In just a few days, three American athletes will embark on a journey that will become a halmark event in American sports history. No, I'm not talking about the Olympics. I'm talking about the first mountain bike orienteering team to ever compete in Europe on behalf of Team United States of America!
Orienteering USA has announced that, for the first time in American history, Team USA will be fielding a Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) team to compete in the World Championships (WOC) to represent the US in this summer's 10th Annual MTBO World Orienteering Championships, held in Veszprem, Hungary from August 17 – 26, 2012!
The Orienteering USA Executive Committee recently approved a proposal to potentially name several individuals to represent the US in this summer's 10th MTBO World Orienteering Championships, held in Veszprem, Hungary from August 17 – 26, 2012. OUSA will name individuals to the OUSA 2012 MTBO team based on self-nomination and decisions by the OUSA 2012 MTBO Review Panel.
This year will mark the 10th World Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) Championships (WMOC) in which World Ranked MTBO athletes complete for gold, silver, and bronze medals during a 2-week-long event in Veszprem, Hungary from August 18-26, 2012. It will also mark another year without a serious United States MTBO Team presence. Whatever the reason, we think it is time the United States – the country that INVENTED mountain bike racing – ceased being absent from the World MTBO Championships and finally sent a competitive MTBO team to chew some dirt, kick some hardtail, and put USA on the MTBO map!
This year marks the 3rd anniversary of MTBO America and we can honestly say we have seen some great progress in the growth of mountain bike orienteering across the country! In just three short years, we helped put MTBO on the map, started the ball rolling by getting orienteering clubs involved in racing, and even found ourselves working with Orienteering USA to begin building the foundation needed to sustain national-level MTBO events. But we are not finished – not be a long shot!
The basic concepts behind Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) course design, for the most part, is focused on providing multiple route choices, hosting events at venues with challenging and diverse terrain, and building in navigational complexity. However, as you or your club begins to consider offering MTBO races, there are certain "gotchas" that should be considered when designing a course that are very different from the ones found in Foot Orienteering, and go beyond just the simple added challenge of having mountain bikes at your an event!
The question is simple: do we adapt, innovate, and start producing events that are spectator-friendly for the sake of growing orienteering? Or do we maintain the fundamental traditions, competitive formats, and culture of orienteering in order to preserve the legacy of a sport that has stayed relatively unchanged for almost a hundred years?
At the 2011 Orienteering USA (O-USA) Annual Convention in Rochester, New York, Peter Goodwin, O-USA Vice-President for Competition presented a session that asked the question: Does the USA Bid to Host WOC in 2018? From the conventions own bulletin, the opportunity to host the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) in 2018 was presented to Orienteering USA by Denmark, with pros and cons discussed by the convention attendees.
The long distance mass start race of the MTB Orienteering World Cup in Sweden became a challenge for both [organizers] and competitors. Just minutes before the start of the race the [organizers] noticed a problem with the maps. They decided to postpone the men’s start in order to guarantee a fair competition for everyone.
It has been suggested that Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) is the same as Foot Orienteering with the exception of an added mountain bike for travel. We at MTBO America would like to challenge that notion. We think of MTB Orienteering more like a MOUNTAIN BIKE race that just so happens to have Orienteering! It is a subtle yet important difference that will drastically impact your race turnout. Mountain Bike Orienteering and Foot Orienteering seem to "at-a-glance" be similar. However, their cultures are very different. Just because you have the same essential mechanics does not make you alike. Are Baseball and Cricket alike? They both have bats, balls, and bases. Yet to ignore this difference is to alienate your potential participant and cause them to go elsewhere.