chosen, but changed 2020 race venue for the ONZ Champs Sprint. The course took in the school campus before looping through Vautier and Skogland Parks to finish in the picturesque Pit Park with its network of tracks and ponds. In the men’s race Joseph Lynch notched up what was to be the first win of a perfect weekend as the expected challenge from Gene Beveridge evaporated in a mis-punch at control 11 where he mistakenly visited the women’s control. With Nathan Borton making the same error, Kurtis Shuker took second place with Nicholas Green third. The women’s race went to fellow ONZ Champion Lizzie ahead of Penelope and Stewart, medical duties in Wellington having delayed Imogene.

Penelope Salmon and Tessa Ramsden in Freyberg High School
The men’s course at Freyberg/Pit Park

Men: 1. Joseph Lynch 11:34.6, 2. Kurtis Shuker 12:53.0, 3. Nicholas Green 14:21.9, 4. Eddie Swain 14:39.9.

Women: 1. Lizzie Ingham 13:09.4, 2. Penelope Salmon 13:45.4, 3. Zara Stewart 14:22.0, 4. Amber Riddle 14:38.1, 5. Kaia Jorgensen 14:46.8, 6. Briana Steven 14:50.6.

Saturday was the day for the much anticipated KO sprint which started with a qualification on Palmerston North Esplanade before KO rounds on Awatapu College and IPU before culminating with finals at Massy University. With the reduced entry there was in fact no elimination (other than through injury and tiredness as the hot day went on) and the finals line-up was decided on cumulative positions in the Awatapu and IPU heats. Perhaps most interesting was the use of the map choice separation technique for the IPU race.

Map choice on IPU. In the minute before start athletes have 20 seconds to choose which option they wish to run and are then given the appropriate map.

The choice offered to the athletes is shown above and actually went from control 2 to control 4 with there being three options of control 3. Pleasingly, there was no real clear-cut preference although there was a distinct variation in how athletes studied the choices.

Map choice technique: Joseph adopts the sideways approach, Nathan the grab and stoop, Kurtis is simply ho-hum.

At the end of the day it all came down to three exciting finals at Massey. Two of these ended up in possibly the closest finishes seen in New Zealand orienteering. Closest of all was the women’s B final which in horse racing terms would probably be classed as the shortest of short heads as Amber Riddle and Rachel Baker raced each other for the final SI Air punch. The final recorded margin was 0.4 seconds with Amber claiming the honor. A short while later in the Women’s A Final there was a near repeat as Penelope and Lizzie raced for the final control and then the line.

Penelope and Lizzie race for the final control in the Women’s KO A Final.

An interesting point discussed after this was the optimum route to the last control. Whereas Amber and Rachel had both gone around the back of the long buildings (as did Joseph and Gene in the subsequent men’s final), giving flow through the control, Penelope and Lizzie both took the option which made the final control in and out. In such close races it is these choices which may be crucial.

Version A of the Finals course for the KO Sprint.

In the aforementioned Men’s Final, in which Jonty Oram despite injury gamely fronted up and walked, the margin was slightly larger although Gene got the closest to Joseph as he would all weekend, finishing less than 6 seconds down. The gap to Nathan in third was a further half minute.

Men A Final: 1. Joseph Lynch 6:40.4, 2. Gene Beveridge 6:46.2, 3. Nathan Borton 7:18.4, 4. Kurtis Shuker 7:20.5, 5. Eddie Swain 8:14.3, 6. Jonty Oram 15: 03.6.

Women A Final: 1. Penelope Salmon 7:52.4, 2. Lizzie Ingham 7:53.7, 3. Imogene Scott 8:04.6, 4. Kaia Jorgensen 8:20.8, 5. Zara Stewart 9:09.6, 6. Briana Steven 9: 20.2.

Women B Final: 1. Amber Riddle 8:58.8, 2. Rachel Baker 8:59.2, 3. Anya Murray 9:27.1, 4. Molly McGowan 9:40.0, 5. Tessa Ramsden 9:58.5, 6. Helen Howell 13: 25.0.

Sunday’s action moved to Levin for two further sprints. The first of these was on the map which was ultimately used for the 2020 ONZ Sprint, taking in two schools and finishing in the A and P Showgrounds. Picking up from where she left off on Saturday evening, Penelope claimed her first ever victory over Lizzie in a normal sprint with a very clear margin of 50 seconds. Kaia edged Imogene for third. The men’s podium took the same form as for the KO with Joseph recording the fastest split on 26 of the 30 legs to beat Gene by just over a minute.

