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Separate Sprint and Forest WOCs: The way to go?


WOC in the Future: A suggestion to split the World Orienteering Championships into a separate sprint WOC and traditional WOC – organized alternating years – is finally on the table. Splitting into two different WOCs has been dismissed by the IOF in earlier discussions, but with the Swedish Orienteering Federation officially announcing a splitting into two different WOCs today, this will definitely be a topic going forwards.

– We have been contacted by WOC runners from other countries who have asked what we as a big orienteering country can do to push an alternative suggestion to a WOC program, Tom Hollowell, head of the Swedish Orienteering Federation says to Skogssport.

Here is the new program suggested by the Swedish Orienteering Federation:

  • Sprint WOC: (1) Sprint Qual + Final, (2) KnockOut sprint, (3) Mixed sprint relay
  • Forest WOC: (1) Long distance final, individual start, (2) Middle distance final, individual start, (3) Prologue + chasing start, (4) Relay – men and women separately

These two WOCs are to be organized every second year; i.e. one year the Sprint WOC – the next year the Forest WOC.

Here is the suggested program by the IOF:

  • Alternative A: (1) Sprint Qual + Final, (2) Mixed sprint relay, (3) Prologue + chasing start (middle), (4) Long distance final, individual start.
  • Alternative B: The above alternative with the addition of a traditional relay (men / women separately)

What is your opinion on the suggested WOC program? Either vote now – or read my list with Pros and Cons below before deciding.


Pros and Cons: Splitting WOC into two parts

I was recently asked by some “decision makers” to give some facts and opinions on splitting the WOC into two separate parts based on this article I wrote earlier – a sprint WOC and a traditional WOC – to be organized alternating years. Below are my Pros and Cons as it was written:

Advantages related to splitting

Advantages related to the forest WOC

  • The WOC program makes it possible for all the best to run all disciplines
  • Possibility to keep and further develop the individual discipline which works best for TV today (according to several TV people I have talked to) – the individual middle distance – while at the same time getting a “first-to-finish” discipline into the program
  • Easier to organize and easier to get organizers because there are only forest disciplines and fewer finals
  • No inflation in the number of medals (the total amount of medals summed over two years goes down)

Advantages related to the sprint WOC

  • Possibility to include a KnockOut sprint on the WOC program without removing today’s sprint (today’s sprint works well for the spectators – not so well for TV). Typical WOC program: Sprint like today, KnockOut sprint, Mixed relay
  • Easier to organize. Easier to find suitable terrain, and thus more areas are suitable for a sprint WOC. Increased chances to get the WOC outside Europe (necessary according to the Olympics goal of the IOF). This is the natural way towards orienteering in the Olympics in my opinion (if that is where you want to head).
  • Potential possibility to integrate sprint-WOC in the World Games every second time (but problem regarding the restrictions on number of participants). Alternatively a sprint WOC should be organized in opposite phase to the World Games, giving a sprint type championship 3 of 4 years.
  • A sprint WOC can easier be organized in the autumn – which is a lot better time for TV than in the middle of the summer. One of the main reasons for organizing the WOC in summer time today is for the spectator races which gives income and spectators and for the volunteers. A city-championships in autumn could give many spectators as only a weekend + a day is needed.
Disadvantages related to splitting
  • Potentially lower license fee to the IOF – I have heard this a lot of times when discussing the matter. IOF is dependent on income from WOC organizers, and a splitting might reduce this.
  • The WOC program is not recognizable by the public as it changes from year to year.
  • You could get fewer participating nations on the WOC – especially on the forest WOC
  • You could get lower status on one of the WOCs – either forest of sprint depending on how this develops.

I may have missed some here as I might have been focusing more on the advantages – please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here.

Conclusion

My conclusion in my e-mail was that there are more arguments for splitting into two WOCs than against it – and that is still my opinion. But as always I challenge the readers to come up with arguments that I have not thought of.

Finally I want to pinpoint that all disciplines which are to be included in a WOC should be tested properly before the program is decided – including forking method which works for the chosen start form.

