My goal for this EOC was not to get Top10 position, a top30 however seemed like a reasonable goal. Instead I didn’t even make it to the individual sprint final nor to the KO-Quarter finals. This race week wasn´t a disaster but still feels disappointing. The result in the sprint-relay can be seen on the team level as success and step in the right direction but also there is my individual performance unsatisfying.
Optimistic that is how I travelled to Italy, I felt prepared and I felt confident that I could make it at least to the individual sprint final. That confidence was quickly shattered on the first day, however I didn’t feel crushed. Often I get quite disappointed and depressed after races where I made big and stupid mistakes (see), this situation was different though. In the past weeks my physical training went really well, I did lots of intense sessions, recovered well and actually noticed the progress. I didn’t do that many sprint trainings, simply because decent sprint maps are at least 1h of car driving away and partly not the most up to date. That’s the trade-off of currently living in Dortmund, no other orienteers and limited quality orienteering options. While I didn´t think so in advance of the races, I think my limited amount of map trainings was in the end also my the biggest limitation.
At least partly could the mistakes I made last week be avoided or reduced by simply having a better and more consistent routine based on more map trainings. But in the end of the day I can only work with the possibilities I have, so in addition I prepared at home on my computer street-viewing through the terrains.
The preparation for the finals feels now a bit like wasted time, a joke which became a theme for us German guys, as Anselm – another German Junior Worldchampion and the new kid on the block – was questioning why we don´t prepare more for the Final in the days before the qualification. Discussing the race in the group together afterwards Bojan or Jannis told him jokingly “now you know why..”. A bit of ‘dark’ humor but a good way to deal with the disappointing results that day. Without the good company, shit-talking between races and nice Italian weather it could have become a pretty annoying week.
Specifically in the individual sprint qualification, I think, I was a bit naive and defensive (or maybe too confident?) in my running speed. It is always easy to say post race “here I could have easily run faster” but I will say it anyway about this race. On the “running-connections” in the middle part of the course I could have pushed more. I might have barely made it onto 12th place then but then again this is just conjunctive-talk about past events..
Of course I later also found some small mistakes which in a sprint just add up to too much lost time. Time which few athletes can allow themselves to loose without dropping out of the qualification spots.
At this Worldcup, I think, the competition was at one of the highest levels it has ever been. The races have become ever tighter, leading to top athletes not making the cut to the final. The tight competition is I think a good thing for the sport, it´s shows the level needed to be successful in the sport is high and means that the sport is getting more professional. At the same time it also could lead to the sport getting more exclusive which is not always a good thing but in the KO-Sprint Quarters about 20 different nationalities were represented so it doesn´t look too much like it yet.
The unsatisyfing results feel primarily that way because I can only explain them to myself by that much. Since August I had free time from uni and really tried to optimize my daily life around the sport. I continue to receive individual finanical support from the Förderverein to do exactly that which allows me to more easily cover my yearly travel expenses (all sports related because those are my holidays) and allows me to buy a new pair of running shoes like my new Adidas Takumi Sen 8 after the previous pair came closer to it´s end of lifetime. Can´t say Thank you enough!
While it feels like I trained quite professionally, it feels strange to me that it didn´t reflect really in the results making me kinda question what I did wrong or what else I need to do to become better, not even yet talking about being competitive with the top10.
This Worldcup was a result a fun time as usually but again also mentally draining as the lows outweighed the highs. (Maybe) luckily the season is over, time to take a step back, analyze the past year and get ready for wintertraining, before I will start into another cycle of setting goals and measuring the outcome by competing against the best in the world.
Title photo: IOF / Kristina Lindgren, 2023 EOC Sprint-Relay
Other photos: IOF / Kristina Lindgren, 2023 EOC Sprint-Q, KO-Sprint-Q
Well, no landscape photos that is what you get (or not get) in the age of the Instagram format