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WOC proposal ready: Chasing start and sprint relay

DSC_8345_s
The WOC in the future groups suggestions are up: A prologue + chasing start race and a sprint relay is introduced – and all qualifications are removed except for the sprint. – It is proposed that WOC is divided into three blocks, “Sprint”, “Middle” and “Traditional” with a rest day in between each block, to give the organisers, TV, etc. time to re-group equipment and set-up in a new arena, IOF writes on their webpage.


Update! The full proposal from the WIF project group is now available here (via the Norwegian Orienteering Federation).

The full proposal includes some interesting detailing not available at the web version of the proposal, e.g.

  • Notably, the proposal means introducing a chasing start rather than a mass start, which was part of the project remits. The reason for this is that in consultations with TV and other media it has been concluded that a chasing start has considerable advantage over a mass start concerning production economy and the possibility for spectators and commentators to understand the development of the race, while still offering the element of first-to-finish . (A mass-start is foreseen to need complicated
    forking models to make it fair.)
  • The order of events within the Sprint- and Traditional blocks is free to be decided by each organisers, whereas the order of events in the Middle block should be fixed.
  • The project group has found two main alternatives for comparing federations strength in order to award starting slots. The first alternative is the World Ranking system. This model reflects the overall activity and strength of a nation over an entire season, and is therefore seen as a realistic measure. The second alternative is to use the nation s performance at WOC (the last WOC or latest WOC s) which compares a nation s ability to perform at WOC specifically. It has not been possible to conclude on a united view within the project group in this matter, thought there seems to be a stronger support for using the World Ranking system.
  • It is proposed that each federation can enter 1 man and 1 woman to the middle distance final. Additional starting slots are based on the nations strength. The number of nations receiving additional slots needs to be balanced by the size of the start field which should not exceed 75 starters.
  • Long final: The number of nations receiving additional slots needs to be balanced by the size of the start
    field which should not grow significantly larger than in the current model (editors comment: 45 starters).

The proposal for a new WOC program was presented at the WIF (WOC in the Future) page at the IOF webpage today. The IOF member federations now have until the 10th April 2011 to give their views and comments to the proposal. The input received will be analysed and the program possibly adjusted before a final proposal will be delivered to the IOF Council for its meeting on 5th May 2011. The Council will then decide on the further presentation of the matter to the 2011 President’s Conference in conjunction with the World Orienteering Championships in France.

Suggested program

The suggested program consists of 6 competition days – medals being awarded every competition day:

Day Block Event Alternative
1 SPRINT Sprint individual (qualification+final) Sprint relay
2 SPRINT Sprint relay (mixed teams) Sprint individual
3 Rest day
4 MIDDLE Middle individual
5 MIDDLE Prologue + Chasing start
6 Rest day
7 TRADITIONAL Long individual Relay
8 TRADITIONAL Relay Long individual
Consequences for the runners

Removing two qualification races means that qualifications have to be done based on prior results. It is not yet decided if this will be based on WRE points, on prior WOC results or based on some other/combined criteria. This is the suggestions for qualifications/number of guaranteed starters for each nation:

qualwoc

Summing up the main consequences of this proposal for the runners:

  • For top runners / biggest orienteering nations. There will be no big consequences, as no disciplines are suggested removed from the program compared to today. Instead two extra disciplines are added (sprint relay and chasing start) and two races are removed (long qualification and middle qualification). The main downside will probably be that it is suggested that the long distance is organized the day before the relay – but this is not difficult to change if there is interest for it as it would not influence the rest of the program. Another problem might be that the program is even tougher if the best want to run all disciplines – 7 full speed races is tougher than 5 full speed + 2 qualification races.
  • For the runners from smaller orienteering nations / runners further down on the results list, it might be worse. Only one runner per nation is guaranteed a start in the middle distance, and no runners from the small nations are guaranteed a start in the long distance according to the proposal. Additional runners in these two traditional individual start races are based on the nations strength. On the other hand, 3 athletes per nation are allowed to start both in the chasing start and in the sprint qualification. And there will in addition be two of each gender in the sprint relay and three of each gender in the relay. Thus the number of guaranteed start spots for each nation is exactly the same as today – however some might feel that they loose the chance to fight in the “real orienteering disciplines”. It will be interesting to see the response of the “smaller” IOF member federations to this proposal.
Comment: Consequences for the orienteering sport

In my opinion, the work group did the wise move of not including a mass start in the suggested program (the downsides of a mass start are discussed here) – a chasing start is a significantly better alternative in my opinion. They also suggest to keep the traditional relay – also a good move in my opinion. Including a mixed relay was given as one of the guidelines to the work group, and was therefore probably not to be discussed. The good thing about this is that there will now be two races for the pure sprinters – making it more attractive to focus on sprint.

The downsides with the new program is that it might make it difficult to run all disciplines for the best runners. This is not necessarily good for the sport, but is seen in other sports as well. Also, including more  gold medals might make each medal less valuable as some have suggested in the comments earlier.

