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Something on my mind.....venting I guess

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Tonite was the first High School race of the season.    My local area is the host for those races and has been for many many years.  We bend over backwards to make our presence known at the course, stationing a couple of patrollers in highly visible (and easily accessible) positions on the course for extremely quick response should something go awry.....much more so than say the J1,2,3,4 etc and whatever races on weekends, although we are pretty visible then as well,,,,but also have a lot more coverage because it is a weekend, not 5pm on a week night.

 

We had a GS tonite, first race of the season, hard and fast conditions as might be expected on the east coast this season.  Treacherous footing (as we found out soon enough) and  a HUGE crash during the race...possible Achilles tendon tear or knee ligament or more, not sure which ( I was last on scene but I'm told  kid went flying HUGE),,,...actually the very first time in my 20 years that there was a call for more help to hold sled and get patrollers back in skis it was so hard as opposed to more help for the medical side.

 

Anyway it was an eventful trip down as the race officials did NOT stop the race for even one racer so we could transport.  No need to stop while we packaged....but come on....we have limited terrain all over and we got roundly criticized for running the injured racer through timing gate.

 

Am I way off base for planning to rip the race officials a new one next we meet?

 

Oh....we have on hill the ability to still time the contestant if someone inadvertent trips the timing eye.

 

 

post #2 of 27

Its a disease we call " soccer mums and dads"  or "pageant mums',   they all think they're kid will be the next gold medalist and all common sense gets lost in euphoria.   If you mention it now off the mountain they wont recall,   the mist clouding theyre brains goes but it erases all memory of being an ass!  and trying to live life through there kids. 

 

just kidding,  dont know rally what you should do.

 

Richo

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

I was just venting....nothing to do really.

post #4 of 27

Wow, for racers, i'm surprised by the lack of concern by other racers and parents for the injured racer who, in my humble opinion, gets top priority from everyone involved until they are properly removed from the course by the ski patrol professionals.  Race staff actually sent a racer into the course even though the course was not clear and in fact had members of ski patrol and an injured racer on it?   

post #5 of 27

I would have thought the race would have been held and if a racer was ON COURSE, he would have been waved off and received a re-run.  That would be normal procedure and I have gatekept both in PA and in MT and never heard of things just proceeding if the injured racer was in or NEAR the course.  Now, if he was well out of the way?  Different story.  But, in any case, the last time I worked the timing the software allowed you to delete a bogus finish result (we had issues with the wind driving snow through the beam).  It's a pain to fix it if they are still running kids every 30 seconds, but doable.  

post #6 of 27

A football game is stopped untill an injured player can be taken off the field, as is a basketball game, an event at a track meet, or even a volleyball game. Why should they keep the race going? I would think that you have every reason to let the officials know that ski patrol has control during an injury if they are not clear of the course or in a safe area.

post #7 of 27

I experienced something similar about twenty five years ago when I was racing in high school.  A racer dislocated his shoulder when he fell and the gate passed under his arm pit.  The race wasn't stopped and we were yelled at for caring for the poor guy who was in excruciating pain.  Seems things haven't changed much since.  Some people take the competition way too seriously, so much so that common sense is evacuated.

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone was in jeopardy, but on re-reading it does sort of sound that way.  The athlete was well off the course while we packaged him up, when transport began we drove down the inside of the course well out of the way, crossed the course just after a racer passed our location, giving plenty of time to navigate.  The problem was that, with limited terrain open, the crossovers to other avenues were not available and the only viable way out was thru the timing light. 

 

So that's the route we took.  and again we followed an athlete with plenty of time to get out of the way for the next contestant

 

It was merely passing through the timing gate that PO'd someone on the race management team.....


Edited by skier_j - 1/10/12 at 6:41pm
post #9 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier_j View Post

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone was in jeopardy, but on re-reading it does sort of sound that way.  The athlete was well off the course while we packaged him up, when transport began we drove down the inside of the course well out of the way, crossed the course just after a racer passed our location, giving plenty of time to navigate.  The problem was that, with limited terrain open, the crossovers to other avenues were not available and the only viable way out was thru the timing light. 

