NL: As an older member of Orienteering Canada, I chose to interview a young up and coming Orienteer. Pia was interviewed at the Simon Fraser University at the 2018 GVOC Sprint Camp (I think of this as an annual SPRING Camp, but this year we were welcomed to snow, rain, and ice pellets By Sunday we had 12 inches of snow on the ground).
Pia Blake, YOA
Nesta Leduc, YOA
NL: Pia, when did you start Orienteering
PB: <Looked at me strangely before saying:> I have always been an orienteer. I do not remember NOT being an orienteer. My Mother orienteered as a teenager, and she probably carried me around in a backpack. <and we surmise she may have been on a course before she was born>
NL: How are you supported
PB: Both my parents orienteered as youths, and they have always supported me and my brother Leif. My parents, Sabine and Eric, are still keen competitors, and Eric as an IT guy is very interested in the technical side of the sport. He even volunteered at the World Masters Games in New Zealand. I also get financial support from the Government of the Yukon Sport & Recreation Branch, which helps with attending competitions.
NL: What has been your worst moment in the sport
PB: When I was about 12, at the start I kept reminding my friend that the worst mistake one can make is to do a 180 at the start. My friend did just that, and took an hour longer to complete the course. “I felt so bad”
NL: What was the most memorable
PB: At Jukola in Finland in 2016, the Yukon was able to field a team of 7 runners. I was the first leg, in a mass start with 1700 other runners. The race started at sundown, and (despite it being our first year as a team) I was in about the third or fourth row back, surrounded by very tall Scandinavian orienteers. The first leg was about a kilometer long, through a bog. Although the thought of getting trampled was slightly scary, it was an incredible experience!
NL: Tell me about your training routine
PB: Now that I am at University, I try to run 2 long runs every week with a friend, and I go out to the weekly training events that GVOC organize on Wednesday evenings
NL: Do you have a specific coach
PB: When I lived at home in Whitehorse, Brent Langbakk, took all the juniors out regularly and he taught me all the basics. Here in Vancouver, Marg Ellis has taken over as my local coach.
NL: I know that you have been to JWOC four times.
Do you have any highlights
PB: In 2016 at the Junior World Champs in Switzerland I qualified for the A final in the middle distance. In my qualification race I had a great run and crossed the line in 9th spot, ultimately coming in 20th. That was an amazing feeling
NL: What are your hopes for the future
PB: Currently I am in Second Year Geology. This involves a lot of fieldwork
Last summer, myself and another student spent the summer in Northern Yukon being helicoptered into different camps for a few days at a time, doing research.
This was fun but did not allow for much training. I do hope to find more time for training so that I may be selected to represent Canada at WOC someday
NL: Thank you very much for taking time to show us what being a young orienteer is all about. You have achieved a great deal already, and I wish you the best of luck in future endeavours