Ski orienteering makes successful Asiada debut and is growing thanks to GPS technology
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN: The 7th Asian Winter Games proved to be a highly successful launching pad for the emerging sport of ski orienteering. The final relay was staged in front of a full stadium of cheering fans rallying their national teams.
Ski orienteering is one of four official disciplines governed by the International Orienteering Federation (IOF): foot, mountain bike, ski and trail orienteering. The IOF has 72 member countries worldwide and is experiencing a growth spurt thanks to new GPS technology.
Originally a military sport, orienteering combines physical and mental skills, as athletes proceed from start to finish by visiting a number of control points in a predetermined order with the help of map and compass. Orienteers must navigate the course from start to finish making quick decisions while moving at high speed.
An electronic card verifies that the athlete has visited all control points in the right order. The longest distance will be 75-90 min for women and 95-100 min for men, medium distance will be 40-45 min for men and women, sprint will be 10-15 min and relay from 6 to 35 min in one stage.
GPS technology will allow the athletes to wear a device that will track their movements around the track for views on a big screen and eventually via their computers.
At the Asian Games the competitions were divided into sprint, middle distance, long distance and relay. There were 24 medals up for grabs at this Asiada debut and host country Kazakhstan took the landslide medal haul with 14 medals, followed by Mongolia with four, and South Korea, China and Iran all winning two each.
IOF honor member Hugh Cameron said, “It is very good that ski orienteering was included into the program of the Asian Games. We hope that very soon our sport will become one of the most popular in the world. Such big events as the Winter Asian Games help the development of ski orienteering.”
One could feel the energy of jovial sportsmanship and the orienteers’ enthusiasm to see their sport progressing in the worldwide movement. The South Korean team’s success was all over Korean television spreading awareness about the sport and sparking interest for future orienteers..
Tradition and history
The first public orienteering competition was held in Norway in 1897. The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) was founded in 1961 at Copenhagen, Denmark with 10 founding members: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, DDR, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and West Germany.
The IOF was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1977 and is a member of the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF), International World Games Association (IWGA), International Masters Games Association (IMGA) and SportAccord.
Orienteering is also part of multisport games such as The World Games and the World Masters Games. FISU organises World University Championships every second year. CISM organises yearly World Military Orienteering Championships and ski orienteering was part of the CISM Winter Military World Games in 2010.
Ski Orienteering will be looking forward to the next VIII Asian Winter Games at Sapporo, Japan in 2017.
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Laura Walden ()
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