The WIF group indicated that the WOC program proposal is positive for the smaller nations by writing “In the new programme a general idea has been to provide more opportunities than in the past for nations to be represented in WOC finals”. However, in my opinion the maybe biggest downside for the sport with the new suggested program is that runners from the smaller nations will now only have the sprint race and “first runner to the finish”-races to concentrate on (except for one runner from each nation who will be allowed to run the middle distance). Take a runner from a country who today fights for a place in the A-finals ; with the suggested program this runner will probably (depending on how many will be allowed in each final) only be allowed to start in the sprint, the sprint relay, the chasing start and the relay. Thus, this runner will loose the possibility to run “real orienteering” – i.e. finding your own way in unknown terrain. Training must then be refocused onto running speed, sprint and tactics instead of o-technique in order to be best prepared for WOC. Based on conversations with several runners in this position, I think this will make some runners from the smaller countries loose their motivation for the sport. But I might be wrong – they will be represented in more WOC finals…

Your opinion counts!

What do you think of this proposal? Is this good for the development of orienteering? For the runners? Add a comment below – and if you want your opinions to be heard, approach your federation with your opinions.

Update: Comment from Björn Persson, WIF project coordinator

The WIF project coordinator commented to this article in the comments below – the comment is rewritten here:


We are happy to note the interest and publicity given on “World of O” to the proposal on WOC in the Future. It is not our intention as a project group to enter the discussion or pursuing arguments, while the IOF federations now have the proposal for consideration. However, it is important that the intentions with our proposal is clear, and for this reason we want to make the below comment.

In the article, Jan suggests that the opportunity for “smaller” nations to run in WOC may become “worse” with the proposal. We believe that this is not the case. On the contrary, the program is designed to provide more opportunties for new and developing nations to run in, and have results from WOC finals.

During the four last WOC’s, the number of nations having been represented in WOC finals are as follows:

WLong MLong WMiddle MMiddle
2010 24 22 23 23
2009 22 22 22 22
2008 22 25 20 20
2007 22 25 24 24
———————————–
New WOC 25-30 25-30 45+ 45+

It is correct that in theory, all nations have in the past had a chance to run a WOC final, if performing well in qualification. The above statistics shows the outcome in reality. Numbers are pretty consistent and reveals that about 60% of nations present at WOC have been represented in Middle and Long finals. With the new model, this opportunity will be higher for Long (about 70%), and significantly higher for Middle (simply 100%).

It is correct that the opportunity for individuals to run in WOC qualification races will go away. If this is considered negative, reactions will show. We believe that the value of WOC is about finals and one of our goals has been to raise the opportunity for nations to be represented in title races.

With two new formats proposed, sprint relay and chasing start, it will in fact be guaranteed for all nations to participate in as many as four finals, in comparison to the current model where only one final (relay) is guaranteed. In addition to this a nation can enter a full team in the Sprint Qualification. The only event where it is not guaranteed to start is the Long
final. Here the nation’s performance before WOC (either through World Ranking or results in earlier WOC’s) will be the deciding factor.

Björn Persson
WIF project coordinator


To answer Björn Persson’s comment briefly, I think that overall the proposal is a very good one, based on the guidelines the work group worked after. Also, my intention was not to say that the opportunity for “smaller” nations to run in WOC is worse – as I pointed out they will have just as many guaranteed starts as previously. They will obviously also get the chance to run more finals than previously (at least, on average). The problem I described is the chance for individuals to run in individual start races – which I think can be a potential problem for the sport as discussed above, because many will have. But I might have overestimated that problem based on some conversations I have had with runners from “smaller” nations earlier – in the comments to this post this does not seem to be brought up as a major problem. Also, if you let the chasing start prologue be a possibility to get a “wild card” for the middle distance, i.e. letting the best 10 runners in the chasing start prologue who were not already qualified for the middle distance run the middle, I think that would make things a lot better.


About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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48 comments

  1. WHYYY?
    My opinion is clear: The more medals will be distributed, the less worth is one. Like this even my grandmother can get one, if she wants to.

    • Not sure who your grandmother is, but I think she’ll get it tough even with this suggested WOC program:)

      The mandate of the work group was to suggest a new WOC program which included a mass start and a mixed relay. On the other hand, they did not want to remove any of the existing disciplines, or have the long distance with a mass start. With the same mandate, I’m quite sure I’d suggested more medals instead of introducing a mass start at the long distance or removing the traditional relay…

      • OK, probably this might be the best solution UNDER the circumstances the IOF gave the group. (mixed relay/mass start)

        – But, WHO on earth comes to the idea to implement a mixed relay into a WOC which was almost never tested in any other races?? (This question is posed to the one with this idea, not to you jan). For me it looks like a bad copy from xc-skiing and biathlon.

        – With this proposal an orienteer can get 24 worldchamps title while a footballplayer just gets one. Theoretically spoken. This is a bad comparison, but to bring orienteering to the people “more medals – proposal” is for sure a 180Degree Mistake. >> Leave the WOC like it is, and just make it every second year. This makes orienteering special and pictures from crowdy, better organized Events will stay in mind.

  2. Lukas Scharnagl

    I like the new programm all in all.

