I left work around lunchtime on Thursday and headed to Dulles to catch my flight, first to Frankfurt, then on to Goteborg. It felt nice to be getting onto an international flight without any luggage.
I spent most of the flight editing content for the OUSA newsletter, which I was woefully behind on, and re-reading Langa Nattens Folk, a book about the history of Tiomila.
I arrived at Landvetter Airport in Goteborg at 930am on Friday, and was greeted by a Tiomila volunteer holding a sign with my name. As we drove to the arena, she told me that she started orienteering when her kids got interested in it, and was currently attending IFK Goteborg's intensive beginner course. Despite being new to the sport, she committed her whole weekend (plus Friday) to volunteering for Tiomila and spending a long, cold night handing out GPS trackers to competitors.
When we got to the arena, it was 3C and raining hard. Welcome to Sweden. I had no responsibilities until later in the evening, and so I headed to a "hostel" and went straight to bed. The hostel was a converted farmhouse with a big room containing a bunch of bunk beds. Its main advantage was that it was located immediately adjacent to the arena, so I could easily walk back and forth.
I slept for a couple of hours and then headed up to the arena to meet up with the production crew, headed by Peter Lofas. He gave me a quick tour of the production booth and handed me a map with one of the women's legs.
I went back to the farmhouse, had some sandwiches (the farmhouse was stocked with food for volunteers running the TV broadcast), Skyped with the family, and headed out into the woods.
As soon as I was in the forest, the rain and cold were distant memories. I had the Tiomila forest, with all the controls, all to myself! I had a blast, enjoying every step of orienteering along the way and picturing the crowds that would be racing here the following day. Really glad I got out on a course!
Once I was back and showered, I heard from Greg Ahlswede, and he came by to hang out for a while. We had a nice chat about US orienteering, opportunities for growth, and the work with training camps and centers that he is hoping to do once he is back in the US. Undoubtedly, US orienteering's future is noticeably brighter with Greg being an active part of the community on the home front.
After Greg left, I went up to the arena for Studio Tiomila, the Swedish-language program hosted by Per Forsberg and broadcast for free over Facebook Live. The plan was for Per to introduce me and Mark at the end of the hour-long show. Well, the show ended up taking two hours, but I did get to chat with Thierry for a while as we sat in the studio waiting for our turn. It was fun to see Per in action. He is truly impressive with his knowledge of orienteering, his quick recall, and his ability to never be lost for words.
Once we were introduced, Per put us on the spot by asking for our picks for the relay. Luckily, Mark saved the day by jumping in and saying that anything can happen.
Before heading to our hotel with the Finnish commentator Antti, we took a look at our broadcast booths and requested additional computers, ethernet cables, access to full GPS tracking, a webcam, and printed start lists. All of that would eventually appear by morning.