 

So that's the route we took.  and again we followed an athlete with plenty of time to get out of the way for the next contestant

 

It was merely passing through the timing gate that PO'd someone on the race management team.....

A rescue toboggan anywhere on a race course with a race in progress? NOT GOOD! Your toboggan procedures need to be updated, along with properly marking the incident site while rescue in progress in that area.

 

Two other suggestions for you:

Think, before you rescue!

Think, before you vent!
 

No imaginable reason for a rescue toboggan being on a race course with a racer on the same course.

 

post #10 of 27

If was I was race director the race would definitely have been held until the casualty was below the finish. Safety is absolute priority number one and toboggans in the course with contestants running is a disaster waiting to happen. Plus race staff/trainers might have been needed to help get the casualty down if conditions were difficult - if you needed some more strong skiers they are the obvious people to ask.

 

If I was the ski patrol, I would have had a race director who didn't hold the race on the radio right away and told them that the toboggan was going down through the course and ask him/her to hold the race. Did you actually ask the director to hold the race?

 

The key is communication. Its not uncommon for the patrol and the race staff to be on different radio frequencies. In the event of a serious crash the first thing the race director needs to do is a) hold the race and b) get someone on his/her team with a radio to the casualty so that they can relay messages and liaise with the patrol staff. They also need to report on the status of any safety nets, flags, marker bands, condition of the course etc. Only then can a sensible judgement be made about a re-start.

 

I think you need to call a meeting with the race program and sort out a proper procedure.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

steve2ski and hypercub....

 

I don't disagree with either of you....hence the vent.   I do plan to have a chat with the officials next time I do a race---next monday---as a pessimist, I don;t expect a change to take place, but better next week than 2 days ago...next week I'll be able to be calm and professional, since I've thought it through and gotten some excellent feedback from all these responses, two days ago that would not have been possible.

 

 

 

 

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier_j View Post

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone was in jeopardy, but on re-reading it does sort of sound that way.  The athlete was well off the course while we packaged him up, when transport began we drove down the inside of the course well out of the way, crossed the course just after a racer passed our location, giving plenty of time to navigate.  The problem was that, with limited terrain open, the crossovers to other avenues were not available and the only viable way out was thru the timing light. 

 

So that's the route we took.  and again we followed an athlete with plenty of time to get out of the way for the next contestant

 

It was merely passing through the timing gate that PO'd someone on the race management team.....

 

It just sounds like a simple communications mix up between the chief of course, patrol, and starter.  Hopefully it can be a educational moment for better coordination between patrol and race authorities. It sounds like everything else was well within reason and best practices. The injured party was well clear of the course, etc... Sure, some odd ball parents and maybe someone at the finish who's writing down times will be bent if jr's run was spoiled by the sled crossing the finish, but don't let the .5% color the whole book. The suggestion made by someone above that the other racers had no concern for the injured racer's safety and condition, in my experience, couldn't be farther from the truth. Maybe times have changed, but  racers with occasional exceptions, generally like each other and develop strong friendship bonds.  Venting on the interwebz often makes the finest of mountains out of the mildest of molehills. 
 

 

post #13 of 27

You should have asked the race director to hold the start, and if he didn't then just block a gate.  Patrol doesn't need to answer to the race director.

 

BK

post #14 of 27

Just to be the sole person who disagrees with everyone, I read the story totally differently, both in the original post and the later clarification:

 

- Kid got hurt.

- Race continued while kid was packed up ("No need to stop while we packaged ...").

- Patrollers headed off with tobaggan.

 

All fine, standard-operating procedure, just the way things should have been done for all concerned.

 

- Patrollers with tobaggan had trouble finding a route to the aid room.

- Patrollers said nothing to the race officials. <-- not sure about that?

