Athlete of the Month – December 2011

  Name: Anna Füzy
Country: Hungary
Discipline: Mountain Bike Orienteering
Career highlights: World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships 5th place (middle distance 2011, sprint 2008), and 6th place (middle distance 2009).

When Anna Füsy got a mountain bike in 1998 she soon became soon hooked on mountain bike (MTB) orienteering. Now our Athlete of December is among the best in the world, and has something big to look forward to in 2012.

Last season Anna was fourteenth in the World Cup overall. Her best performance was fifth place on the middle distance at the World Championships in Italy. She was also fifth in the sprint at the World Championships in 2008 in Poland.

Anna has performed well in foot and ski orienteering too, even though she had a late start to her career: she started orienteering when she was 20 years old. “After 15 years orienteering, technique is still not my strength”, Anna tells. “Still, after I tried MTB orienteering I realised very soon it was something for me. I enjoy cycling very much and like navigation on paths.”

Home Championships

This coming summer the mountain bike orienteering elite heads for Hungary, Anna’s home country. The 10th World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships and 5th Junior World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships will be organised 20–25 August in Veszprém, 12 kilometres North of Lake Balaton in Western Hungary.                       

“To be in the top ten is always a challenge. I hope I will succeed on home ground”, Anna says, and continues: “These World Championships give extra motivation to me, even though the Balaton upland is not my favourite terrain for mountain bike orienteering. I prefer rather more “aggressive” areas, with bigger mountains and steep sections, but the World Championships region is also fine and enjoyable, and I am sure the organiser will find an exciting location and organise really good events.”      

Long distance her favourite

The 35-year-old athlete has her best results from sprint and middle, but it is the long distance that is still her favourite race. Last year she finished 13th in the World Championships long distance. “I feel middle distance is too complicated for me with the high density of tracks, shorter legs and difficult map reading, but normally I do well on that distance. Sprint I feel is a bit unpredictable. My favourite is the long distance. Anyway I have never achieved a really good place on it. So to be successful on that is something I go for. I am also very much looking forward to the relay. Nothing else is as exciting and as stressful as a MTB orienteering relay!”

Hoping for a mild winter       

Anna hopes that the winter will be short and mild with opportunities for a lot of cycling, and a lot of practice with maps from the spring onwards. “I will work on my technique in order to avoid stupid mistakes; I made too many of those this year”,  Anna says.

The Hungarian is from Budapest, 100–150 kilometres from the World Championships terrains. She works as a researcher in a soil science institute. The job is flexible enough for her to practice sports besides it. “In my free time I am interested in do-it-yourself interior decoration, woodwork, needlework, map-holder making – and some bike repair, of course”, Anna says.

Difficult route choices

Annika Billstam was the Athlete of the Month in November. The Swedish World Champion in orienteering had this question to Anna:

Do you carry your bicycle and run instead, if you see that it can be smart to take a route choice without using paths? Like taking a short cut from one path to another?

“Annika touches on something important in MTB orienteering. In fact shortcuts between paths are forbidden for cycling. You are often allowed to carry your bike, but sometimes it is not possible or in particular not faster. It’s often not so easy to decide what to do. You can lose minutes in the bush with a shortcut. At other times you can gain seconds that are important for getting a good result. I make shortcuts quite often, and more often than is optimal. The worst route choice in my life was across a Portuguese scrub along a brook. Anyway it is not easy to generalise, but be careful with the Mediterranean scrub, opuntia shelter-belt or the karst vegetation if you have got a bike on your back.”

The Athlete of January 2012 is Alison Crocker from the USA. She is among the best in both ski and foot orienteering. Anna has two questions to Alison:

Orienteering is your second career [Alison has done cross country skiing earlier]. Do you feel any handicap in navigation, or is it easy for you? MTB orienteering technique is very similar to ski orienteering, and many ski orienteers are excellent MTB orienteers. Have you ever tried MTB orienteering?

Alison’s answers to this and more will be published at the beginning of January.

Text: Erik Borg, Photos: Daniel Marosffy

Previous Athletes’ of the Month

February 2011 Olga Novikova (KAZ)
March 2011 Olli-Markus Taivainen (FIN)
April 2011 Emily Benham (GBR)
May 2011 Søren Saxtorph (DEN)
June 2011 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)
July 2011 Olav Lundanes (NOR)
August 2011 Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA)
September 2011 Erik Skovgaard Knudsen (DEN)
October 2011 Lauri Kontkanen (FIN)
November 2011 Annika Billstam (SWE)

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