    I just see one big problem:
    Thats the thing with the smaller and not so good nations. But I think it should not be that bad if the number of fixed runners in middle and long per country is for example moved to minimum 2 competitors per country. Of course the number of competitors will be increased with this. But hey this is woc and beside a high quality field I think there should also be a field with as many nations as possible.

    Look on world champs in other sports (alpine-ski and xc-ski just to name two): There are people starting that have no chance at all from countries like brasilia or venezuela but this are world championships in my opinion.

    • I guess for the middle distance, one could “fix” it by letting the prologue for the chasing start also be the qualification for the middle distance. The long distance is a tough one – I see no good solution there if you want to remove the qualification. Increasing the start field significantly is probably not feasible…

  3. the biggest improvement in my opinion would be to organize WOC every 2 years and not necessarily to change the programme.
    introducing two more medal events isn’t too good for the value of the medals. I’d rather connect sprint and middle (perhaps turn middle into the pursuit)

    • What about a “classic WOC” with long, middle, relay + chasing start every second year – and a sprint WOC with two sprint races + sprint relay every second year?

  4. I’m just wondering how many countries are going to put in there strongest relay teams in both relays. I have a feeling the sprint relay race won’t be as competitive. Also i have a feeling some of the best chasing sprint athletes will be middle athletes and will they be able to perform srtongly 3 times in 2 days?

    I do love chasing sprints there one of my favourite formats and obviously the appeal for spectators is very high it’s just whether some medals are going to be worth more than others.

  5. I also like the new programme. Participation method for small nations is better than I have thought it would be. I don’t think that runners from small nations should complain about losing opportunity to run Long race just because it is the toughest and the most important final race. This should not be their reason to lose motivation for the sport. After all, it is good to have one race where only the best runners can compete.

    Sprint = 3 runners as today
    Middle = 1 runner instead of 3 (middle Q)
    Chasing start = 3 runners as today in long Q

    One runner has chance to compete on the same number of races as today. If the chasing start course will be similar as today long Q small nations will lose only 2 runners in middle. Chasing start format will give them nearly the same opportunity as today because they will start in the last group of runners. I don’t count mixed relay and relay because some nations don’t have women’s class or three runners for relay. Relays should not be seen as substitute for individual events.

    Long
    Small federations have different possibilities when we speak about development of sport. Qualification method should include also option that good runner (WRE points) from small country have chance to qualify for long.

  6. I for myself as viewer would miss the qualifications. Specially when you are following the smaller nations this is the more exciting event compared to the finals were you will could very relaxed. I think a mixed sprint relay would be a good opportunity to bring the relays back into the world cup.

  7. WOC should be held only every second year, as before 2003. Same as in skiing, athletics, etc

  8. I like WOC as it is now.
    But when the new WOC will be something like proposed, then maybe for the qualification for the middle and long we could somehow use also regional championships results, instead or in addition to WRL or WOC results. Something like in football – depending on the level of each region or continent the certain number of the best runners (or country) of each discipline will receive a place in WOC. So we have always runners from all over the world. Some changes needs to be done to the system of course as regional champs are not taking place every year like WOC. That way we can make regional champs more attractive and important and maybe organise WOC also every other year – one year regionals, next year WOC.

  9. fromPlanetZorg

    And what do the Swedish do this weekend? :-D
    http://www.orientering.se/Nyheter/Landslagettestarnyspridningsmetod/

    Deflation of medals and devaluation of titles due to weaker competitors fields in some disciplines are issues. A good way to find out the ‘nation’s strength’ still has to be developped. But all in all it seems to be a close to ideal solution walking on the edge between keeping the sports nature and making it mediafriendly. I especially like that the long can potentially become even more as it is now the competition to crown the kings and queens of orienteering.

    • Yes, overall I think it looks very good (compared to the alternatives). The main problem I see is what this means for runners from smaller nations with regards to chances to compete in individual start races in the World Champs. In Cross Country skiing there are qualification races the day ahead of the official start of the championships – only for skiers with less than a certain number of FIS-points. Other sports have qualifications in regional championships. I think some sort of “personal” qualification instead of only by nations strength would be good.

      Personally I also think it is a pity that the qualifications disappear, after having followed the last 4-5 World Championships. The qualification races was the place where the smaller nations / poorer runners where in the focus of the orienteering world. Which I thought was very nice. When removing the qualifications, this will disappear..

      • The longer I think about it the more obvious it gets: The two new formats are just for ‘the media’, where to keep the classic formats reflects the position of the athletes (I heard that Thomas Bührer was sincerly discussing the topics with his athletes, massstart was ouf of discussion).

        So indeed qualification is sacrified to the media and there will be more sacrifices as long we do not get rid of this freaking ‘media-suitability’ paradigma or to say it with Holger Hott in 2002:
        “During the last few years a lot of changes have been made to the international elite event program. IOFs reason for all the changes is publicity. Have we seen any more publicity? I don`t think so.”

  10. Björn Persson

    We are happy to note the interest and publicity given on “World of O” to the proposal on WOC in the Future. It is not our intention as a project group to enter the discussion or pursuing arguments, while the IOF federations now have the proposal for consideration. However, it is important that the intentions with our proposal is clear, and for this reason we want to make the below comment.