PS! The Swedish Orienteering Federation call this “a completely new and radical suggestion”, but it has actually been up in discussions many times already – for example in this article from August last year. It is not my original suggestion, though, but I have been advocating it as one of the most obvious solutions to the WOC in the future “problem”.

Don’t forget to scroll up again and vote!

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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42 comments

  1. In addition to the sprint programe, there can be a reintroduction of the short distance.

    Winning time: 20-25 min
    Map scale: 1:5000
    The short distance should be in terrain

  2. Bernt O. Myrvold

    It is not necessarily the number of arguments, but how good they are!
    As it has been an expressed goal to have more runners specialize in the different diciplines, I don’t think the possibility to run all distances carry much weight.

    I believe there is two real dangers by splitting the championship
    – the spectators (particularly TV) will have problems in recognising the sport
    – one of the championships will get a B-stamp

    I certainly don’t believe that the smaller nations will be more able to organise a sprint WOC. Anybody that have tried to organise a sprint championship knows that that is very much work and certainly more complex than a forest event. To obtain TV coverage (of a decent standard) might also problematic in the smaller countries.

    • @Bernt: Thanks a lot for your comment. The most important thing is that this option (a split WOC) is now finally on the table, and will be in the discussion along with the other alternatives. The suggestion solves to many of the problems with both IOF’s suggestions and the current WOC program to dismiss it without doing proper considerations.

      Of course I agree that it is not the number of arguments but how good they are that counts. That’s what I base my overall conclusion on. And I think as of now that the Pros with two separate WOCs are bigger than the Cons. That is partly due to the restrictions imposed on WOC in the future – i.e. mixed sprint relay, chasing start, max 5 medal disciplines. If I would be allowed to think freely without any restrictions.

      Regarding your arguments:
      1. That the best should be allowed to run all disciplines is a clearly expressed goal – and one of the main reasons that the IOF Council did not follow the WOC in the future group’s suggestions for a new WOC program (this was also the response from several nations and athletes). This is thus the main reason that the individual middle distance is removed. Thus I think that saying that “I don’t think the possibility to run all distances carry much weight” misses the target a bit.

      2. Yes, the spectators might have some difficulty recognizing. That’s one of the biggest Cons, but still I think it is outweighed by the positive sides.

      3. Yes, that one of the championships will get kind of a B-stamp over time might be a problem. However, the fact that neither of us can tell which championship will get the B-stamp is quite interesting, I think. On one side, I have heard fears by the forest-WOC supporters that they are afraid that the forest-WOC will get a B-stamp because there will be more nations participating in the sprint-WOC. On the other hand I have heard people saying that they are afraid the sprint-WOC will get a B-stamp because the forest-WOC is the “real” WOC. Thus I think we could see some interesting development here, both WOCs developing their best sides.

      4. “I certainly don’t believe that the smaller nations will be more able to organise a sprint WOC”. I agree that it is not easy to organize a sprint WOC – however, I am very sure that it will still be easier than organizing today’s WOC. I think the challenges in organizing a sprint WOC are in some respects closer to the challenges involved with organizing a big marathon than what is the case for a forest WOC – and thus there could be expertise on this in smaller countries. I’ll try to get some backup on that one from people who know more than me about the matter. Sure getting TV coverage may be a problem – on the other hand it should be easier to get both sponsors and spectators for events which are very visible in the city centers.

  3. I completely agree with Bernt’s thoughts because we as an o-community are not financially and media strong enough to have “two WOC products”.

    Countries which stand behind the idea should be able to prove that is possible to sell the product “Sprint WOC” and willingness to host the Sprint WOC and also generating Prize money for medallists. I think this last should be more important factor that TV requirements for professional sports look of Sprint WOC. If SWE, NOR, FIN, SUI and DEN TV stations or any others want to broadcast the Sprint WOC from smaller countries than IOF should be able to generate income (TV rights, international sponsors) to finance TV production of Sprint WOC and Prize money awards. Changing the WOC concept into “two WOCs” should mean also the change of the way how IOF is running. Countries which will stand behind the new concept of WOC (which will win) should also nominate persons for new IOF Council. Commercialization of the sports and media status of the sport in different countries should be taken into account as today concept is not possible if we want to see WOC in smaller countries.