- Patrollers cut into course between racers and skied through the finish line.

 

The patrollers should not have done that, for two reasons:

- nobody should ever ski through the finish line during a race;

- you shouldn't cross a course with a toboggan between racers. A single person crossing a course between racers isn't a big deal, but a tobaggan is something else.

 

One way to look at it: once the kid was in the tobaggan, he was just an injured skier in a toboggan. The fact he had been participating in the race was irrelevant: the situation is no different from patrollers, with a random injured skier who had no connection to the race, cutting through the finish line.

 

Now ... if the patrollers contacted the race officials before cutting into the course and crossing the finish line and they said "go ahead," that would be a somewhat different story.

post #15 of 27

The most important aspect is safety.

 

When an accident occurs in a race course resulting in an injury, the first thing the race director should do is hold the start. The race director has a responsibility for the safety of the athletes and they have to be satisfied on two points before racing can start again:

 

a) That the casualty is being properly cared for and that a plan for evacuation is underway. That means liaising with the ski patrol. The casualty is NOT just another kid in a sled, it's an athlete injured while competing in a race under the leadership of the race director. The race director has a direct responsibility for them. Yes, they can delegate the practical job of the evacuation to the ski patrol, but that requires communication.

 

b) That the course is still safe for racing. That means that a race official (e.g. course setter or someone else competent)  has to inspect the course at the point where the accident occurred.

 

Both sides were at fault here. The patrol should not have entered the race course with a sled while racing was underway, but the race director does not seem to have taken his/her responsibility concerning safety seriously enough. Racing should have been stopped for a few few minutes while the points I raise above were dealt with.

 

The fact that one of the racers had to have a re-run because of the sled going through the timing lights is not, in the full scale of thing, an important issue. Safety is ALWAYS the highest priority anybody running an alpine ski race should be thinking about.

 

 

post #16 of 27

Fine, but you don't seem to be talking about what actually happened here.

 

There does not appear to have been any issue with the process of packing up the kid, putting him into the toboggan and taking him away.

 

What the problem was, was that the ski patrol taking the toboggan down then - apparently with no coordination with officials, and because they couldn't find another route the aid room - took it upon themselves to cut into the course between racers with the toboggan and to cross the finish line. That was bad for multiple reasons, in my opinion:

- it's unsafe to cross a course between racers with a toboggan;

- it's unsafe to go into the finish area with a toboggan

- it screws up the race to cross the finish line while a race is in progress.

 

I'm having some difficulty understanding why it was necessary to go through the finish area to get to the aid room at all. Unless they were closing whole sections of the mountain, there must have been some route by which other skiers were getting to and from the lifts and the lodge. The mountain would have to have a weird layout - or a very strangely and inaccessibly located aid room - if the general public was able to proceed happily to and from the lifts and lodge without interfering with race, but the patrol couldn't get to the aid room.

 

What the patrollers with the toboggan should have done was to find another way to the aid room, even if involved a bit more work. In the alternative, if it was really impossible to get from the hill to the aid room without cutting through the finish area, they should have talked to the officials, told them to call a start stop at the next opportunity, confirmed with an official that it was okay to cross, then moved on. If that is what happened, then there was some miscommunication among the officials.

post #17 of 27

Just to clarify, since a number of people are inserting things that aren't in the OP's account of the events.

 

By his account there was never any safety issue:

 

No need to stop while we packaged....but come on....we have limited terrain all over and we got roundly criticized for running the injured racer through timing gate.

 

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone was in jeopardy....  The athlete was well off the course while we packaged him up, when transport began we drove down the inside of the course well out of the way,

 

crossed the course just after a racer passed our location, giving plenty of time to navigate.  The problem was that, with limited terrain open, the crossovers to other avenues were not available and the only viable way out was thru the timing light.

 

It was merely passing through the timing gate that PO'd someone on the race management team.....

 

The only issue, by the OP's account, was that they crossed the finish line in mid-race. He tells us several times that safety was never an issue.