    In the article, Jan suggests that the opportunity for “smaller” nations to run in WOC may become “worse” with the proposal. We believe that this is not the case. On the contrary, the program is designed to provide more opportunties for new and developing nations to run in, and have results from WOC finals.

    During the four last WOC’s, the number of nations having been represented in WOC finals are as follows:

    WLong MLong WMiddle MMiddle
    2010 24 22 23 23
    2009 22 22 22 22
    2008 22 25 20 20
    2007 22 25 24 24
    ———————————–
    New WOC 25-30 25-30 45+ 45+

    It is correct that in theory, all nations have in the past had a chance to run a WOC final, if performing well in qualification. The above statistics shows the outcome in reality. Numbers are pretty consistent and reveals that about 60% of nations present at WOC have been represented in Middle and Long finals. With the new model, this opportunity will be higher for Long (about 70%), and significantly higher for Middle (simply 100%).

    It is correct that the opportunity for individuals to run in WOC qualification races will go away. If this is considered negative, reactions will show. We believe that the value of WOC is about finals and one of our goals has been to raise the opportunity for nations to be represented in title races.

    With two new formats proposed, sprint relay and chasing start, it will in fact be guaranteed for all nations to participate in as many as four finals, in comparison to the current model where only one final (relay) is guaranteed. In addition to this a nation can enter a full team in the Sprint Qualification. The only event where it is not guaranteed to start is the Long
    final. Here the nation’s performance before WOC (either through World Ranking or results in earlier WOC’s) will be the deciding factor.

    Björn Persson
    WIF project coordinator

    • Thanks a lot for the comments, Björn! All in all I think the proposal is a very good one based on the guidelines for the work group – so my compliments to the WIF work group.

      As I wrote in my article, the number of guaranteed starts for each nation will be the same with the new proposal. So in that respect it isn’t worse at all. It gets worse only with respect to the chance for individuals to run in individual start races – and that is what I commented on (and which I also think might be negative for the sport). I think this could be “fixed” as seen from a runners perspective by introducing a way for individuals to qualify to a run a WOC final in individual start races (this would have to be prior to the championships). As the proposal stands now, this is only by nation’s strength.

      But this is now up to the IOF member federations to comment on, as you say.

      • Do we already know how many runners will run the Long Final?

        If we want to have all the best runners in Long Final we should extent qualification method. I think that big and small federations could have same interest here as in reality we are talking just about a few good runners. It is not very likely but you have big countries which have deeper Elite field and they could accumulate more WRE points on WRL (AUS, GER) than smaller countries with a few good runners (SVK, HUN). If this suggestion will get appropriate support than we should think how qualification method should look like to select those runners.

        Personally I don’t like the qualification races prior the WOC. It is batter to use fixed qualification method so also poorer runners can focus on their disciplines and have batter preparation with more special trainings on selected disciplines.

        I think that Middle concept with at least 1 runner in the Final is good for us (small federation). It is good to have one traditional race with this concept. I see this as good opportunity to get more interest from national media and to develop runner profile before the WOC as we will all know that he/she is the best runner and will represent country in Final race. From developing aspects it is batter to have more focus on one runner than on three runners.

    • What happened to the General Assemblys decision to include mass-start? Did you choose to just ignore that? Or was there really no decision? Nobody knows because the minutes haven’t been published.

      • See info from the PDF-file (update to the article):

        Notably, the proposal means introducing a chasing start rather than a mass start, which was part of the project remits. The reason for this is that in consultations with TV and other media it has been concluded that a chasing start has considerable advantage over a mass start concerning production economy and the possibility for spectators and commentators to understand the development of the race, while still offering the element of first-to-finish . (A mass-start is foreseen to need complicated
        forking models to make it fair.)

  11. It could attract more countries (last year only around 40 of the 72 member nations took part).
    Getting a guaranteed place in the finals at both the long and middle distance could see more one or two competitor teams showing an interest and turning up e.g from S America.
    Having an entry from more of the membership could ultimately be important in gaining an Olympic presence.

  12. In general the new proposals are good. Other sports, in particular, biathlon and cross country skiing have introduced new disciplines sucessfully. In biathlon, the mixed relay did not at first attract the best athletes but this year it did. It was a great race to watch.

    It is though important that every athlete has some opportunity to qualify for any final including the long. Perhaps the top 50 in the world on a certain date could be guaranteed a place. This would be similar to golf where that applies to the Masters. In golf there are also specific qualifying competitions before the Open, US Open etc held in other parts of the world. A very small number from these qualify. That would be a way of improving interest in WRE eleswhere eg Australia or NZ – say top competitor not otherwise qulified gets in.

    The important point is to find a way of ensuring that no one is totally disenfranchised.

  13. I speak as a member of a weak and smaller country. And i ran three disciplines at WOC last year.
    I know on first reading here i felt somewhat hurt that i will find it harder in future to run in the middle or long final. But i do think these are the two most serious and important races and as such the best should be running. Anyone could do well in sprint and the doors should be open for that. And all nations representing in the relay is important. But for the main middle and long races, if you’re among the best or close enough – then well done you’re in. If you’re not, then sorry but there is a need to trim the fat out a little. I definately believe i have just as much right to run a WOC race as Olav or Simone but i could accept this new proposal in that i get to run some but not necessarily all races. World ranking qualification is still a qualification. And this way we should have more energy to race finals. It’s not the worst program and as Björn pointed out there is more of a chance to run a final race now than before.

