Leho Haldna: “The Winter Universiade is a unique opportunity to make orienteering more visible”

The culmination of the Ski Orienteering season is approaching

The snow has already melted in my garden in Estonia, but the Ski Orienteering season is still to reach its peak. Now, Ski Orienteering is on the program at the FISU Winter University for the first time in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Ski Orienteering was included as Universiade as an optional sport, but we have a good opportunity to show ourselves and to enter the competition program as permanent sport in the future. To do this, we need to be attractive for all competitors, organizers and spectators. Personally, I am looking forward to this event because the FISU Universiade is one of the biggest multi-sport events in the world and we have a unique opportunity to make orienteering more visible.

The Universiade is followed by WSOC, the World Championships in Ski Orienteering, this time in Pitea in the northernmost part of Sweden. We expect a big Ski Orienteering festival as WSOC is combined with youth, junior and masters championships, EYSOC, JWSOC and WMSOC.
Ski Orienteering has been struggling with finding organizers over the years. There are different problems behind this, but one of the biggest is the risk related to the snow conditions. Another major problem is attractiveness for organisers, sponsors and federations.  High weather risk, low sponsor interest, low number of participants creates high risk versus low income for organisers. This is one of the main reasons why organisers combined events into packages, and in order to have events at all, the IOF have accepted monster events like we’ll have now in Sweden. This is the reality for the IOF and for the Ski Orienteering community, better to have one big event with good quality than no events at all.

The IOF Council is planning to reopen discussions on our event programme at the Presidents’ Conference in conjunction with World Orienteering Championships in August. The main problem is a lack of event applications in SkiO, MTBO and TrailO. The IOF did not receive any applications in SkiO and MTBO at the end of the most recent application period!  Our ambitions are high seen to the number of events, but our members and organisers have no financial and human resources to support current ambitious event calendar.

The IOF updated its Vision, Mission, Main Goals, Values and Strategic Directions significantly during the General Assembly in 2018.  The IOF Council have already started the implementation of the new strategy. Our Commissions received a significantly updated draft of new remits during our traditional Joint Meeting weekend in January.  As one of the first steps we should adjust our organisation structure to the goals. The Council is currently working on it and will come out with a suggestion soon. I already see and feel that another interesting season is on the way!

Let’s enjoy the rest of the winter and have successful presentation of Ski Orienteering at the FISU Winter Universiade and World Ski Orienteering Championships.

Leho Haldna

Tartu, Estonia   26.02.2019