 

Two reactions from me:

 

- I'm critical of his conclusion that crossing the course between racers was clearly safe. Then again, I wasn't there, so I don't know what the sight lines and nature of the race was. My concern arises from a few things:

 

* The fact that - toward the end of a course - it's very easy for people on the sidelines to misjudge how long the space between racers will be. Racers, of course, usually start at regular intervals. They're typically 30-40 seconds, but they can be shorter in GS under USSA rules (and, I guess, in this high school race). Particularly in a lower-level race, it's quite common to have racers whose times diverge widely. You might have have very fast racer follow a racer who's much slower - either in general or as as result of some peculiar problem in the run. The result is that, if you're well down the course, you could see a long series of racers pass by with a very regular 30 second gap between them, then all of a sudden have a pair go by with 2 seconds between them. I've even seen a fast racer catch up to the person ahead of him a few times (rarely!).

 

* The difficulty of handling a toboggan with an injured person in it. It's heavy and unwieldy and you don't exactly want to dump the passenger out. If you suddenly discover you need to get out of the way of someone, you're in trouble.

 

* The finish area is usually flat and is supposed to be kept clear. If people are pulling a toboggan across the finish area when a racer finishes, it's potentially more likely to cause an accident than a toboggan in the course, where at least the racer is concentrating on what's ahead and following a predictable path.

 

- Screwing up a race is not just a piddly little nothing issue that only over-torqued parents care about. The typical race has a few dozen volunteers who spend as much as a full day standing around in freezing weather for no purpose other than to put on a good event. To dismiss their concerns cavilierly is pretty disrespectful.

post #18 of 27

I'm more on the side of the Ski Patrol on this and generally agree with  Hypercub

 

The ski patrol should be focusing on the injured person and not have to control the race.  

 

Going through the finish - no problem - a simple fix with one or two key strokes - no one looses a time.  (I have been a timer for years - the software handles this stuff easily)  Who cares if someone thinks it not OK - people (parents) at races tend to be difficult to please and quick to give an incorrect and nasty statement.  they should have been thanking you. 

 

Not going through the finish as standard practice  - absolutely a "no no" for normal circumstances but transporting an injured person safely is more important than any protocol if that appeared to be the safest route.  If there was an obvious and easy route around, then that should have been taken, but with a sled, the route that course slippers use might not have been a good one.

 

Not stopping the race - this is primarily the fault of the Technical Delegate (TD) or Race chief.  They know the course better than anyone and should have known, in this case, that there was limited room. 

 

Not stopping the race - I don't know the circumstances, but having a sled off to the side probably posed a hazard.  Again, the race officials should have stopped the race.  Or at the very least, a race official should have made a safety check.  It doesn't sound like this happened.  That is the race officials fault.

 

However, I also think that the ski patrol should have taken the initiative to radio the race officials before transporting if they knew that racers were on course.  I'd guess that once the transport started, it is difficult to grab a radio,  Did you know what radio channel the race officials were on?  If not, that is something you should know and is something that the race chief ought to communicated to you.  Something to do for the next race.  At our races, we regularly get a radio from patrol dispatch and leave it with the race chief.  That way we are assured that communication can happen without chatter from coaches etc.

 

I also would suggest to Skier_j that the ski patrol might take some time to learn how a race is controlled.  Some race officials can stop a race while other can't.  Find out before hand who is the Finish Ref, Start Ref, Ref, TD and Chief of Race.  (I am using Canadian terms here, but this corresponds to the FIS manual).  These folks are at the start, finish and mid sections of the course, and it is their job, in part, to assure that the race is run safely.

 

I think your venting is good - and it appears that you want to make improvements in the future.  Hopefully the race officials will see it the same way!

 

 

 

post #19 of 27

 

Quote:

Going through the finish - no problem - a simple fix with one or two key strokes - no one looses a time.