    Having the prologue as a qualification for the middle is a good idea. But i would still like to see the strongest nations have more runners allowed to run WOC than the current 6, or 3 to 4 per discipline. The weaker or smaller countries should have less runners allowed in. It’s mostly the weaker countries inclusion that require there to be qualification races.

    In the end we want better viewing not just people crossing the marathon line 5 hours happy that they made the distance.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment, David. As I wrote in my update to the article, removing the (remote) possibility to run the middle/long final for runners from the smaller countries might not be as bad as I had sensed by talking to some representatives from such countries earlier.

  14. fromPlanetZorg

    One use of the qualifications was to define the start orders for the finals. How will it be made in the future? These days the start order is defined during the WOC itself which was a rather good garanty that the best ran in at the really end of the finals. It will be much more difficult in the new WOC, think of runners which where injured in spring but in their absolute top shape during WOC. How do you manage that they start late (or else, are you ready to leave this paradigm?). I am curious what solution the WIF will work out in that issue.

    • The World Ranking isn’t too bad, actually. And if everybody knows that the World Ranking influences on your World Champs start spot, that might even raise the importance of the World Ranking (which I’m sure would be good for the sport).

  15. I like the proposed program. The idea that Middle or Long could go away made me sad.
    To be honest I think that training focus for weaker runners that wants to make A-Finals is anyway running speed and tactics ;-). So I don’t think that the downside presented by Jan “refocusing the training” will apply.
    For the Long I would use a mixed form
    a. Nation strength
    b. At least one per Nation if WRL qualification criteria are satisfied (i.e at least two scores > 1200)
    It is similar to the proposal of John, but I would not guarantee a place to the Top 50 (Women: 10 NOR, 9 FIN, 8 SUI, 7 SWE!)

  16. Why is the Sprint Qualification there? It makes no sense on any grounds. A straight final could be run in sprint – even with 150 runners it would be over in less than 4 hours. In the 2010 WOC at Trondheim sprint had 104 entries and it took 6 hours 45 minutes to run. For Qual+Final you have to have two maps and two arenas and move everybody between the two during the “rest” time. How is this better for organisers? Do we really think athletes can run two 12-15 minute races flat out with just a 3 hour break? How is this better for athletes?

    • I think keeping qualification is a good idea. You say it is harder for the organisers, but if you want to organise WOC you must realise that it is a tough job!
      Also you say there will ‘only’ be four hours of start times. Weather can change very significantly in four hours and have large influences on times, even in sprint.

    • Bjorn said:
      “We believe that the value of WOC is about finals and one of our goals has been to raise the opportunity for nations to be represented in title races.«

      One reason to keep the sprint qualification in the programme might also be the mass start event. They have pulled out and add two events in the new programme. If mass start format will be developed I am sure that they will pull out the sprint q. I suppose that they want to have a room to do this in the future. I don’t think that mass start could be introduced instead of Long.

    • From a TV and spectator viewpoint, you don’t want to have a sprint final which is much longer than 45 minutes. You could say that only the last 30-40 starters would have any chances anyway, but that’s a chance you can’t take..

  17. I can’t find original news and minutes on IOF webpage from General Assembly, Trondheim 2010. In first Jan’s article after WOC http://news.worldofo.com/2010/08/20/woc-of-the-future-what-will-it-look-like/
    I rewrite one part of it.

    One membership class
    “The rights of a provisional member are the same as those of a member except for the fact that a provisional member may not vote at the General Assembly, nor nominate candidates to Council. This means that all IOF member federations are from now on allowed to participate in all IOF Events, including the World Orienteering Championships.”

    Do we have (anyone) any comments about this issue from WIF project group?

    I would really like to know how WIF project group see this scenario if all IOF member countries sent their runners to WOC. If we look in the future IOF will have even more member countries than today and more nations/runners participating at WOC. Should we think about this now or some years later when this will happen? If this will happen already in 2014 also big countries will not have chance to put more than one runner in middle Final. Additional qualification method will have no use in this scenario. I like the idea of 1 runner per country in Middle F but I assume that with max.75 runners this is not the best solution for the sport.

    With new WOC programme I think we have only two alternatives on the long run. Increasing number of runners in Middle/Long Final or some kind of fixed final places for the best nations with regional and sub-regional qualification system for remaining places?

    Alpine skiing uses first alternative and have race qualification system for cca. 50-60 ranked athletes and all other athletes can start after them. This method is simple and good for the sport. No problem for TV and other media as they could cover the race from start till the last best runner like they want in the proposed time schedule. In alpine skiing this system works very well. It is still risky that someone makes a good result after that group (not broadcasted on TV) but chances are very small or rather none. I think that Elite orienteering has become so strong and I don’t think that any runner after that group will have any chance for podium or 10best places. TV will concentrate on main part of the race and winners but all other runners from nations without any runner among first 60 runners could start/finish the course. Like in chasing start format where we will have 3 runners per country and probably 150-200 runners in Final. TV production, commentators and spectators will probably stop broadcasting/watching after 20-30 runners in the Finish.

