Daniel Leibundgut – in charge of making WOC better than ever

Daniel Leibundgut, IOF WOC Senior Event Adviser, is ready for memorable days in Latvia, first in Riga and then in Sigulda

Daniel Leibundgut is in charge of supporting the organisers of the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships (WOC) this year and also in the coming years. For him, the next few days are a kind of exam.

Text and photo: Erik Borg

The IOF WOC Senior Event Adviser (SEA) works to help make the biggest competitions in orienteering as good as they possibly can be.
– During the year I work with three WOCs in parallel, just now 2018, 2019 and 2020. In the upcoming autumn we start the work with WOC 2021. Since WOC is always in the summer, May/June is always a peak period where the bulletins have to be created and reviewed for the different WOCs, Leibundgut tells.

A normal working week as a WOC project manager comprises answering emails, and work based on the agreed time-plan for deadlines. The job is 20 % part-time.
– Furthermore, I normally have at least one Skype meeting scheduled per week. To do the WOC project manager job seriously, I need at least 1 hour per day.

For WOC 2018, SEAs have made eight visits to Latvia this year. Important issues have been IT, maps and courses, TV and the bulletins. Based on what was the main focus of the visit, the appropriate SEA was in Latvia.  Urs Hofer is Leibundgut’s assistant. The full SEA team will only be working at the same time during the WOC week itself.

Wide-ranging challenges
What will make WOC in Latvia be a memorable event?
– I think both parts, the sprints in Riga and the forest competitions in Sigulda, will be memorable.  For WOC 2018 the Sprint Final in the old town of Riga will for sure be a highlight. For both organisers and competitors it’s a challenge to organise a competition in the UNESCO world heritage area. The forest competitions in the Gauja National Park will be tough, because forestry work there is very limited and therefore there is a lot of ‘deadfall’. This will make the navigation difficult, and negotiating all the fallen trees will be very physical.

How do you feel, just before it starts?
– To be honest I feel a little scared, he says with a smile and continues: – I hope that everything will work fine and fit together. The local organising committee (LOC) has done an impressive job in preparing for the WOC event. Each team in all the working areas is well prepared. We from the SEA team challenged the LOC to bring everything together, by asking questions to discover uncovered issues and to strengthen the interfaces between the different teams. Sometimes we from the SEA team had the impression that we were taking it too seriously, with all the questions we were asking. Furthermore, we have tried to ensure there is a ‘Plan B’ available for different situations.

One of the challenging issues is language. No one in the SEA team speaks Latvian or Russian, and not everybody in the LOC speaks English. This makes it difficult sometimes, when fast decisions are required with everyone having a common understanding of the situation.

The WOC manual
Another task for the WOC manager is to update the WOC manual. The new version will provide – in addition to the text content – good and proven solutions from former WOC events. A task for the future, because close to the WOC week, the workload is much higher than compared to a normal week and the WOC manual has naturally low priority just now.