    But in this process of creating “new WOC” we should also define:
    – What are IOF official disciplines
    – How many disciplines we want to practice (WOC, WC, WG)
    – What are possible formats for each discipline

    If we look into elite IOF events we have today 5 disciplines: sprint, middle, long, relay (WOC) and mixed relay (WG). We already have mixed relay as an IOF discipline even if many runners, people don’t accept it. In this context I see KnockOut sprint rather just as one possible format of Sprint discipline. I don’t see any media or sport value to have World champion in sprint and World champion in KnockOut sprint.

    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Samo. I personally think it is easier to generate spectator interest, sponsors and thus also prize money in sprints than in forest races – because you bring the sport out to the people. Regarding TV, that is another question. I still think forest races are easier to produce for TV than the sprint discipline(s) – whereas sprint is better for spectators.

      As I see it, splitting in two WOC’s is an answer to the restrictions imposed on the process and all the compromises in play. With this suggestion on the table, it is time to take one step back and make a decision which is not based on a lot of compromises, but which takes all different factors into account.

      • Jan, I’m accepting all the arguments for Sprint WOC but you must define what kind of Sprint WOC standard we should get.

        I think it is very relavant to compare what we get with today Sprint WOC offer and what was PWT Sprint WOC offer 10 years back. I think PWT standard should be the minimum standard. Spectator interest, sponsors, TV and prize money (PWT package) should be obligatory for Sprint WOC concept. PWT proved that they have had knowledge, ideas and management structure to sell the event. We can’t prevail this tasks on future organizers as it is in the case of the forest WOC concept. It would be great to get any comments from them about what they think of today Sprint WOC proposal.

    • I see what you mean Samo about the value of a knockout sprint champion, and I agree with you from a pure orienteering point of view.

      But then I think about watching the Winter Olympics, and the event that I enjoyed the most was the head to head snowboard and ski cross. 4 starters at the same time, changing the lead, constant excitement, and always an exciting finish. After getting hooked on this the first time it was staged, I now watch standard ski and snowboard races with a bit more enthusiasm.

      With cunning planning and young, bolshy, exciting athletes, this could be a breakthrough format for orienteering. Maybe to those of us who’ve been involved for years, a gold medal won’t have the same image as a forest long medal. But it might just be a way to get a few more people interested. Who knows?

  4. An additional argument for making it easier for “smaller” nations to organize a Sprint WOC than the Forest WOC is availability of suitable terrain. Of course this is not necessarily dependent on the size of the nation, but in reality it´s natural that orienteering hasn´t yet got quite the same traditional foothold in countries without forests.
    Park and city sprints on the other hand can be held just about anywhere – as has been shown for many years by PWT. The ability to take on an event of the importance and size of a Sprint WOC must of course also be taken into consideration, but it should still be easier to have just the one and not both Sprint AND Forest at the same time…

  5. Why not extend the current WOC programme with the chasing start and have the Sprint one week earlier somewhere else?

    1) WOC Sprint Qualification + Final (about 1 week prior to the main WOC)

    2) Extended WOC
    WOC Middle + Chasing Start
    WOC Long
    WOC Relay

    + 5 medals, every year.
    + Sprint should be easier to organize for smaller countries. Just 2 competitions (Qual + Final), focusing on high quality, spectators, …
    + Skip the mixed sprint relay, who cares about that? Don’t think the spectators.

    • I’m not sure it is a good alternative to have a separate sprint WOC the same year as the traditional WOC. I think it would degrade the quality of the start field in the sprint WOC…

  6. How about Ultra-Sprint?
    The French calls it Orient’Show:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nv6SWVBRDU
    In China it is a formal discipline called “Hundreds-Meter-Orienteering” at national level events, thus students who win a medal at national champs can gain advantage when applying for university. Like track races, it has heats, semi-finals and final races. This is an example showing a final race in All-China Student Champs 2010:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWdgVkDSePU

    China has been developing this discipline for about a decade. From my observation in recent years:
    1. It is the most “media-friendly”,
    2. “spectator-friendly”,
    3. “sponsor-friendly” and
    4. “easy-to-develop” discipline in China when comparing to Sprint, Middle, Long and Relay.

