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The legitimacy of "Overall Impression" in judged events?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hi all.

Being new to EpicSki, I at first was a little bummed to see that it seemed to be a website for the skiing/boarding community at large, and not really for experts and pros. Sorry for thinking that. The responses from some very knowledgable industry insiders is starting to come in, and I'm getting the information I was hoping for.


Now that I know you're out there watching, I'm starting this new thread to get the opinions of some of you respected pros about a developing issue in the "judged ski competition world" that I hope you're all noticing too.


After watching these comps for years, and, being an old fart now, I still remember in my youth, the world of Olympic Sports in the 70's, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. In those days, Olympic judged sports had the stigma of the cold war all over them. Every comp had a panel of international judges, carefully picked, to balance the, (yes, I'm going to say the "ch" word, and hope it doesn't turn this thread into a spew fest) CHEATING! There was always an East German Judge on the left, who always gave any American athlete the crappiest score they could possibly get away with. (Usually never higher than a 5, on the 10 scale.) On the right, the American Judge would do the exact same thing to any athlete from any communist nation. In the middle, more reasonable nations would put forth a mix of more fair judges. Anyone in the world who watched "Wide World of Sports" with Howard Cosell, and had any respect for "amateur" athletes, felt embarrassed to be part of a nation that was a party to such BS. (Professional athletes were banned from competing in any Olympic or pre-Olympic venues, although all the communist nations blatantly cheated at that, especially East Germany and the USSR, who put forth steroid pumped mutants, hermaprodites, and "altered" humanoids on a regular basis.) Being an ignorant "fan", with no judging skill or any sort of "eye" for talent was probably the best kind of fan to be. Ignorance is truly bliss.


My big question for the community is: Is the increasing overemphasis on the points category of "Overall Impression" in judged ski/board events, de-legitimizing the whole category of judged sports, and inviting cheating all over again?


Being a skier/boarder with 20 yrs. experience teaching, and watching the bio-mechanics of my students, I now find that "knowing" is not a blessing. I sometimes see judging decisions that obviously are motivated by anything but an eye for skill and competence on the snow. Being able to justify your decisions as a judge by hiding behind the overemphasized judging category of "Overall Impression", and giving it all away to whoever you feel like, all seems much easier to get away with, when you don't really have to explain yourself as a judge. It also seems like you can just grab anybody you like to be a judge, so they can say, "I was impressed by this guy, but not the other guy." My opinion, is that "Overall Impression", while it doesn't need to go away forever completely, does need to be reduced severely in weight and importance in judging decisions throughout winter sports.


So what do you think? Judges? Coaches? Parents? Let me hear what you think, and why. Any reps. of our prestigious sanctioning bodies care to defend your systems of training and certifying judges? Anybody care to take a swipe at my bold opinions on the matter? Please jump in.

Edited by TeleBruce - 5/7/15 at 12:05pm
post #2 of 31
No different than gymnastics, figure skating, dog shows, yada yada. It's why none of those sports hold my interest.
post #3 of 31
If you are referring to freestyle (free ski) type events, your point has merit but I can't think of many examples where the athlete/fans believe somebody was robbed of their win.

Mark McMorris has also commented a few times when he's lost the other guy was truly better that day.

For events with tricks....you just can't get away from the judging.

Alpine racing is much easier.....fastest time wins.
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 

I agree that seeing overly "subjective" judging turns fans away from these sports, and that's why I started this thread. Public opinion does matter. In fact, long standing systems of judging and running judged events usually are never improved or changed until an outraged public pushes back, after seeing something that is obviously just not right, on TV sports shows, the news, or on Utube or FB. A bigger problem I see is athlete burnout, where extremely talented athletes quit the sport, after repeatedly seeing and being subjected to inconsistent and confusing "Overall Impression" decisions. This problem is especially apparent in children and teenagers, who are a lot smarter, and seemingly more forgiving than adults, at least for a while. Letting them quit because their disillusioned about unfair judging contributes to teen apathy & delinquency, a phenomenon under-studied, and under-estimated. The long-term effects, including the ripple effect, weaken the emotional health of the entire nation. The advent of HD Video and it's greater availability to the public should help alleviate the problem, but it seems to have the opposite effect, actually, making the outraged public get jaded about the whole thing, and then simply stop caring. You would think that major sponsors would not want to be associated with sports that don't put vigorous protections in place against this sort of thing, but they generally don't until many years go by, and the public loses interest in watching. (A decent example of this is seeing the Xgames eclipse the Olympic Games in popularity, and then, later in advertising dollars spent during the games, due to a disillusioned public, looking for a fresh, less corrupted sporting event to watch.) The Olympic Games has had a reputation mired in corruption on many levels, for many years, contributing to a drop in interest and advertising dollars. In recent years, the Olympics has cleaned up it's act a bit, due solely to a desire by the IOC to get some of those $$ back. It seems that $$ are the only language that promoters and sponsors ever respond to. Losing some of our most cherished winter sports viewing opportunities simply because sponsors lose interest in televising them for lack of profits would be a shame. Anybody disagree? Let hear your spin on this.

