Nordic Walking competitions - Point de vue de l'INWA

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Il n'y a pas si longtemps l'INWA était farouchement contre les compétitions de marche nordique. Et bien ça a bien changé !

Voici un post du président de l'INWA qui montre l'évolution de l'INWA. Désolé c'est en anglais.

I decided to write about the Nordic Walking competitions as I can see that there are a lot of questions and communication going on around this topic. 
Nordic Walking competitions are getting worldwide more and more popular.


This development is good as it will also bring more visibility for Nordic Walking. This trend will also attract younger people, which is needed and good for the image of Nordic Walking. I have personally been involved with the development of Nordic Walking from the year 1997. I have clearly seen the evolution of Nordic Walking and how it looks like in different markets. In most of the “old” Nordic Walking countries the media is not writing too much any more about Nordic Walking. The new countries are in a different state of development and there naturally media is very much interested in promoting this sport. Nordic Walking competitions started a few years ago and we can now see an increasing number of them in countries like France, Poland, Latvia, Germany and China. More countries will joint this development next year. INWA organized 3 international competitions this year of which one was in Latvia and two in China. Different organizations offer now a series of competitions both on national and international level. Many of these events also combine the competitions with recreational non-competitive Nordic Walks. For example in China in the competitions there are a few hundreds of participants and in the recreational events there are normally over 2 000 participants.


We published a video on Facebook from the start of the INWA World Cup competition in China and we have seen many comments after that concerning the technique of the people, who participated in the competition. I would like to draw your attention to following points:
- INWA has official competition rules which also describe the Nordic Walking Competition Technique. 
- In each competition there are referees, who follow these guidelines and they give penalties (yellow warning cards and red cards) to those athletes, who do not follow the rules or use wrong Nordic Walking technique.
- On Facebook video we showed the start of the competition. You should keep in mind, that it is very difficult to use a correct technique at the start of the mass competition. You poles will be very easily stepped on by the following athletes if you have a full extension of the arm at the start of the competition.
- In China far over 20 yellow penalty cards were given to the athletes. The high number of yellow cards is a result from the fact, that there were many participants, who did not use the right technique.
- Nordic Walking competitions are at this point mass events and free to anyone to participate. Nordic Walking should also be fun and we should with any measures keep this in mind. There are and will be always people participating the competitions, who are maybe not physically and technically perfect but on the other hand, we can offer them the possibility to participate and enjoy the spirit of the competition. In China both men’s and women’s competitions were won by athletes, who were using fast and correct technique. It may be, that in the future we will have competition series also for professional athletes but at this point at least we want to keep it the way it is.

Our will and intension is to continuously develop and improve the technique and rules of the NW competitions. Referee training and overall education of those people, who are interested in competitions, is very important for us now and in the future. Last but not least, here are some points to which the referees pay attention to during the competitions:
- Ensure that the arms and legs move alternately in a natural manner
- Ensure that at no point both feet or both poles are off the ground at the same time 
- The poles contact the floor at the same time as the opposite heel
- The poles must be placed on the side of the distance and longitudinal area between the toes of the front foot and the heel of the rear foot with the exception of ascending or descending steep rises or steps
- The center of gravity must not be abnormally lowered
- There must be an active push through the poles in order to propel the body forward. When pushing through the pole there should be arm extension and the hand should at the minimum reach the bodyline but ideally pass the bodyline backwards.
- The leading hand holding the grip of the pole needs to pass the body line when placing the pole in front

Thank you for reading this. I prepared a video from the competition so that you can see and understand my points better. These people were enjoying the competition while having fun and at the end, that is all that matters.

All the best and good health to you all,

Aki Karihtala
President of INWA


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