    It is a compromise which could lead to even batter Qualification and participating methods for all IOF members.

    Middle /Long F
    60 ranked runners (2-3 min interval) / 5’commercial break / start all other nations; 1 runner (1 minute interval)

  18. *) WRL or WOC?

    Feel we are tinkering around the edges with the changes with the WOC. The changes to WOC have got alot of impact on the World Cup and regional championships (&JWOC).

    We cant have a proper ranking system for the Sprint, Middle or Traditional until we have a proper World Cup, or even regional championships which reflects the new WOC.
    As the WRL/WC stands it benefits only the big European countries – Nor, Swe, Swi, Fin, Fra, GB….Yes, some countries (smaller) may target one format over another, due to lack of depth in talent, ce la vie, but, that happens already, but it will come more obvious with the new layout.
    Solution: Each region has its own league/cup which sits under the World Cup, with one event in each region also being a host for the WCup races in 1 or more of the formats. This allows countries get decent experience in the formats before turning up at WOC, and get ranked in that discipline over the full season. While not being balanced in the beginning (that can be worked out over time)at least we will know who the best team in the Americas(CAN), Asia(MAS), Africa(SA) Europe (DEN) are.
    Having a European league would also help the smaller countries to get some experience and get some success to keep some athletes involved for longer as funding may be more readily available for them.
    I could go on….

    • I think that also changes of WRE formula should be part of this new IOF event structure.

      WRE events in 2011 = 106
      WRE events in 2011 (without WOC, WC, ROC,..) = 82
      Countries with WRE event in the past = 45
      IOF members = 72
      Max WRE events per year (without WOC, WC, ROC,..) = 216

      WOC runner performance from new and developing countries should have impact on domestic runners. This should be worked out. As it stands now those federations will have even fewer chances to use those runners for domestic WRE events. Transition period may work in Europe as it is easier for runners to travel abroad on other WRE events but it is hard to see this concept could work on other continents. One problem is that ranked runners from Europe will not be very keen to travel on those even “smaller WRE events” and especially not far away. Second problem is that federation with only sending runners to WOC can’t produce enough domestic ranked runners. Federation or organizer interest to organize WRE is basically connected with goal of producing more domestic runners with WRE points.

      At some past events (in Europe) accrued that WRE event has not gathered enough elite orienteer and athletes didn’t get points in both class. I had an idea that in this case we could use country mean points instead of registered runners mean points for calculating final points. To calculate country mean points only national runners which were running at last WOC should be used. Winner of this event could get maximum of 1,5x points of country mean points. This will mean that winner will get less than 900 WRE points. Runners could get ranked status on those events only when country mean is higher than 600 points.

      This will give batter motivation for federations to send their runners to WOC and to organize in future year’s more WRE events at home. Stimulating national organizers to organize WRE events should be part of this new WOC programme for all member federations. WRE status should be free of charge as long as federation don’t have at least 6-10 ranked runners at the end of the season.

  19. Daniel Hubmann

    I don’t like the proposal that much. In my opinion, it includes too many competitions for a World Championships. The best runners would no longer be able to run all the races and they would be competing in different medal races, which means that the value of a medal and the level of the competition would decrease. I don’t think that the spectators would be happy with this situation either if quite a few of the top runners were missing in each race. Another disadvantage of this proposal is that only the “biggest” orienteering nations would be able to organise so many “high-quality” competitions within 8 days.
    Therefore, I really like Mr. Kocbachs proposal with the two different WOC’s every second year, either Sprint-WOC or Traditional-WOC. With this solution, world class level events would still be guaranteed, both regarding the starting field and the standard of the organisation. Also, smaller orienteering countries (all over the world) would be able to organise a WOC which I, as an athlete, would appreciate very much! Otherwise, I guess we would just jump around Europe…

    • Thanks a lot for the comment, Daniel. Introducing two different WOC’s every second year would solve most of the issues I can see with the suggested WOC program – and would introduce interesting possibilities for the future of the sport as well. I guess, however, that it was not within the mandate of the WIF group to consider this?

  20. Alistair Landels

    One important aspect which isn’t touched upon is trying to keep the cost down for participation, especially for smaller/weaker nations. These countries can often have only 3-4 men/women and 1 or 2 stars with poor WR points, so the long restriction could be a problem. Another point is that the media is interested in seeing runners participating in ALL races, this won’t happen while the relay is after the long race meaning big teams will often have 2 sets of runners for the long and relay. This obviously disadvantages weaker countries too who can’t have extra runners for these 2 races when the long race is first. A couple of changes to the proposed programme could be made to ensure that these problems have a higher chance of being solved:

    1. Force the long race to be on the last day. This makes it attractive to almost ALL athletes because they know they don’t have to save themselves for any subsequent race, so all the best will run.
    2. Allocate wild card places in the long race to runners who have not qualified to the long final (by the WR/other system), to runners placed in the top 40 of the middle finals who don’t already have country/personal places. This will probably add 5 extra runners at the most, but will open the door for a star runner from some small country who has poor WR point opportunities.

