Alpe Adria Championships

Following my O-Week in Tallinn I stayed a few days in Vienna (with my mother and sister who were also on vacation), during which I attended a performance of Philip Glass’ Ninth Symphony, with Dennis Russell Davies (a long-time companion of Glass) conducting the Bruckner-Orchester Linz (where Davies is chief conductor) in the grand hall of the Musikverein. According to the programme booklet (in Europe it appears to be the custom for the programme booklet to be purchased separately) the symphony was premiered by the same conductor and orchestra on 1 January 2012 in Brucknerhaus Linz. While the music is very typical of Glass (characterized by fragmentation and repetition of chords) the melancholy and brilliant variation of timbre, in my opinion, made this symphony unique; the symphony seems something like the course of a day from dawn to dusk. The act itself of listening to contemporary music in the grand hall of the Musikverein is perhaps significant enough, drawing a parallel with the 19th-century Romantics evaluating the rapidly-evolving new repertoire of their day. (No modern-day Hanslick making harsh comments though I guess.)

Afterwards I went south to Italy for a 3-day competition named the Alpe Adria Championships. The competition is conceived as a inter-regional competition for provincial teams around the Alpe Adria region (including provinces/states from Italy/Austria/Germany/Hungary among other countries), but welcomes keen orienteers from all around the world. This year, as the World Orienteering Championships are to be held in Italy next week, some elite orienteers are using the Alpe Adria Championships as part of their training before the big race.

The Alpe Adria Championships include three days of World Ranking Events, in the order of long distance – sprint – middle distance. The sprint is held in Conegliano (northeast of Venice, around 45 minutes by train), while the middle and long distances are held in the forest of Cansiglio, around 1000m in altitude above the valley of Vittorio Veneto north of Conegliano.

The long distance course used a map of 1:15000 which makes the already very challenging terrain even more challenging. The terrain, although in rough terms a large slope facing generally northeast, is full of pits and depressions spread throughout the land (characteristic of karst terrain prevalent in central and eastern Europe), such terrain detail requiring a high level of attention throughout the race. Just a few seconds off the map and terrain and you’re lost.

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The sprint in Conegliano was an easy one, yet not without challenges as side paths leading into back gardens and the building pass-throughs of the various shopping malls provide good chance for course setting and route choice challenges. (I bet, in difficulty, this is still far from the WOC sprint venues of Burano and Venice.)

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The middle distance returned to the difficult terrain of Cansiglio (but south of the area for the long distance), and parallel errors kept on plaguing my run. If you want high-standard technical training for terrain details, compass use or simplification, this is the place.

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