.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

By:  Sheila Kealey   (2008/02/25)

This past weekend, I experienced my first ski-orienteering event (often referred to as ski-o) at Nakkertok Nordic Center. Ski-o combines skiing and map-reading skills, and I am seriously lacking in one of those departments, so a fun challenge was awaiting.

Ski-o is a timed event, and organizers provide participants with a detailed topographical map that indicates a series of control points to visit in sequence.  The course and control points are kept secret from the medium and long-course competitors until the start, when they have a short time to study the map. I chose to do the short course with my 8-year old son Evan, and we had the luxury of getting the maps beforehand. The atmosphere was very relaxed, as competitors started at staggered intervals (basically, you start when you’re ready, or, according to Evan, after you’ve had a chance to go down Coach’s revenge).

To see some ski-orienteerers in action, check out this short video of ski-orienteering in Switzerland.

Thanks to the Ottawa Orienteering Club for hosting the event, and to the Nakkerok Nordic Center for the use of their great trails.


Sandy Tetreault, a former US ski-o team member and ski-o world championship competitor. Notice the cool mapholder that allows you to read your map while you ski. You can rotate the map for easier navigation. . . . Sandy's map reading speed and skill is mindboggling.

"I'll take care of the map mom!" Evan, ready for his first ski-o experience, teaming up with me.
Notice that he's in charge of the map today, since he's not sure he trusts his mom's map reading skills - I can't say I blame him!

Medium and long-course skiers get their map only 1 minute before their start. A short time to study it and put it in an accessible holder. I got a chance to capture Jo-Ann Holden on the other side of the camera, figuring things out . .

Jo-Ann, on her way to Control #1!

Pierre Tetreault finds one control and checks his map while skiing on his way to the next. Pierre was 2nd overall in the long distance event.

Finding the control is always a rewarding experience . . .

You figure out the best route to the next control. Sometimes the larger groomed trails
can be the fastest way, but not nearly as much fun as exploring some of Nakkertok's great
backcountry trails. Here we are en-route to the next Control via trail 8N.
Interesting Reading. . .
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