    I’m sceptical that the prologue will be long enough to provide enough splitting for the subsequent final. Could end up being a final with lots of groups and following. Would be almost better to use the middle race the day before as the prologue, but that would probably just duplicate the results of the first middle race.

    Where did the mixed sprint relay come from? I know the PWT did it a few years ago but shouldn’t the concept be tested a little first?

    Otherwise I generally prefer the WOC every second year and think that the number of medal races is getting ridiculous, it devalues a medal which is sad.

  21. I agree with Jan and Daniel to have two different WOCs every second year.
    Better for the athletes and easier to find suitable terrains. There will be A LOT more places to organize the sprint part. I think both forest O and Sprint could benefit from this.

  22. Marcus Millegård

    Having a “sprint WOC” and “traditional WOC” every second year is a good idea. If not, here is my suggestion for world champs program:

    Day 1: Long distance ind start, 90/75 min. 1-3 starters per nation depending on world ranking (my idea is 6-7 nations have 3 starters, 6-7 nations 2 starters and the rest 1). 2 min starting interval with short butterfly or similar. Like today but 5-10 min shorter.

    Day 2: Rest day.

    Dag 3: Middle qual + final. 20-25 min in qual, 30-35 in final. 30 starters in final. (if you want to skip qual, use same idea as long distance for avoiding too big starting field)

    Dag 4: Rest day.

    Dag 4: Sprint qual + final. 30 runners to final. 1.5 min starting interval gives more time to follow the runners.

    Dag 5: Relay. Like today.

    Dag 6: Rest day.

    Dag 7: Masstart ultralong, 150 resp 120 min. Forked loops in the beginning (3*15 min) and long common last loop with lots of long legs with route choices.

    If you want to do something with the sprint like mandatory kangaroo jumps sounding like a penguin to make it more popular, it’s fine with me. As well as it is to add a “mixed-sprint-relay” on one of the rest day, no one will care about that “competition” anyway.

  23. As far as I’m concerned orienteering is moving away from it’s basic idea – and that we call development. So be it. In that process new disciplines were created (even new sports), map drawing standards were modified, WOC rules were changed and course setting got new priorities and possibilities (due to new technology and media “demands”).
    What bothers me is if the motivator for changes is the simple calculation: more medals that the national federation has = more money they get from the state. And if you ask me that is the only reason for more medal-giving competitions on the WOC. 6 competitions? That’s 36 medallists, even more if we consider all the athletes in the relay teams, every year! Who will remember all the names?!? Are you shore that that is what media wants??

    I am from Slovenia; certainly a small federation. I like the idea that it will be harder for me to get to WOC. System with point gathering (i like the WRE idea) will demand a more systematic approach. With that some orienteers will be lost simply because they (and their federations) don’t have the finances to travel around the world (orienteering has become quite a business) but still I think there should be stronger selection about who is allowed to run on WOC.

  24. Knut Wiig Mathisen

    Interesting discussion, my personalised summary:
    Unequal years trad WOC:
    Day 1: Middle 25 min, 4 per nation for big nations, group of best runners start last, lotted order
    Day 2: Chase 35 min, best 60
    Day 3: Rest
    Day 4: Long ind 85/70 min
    Day 5: Rest
    Day 6: Relay 4*25 min
    Day 7: Rest
    Day 8: Ultralong mass-start 150/120 min

    Equal years sprint WOC:
    Day 1: Sprint part 1, 4 per nation for big nations, group of best runners start last, in lotted order
    Day 1: Sprint part 2, best 60 can start, opposite order, 1.5 min start interval, best combined time wins
    Day 2 Rest
    Day 3: Mixed sprint relay, 6*12-13 min, 3 from each gender

    • Alistair Landels

      It was in Leibnitz 2000 that the PWT proposed setting up a sprint WOC like this, with all their sponsorship backing etc. The IOF said ‘no’ – can’t really remember why, probably because they were bureaucratic and stuck in the mud…

  25. Runners might want to have two different WOCs but we should also see this idea from organizers perspective. In my opinion WOC is the most prestigious IOF event and only the big countries have potential to organize it. Media demands, IOF fee, organizing costs are much bigger obstacle that we would like to admit. Also two different WOCs with only final races still don’t solve most of the problems with participating and qualification methods.

    Maybe I am wrong but I would first like to see more WC races around the world and before that even more WRE races. I don’t think that interest for Sprint WOC among small federation could be big enough, yet. Organizing EYOC, JWOC or similar event is hard enough for small nations. Organizing big events is not necessary good for developing countries. Sprint WOC fee would probably not be cheaper than WC race fee and we all know who organize WC races. I would to like hear more from USA, JPN, UKR what WOC really bring to them.

    WRE should be seen more as necessary promotional tool of IOF development policy and not just as secondary “elite event” for countries willing to pay for it. IOF should be able to promote WRE more freely as it is good tool. Money should not be the factor of this basic development. We all know that promoting Elite orienteering and sufficient base of Elite orienteer is one of the fundamental conditions for organizing WOC. Without step by step development countries can’t just jump on WOC level. So first WRE, EYOC, WC,….WOC.