Men: 1. Joseph Lynch 10:20.2, 2. Gene Beveridge 11:22.8, 3. Kurtis Shuker 11:45.4, 4. Jonty Oram 12:36.4, 5. Nathan Borton 12:45.9, 6. Eddie Swain 15:56.3.

Women: 1. Penelope Salmon 10:02.7, 2. Lizzie Ingham 10:52.6, 3. Kaia Jorgensen 11:36.8, 4. Imogene Scott 11:41.2, 5. Zara Stewart 11:59.1, 6. Briana Steven 12:26.5.

The afternoon saw a move to a new map based around Waiopehu College, including the adjacent, extremely tight and tricky, Levin East School. The more complex area was clearly to Lizzie’s liking as she bounced back to record the women’s win, with Penelope and Imogene in the minor placings, and Anya Murray having her best result of the weekend in sixth.

The women’s course on Waiopehu/Levin East.

For the men it was same again in the top three although Gene was within a minute of the flying Joseph.

Men: 1. Joseph Lynch 10:22.4, 2. Gene Beveridge 11:16.4, 3. Kurtis Shuker 11:30.6, 4. Nathan Borton 12:01.1, 5. Jonty Oram 12:20.2, 6. Eddie Swain 14:05.1.

Women: 1. Lizzie Ingham 10:46.0, 2. Penelope Salmon 10:58.3, 3. Imogene Scott 11:22.1, 4. Zara Stewart 12:02.6, 5. Briana Steven 13;20.2, 6. Anya Murray 13:40.6.

So, the NSL is under way. From a HP perspective it was great to see such close racing and the willingness of the junior women in particular to mix it with the seniors. This all b odes well for WOC later in the year and, looking forward, to JWOC 2023 when a sprint relay is thrown into the mix. The next round of the NSL will be at Easter and include the ONZ sprint and the subsequent sprint relay (also in Nelson) and a KO sprint in Blenheim.

Finally thanks to all those who helped on a high pressure weekend. Russell Higham for setting up and manning the computer system as well as putting out controls. Yvette Baker for the crucial help as we moved around maps on Saturday. John and Anna Robertson for staffing the start and the Stewarts for ensuring no-one was taken out on the road crossing on Sunday morning! Also Duncan Morrison for his web and social media reporting – that makes a big difference. Points will be calculated when I have recovered.

National O League Round 2 and JWOC Trials

The first set of trials for JWOC in Portugal in July are schedules for the weekend of 26/27 March in the Wairarapa. These will primarily use the Glenlean and Blairlogie forests – steep gully/spur in predominantly mature pine but with leafy understorey in parts, lots of rock, and excellent route choice options, dominated by the peak of Moore’s Taipo rising to 442 m. The middle distance on Saturday afternoon is being planned by Lizzie Ingham, with Gene Beveridge taking responsibility for Sunday’s long distance.

The races also form the second round of the national O League and Bulletin 1 can be found at https://www.orienteering.org.nz/news/nol-round-2-jwoc-trials-26-27-march-bulletin -1/ with entries at https://www.revolutionise.com.au/redkiwi/events/133752/.

ONZ Champs 2022

As has been announced on the ONZ website, the 2022 National Championships will go ahead in Nelson/Tasman. The three individual events will be WRE for the elites, and the sprint relay and Ko sprint which will follow the champs will, along with the ONZ sprint, form Round 2 of the National Sprint League. Entries close on 24 March. All details, including entries are at https://www.ovents.nz/nzoc2022/.

IOF suspend Russia

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has done what systematic doping could not and has seen Russia suspended from many international sports. While suspension from FIFA World Cup play-offs may be the big news, the suspension of Russia by IOF may of considerable significance in the world of orienteering.

Most immediately this will affect the upcoming World Ski-O Champs in Finland which start in just over a week. However, Russia has also been a strong competitor in Foot-O with some top results in both forest and sprint.

Godzone 2022

The 2022 version of Godzone is currently underway with orienteers in at least 9 of the teams. At the time of writing Nathan Fa’avae and Chris Forne’s Avaya have a lead of about two and a half hours and are into the trek across the Eyre Mountains. Ataraxia x Maxpac with Tom Reynolds in their number is currently in seventh place on the bike leg down towards Mavora Lakes, about 90 minutes ahead of Further faster Fledglings which includes Oak Jones. Other orienteers in the field include Greta Knarston, Tim Farrant, Hamish Laing, Martin Peat, tane Cambridge and Rachel Smith. Tracking is at https://godzoneadventure.com/ar-races/tracking/

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