    IOF developing Sprint is a big step forward to the Olympics. I think this Ultra-Sprint can be another big step. What do you think?

    • I like the Orient’show a lot. I would ideally like some elements from the Orient’show included in the traditional sprint. Some action happening where the spectators can see it – and also some nice action for TV – but only as part of a longer sprint course. However sprint is still a young discipline, and there are also other ways the sprint discipline could develop – this is only one of them. With a separate sprint WOC, there should be more possibilities to find the best sprint formats.

      • Maybe one day this Orient’Show (I’d like to call it Ultra-Sprint) can develop into a formal discipline just like Sprint did a decade ago and included in the Sprint-WOC. It takes time and someone to take the first step, just like PWT did…
        Knockout Sprint is a good start in new direction toward media-friendly. I think Ultra-Sprint would be the solution of this direction. Imagine an orienteering race in a stadium with man-made-features showing sponsors logos, easy understanding race format, media coverage on every action of the runners, spectators…most importantly the small & undeveloped nations can train up top runners for this discipline without travelling to Europe and making lots of maps. They only need a football field and fast runners to win a WOC. It helps IOF breaking the “Europe Greenhouse”.

  7. KEEP WOC THE WAY IT IS!

    • As it looks, that isn’t a probable outcome, unfortunately. A good way to proceed from my point of view would be to keep WOC the way it is until there is a viable alternative, i.e. one has tested the proposed formats and proved that they fulfill the goals which are set (TV friendly etc. etc.). However, it seems like change is wanted by the IOF and other parties, and then I find it better to discuss what kind of change is the best change for the sport than to just sit down and say that we want no change…

  8. I have a hard time finding any more disadvantages so I will help you with some more advantages instead:

    “The WOC program makes it possible for all the best to run all disciplines” is not something relevant only for forest WOC. This year at least one former sprint world champion chose not to take part in the sprint to focus only on the long and middle. I don’t think he would have skipped a separate sprint WOC completely.

    “Easier to find suitable terrain”. This goes also for forest WOC. I know lots of places in the “wilderness” that work well for forest WOC but would be terrible for sprint.

    I also think the status of all existing disciplines (sprint, middle, long) actually will be higher with a split WOC since all of the best runners will be able to take part. The new disciplines of course need to prove themselves before we know about their status.

    As for SOFT calling the proposal “new and radical”, you must understand that they have journalist-type-people employed to make their news-items sound more news-itemy. It’s only new and radical because it’s in a formal setting, and as we all know IOF only care for things that are formal and not so much about what is happening in the real world.

    • Thanks Eriol – good arguments. I have had them in my mind, but my list with arguments for was a lot longer than the against list already, and I wanted to try to balance it a bit…

  9. Bernt O. Myrvold

    The main problem is of course that IOF is using WOC to get some income, instead of spending money developing it and ensuring good quality coverage.

    • Exactly! The potentially lower license fee is the biggest problem here.

      However, if you spend more money to ensure good quality coverage, you would probably get the extra income down the road. Not easy to find the money to spend though when there is no money in the organization….

    • If IOF cares only about IOF licence fees than we are probably one the wrong path. What is the point to have TV and media friendly disciplines “first to finish” if we are (including IOF) afraid that we will not be able to sell the product. I am sure that costs of IOF activities could go down. All business systems and organizations must be flexible and be able to handle at least -10% of total budget. If we say that Sprint WOC will count for WC than licence fee could be around 18.000eur. Se IOF needs to sell the Sprint WOC through TV rights and sponsorships for the remaining 42.000eur if the goal is to have the same licence fee as for the forest WOC.

      One of the advantages is also that Regional championships could be organized in the same year as a Sprint WOC and could be part of the qualification system for Middle and Long. I also think that RCs should not overlap with the WC races as it is happening in many cases now. Some sports, e.g. cycling also fixed national championships into specific time frame. Maybe orienteering could also fix 4 weekends in a year when only national championships can take place.