    Before jumping in the pool we should also know the interest for Sprint WOC among big countries?

  26. Let’s face some facts.
    IOF is trying to improve (change) the format of WOC with introducing some new races. But of course keeping the current 4 finals – sprint, middle, long and relay… and within 8 days.

    Removing the long Q is a great idea – why do we need qualification for Long D? To seed the runners and to determine the start order? That can be easily achieved with the current WRE list for example. Top 5-7 nations get 3 runners quota, next 10 – 2 runners and so on. To be honest… the Long D is a tough race and it’s not for the small nations’ runners. You have to be in top 100 of WRE list to have a good result on Long distance. Start list draw system – all participants divided in 3 groups according to their WRE points and draw.

    Similar idea is for removing the middle Q – then with the new system on the Middle final there will be a representative of every nation… for example 45 nations will take part and have an opportunity to be on the results list.

    The problem of the current format on the WOC is that the small nations cannot get results on WOC Finals (except relay)— IOF has more than 70 member nations, 40 come to WOC and only 20-25 are in the results list. This is not a good advertisement of a worldwide sport!!!

    So far I do not see any difference for the participants from top O-nations.

    And now comes introducing the new disciplines… this is a demand – what shall be attractive for spectators and still valuable for orienteering? For example this year in cross country world championships 5 out of 6 races were mass start. Is this attractive and what spectators wants? And I guess that the WIF project group did a big research what would be the best for developing orienteering. Mixed relay is already successfully used at World Games.

    My personal opinion about Prologue + Chasing start is that it will give a chance for good (fast) runners to perform better than good orienteerers but it will be very attractive to watch as spectator and wait till the run-in to see the champion.

    Someone above mentioned and I also support it that a high quality TV-spectacular WOC can be organize by very limited number of nations under current conditions of huge IOF sanction fee and almost no sponsors. Hopefully this will change… one sunny day!

    The value of the gold medals if there are going to be 6 WOC Finals?!?! It has always been the most prestigious to win the classic (long) distance in orienteering. “But sports medals embody the ultimate appreciation of an athlete’s talents and achievements in a certain discipline. Sports medals are not just mere material rewards but cherished possessions for athletes that will encourage all of them to continue aiming for the best finish in their respective events.”

    If you have a problem to remember all the champions’ names… check World of O!

  27. I agree with Daniel, Jan and Holger: the best solution would be to have two different WOCs every second year.

    Holger is especially right about suitable terrains: “Better for the athletes and easier to find suitable terrains. There will be A LOT more places to organize the sprint part. I think both forest O and Sprint could benefit from this.”

  28. Audun Weltzien

    Some perspectives from me:

    – Why is 2 different WOC in separate years a good solution? Wouldn’t it only confuse people outside the orienteering family? Also it will most probably not increase the status for the sprint, if that is the goal. Finally, I doubt the best runners will specialize less than now. A positive thing is that it would be much easier to find good urban areas for the sprint without compromising with terrains for the forest disciplines and vice versa.

    – With two disciplines in urban environment and one mass/chasing start in forest, the remaining three (middle, long, relay) must move in the direction of a more interesting traditional orienteering. Courses like recent years in traditional disciplines (middle, relay and long) are boring and give little extra if we have sprint and chasing start.

    – Too much arena passing, butterflies, track and road running is boring for the “real orienteering spectators” and the runners. If you loose enthusiasm from the runners and the orienteering family, you risk loosing everything (who will then organize events, watch orienteering on TV, train to be an elite runner, make local club trainings etc…). Neglecting demanding terrain and courses is a huge mistake. TV said after WOC 2010 that middle and relay was little interesting because of too much cameras and arena passing.

    – More runners from the best nations is important. I believe our sport looses lots of attention from media and thereby market value by restricting the number of medal chances for the top runners from the biggest o-nations. But the best runners should as Hubmann points out be able to run all races.

    – Mix relay is little interesting for media and runners, if we look to other sports like nordic biathlon. It is also actually bad for the smaller countries, since as it is now the strength of the female runners will be too decisive. 6 medal disciplines per year is too much, and the program is also too tight.

    – 9 days WOC is a minimum if one wants 6 competitions (7 races). The weekends must be used, due to spectators and TV. The spectators don’t stay the whole WOC-week anyway, and it should not be that expensive for the smaller nations to stay one more day.

    – Qualifications are a bad thing. The proposal looks quite good in that respect, except sprint qual. Use World cup standings and WRE instead. Letting all runners run the sprint is not necessarily a problem in urban areas.

    But I believe it all boils down to the application of the concept and guidelines. Without focus on demanding and interesting courses, we might experience selection of arena/terrain and the type of course-setting we had in WOC 2010 in Trondheim. Other things to watch out for is proper TV-coverage. By having too small TV-budget you don’t get good TV-pictures, and by having too many TV controls you loose oversight and the result is bad TV. Finally, having WOC in peripheral places results in few spectators. To organize WOC in areas with little orienteering activity may sound nice, but it hasn’t been successful in practice.

    One thing I don’t really understand is the blocks. It would be easier to combine more competitions if the similar events aren’t on consecutive days.