I know that some systems work this way (and, in theory, it shouldn't be difficult to set them up so they do, as all they're really doing is recording the precise time of day that various events occur). But - at least to my understanding - some timing systems do not. In any event, I have one experience where the timers lost two consecutive racers' times as a result of gatekeeper crossing the course and quite clearly insisted that they couldn't play with the system to get the times. It's possible they were incompetent timers, I suppose. One of the racers whose time was missed skied out in the his rerun, so it did matter - at least to him.

post #20 of 27

The more it think about this situation as you describe it, the more I find fault with the race officials.

 

1. You were in icy and dangerous conditions and required multiple ski patrol just to deal with getting the athlete into the sled.  Were the race officials blind to that?  I've seen sleds get away from patrol, once on the steep pitch of Men's Downhill at Lake Louise during  a race.   Were none of the officials thinking about how you were going to get down?

 

2.  The skier might have had life threatening injuries for which time was essential.  In that case, the ski patrol focus would have been only on medical attention.  The race officials didn't know what was going on.  If it were the case that you were trying to keep someone alive, you should not be radioing the race officials.   IMHO, the ski patrol responsibility is to the injured person, not the race.  It is the race officials responsibility to assure safety.  the FIS manual clearly states that.

 

3. In the icy conditions, transporting the injured person is more difficult.  here is where better communication was needed, but I still think that the onus of responsibility was with the race officials.  Again, you might have had a life threatening injury on your hands.

 

I really think that you and a representative of the hill ought to have a meeting with race organizers about this incident. I believe that you should outline ski patrol and the hill's safety expectations for their running of a race, and also look to how the ski patrol can do better.  I think that the race organizers ought to understand how easily things could have gone really sour in this situation.

post #21 of 27

I think you're imagining facts that don't appear in - and are inconsistent with - the OPs story.

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston View Post

 

I know that some systems work this way (and, in theory, it shouldn't be difficult to set them up so they do, as all they're really doing is recording the precise time of day that various events occur). But - at least to my understanding - some timing systems do not. In any event, I have one experience where the timers lost two consecutive racers' times as a result of gatekeeper crossing the course and quite clearly insisted that they couldn't play with the system to get the times. It's possible they were incompetent timers, I suppose. One of the racers whose time was missed skied out in the his rerun, so it did matter - at least to him.


Agreed that it is important to the racer and if there was a good alternative, it ought to have been taken.  Was the course set up so that a patroller could get the sled through on the side in icy conditions safely?  my guess is that he chose the safest route.

 

DTRIS, Split Second and other software have very easy commands to ignore an impulse, but it could be that the patroller and the sled gave multiple impulses which befuddled the timer.   Nonetheless, the skier would have had a finish impulse when he or she crossed, and editing is very easy and can be done at the end of a race with about a minute of time.  there does not appear to have been any interference.  were there hand timers as a secondary or tertiary system???    There must have been multiple system failure or no secondary systems or newbe timers. Or were they using wireless units,which would be more difficult to fix the time.

 

My point later about going through the finish was "that transporting an injured person safely is more important than any protocol if that appeared to be the safest route"

 

post #23 of 27


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston View Post

I think you're imagining facts that don't appear in - and are inconsistent with - the OPs story.


 

not really.  Here is what he said..

 

"We had a GS tonite, first race of the season, hard and fast conditions as might be expected on the east coast this seasonTreacherous footing (as we found out soon enough) and  a HUGE crash during the race...possible Achilles tendon tear or knee ligament or more, not sure which ( I was last on scene but I'm told  kid went flying HUGE),,,...actually the very first time in my 20 years that there was a call for more help to hold sled and get patrollers back in skis it was so hard as opposed to more help for the medical side."

 

"but come on....we have limited terrain all over and we got roundly criticized for running the injured racer through timing gate."

