SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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March 2018 50 For the first time in 2018, the World Orienteering Championships will take place in the heart of a capital city. Riga, Latvia, will host orienteers from around the world on an urban sprint course alongside the city's Art Nouveau architecture and medie- val Old Town. A forest sprint course will allow partici- pants an intimate tour of the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, and mid- dle- and long-distance courses will also take place in nearby cities, according to the International Orienteering Federation's site. This full week of orienteering competition is one more major event that will be held during the country's 100 th anniversary this year. Aiming for Growth While Scandinavia and Europe have his- tory on their side when it comes to interest in orienteering, the United States is under- taking a "fairly recent initiative" to help develop the sport in this country now and into the future, according to Fillebrown. "Our biggest focus is on youth," she said. "We're trying to get orienteering in schools." Targeting established groups such as JROTC, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who already orienteer is one way Orienteering USA is working to get into more schools, said Fillebrown. By hiring a vice president of youth initiatives at the national governing body level, development of materials is already underway to be distributed across the coun- try to help even beginners establish clubs, she said. Fillebrown stressed that orienteering isn't just for scouts, though troupes and clubs with a similar focus are a natural fit. Often, people don't consider orienteering a serious sport, though it demands a lot of its athletes. She described those demands as a combination of "knowing how to push physical limits but not so far that you affect the ability to navigate well." Currently, Orienteering USA's biggest audience is in the 50- to 70-year-old range, according to Fillebrown. "We tend to lose a lot of people in college, in their early 20s because of career and family," she said. "But they eventually come back to the sport and stay in it." Planning a Course Orienteering events are unique in that each one features a new course and a new map, so that helps sustain interest, according to Fillebrown. While a lot of time and money goes into developing maps, planning orienteering competitions is a little different than plan- ning other sport competitions. For example, a local orienteering club may express interest in hosting a nation- al-level event. For that to become reality, a new map must be created and the location must be close to a publicly accessible forest and a population base. Once that location is secured, Fillebrown said the local CVB is approached to help negotiate room rates and collect local attraction, entertainment and dining infor- mation. She emphasized the use of a professional mapper to develop the course. That process begins with the production of a base map using various technologies but the mapper will walk every square foot of the terrain in order to create an accurate and safe course. Safety is a consideration when creating a map but athletes also bear a personal responsibility as they compete, she said. Mapping the Future There is plenty of room for growth in orienteering in the United States but Fillebrown had an optimistic outlook. "The stats are good," she said of membership. "They aren't declining, so we're seeing steady or small growth." She pointed to more clubs hosting events, upcoming high-profile events and ramped-up support of junior teams as indi- cations that the future holds promise. "There is growth at the local level," she said. "There are more and more people learning about the sport." n t SPORT Report

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