  10. The idea to divide into two alternating different WOC is a good one, we have discussed this in Austria (independently from World of O).

    But there is another point in the proposal to which small nations cannot agree:
    THE QUALIFICATION SHOULD NOT BE PULLED OUT OF WOC!

    Reasons:
    1. Small/developing countries probably would not be able to compete at WOC at all.
    2. Small/developing countries cannot afford to send their runners to all the “good” WRE-events they would have to run to make enough points.
    3. For runners outside Europa point 2 counts twice!
    4. It will become much more difficult for ALL young runners to qualify. Most WRE-points are to catch at WOC itself.
    5. So WOC without qualifications at WOC itself would only take place for the established runners (and nations). The “international flair” with participants from many countries of the world would fade away.

    Should a WORLD championship not imply runners from as much countries as possible from all continents???

    • You obviously haven’t readthe proposal: WOC shall be used for qualifiaction, not WRE. And smaller countries will get places in the final- instead of like now only qual- and then a week without competing before the relay. New proposal is better for small countries than todays WOC.

    • @Traude: See below for the suggested qualification scheme.

      Regarding the qualification races, I also really enjoy the qualification races – they are where the “small” nations are in the focus. So I am sad to see that it looks like they disappear. It should, however, be easier to make place for qualification races in a WOC split into sprint and forest WOC, but to me it seems that for now a decision has been made. I would have preferred qualification races the first WOC weekend with some athletes pre-qualified (e.g. one from each country), but I know there are quite a few arguments against it.

      The full qualification scheme is presented here:
      http://orienteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/WOC-in-the-Future-proposal-from-the-IOF-Council1.pdf
      * Sprint Qualification: 3 athletes per nation + reigning World Champion.
      * Sprint relay: 1 team per nation (2 women + 2 men).
      * Middle Prologue: 3 athletes per nation + reigning World Champion.
      * Middle Final (chasing start): All athletes completing the prologue.
      * Relay Final: 1 team per nation per each gender (men and women).
      * Long Final: Pre-qualified athletes based on results achieved in the previous three WOC’s. Typically one place for Austria – maybe two. In addition one place for each region.

      • I think Traude was trying to say that qualification scheme works (it is fair) only when you use today WOC concept (qual+final).

        “Long Final: Pre-qualified athletes based on results achieved in the previous three WOC’s”

        Technically should be clear which WOC races count for country overall score. Long results should be excluded if we want that every country would have the same chances based on results achieved in the previous three WOC’s. Otherwise we get closed shop for Long Final. Second problem is that scheme as it is support team effort and not individual. Small/new/undeveloped countries don’t have strong teams so good individuals from small countries wouldn’t have any chances to qualify for Long. That’s why I still support FOC proposal to use WRL instead of WOC results. We just need to develop/change some rules about how WRL works. Traude presented some good points why today WRE scheme don’t work.

  11. I wouldn’t mind a seperate sprint and forest wocs as long as they don’t bring in chasing starts and things that are shit.

    • I’m not sure a chasing start is a bad thing – it can be quite interesting both for runners and for TV/spectators. However, I think we are still searching for the spreading method which works consistently – especially in continental, open terrain. There are spreading method which either spread the runners or work for TV/spectators, but none I have seen which work really well for both. I would prefer to wait including chasing start on the program until one has a spreading method which works – and which has been tested on the type of start field you can expect in a WOC. Of course, if you make either the prologue or the chasing start itself longer, things will start to happen and you don’t need that fancy spreading methods ..

      • Chasing starts in a sprint, especially one with such a competitive field, are not the best. When you have people finishing between 1 and 10 seconds apart then a chasing start just leads to a massive train of runners, not orienteers. You have to have a larger gap in the start interval for a chasing sprint to work.

  12. Just saying, there is no option on the poll for no change to the WOC programme. Some may want the WOC to stay the same as it was this year. Maybe someone should add “No Change to WOC program” on to the poll.

    • @OPoland: That is on purpose. I know that many want WOC to stay the way it is – the question here was IOFs suggestions versus the new suggestion from the Swedish Orienteering Federation.

