What is ski-orienteering? – An insight to the mind of a ski-o athlete:
What is ski-orienteering? – A description of the sport
Ski-orienteering is an endurance winter sport combining navigation and cross-country skiing across a rough terrain using prepared cross-country ski tracks. A ski orienteer combines high physical endurance and strength, excellent technical skiing skills and the ability to choose the best routes.
In ski-orienteering, standard orienteering maps are used, but with special green overprinting of trails and tracks to indicate their navigability in snow; other symbols indicate whether any roads are snow-covered or clear.
Standard skate-skiing equipment is used, along with a map holder attached to the chest. Compared to cross-country skiing, ski orienteering is performed mostly along narrow snow trails 80-120cm wide.
An orienteering map is handed out 15 seconds before the start by the organizer, showing the control points which must be visited in order. The map is designed to give all the information on what a competitor needs to decide which route is the fastest, such as the quality of the tracks, gradient and distance.
Green lines on the map show a trail suited to race on skis. Depending on the thickness and continuity of the lines, the competitor makes decisions about which route is the fastest between control points. Once a competitor has made its decision how to approach the next control – it is all about high concentration and physical effort.
Smooth navigation in a labyrinth-like network of tracks on the route choice one has decided for. And the physical ability to perform and execute the route choice on a fast as possible time.
Competitors are skiing individual over the given course on their map against time. The victory belongs to the one reading out from the map the sum of the best route choices between the controls. Navigating the most fluent through the dense track network. And being physical in shape to perform among the fastest skiers. The total time from the start, over the full course to the finish generates the total time. In which every little error effect in time lost has its impact. Any time everything can happen.
This is the mental pressure competitors need to handle and what belongs to the magic of this sport.