post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 

We've spent our time competing in Alpine Racing too. Your right about the timing system eliminating a lot of opportunity to cheat by removing the "subjectivity" from the whole thing. Because of that, creative judging can't be bent to any one team or athlete's advantage. Cheating still goes on in more subtle ways on a much smaller scale. I remember two or three fine examples. Here they are. 1) Competitors skis tampered with or moved right before they go up the chair for their start while their not paying attention. I've even seen skis taken, and thrown in the mud, base down, effectively making them slower, with no time to fix the problem. This one is more often done by other parents to children competing against theirs. It's still a very rare but shocking problem. Solution: Teach your children to never take their eyes off their equipment on race day. At the teen/adult level, it's an even less common problem.

2) A whole squad of coaches from 1 team side-slips the course just before their team, and only their team runs the course. Solution: Race officials always diligently create a startlist that never allows teams to run consecutively. Does this always happen? Are other coaches and parents always paying attention to make sure it doesn't happen? Not a chance! Although purposeful, this practice isn't super-common either, but it still does happen occasionally.

3) Malfunctioning timing equipment used to some racers advantage by unscrupulous timing techs. I actually witnessed this one at a Race for children 0-6 years old, if you can believe that. The wind was shaking the laser beam at the finish line, causing it to miss the the little tiny skiers crossing the finish line. The timer in the booth's job was to quickly hit the manual stop button on the clock as they crossed the line if the beam failed to trip. The timer was observed delaying hitting the button for up to 2 seconds for certain little athletes not affiliated with their team. Cheating against 3 yr. olds!? Despicable behavior worthy of capitol punishment. Luckily, this practice extremely rare, especially with the advent of better, more affordable technology in timing equipment.

4) I'm only mentioning this one because it's the oldest trick in the book, and watched for by most parents & coaches. "Sandbagging". Yes sandbagging! Not with sand, but water bottles. Why does a 5 yr. old weighing only 50 lbs, need with 4 water bottles, weighing 2+ lbs. in their jacket. Like I said, everyone is watching out for that one.


Anyway, people can get pretty amusingly creative about getting their little ones on the podium. You would think that people would appreciate a hard fought victory much more than an empty one, but surprisingly, there's one in every crowd who wants pure glory, at the expense of integrity.


Since we're on the subject of creative cheating by Alpine Racers now, who can throw out another, "Are you serious!?" cheat that most people would think just too low to even contemplate, that they've actually seen? Let's have some fun with this one :)

post #6 of 31

It's even worse in skateboarding especially street events.  Twitter poll to determine the winner of Freestyle and X-Games events?  :dunno I could see that happening at some point in the not too distant future since American Idol and DWTS already does it to some degree.  But in the end that is simply mob rules versus judges that are supposed to have some expertise and experience making them better at scoring the competitors. 

post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 

With the advent of Social Media, these type of events are becoming more and more popular. Too bad skateboarding and snowboarding have lost their edge over skiing concerning "credibility" over that last decade. "The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series" evolved into "The North Face Virtual Tour", where you make a video edit of your best run of the season, and submit it to North Face's Website or FB Page, & your "peers" vote for you, or your competition. Of course, your "peers", are any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Mary you can get to vote for you. Finalists are judged by North Face's hand-picked judging panel. This one seems more like a contest to see who the most popular social mediast is, or even the most "creative" video editor is. What an easy deal for N. Face. Talk about cutting overhead!


Since you mentioned skateboarding, I must mention Red Bull. Red Bull, with their vast budget for marketing, has come up with a number of their own, extremely creative events, with big prize money, for all comers. These events are so whacky and fun, that everyone involved must go into it with the "spirit of fun", first and foremost, and leave their "uber-competetive spirit" at home if they don't get picked by Red Bull's hand-picked judging panel.


