Hanna Lundberg is perhaps the most shining rising star in the world of orienteering today. 2021 was a dream season for her, winning 3 gold medals and one silver at World ski orienteering junior championships, 2 gold medals and one bronze at JWOC, a World cup race in what was maybe the most technical race of the season and 3rd place overall in the World cup. Hanna is from Luleå, not too far from OOcup/2022 venues. Here is what she has to say about terrain that we will use for the races.
What do you think about when you see the samples of the maps that will be used at OOcup next year?
It is difficult to just sit still when I see the map samples and the pictures from the terrain that await, for better orienteering than this can not be found in my world. The coast of Norrland has something special with technical challenges in varying visibility and tempo changes and is physically demanding with fast sections exchanging with slow heavy areas covered with blueberries or stony fields. Unfortunately, it rarely happens that a terrain type can offer courses difficult enough for the elite, and at the same time provide ground for reasonable challenge for recreational runners and youngsters. But in the forests where OOcup will be organized, there are good conditions for that!
What is most important when orienteering in this type of terrain?
In total, I have spent hours making mistakes in this type of terrain, in order to learn to hit hundreds of legs perfectly. The terrain has taught me the hard way that the leg can quickly turn from success to a failure.
In such a technically challenging terrain type one is quickly punished for focusing on the wrong features on the course. My basic tactic is to always take one stretch at a time. I start planning the leg before leaving the control point in order to find the course setters traps and the difficulties on the route. If it goes downhill, it will go faster and a higher map frequency is required, if it is a leg on the slope, it is easy to slide down too far, the density of vegetation will probably vary from open to dense to just name a few examples of difficulties. It is important to use the compass and take direction towards the first safe point, to get right into it at the beginning to then be able to “thread the map details on a bead band”. This means that as you reach the first safe point, you look out for a new one and repeat the same procedure with the compass – all the way to the last safe point from which you attack the control point. I think this plan works on most routes, but the difficulty lies in repeating the same process over and over again. It is of course important to adapt a little, a denser forest requires closer contact with the compass to give an example.
Hanna storming towards Finish line at Idre Fjäll WC race
Why should one come to the northern parts of Sweden for orienteering?
The feeling when you slide forward on a technically difficult course in a nice slope with full control and hit the control perfectly is hard to beat, I’m sure most orienteers agree with that. Unfortunately, we do not get to experience it on many courses today, as the terrain does not measure up. However, it is a problem that is not as common in the forests of the north. Here, real orienteering is offered in areas that, in addition to their orienteering value, are fantastically beautiful. Everything from the archipelago to the mountains further inland, it is simply an experience you must not miss!