Abbott leads North America at Junior Worlds

Whitehorse's Colin Abbott is putting himself on the orienteering map. For the third day in a row, Abbott was North America's top male competitor at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Primiero, Italy.

Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott is putting himself on the orienteering map.

For the third day in a row, Abbott was North America’s top male competitor at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Primiero, Italy.

“Confidence is likely the biggest thing that allowed me to improve so much this year,” said Abbott in an e-mail to the News. “I have more races under my belt, I knew what I needed to do and I didn’t panic in pressing situations.”

Abbott started the championships by immediately reaching his main goal for his second trip the worlds: breaking into the top 100 with a 75th-place finish in the short-distance event. Last year at the Junior Worlds in Sweden, Abbott finished 168th in the short event.

“The run was pretty clean for me,” he said. “I was running really well physically and I could always push where I needed to. However, it was hard to keep my map reading fast. I did make some route choice mistakes, and once left a control 180-degrees the wrong way. I caught myself quickly though and managed to limit my mistakes to no more than 10 to 15 seconds each.”

Although he considers Tuesday’s long-distance event the “most technically challenging” race he has ever run, Abbott again squeaked into double digits with a 95th-place finish.

“The long (distance course) this year was incredibly difficult technically,” said Abbott. “The biggest factor in my improvement this year was my running ability. I was able to push hard for the entire two hours, and even managed to out-sprint a Swede on the last two controls.

“Everyone had difficulties on the course this year. The map contained a huge number of rock features, streams and everything was situated on a side hill to make things trickier.”

Today Abbott will be competing the middle-distance event after qualifying in the 35th spot (unofficially) yesterday.

Joining Abbott at the Junior Worlds is teammate Lee Hawkings from Whitehorse. Despite competing while sick, Hawkings has so far improved on his results from Sweden, finishing 139th (up from 148th last year) in the short-distance and 132nd in the long.

“I’m not to sure how to explain my improved results this year,” said Hawkings in an e-mail to the News. “My time here at Junior Worlds is not going that well mainly because I am just starting to get over the sickness I seemed to have picked up on the way here.

“I had a few couple minutes of mistakes on the sprint but and I didn’t feel great running. The map was really technical but my mistakes came on the easier parts because I lost focus.

“On the long I had quite a few mistakes and the map was again really technical. The main thing was that because it hurts to push myself and I felt that I wasn’t really racing.”

Yesterday Hawkings finished the middle-distance qualifying in 53rd place (unofficially).

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com