|Ski-Orienteering: What Is It?|
|45 Flower St, Fairfield, New Zealand Phone (03) 488 3254|
Orienteering on skis (Ski-O)is big in Scandinavia and Europe, in fact there's a World Championship and series of World Cup events on the snow. Australia does a little bit of it, and in New Zealand a small band of skiers who are also orienteers have run events at the Waiorau skifield near Wanaka since 1991.
In a normal Ski-O event you have about a dozen control points marked on a map which shows the groomed trails. You have to visit them in order, using the trail info to find the best route. Competitors start at intervals, and the fastest to do the course is the winner. Alternatively there are "Score Events" in which you have a fixed amount of time, and the controls are worth various scores. You pin the map to the front of your jacket, or if you're really keen you can get a nifty mapholder which straps on your chest.
Control points are easy to find, they are all on the trails, it's all about finding the best route. The map shows how steep the country is, and of course you can figure out which are the ups and the downs. Courses are designed to be won in 1-2 hours.
Where can I try it?You'll really have to go to Waiorau (or Europe!). The pioneers of Ski-O in New Zealand were Ken and Anitra Dowling, and since they left Dunedin for Australia it has been carried on by other members of the Dunedin and Southland Orienteering Clubs. For the person most likely to be involved, see the bottom of the Ski-O index.