18.07.2023 - The Cool Stage

Cool routes – hot sunshine – and an event cancellation!

In recent years, the organizing committee of the Swiss O Week had often arranged an event in the mountains. It was not always close to a glacier but always demanding physical challenges. This year was not any different. Under the title “The Cool Stage”, runners were able to prove whether the thinner air at around 2’500 meters above sea level affected their fitness or whether their athletic condition could cope with alpine orienteering requirements which it probably did without any problems. But it could have resulted in longer running times.

Today, the staff at the information stand hardly had to answer any questions about the different start places of the middle-distance course. At least nobody reached their performance limit on their short distances there during the glorious weather in the morning. However before that, the limit of patience was rather tested because the gondolas between the Crap Masegn station and Crap Sogn Gion could only transport around 650 people per hour. Incidentally, any grumbling would have been unsuccessful, because the original namesake of Crap Sogn Gion, in English “St. John’s Stone”, certainly did not list the terms “orienteering, transport capacity or evacuation” in his vocabulary.

Despite the unique view across to the silhouette of the Arosa Weisshorn, many remembered the difficult SOW Corona period two years ago when tedious tests and instructions not only demanded discipline from all athletes. The OC also had to deal with constantly changing regulations and special permits. What a pleasure now that the epidemic is passed and that the orienteering family is able to train properly again for the current SOW.

That physical fitness became suddenly and unexpectedly important when out of natural reasons it demanded personal energy boosts! A heavy thunderstorm was brewing, and the stage had to be cancelled immediately at 1 p.m. by those responsible. Thanks to that decision, around a thousand people were able to walk down to the “Nagens” mountain station, from where they were then transported onward. Until the railways could resume operations, the Vorab cable car building offered a temporary waiting room.

Overall, the balance of the whole action proved to be successful: no injured or missing persons, all runners and the SOW crew evacuated and back to safety. Thanks to an existing detailed security concept which was implemented accordingly. Hats off to this achievement and the title “the Cool Stage” received unexpectedly a different meaning!

Text: Oskar Schiess (translated by Béatrice Zurcher)

Photos: Urban Engel


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