Local denied chance to represent Canada at orienteering Worlds 

Whistler’s Marie-Catherine Bruno will have to miss her third chance to compete for Canada at the World Orienteering Championships, taking place outside of Zurich, Switzerland this August.

Bruno, who is one of the top ranked orienteering competitors in the country, qualified for the team at the B.C. Orienteering Championships in May, finishing third in the selection race. Both she and Marta Green of Vancouver, who finished first in the province, had to decline their invitations due to a lack of funding.

Several years ago, orienteering was cut from Sports Canada’s budget, which means that athletes either have to go to their provincial sport associations for money, fundraise, find sponsors, or pay for the trips out of their own pockets.

Bruno and Green were replaced on the team by Pippa McNeil and Katherine Sheck of the Yukon Territories. The Yukon government is picking up the bill.

"Marta and I raced really well, and we both qualified, but there is just no money for us to go," said Bruno.

Bruno has competed in the sport of orienteering for years, and has represented Canada in two world championships and five World Cup competitions.

Orienteering is a mixture of cross-country running and map and compass navigation. It’s physically and mentally exhausting, and challenges competitors to think on their feet while they run through difficult terrain.

To train, Bruno says she does a lot of trail running, hill work, and interval training. She also gets off the trail, and runs through the woods to get used to the uneven terrain.

"It’s a combination of mental and physical training," she said. "The harder you push yourself physically, the less blood you’ll have in your brain. You start to make mistakes. The trick is to find the right balance."

Although she is disappointed that she won’t be able to go to Switzerland this summer, she hopes the Canadians will do well.

"We don’t do that (well) compared to the Europeans, the Scandinavians and Central Europeans, but as for the rest of the people, the Asians, the Australians, the U.S., we do pretty well," she said.

The sport has been growing steadily in Canada, and there is talk at Sports Canada at restoring at least some funding to the sport. It won’t come in time to help Bruno and Green reach the world championships this year, but it will help to develop the sport in Canada.

"There are a lot of really strong juniors coming up these days, and it’s getting more popular all the time," said Bruno.

Representing Canada at the World Championships are Mike Smith of New Brunswick, and Nick Duca and Wil Smith of Ontario for the men, and Pippa McNeil Katherine Scheck of the Yukon and Sandy Hott Johansen of Norway.

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