Winter Series

Orienteering can take many forms. In Ottawa we have a great winter season and terrific facilities for cross country skiing, snow shoeing and skating. All of these can be combined with orienteering for terrific winter fun.

Our ski-o's have been held in Gatineau park, Camp Fortune, Nakkertok Nordic , Wesley Clover Parks (home of  Kanata Nordic ), Lac Beauchamp and Fitzroy Provincial Park (home of  West Carleton Nordic). We have also held meets in Deep River in conjunction with their Silver Spoon event .

We generally plan three or more cross country ski-o's and as snowshoeing becomes more popular in the area, that finds its way into our schedule as well. We have a map of the canal which has been used for fun events.

As these events are very weather dependent be sure to check back often throughout the season for additions, cancellations or rescheduling.  Notification of any cancellation or rescheduling will be posted by 8:30 on the morning of an event.

Event Formats

The Winter Series is mostly composed of ski and snowshoe orienteering events. Every once in a while other events are thrown in to mix things up a bit. Any events that don't follow the standard ski or snowshoe orienteering format will have full details on the event page which you can get to via the event link in the schedule.

Ski Orienteering

Like regular orienteering (i.e. on foot), ski orienteering involves travelling with a map to find all of your checkpoints as quickly as you can. These maps are blank - no trail numbers or other signage to confuse you.

Look at the map at right. How would you go to control #1 (flag # 66)? Are you sure that's the best way? Trails of all types are used - not just the well-groomed ones.

If I told you that only 60% of the trails to be used are groomed for skating - what ski technique would you use? How much do you like to double-pole? : )

The quality of the trail is indicated by the symbol used. Shortcuts are allowed. Be warned though. They're often much slower as well.

Ski orienteering events are 'point-to-point' events. This means that you'll start at the 'start triangle' on the map and you must visit all of the check points (or controls as we call them) in the numbered order shown on the map connected by lines. Your race time starts when you leave the start triangle and finishes after you've visited all the controls and return to the finish. If you don't visit the controls in the right order though, miss one, or accidentally check in at the wrong one your time won't count - what we call a 'mispunch'.

To lessen the chances of somebody catching up to you each person must start at least one minute after the person in front of you on your chosen course. If you want to ski in a group you can - you will show up with a single result in the results list.

A NOTE ABOUT EQUIPMENT: You will receive the course map in a plastic case and optionally some safety pins to attach the map to your clothing. Trying to ski/navigate with a pole and a map in your hand is very awkward. Bring a compass that you can attach to your wrist. We have some for rent if you do not have your own.

Holding the map can be a problem. It can be pinned to your jacket but you won't be able to keep it oriented. A competition style holder which hangs from your neck, allows orientation, and collapses if you should tumble, can be purchased from the O-Store.

Snowshoe Orienteering

As you'd expect, snowshoe orienteering is just like regular summer orienteering - you travel cross-country on foot collecting checkpoints as quickly as you can. There are two key differences though:

  1. Runnability is very different. What is fast in the summer might have lots of deep snow in the winter and vice versa. The most extreme example are lakes. Impassable in the summer but full speed snowshoeing in winter!
  2. Tracks, tracks everywhere. Snowshoe tracks can lead you to a checkpoint but if you're not careful they could also lead you in the wrong direction. Don't let your guard down.

Because of the difference that tracks could make, snowshoe orienteering events are generally mass start score events. Everyone starts at the same time in an attempt to visit as many check points (or controls as we call them) as you can in a set period of time. Each check point is worth a certain number of points and you lose time if you arrive back after the time cut-off. If you visit all of the check points and make it back to the finish before the time cut-off then you get bonus points for a job well done.

This makes for a particularly social event as everyone starts and finishes at the same time. Lots of fun for everyone!


Our winter series ski-o events all have multiple courses to accommodate everyone. The exact number of courses varies but there will always be a novice, an intermediate, and at least one advanced course.


The shortest of the courses, the novice course is perfect for orienteers that don't have a lot of ski experience or skiers who have very little orienteering experience. Typically in the 3-5 km range this course also keeps the orienteering challenge to a minimum. There are definitely route choices on most legs but the choices are limited and won't take you on the most challenging trails.


The next level up, the intermediate course will give you a little bit of extra length, more and trickier route choices, and more difficult ski trails. The intermediate courses tend to be 5 to 7 km long.


The advanced course is also the longest at 7 to 10 km. With the most complex route choices taking you down the most technical trails the most advanced ski orienteers typically complete this course in 45 to 75 minutes.

Score Courses

Our snowshoe orienteering events may be score orienteering events (how many checkpoints can you visit in a set period of time?) and as such you create your course. Typically there are 20 to 30 controls in the woods and you have between 45 and 75 minutes to collect as many as you can (in whatever order you like). Some will be hard to find and get to while others will be straightforward. You also need to take your speed into account. How many will you be able to get within the time frame? Which ones do you want to get? Once you know the answer to that you can create your course by linking them together into a course tailored to your speed and ability.



Costs may vary but a typical meet cost for a single race event is :

Standard Meet Costs per start Adults Jrs (8-20 yrs) Family or
Team of 2 or more novice course (max.)
Family or
Team of 3 or more running together (max.)
Enfants (0-7 ans)
Annual members $10.00 $7.00 $15 $24 free
Day-members $14.00 $8.00 $22 $35 free
Additional fees
Timing chip rental (no charge for the novice course) $2.00
Compass rental $2.00 + $10 rental deposit
Whistle purchase (whistles are mandatory) $2.00

Note: There may be additional trail fees charged by the park we are using for the event.