  13. Jan, there is only one problem and it is your first listed: IOF Income. Until external revenue streams are developed for the sport to such an extent that IOF are not significantly dependent on sanction fees, it doesn’t matter how good your arguments are, you will not clear this hurdle.

    Also, forgive my humour as I recall the decision made 10 years ago to change the WOC interval to annual from every 2 years that all the major nations (except Finland) supported – the reason for the change, of course, was IOF Income (even if it was not stated). That reason stands in the way of “going back to the future” and this idea can only be seriously considered if the major nations and IOF can come up with a financial model for IOF that will support separate WOCs.

    • I know that sanction fees is a major problem in this regard, that is also why I have listed it first. The question is, of course, which sanction fee you can have for each of the separate forest and sprint WOCs. If you would have the same fee for a WOC as today, you would have no problem. Your assumption is, I guess, that you would have to reduce the fee for either one of the WOCs (the sprint WOC) or both of the new WOCs. Probably you’d have to do that, and yes – then you’ve got a problem. The total fee over two years would still be higher than when you had WOC every second year though.

      I am not sure about this, but potential net income for a sprint WOC some years up the road should maybe be even higher than a forest WOC, as you have higher visibility (closer to the people) = higher potential for sponsors, lower costs for map production etc. Would anybody who has more detailed knowledge about this care to comment?

      Also, I don’t think you’d “go back to the future”. You would still have one WOC every year…

      • A sprint WOC would need reduced sanction fees IF one of the goals as you state is “increased chances to organise WOC outside Europe – necessary according to Olympics Goal of IOF”. Orienteering nations outside of Europe have smaller economies and cannot afford current IOF sanction fees.

        • Yes, I also think so. The sum of forest + sprint WOC sanction fees should however be higher than the sanction fees of a single WOC every second year? Still there is a gap compared to today which would somehow need to be covered.

  14. The problem with trying to get runners to run all the races is easily solved by just putting the long race on the last day. It’s only that race which physically impacts an athlete’s performance in following days. X-C Skiing do this with their 50km race. It would even be possible to make today’s 70/90min race even longer then. Thierry would have certainly raced the long race many more times in the last 10 years than the 2-3 times he has if it had been on the last day, he’s always been saving himself for the middle/relay and knows what the long race can do to your body.

    I generally don’t think Orienteering is quite big enough to support 2 different alternating WOCs. I hope the IOF see to develop the current program with small well-proven changes rather than radical alternatives.

    They should focus on using technology (tracking etc) to make the individual start more exciting rather than thinking that mass/chasing starts are the only way to do so.

  15. Knut W. Mathisen

    Jan, Thank you for hosting this important and interesting discussion. I have for some time been a keen supporter of splitting the WOC. Regarding A and B status for the two separate WOC’s, I think the most important thing for status is to actually get the runners with the most previous WOC (gold) medal to attend, independent of what events the medals are coming from. Kauppi, Luder, Jansson, AMH Nordberg, Hubmann, Gueorgiou, Lundanes at least must compete in all events (or as many as possible).
    Regarding the competion program,I would like to see some (minor) changes to the Swedish proposal:
    Sprint WOC
    Sprint individual, Competion organised similar to ski jumping: Two parts, combined time counts. First part interval seeded start, all can participate. Second part, best 30 or 40 runners, with starting order so that the best start last. This would make the competion exciting and easier to follow on TV, web and live.
    Forest WOC, program similar to biathlon (except for mixed relay), that is:
    Middle (or short) 25 min, seeded interval start, all can take part.
    Chase, based on short, 35 min
    Rest
    Long interval, as today
    Rest
    Rest
    Relay, separate men and women, 4 (short) legs
    Ultralong mass start
    Mass start can work well if the course is long enough, that we seen in decades in international competions at Blodslitet, NO and Jättemilen, DK. With GPS this would be a spectacular end of the forest WOC week. For TV, web and arena spectators.
    And all top runners can participate in all events!

