13 year old twins, Daniel and Philipp Kopisch returned from the 2008 US Championship in Orienteering with a gold and bronze medal. The two freshmen at Menlo-Atherton High School traveled a week before the event to Laramie, WY to prepare for the championship at the high altitude of over 8000 feet. They were allowed to train with the US Junior Team and started with high hopes into their first race on August 9th. Daniel who holds currently the titles of Bay Area Champion and Western States Champion in Orienteering managed to finish second – 19 seconds behind the first finisher. Philipp made a severe navigation error and finished 1:46 minutes behind the third place finisher. The second day of the US Championship became as exciting as could be for the twins from Menlo Park. The top finisher from day 1 went first into the forest and finished in exactly 18 minutes. Considering that his winning time from day one was 21:27 min this was fast and the pressure was now really on Daniel. He had to be at least 20 seconds faster. The seconds kept ticking away while the spectators waited for Daniel to emerge from the forest. Finally after roughly 16:30 min he emerged and could be seen while he navigated to his final control. This was bound to become a very close race. Daniel sprinted to the last control, punched it without checking its code and then kept sprinting the last 250 yards to the finish. Totally exhausted he asked for his finishing time. 17:29 min! He had made it – he was now in first place overall.
As the day went on no other surprises happened until Philipp ran.
Philipp needed to catch up almost 2 minutes in order to have a chance for a medal. He knew the winning times on day 2 were under 18 minutes and went into his race with an all-or-nothing attitude. He decided to run at full speed and not check a single control code. He risked to mis-punch at a wrong control and be disqualified in order to gain a couple of seconds at each control. His determination paid off and he finished day 2 with an astounding 16:12 min in first place - over a minute before his brother who would finish that day again in 2nd place. This result secured 3rd place overall for Philipp.
Winning the US Championship in Orienteering in his age class, M-14, is the current highlight of Daniel’s career in Orienteering. His brother’s 3rd place together with four more medals that were won by juniors from the Bay Area Orienteering Club show the strength the club’s junior program has. The fact that three medals were won by girls and three medals were won by boys and that these medals were distributed across the age classes from F-10 to M-16 proves the depth and breadth of the BAOC’s junior program.
The picture shows Daniel Kopisch and Philipp Kopisch with their father-coach, Manfred Kopisch, who won the silver medal in M40.