Interview with bronze medalist Frauke Schmitt Gran

»I’m really looking forward to seeing friends and acquaintances at the WMOC 2012!«

Posted by Resi Rathmann on March 21, 2012

The German orienteer Frauke Schmitt Gran and her family will not miss out on this year’s WMOC in the Harz Mountains. She has been living in Norway for 20 years and will compete for the club Halden Skiklubb. During an interview with Frauke she told us about her anticipation to this event, her goals and gave an assessment on the competitors in her category W 40.

FraukeWhat does it mean for you to be part of the WMOC 2012 in your native country?

A WMOC in Germany means that I will definitely meet lots of friends and acquaintances amongst the organizers and participants. I’m really looking forward to that.

This will be the first Senior World Championship in orienteering in Germany. Can you recommend this event to pros, occasional or inexperienced orienteers and spectators?

Yes, I definitely can. And I have already recommended this event and will continue to do so. As orienteering is not really a spectator sport I’m not sure it will be that interesting for spectators but for everyone else it’s perfect! And everybody can enjoy the Harz Mountains after the competitions.

Do you have certain goals you want to reach in this competition?

No, actually I don’t. My ambitions usually set in at the starting line. But I definitely want to reach the A-final. I practise 1-3 times during the week. Training on Tuesdays is the best because I run intervals with my son Olav, who turns 14 this year, and the youth group of Halden Skiklubb.

We want to offer orienteers an event that combines culture, nature and sports. Therefore our supporting programme is filled with highlights from the Harz Mountains.
Is it important for you to get to know the region and the culture of the area you’re running in during orienteering events?

I know the Harz Mountains a little bit and have been here several times. The beautiful area, the supporting programme and the numerous options in the Harz Mountains definitely influence people’s decisions to take part in this event.
I will bring my whole family, that is my husband and our three children. We will focus on child-friendly activities, such as a tour to the Brocken mountain and to Thale with its “Hexentanzplatz” and “Rosstrappe”. I’m sure we will also find some spots for swimming here. There is also an adventure climbing park in St. Andreasberg. And if it’s not too long the kids will also enjoy a stroll through the old towns of Goslar and Quedlinburg.

Orienteers from 42 nations will compete in this challenging event. Do you think Norwegians will have a crucial influence on the outcome of the WMOC and can cope with the terrain in the Harz Mountains?

For sure several Norwegians will receive medals. How many will depend on who participates. There are many favourites in all age groups, especially from W/M 50 on. Who will be best and, more important, who is coming to the Harz Mountains I don’t know – at the moment I am more interested in the results in M13-14 than in M60.

The Norwegian titleholders are coming back: Kari Natvig, W50 sprint distance and Torid Kvaal W65 sprint distance (and 5th in long distance). She also moves up to W70 and therefore has to deal with being a favourite. Anton Bjarnes, the winner of M45 long distance in 2011 and this year’s M50 so far hasn’t signed up. But the following orienteers have signed up: Unni Stand Karlsen, 3rd in W55 sprint distance, Svein Jacobsen, last year 4th in M60 long distance and Anders Talarud, 5th and 6th in M70.
Gerd Björseth, 2nd in W55 long distance so far also hasn’t signed up. Gerd used to live in Halden and was competing for Halden Skiklubb in my first years there.

You are married to Bjørn Axel Gran. He is Norwegian and was the national coach of Germany. What connections does Bjørn have to orienteering in Germany today?

Bjørn Axel and our son Olav are often in Germany for orienteering events. They both compete for the SC Dresden-Niedersedlitz and regularly attend the German Championships long distance. That’s their yearly men’s trip ;-)

Orienteering is a family sports. Do your three children also enjoy orienteering?

As I said before our eldest, Olav, is a very active orienteer. He practices regularly. Marieluise, who is 10 years old, loves soccer but also enjoys orienteering when we’re attending an event as a family and is doing quite well in age group W10. Our youngest, Sigrid is 6 years old and is looking forward to this year’s event where she can really do orienteering on the beginner’s course for children in company of one of us.

Did you take part in an orienteering event in the Harz Mountains before and, if yes, what kind of memories do you have?

Yes, I did some orienteering in the Harz Mountains before. I have strong memories of the last GDR Championship in 1990 and like to think back to the World Cup in 1994. I came to the Harz Mountains for the first time in the 1980s, attending a training camp for the national team. And in February 2001 we came back for another training camp, my last one in Germany.
I also remember a camping trip with Bjørn Axel in the Harz Mountains in the mid 1990s where we spent some time in the Eastern part of the Harz Mountains doing daytours to the “Rosstrappe” for example.

Your biggest success in orienteering for Germany was the bronze medal at the World Championship in 1999 for short distance in Inverness/Scotland. Aren’t you tempted to win another medal at the World Masters?

I must admit that ever since my third child was born I haven’t really been motivated to do more training. So a WMOC-medal isn’t very realistic at this point in time (“nothing will come of nothing”).

Who do you think are your biggest competitors in the age group W 40?

I can tell you who I see as favourites: Number one is Monika Depta. She is quite fit and knows the Harz Mountains! She won the 5-days-orienteering event in Uslar last summer in the age group W21 being more than one hour faster than anyone else. Her kilometre-average was way better than ours in W40.

Anna Gornicka-Antonowicz is also in good shape. Two years ago she won both short and long distance. Anke Xylander and Anke von Gaza are also pretty good and I can imagine that they will do some extra training for the WMOC. Cornelia Eckardt is always fit too.

Up to now among the female orienteers from Sweden, Finland and Switzerland I haven’t seen a familiar name. Only one Norwegian woman has signed up for the W40 so far.

What characterizes a good orienteering event for you?

At this moment and with my current interests a nice terrain, a technically challenging track, childcare, tracks for children/teenagers and sunshine.

Thank you very much for this interview!

The interview was held by Resi Rathmann

Photographer: Kim Rud