  16. So this is the first time I ever comment something on WorldofO, but this has to get out. Why isn’t it even considered to leave WOC just as it is now? I am pretty happy with the concept and though I can think of improvements (generally speaking, Chasing Start is a great idea, for example), every suggestions sounds way worse than the actual WOC. I am aware that the main intent of the IOF is to make orienteering more public-friendly, which is a nice motive but a) Orienteering is by definition not public-friendly (running through the forest is virtually impossible to portray interestingly to an outsider) and b) by changing the sport, so that even insiders don’t like it any more (like not using any forest orienteering every second year) doesn’t seem very appropriate, because somebody needs to DO the sport and not only WATCH it. Keep the core of orienteerers happy with the sport and stop worrying about public attention – it won’t work to attract it when you transform it to a sport which is unattractive for the actual competitors and you might eventually ruin the sport by trying to make it interesting for a greater public.

    PS: I am also quite happy with the fact that my sport is not as popular as soccer. Think of all the grotesque capitalist atrocities which would inevitably invade orienteering.

    • Killian, thanks a lot for your comment. I’m also happy to keep WOC as it is today until there is some very good reasoning telling why it should change and how it affects the goals IOF (=the sum of the member countries) has for the sport. What I think is needed is:

      – a set specific of goals which we want to achieve by changing the WOC program (TV, spectators, runners opinions etc.)
      – an evaluation of how a new WOC program affects each of these goals both positively and negatively

      This is what the discussion should really be all about. First one should discuss the specific set of goals (that is where your comment comes in I guess), then it should be looked in detail at how each of the goals are affected by a new WOC program (e.g. how does removing the individual middle distance or the traditional relay influence the goals for the sport).

      Until now I have not seen a good formulation of the goals (just something general about more spectator friendly etc.), and I have not seen a discussion about how the new WOC program affects this goal in detail.

      • Great thoughts Jan. Strategy, planning, activity plan and follow up are something that IOF do but not in sufficient details. It would be great to have (to read) analysis of specific IOF goals but I suspect that IOF administration don’t do that. So we can’t speak about that based on facts, because even IOF officials probably don’t know insight of the problems of each goal.

        I was disappointed when I read Analysis of IOF Strategic Directions for 2006-2012 because this is not analysis. This is more or less just a political paper. Like you said: “Until now I have not seen a good formulation of the goals (just something general…)”

        From http://www.orientering.se/ImageVault/Images/id_10565/scope_0/ImageVaultHandler.aspx
        Key Goals: The IOF Council has not yet specified key goals.

        We will probably get them on time but HEY do we really need such analysis and papers without to know the facts first and backed with good insight detail analysis. We should trust to the elected people that they know what they are doing but after the Strategic Directions 2006-2012 paper I don’t trust them anymore that they can materialized strategy and goals in reality. I don’t want to be rude but I think that they need to answers on o-community questions if they want to get support for their vision and “hidden key goals”.

  17. Nice discussion Jan! IF WOC program shall be changed it must be done step by step. Setting up few new disciplines that has not been tested enough might create lots of difficulties for both the organizers and the runners. So… the current 4 medal disciplines are well known and with a tradition. As a beginning the long distance Q is the race that can be replaced with another medal discipline. The Long F nations quota and start list can be determine by some other rules (WRE points, nations positions, etc.) The long final is definitely not a discipline for an IOF new-coming country.

    The o-sport is developing and especially with TV- and GPS-coverage some new demands are coming. Having a mass-start (with loops or any other splitting) can give a chance for more nations to participate and it will be easier for TV –production, also the GPS-coverage can start simultaneously with the mass-start. Of course the big problem with the loops will be the fairness and equal length. Having the race with a fight arm-to-arm till the very end is more interesting to follow rather than the 6-hours Long F WOC 2011 (exception is the women race where first control was very challenging).

    If WOC program has 6-7 medal discipline in the future – it is not necessary that all runners shall run everything! Isn’t it like that in sports as ski-cross country, biathlon, athletics?!?!

    At the bottom of the line… if IOF does not collect the WOC sanction fee then it will be much easier for the organizers to maintain a high level of TV production. Then more nations will apply for organizing WOC in the future.