Thursday, 1 November 2018

Interview #5: Adam Woods interviewed by Pia Blake

PB: I chose to interview Adam Woods. Adam has been a member of the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club for many years and has competed overseas at both the Junior and World University Orienteering Championships.  He has also been heavily involved in coaching orienteering for the Vancouver-based OAK program.

I would also like to thank Adrian, who had the inspiration to create this blog for Orienteering Canada - in the hopes of entertaining, sharing stories and history related to Canadian orienteering, sharing personal tips and insights, and above all, connecting orienteers across Canada.  Thank you Adrian.

Adam Woods, GVOC
Photo: Jim Hawkings

Pia Blake, YOA

PB: How were you introduced to orienteering?

AW: When I was in early elementary school, my parents saw an orienteering event in the city's community activity guide and thought it sounded fun. I followed my dad around on a bike, while my sister biked followed my Mother around and got introduced to the concept of bushwhacking.

PB: What has been the most memorable event you have gone to?

AW: My first trip to the Yukon, for the 2011 Western Canadian Orienteering Championships + Canadian Orienteering Championships was the event that really got me hooked on orienteering. It's also the source of my favourite orienteering story, about a water control that helped me win a bronze medal despite me running off the map.

PB: How do you train for competitions?  What are you attending this year?

AW: Because I'm in Vancouver, I have to do a lot of armchair technical training because I know the local maps too well. This year, I'm hoping to attend the majority of races in BC, AB and Washington State as training for the 2019 World Orienteering Championships in Norway.

PB: You’ve been involved with junior training in Vancouver for several years now.  What training exercises have worked well in teaching kids in your experience?

AW: I like any exercises that allow me to shadow athletes. Making athletes find multiple routes to a control and having a mass start where they run different routes is a great option for keeping a small group together. This exercise has the added benefit of allowing you to shadow an athlete to each control and minimizes standing around.

PB: Do you have any advice for new coaches?

AW: If you're planning a session for younger kids, keeping the kids supervised needs to be a main part of your lesson plan. Having a hub control can give you a convenient spot to have one on one discussions with athletes.

PB: What challenges do you foresee with keeping kids involved as they grow out of the program, and keeping them involved, given the attrition rate in (pretty much every) sport?  What kept you involved?

AW: Providing juniors with opportunities to attend events outside their hometown is an important step in keeping the high school aged athletes excited about orienteering. The presentation by the 2011 JWOC team members at the Whitehorse nationals got me excited at the prospect of attending JWOC, and kept me in interested in training for orienteering. 

PB: You’ve also been involved with online junior training in the past through SPOTT.  Do you think this sort of training helps to bridge the vastness-of-the-country divide we have in Canada?  What other benefits did you see coming out of it?

AW: I've had the chance to meet a number of the SPOTT athletes in person, and that was always a bunch of fun. However, I don't think that SPOTT did much to connect junior athletes across the country, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong. Surprisingly, the largest benefit of the SPOTT program may be the Google Slides presentations I created for each session. I know of a number of adult orienteers who got access to the slides and found them very useful. 

PB: What are your orienteering hopes for the future?  Orienteering in Canada, and your own?

AW: I'd like to put in a few more years of hard training and earn a spot on the 2019 and 2020 WOC teams. That said, I'm also tempted to double down on coaching - I'd be very excited to see an athlete I coached compete at JWOC. On the orienteering Canada side of things, I'd be very happy to see a full team of 6 girls and 6 guys headed to JWOC. Nothing gets me as excited about orienteering as attending international orienteering competitions!

PB: Thank you for sharing some of what you have learnt coaching Adam!  Good luck with all your races this year, and into the future!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Interview #4: Pia Blake interviewed by Nesta Leduc

NL: As an older member of Orienteering Canada, I chose to interview a young up and coming Orienteer. Pia was interviewed at the Simon Fraser University at the 2018 GVOC Sprint Camp (I think of this as an annual SPRING Camp, but this year we were welcomed to snow, rain, and ice pellets By Sunday we had 12 inches of snow on the ground).

Pia Blake, YOA

Nesta Leduc, YOA

NL: Pia, when did you start Orienteering

PB:  <Looked at me strangely before saying:> I have always been an orienteer. I do not remember NOT being an orienteer. My Mother orienteered as a teenager, and she probably carried me around in a backpack. <and we surmise she may have been on a course before she was born>

NL: How are you supported

PB: Both my parents orienteered as youths, and they have always supported me and my brother Leif. My parents, Sabine and Eric, are still keen competitors, and Eric as an IT guy is very interested in the technical side of the sport. He even volunteered at the World Masters Games in New Zealand. I also get financial support from the Government of the Yukon Sport & Recreation Branch, which helps with attending competitions.

NL: What has been your worst moment in the sport

PB: When I was about 12, at the start I kept reminding my friend that the worst mistake one can make is to do a 180 at the start. My friend did just that, and took an hour longer to complete the course. “I felt so bad”

NL: What was the most memorable

PB: At Jukola in Finland in 2016, the Yukon was able to field a team of 7 runners. I was the first leg, in a mass start with 1700 other runners.  The race started at sundown, and (despite it being our first year as a team) I was in about the third or fourth row back, surrounded by very tall Scandinavian orienteers. The first leg was about a kilometer long, through a bog. Although the thought of getting trampled was slightly scary, it was an incredible experience!

NL: Tell me about your training routine

PB: Now that I am at University, I try to run 2 long runs  every week with a friend, and I go out to the weekly training events that GVOC organize on Wednesday evenings

NL: Do you have a specific coach

PB: When I lived at home in Whitehorse, Brent Langbakk, took all the juniors out regularly and he taught me all the basics.  Here in Vancouver, Marg Ellis has taken over as my local coach.

NL: I know that you have been to JWOC four times.
Do you have any highlights

PB: In 2016 at the Junior World Champs in Switzerland I qualified for the A final in the middle distance.  In my qualification race I had a great run and crossed the line in 9th spot, ultimately coming in 20th. That was an amazing feeling

NL: What are your hopes for the future

PB: Currently I am in Second Year Geology. This involves a lot of fieldwork
Last summer, myself and another student spent the summer in Northern Yukon being helicoptered into different camps for a few days at a time, doing research.
This was fun but did not allow for much training. I do hope to find more time for training so that I may be selected to represent Canada at WOC someday

NL: Thank you very much for taking time to show us what being a young orienteer is all about. You have achieved a great deal already, and I wish you the best of luck in future endeavours