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Discussion: US Team Trials Sprint - Friday, May 25

in: Westchester County Challenge (May 25–28, 2018 - North Salem, NY, US)

Apr 5, 2018 2:47 PM # 
The US Team Trials Sprint will be held at SUNY Purchase on Friday, May 25. We are still working on details but there will be only two courses - Red and Blue. SUNY Purchase has capped participation so we will only have a limited number of spots open to non-team trialers. More information to come soon.

Thanks to HVO for helping to make this happen!
Apr 6, 2018 4:22 AM # 
The venue also is only allowing participation by adults, ie, age 18 and older...
Apr 6, 2018 5:10 AM # 
Do we have any Team Trialers under 18?
Apr 6, 2018 2:21 PM # 
Guy is correct that SUNY Purchase required significant extra conditions to be met if we were to allow participants under the age of 18 to compete. Regrettably, it was concluded that we would not be able to meet these extra conditions. Thus, anyone under the age of 18 (EDIT: under the age of 17, see below) who is interested in being part of the WOC team in the sprint disciplines is encouraged to petition. Details about the petition process for the sprint for juniors will be posted soon. Note that the rest of the team trials are open to juniors - this restriction is just for the sprint.
Apr 6, 2018 3:49 PM # 
Thanks for the heads up, all. That's an unfortunate complication for both athletes and selection committee, but good to know about ahead of time.
Apr 6, 2018 6:43 PM # 
A correction. The exclusion is for those under age 17 so 17 year olds (as of the day of the event - not orienteering age) are allowed. Sorry for the confusion.
Apr 7, 2018 5:13 PM # 
Unfortunate complication, but given the challenges of finding any venue at all for the sprint ... at least we have a sprint. Thanks to the organizers for making it happen.

As a member of the WOC team selection committee, I would note that it would be very helpful for any petitioning under 17s to include all recent sprint O results, and also some track or road race times as part of their petition.
Apr 11, 2018 2:45 PM # 
When and where will Sprint registration be?
Apr 11, 2018 3:21 PM # 
I am working on it. It will be the standard EventReg registration program. I was waiting for a few details (we will have SI-Air available for those who want to use it!!) to be ironed out.

I will post announcements to the teams, to Clubnet and here once it opens which I expect to be this Friday.

Sorry for the delay.
Apr 11, 2018 11:11 PM # 
Does SUNY Purchase allow 16-year-olds to walk around on their campus?
Apr 12, 2018 12:14 AM # 
Is the age restriction in place because someone under the age of 17 might accidentally learn something whilst on campus ahead of his or her development timeline?
Apr 12, 2018 12:25 AM # 
Just a wild guess but is it an insurance issue? Is it that people are way more likely to sue for their child's injury than for their own? Is it that juries are way more likely to award large amounts for a child's injuries than for those of an adult that has signed his own informed consent?
Apr 12, 2018 12:39 AM # 
Insurance issues cause around 90% of access problems for orienteering these days.
Apr 12, 2018 1:37 AM # 
Indeed, one of the issues is that the OUSA insurance liability limits are not high enough to cover what SUNY Purchase was requiring in order for them to approve an event that included those under 17 years of age.
Apr 12, 2018 12:24 PM # 
I sure hope this an an outlier, and not a trend in landowner paranoia...
Apr 12, 2018 1:52 PM # 
One thing I've been wondering about for a while now is how long will orienteering be able to keep holding sprint events in which competitors are running through parking lots and across streets which are open to vehicle traffic. I've seen some interesting things on headcam videos. These things usually work out but my hunch is we're just one major insurance claim away from some form of tighter restrictions, regardless of age.

(This is not meant to suggest there's any particular issue with Purchase. I've been there only once, 18 years ago for a conference, and never really explored the campus beyond the few buildings I needed to visit. This is more of a general observation on urban/campus sprints.)
Apr 12, 2018 2:20 PM # 
I don't want to contaminate this Team Triials thread, but Fossil's comment deserves to be a separate thread, and should be addressed at the highest organizational bodies.
This strikes at the core of my skepticism about O in urban environments.
There are other reasons as well, but this is the harshest real world issue.
Apr 12, 2018 3:35 PM # 
Our club has been, for about 6 years, hosting a (mostly) annual "urban rogaine" which is well liked and sometimes attracts people from quite a ways away to participate. As one of the organizers, I have a significant worry that all it takes is one accident between a competitor (whether on bike or on foot) and a car, whether the fault of the competitor or the driver, and we'll never be allowed to hold a similar event again.
Apr 12, 2018 5:01 PM # 
Urban orienteering is very popular in the UK, there are dozens of events every year, some with hundreds of participants, mostly longer races (WT around 40 minutes), in both small towns and large cities (London, Edinburgh, Bristol, etc., including downtown areas). I don't think there have been any major incidents or problems with authorities.
Apr 12, 2018 5:05 PM # 
For better or worse, the liability situation is much different in the US.

...and apologies for hijacking.
Apr 12, 2018 7:21 PM # 
Having lived in the UK and in the USA, I'm not sure that there's such a difference in litigiousness. People in the UK seemed willing to sue on the drop of a hat, discussing their ongoing lawsuit over a trifle.