 

 

the other part of what I said are the considerations that race officials ought to have had ... .kid went flying HUGE) .   I have seen serious injuries at races, and this should always be a concern.  My point was that the race officials didn't bother to have any consideration for that possibility.  With more than one patroller at the scene, why didn't a race official think about what was going on?

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by canadianskier - 1/12/12 at 12:13pm
post #24 of 27

It's very interesting that the race officials didn't check the full course after the sled exited the course area....... Things or loose gear can fall from the sled causing a hazard, sled skids can cut and groove even into ice, causing a hazard for racers.

To me if the patrol was called or summoned to the race course, the officials should have known and stopped the race until the patrol with the sled exited the area. Then a course inspection,  by the race officials, should have been conducted, prior to a race restart.

If the patrol took it upon themselves to enter a marked race course on their own with or without a toboggan w/o notifying the course officials, the patrol is wrong, irregardless of the route selected.

In no case I can think of, should a toboggan be on, or cross a race course, without a course inspection after, and prior to continuing the race. This not only insures Safety but Fairness to the racers.

The route of that toboggan is the responsibility of the patrol. And that inspection of the course is the responsibility of the race officials.

post #25 of 27

The problem - the whole point of the OP's story - was that he got yelled at by officials for driving a toboggan across the finish line between racers.

 

A bunch of people are wound up by unrelated details that don't have anything to do with what the point of the story was. There was no problem until the patrollers drove the sled across the finish line ... everyone is just imaging various ways there might have been.

 

Yes: it is, I suppose, possible that the racer suffered life-threatening injuries in a high-school giant slalom. I suspect the OP might have mentioned that if it were the case, but one never knows. It's also possible that the racer who went two before the injured kid might have knocked down a gate and the gatekeeper's failure to reset it properly caused the kid to fall, and thus the gatekeeper should be castigated. The racer also might have been a Taliban suicide bomber laying a clever booby trap for the patrolmen.

 

Once the patrolmen were moving with the sled, they had two choices:

 

1 - get to the aid room without crossing the course, and certainly without going through the finish line and crossing the finish area;

 

2 - if not possible (or just too difficult): contact an official and ask for a start stop in order to cross the course and ski through the finish area.

 

The OP doesn't provide every detail, so it's possible that 2 occurred, and something went awry with the start stop. If so: yeah, that was the problem

 

In a USSA race that's run according to the rules, you would have hand timers. In a high school race, that's not as certain. In any event, you should not drive a toboggan across a running race course, across the finish line, and through the finish area.

 

This is just an aside, but: an alert skier, sans toboggan, who has a good reason to cross the course in a GS at a point where there's decent visibility should be able safely to sneak through. Even that is a bit questionable. And he shouldn't ski through the finish line.

post #26 of 27

Absolutely right, The OP was right to be angry. Sounds as if the Chief of Race and the Jury (or their equivalent) all need some training. A loaded tobaggan inside the nets with racers on course is really dangerous.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve2ski View Post


 

A rescue toboggan anywhere on a race course with a race in progress? NOT GOOD! Your toboggan procedures need to be updated, along with properly marking the incident site while rescue in progress in that area.

 

No imaginable reason for a rescue toboggan being on a race course with a racer on the same course.

 



 

post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 

My last post here.  I got some good feedback about communication and tobaggon procedures from Steve2ski especially, thank you, noted and I do plan to act on those suggestions. 

 

I'm not going to participate in a bunch of what ifs.  I violated my own personal rule that this site was NOT the venue for patrol related discussions, for that I apologize.

 

General info related to the race venue.    Aside from the top 3 to 5 gates (depending on GS or SL event) the ENTIIRE course is visible from the finish.  So of couse the race marshalls can see us.  The slope where the race courses are set is rarely closed to the public while a race is in progress.  The exit is fenced such that there is the finish line and one narrow spectator/coach/competitor exit as access (or is it egress?) out of the course.  That narrow corridor is packed with team mates, coaches, spectators and others.  There are walking spectators as far up the venue as they care to hike and many on skis. 

 

 

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