Orienteering has had a much lower accident and death rate over the last four decades than, say, hang gliding, and yet both endeavours continue. Maybe the right answer is to up the insurance limits. Sad, but it's the cost of doing anything.
Apr 12, 2018 8:40 PM # 
Then again, the spare compass that I received today has "WARNING!!! KEEP AWAY FROM SMALL CHILDREN." on its packaging. Admittedly, the warning is about the packaging itself. I can imagine someone ordering a basic compass for a younger child and seeing this as they open.

Back to the topic. Best wishes for those competing in the Trials.
Apr 13, 2018 12:47 AM # 
Hang gliding rarely has an organizer.
Apr 13, 2018 1:06 PM # 
True, though nowadays orienteering can be done without an organizer too. Not so much Team Trials though.
Apr 13, 2018 4:30 PM # 
Registration for the Team Trials Sprint is now open.

More details about the sprint will be posted shortly but it will be at SUNY Purchase and starts will be from 2-3.

Right now there are only a limited number of non-team trialer spots open as we have reserved a number of spots for US Team members and Junior Team members who wish to try out for the US Team in the sprint disciplines. Any unused spots will be released in a week (on 4/20/2018).

Please contact me with any questions (sandydvoa at yahoo dot com). I'm really sorry for all the restrictions but the ESC decided it was better to have a sprint with restrictions than to not have a sprint at all.
Apr 13, 2018 5:08 PM # 
In my opinion, a venue which does not permit junior participation is absolutely unsuitable for a nationally sanctioned event. I have similar feelings toward being too restricted on the number of entries. In my opinion, sanctioning and any bid approval for this venue should be immediately revoked. One month is plenty of time to locate and map another suitable sprint venue, even if it were to require a drive of a couple hundred kilometers. For a college campus to not encourage juniors, who could be potential future students is completely unacceptable.
Apr 13, 2018 5:20 PM # 
Mike, I do hope you are just joking or being sarcastic. This is not funny when dealing with trying to make travel arrangements for one's junior athlete who has to rely on rides and the like. Or young athletes making travel arrangements early to save money, only to then have to maybe have to change last minute and incur the associated change fees.
Apr 13, 2018 6:02 PM # 
Mike, your statements are out of touch with the reality of planning events on college campuses in the east. They in general do not want us there, and do not see a value to use being there and in their way. The insurance regulations are only a small part of the challenges of putting on events on a campus.

We should be happy that this even is able to happen in the format that it is. When Becky and I hosted team trials a few years ago, we had many of the same issues finding a spring venue that we could work with. One month of time to get permission is not nearly enough for most of the processes I have been through at any venue, and there are not other nearby suitable maps to choose from anyway, so you would be trying to find a venue, make a map, and plan courses all in a month. Thats a crazy way to think about running an event.
Apr 13, 2018 6:23 PM # 
Mike, I don't believe the sprint is sanctioned as a national ranking event, so revoking sanctioning isn't really possible.
Apr 13, 2018 6:33 PM # 
I share Mike's disappointment about the participation restrictions for the sprint race, however as a member of the U.S. Senior Team Executive Steering Committee (ESC), I was part of the process of finding a suitable venue, so I understand that this is the result of making the best out of imperfect circumstances. I'll try to explain why we're in this situation:

1. The team is run by people who have a lot of other commitments, so we generally rely primarily upon clubs or groups of individuals to organize the Team Trials races. We have been fortunate to have had really great support in this way.

2. This year, it appeared that there were no scheduled or planned major events that were very similar to the terrains in Latvia, and a lengthy discussion took place about the pros and cons of various events.

3. In the end, it was decided that the Westchester County Challenge was the best option, in terms of it being an event of high quality that would present a suitable level of technical challenge, however WCC had no sprint event planned, which left the problem of arranging for a sprint race.

4. A few options came up as possible sprint venues in the area, but some were grade schools with little complexity and park-like terrain that the ESC felt would not be an adequate test of the challenges presented by the urban terrain in Riga, which feature hard-surface running and route choices around buildings.

5. The ESC felt that it was quite important to have a sprint race that presented suitable challenges, especially given the increasing emphasis that the coaching staff and athletes have been putting on specialization, due to changes in the World Champs format. This race will be the primary selection metric for half of the start slots for our team at WOC, and as such, we felt that it was important to pick the available venue that was most relevant.

We're very grateful for the tremendous amount of work that Geof Connor of HVO has put in and to have all the race plans in place in good time for the athletes to make travel and final training plans.

Given the great emphasis that Orienteering USA has put on junior development, it is especially disappointing that there is an age restriction on participation in this sprint race. It would have been wonderful to have been able to encourage junior orienteers to race alongside the Team Trials competitors. However, given the obstacles and the short time to address them, I think it is proper that the emphasis was put on organizing a race that would provide the most representative test of WOC challenges with which to select the WOC team.
Apr 13, 2018 6:35 PM # 
Nicely said, Eric. Thanks for explaining the ESC's reasoning behind this.
Apr 13, 2018 6:42 PM # 
I really do think Mike was only trying to joke, I can't even imagine him really thinking that way, had put on enough events to know all the possible hurdles....
Apr 13, 2018 7:17 PM # 
The only reason the SUNY Purchase map exists is that, back in 2011 HVO was hosting the Team Trials (only conducted for WOC at the time) and our planned sprint venue -- a private school in Tarrytown -- turned us down only a few months before the event (which was also held on Memorial Day weekend).

Ndobbs, the course setter -- and primary reason HVO was hosting -- immediately started scoping out area colleges as possible venues. He looked at Purchase, Manhattanville, and Iona (IIRC). Regardless of which we used, a completely new map had to be produced. The multiple levels of the central academic campus at Purchase made it the most attractive option, with the downside being a $500-600 usage fee; AFAIK, age restrictions never came up.

Unfortunately, when ndobbs' stint at IBM ended, he had to move on (to Finland), and the possibility of orienteering becoming a recognised student activity fizzled. HVO held one subsequent local event (2012?) on the map, with poor attendance not even coming close to covering the usage fee, so that was the last use.

My feelings on the age restriction are largely in line with Mike's -- but, I also recognise we are pretty much stuck for 2018. If the liability limit being insufficient was the only sticking point, perhaps we should discuss event-specific, higher limits with our insurance agents, in case we run into this situation again.
Apr 13, 2018 7:25 PM # 
@andreais: Knowing how Mike feels about junior orienteering -- as well as being one of the most experienced event organizers in North America -- I would consider his remarks to be hyperbole, not humor...
Apr 13, 2018 8:59 PM # 
Eric, thanks for the thoughtful comments. Since Friday is only a small part of the weekend schedule of races, and not nationally sanctioned, and since it was added primarily for Team trials purposes, perhaps it is understandable to accept that the event is restricted. Still, I can imagine if Andrea's junior were 2 years younger and she had already made expensive travel plans for him to attend, I suspect she'd be feeling much differently about this sudden notice.

First, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the very fine work that Gregory Balter, Geof Conner, and others have done pulling together a major event and team trials on very short notice – as I recall you only started planning this a couple months ago. Volunteers in orienteering are in short supply and much appreciated.

However, what would you be doing if one of your venue managers had come to you 40 days before the event and said “the park will be closed, you can’t have your event”? Maybe it was a flood, a fire, an ice storm, or just the whim of the land manager. If that was the case, I am sure you’d be scrambling to find a new venue. It might not be as nice or as convenient, or as relevant terrain. But you’d be finding a way to make sure that “the show must go on”. And I have every confidence that you would do it, you would make it work, and people would still have a great time and be happy.

If Friday were a nationally sanctioned event, then, in my opinion, the manager’s decision to bar juniors from the event would be completely equivalent to a closure. If efforts to negotiate with the manager, or put pressure on him/her through the local tourism board, his/her superiors, or any other contacts had all proven unsuccessful, then I’d be looking for another venue. However, given that it is a smaller scale event organized primarily for team trials purposes, I guess I can accept the decision to continue with the event on that venue. I may even still bring some juniors for the weekend - the rest of the weekend sounds fun and I had been looking forward to it for a while.
Apr 13, 2018 10:33 PM # 
Our Plan B if SUNY didn't work out was actually petitions for all sprint starts for WOC. None of us on the ESC has the time or ability to put together a sprint event from scratch this close to the event, especially given that none of us live in HVO-land.

The restriction is very regrettable, and we looked into what it would take to get it lifted, and what we would have had to do was not reasonable.

Orienteering, like life, is full of trade-offs. We decided that having an actual race, on a decent map, for the participants who are actually trying out to race in WOC, was preferable to petitions. The trade-off here is that the venue is expensive and we can't allow anyone under 17 to race. We're very sorry about that.
Apr 13, 2018 11:38 PM # 
Any junior of mine, 2 years or 2 days younger of 18, would have already submitted his petition if he had been serious about his trying out. I would have helped them finding the necessary info, but would not even think about suggesting a change in venue this late in the game and risk messing up the race and travel plans for all others trying out. We have been there too often, making tough travel plans.
Apr 13, 2018 11:59 PM # 
Thanks to the ESC for organizing all of this. You guys are great!
Apr 14, 2018 12:27 AM # 
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
May 7, 2018 12:07 AM # 
There are still plenty of available spots for those wanting to participate in the sprint at SUNY Purchase on Friday, May 25.

Registration is here.

Event info is here.

Detailed directions to parking coming soon.
May 7, 2018 1:35 AM # 
Is an SI-Air card required for participation? (not that it wouldn't be fun to try it, if optional)
May 7, 2018 11:47 AM # 
SI-Air cards are not required. Regular SI cards will work fine.

However, SI-Air cards may be rented and there will be demo controls to try it out before the race.
May 7, 2018 9:36 PM # 
I've used air for ski-O and it really does make a difference...not on my ski-O time because I still had to stop to read the map but I will admit that it was nice not to have to back up when I couldn't stop at the control.

This discussion thread is closed.