I just witnessed the Red Bull "Slopesoakers" Event on closing day at Copper Mountain, CO. It was a slopestyle/pond skim with a $500 purse for 1st place, and, NOTHING! for everyone else. You had to wear a costume, which was heavily weighted by the judges, jump over a super-whacky feature, (this year's had a goal post & a gigantic dog house), then speed as fast as you could to the rail section, or you could pick the full-sized quarter-pipe hit, & then make it across the pond to the exit jump out of the pond. The "Thomas Dolby" lookalike won the whole thing, with a failed backflip attempt into the pond. Yes, his gigantic "Thomas Dolby" wig was his downfall, getting stripped off, as his face broke his fall into the pond, getting only 3/4 of the way around in his rotation. It was one of the best "flails" I've ever witnessed. Nobody loses in an event like this. Red Bull provided tons of swag for everyone who wanted it, including tons of their new product in all the new flavors. The only real loser was Thomas's gigantic wig, which he can use that $500 to replace. Anybody who complains about cheating at this type of event deserves to be thrown into the pond! The fact that it was dumping and 23 deg. made closing day all the better. Anybody reading this post make it to this or any similar events at other places?

post #8 of 31

Interesting however that the "X-Games" has a large proportion (if not majority) of it's events being judged ones.

Judging itself is not inherently bad and in reality is required for any event that doesn't have a speed/length/height objective (e.g. not easily measured).


The key is having objective judges that are consistent in how they apply their grading so every athlete knows what the judges are looking for and how to score.

Along those lines, "X-Games" athletes are competing for some serious cash these days, you would think increased money = increased corruption....but again I haven't heard of any issues in that regard.

post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 

The Xgames is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of judged competition. A refreshing one apparently. Maybe that's why they quickly caught up with the Olympics, and then surpassed them, in both advertising $$, and popularity, soon after the Xgames inception. The Olympics has recently made a huge comeback due to an influx of $$, & a pullback by ESPN on sponsorship $$ for the games. (Qualifying days have been cut way down, and the Euro Xgames in France were even canceled completely.) Some have even gone so far as to say the Xgames have become a "Hollywood Celebrity Showcase" for the sponsors latest products, & only the top sponsored athletes are now invited to market those products. I'n not saying that, however, despite the cutbacks and format changes. It remains an event that's more fairly judged than the Olympics ever was, being more insulated from international politics. Big money sponsorship and advertising are in fact, contributing to pressure to change the format. We can only hope that the "money" doesn't corrupt the Xgames to the point that the un-trained eye can catch the anomalies. That always leads to dis-interest, and a loss of viewership by the public. We need the Xgames. Next to the fall of the Iron Curtain, no other event has forced the Olympics to clean up their act as much as X.

post #10 of 31

Stringent judging criteria was required to get many of these freestyle and freeskiing events into the Olympics. In the IOC's defense, they wanted to create a judging system with consistent, reliable, and repeatable scoring system for fairness. However, in this process, the "free" was taken out of freestyle. For example, it left acroski/ballet skiing as a dead sport. The requirements became so stringent with the number and type of axles and flips that the athletes had to cram so much into a 90 second run that no individuality or creativity was left. At least the overall impression allows for some judgement of the "wow factor" and giving bonus for creativity and attempting something new.

post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 

That really explains a lot, rx2ski. The history of overall impression in a nutshell. It seems this formula for judging has bled over into freeskiing and into the lower/mid level competitions. Maybe the problem I'm starting to see in judged competitions isn't due to a flawed system, but rather inexperienced or poorly picked judges. The quality at upper level USSA events seems better lately than at upper level USASA events, which would make sense. Both organizations have a training program, and a tiered ranking system for judges. Sometimes I wonder if enough of those people are available on comp. day to fill the judges seats, however. It's usually up to the promoter to fill those seats at the mid/lower levels when there aren't enough certified judges available. I've heard them being called "guest judges". You would hope they would always pick good ones, but it doesn't always happen. At the upper levels, I think it would be required by sanctioning bodies to make sure the judges are certified and top level.


In my observation of the whole thing, I notice an evolution of the freestyle sports accelerating so fast that I feel judging criteria needs to also be updated. Giving certain categories a weighted score (a multiplier) could even things out. Of course, humans tend to over, or under do things when given leeway. Putting to much weight on overall impression I feel de-legitimizes the quality of the event by confuses the athletes as well as the public. Like I said in earlier posts, a confused public is a dis-interested public. Away goes the ratings and with them go the sponsors.


On the other hand, over-emphesizing technical skill causes the athletes to all want to do the same, high scoring tricks, homogenizing the whole field, making it boring. A bored public...well, you know. Hopefully, the USSA, FIS, & the IOC can standardize the judging criteria without taking all the WOW out of it.


I was pleased to see at this year's USSA Nationals, the judges taking 5 athletes from each heat, plus the next 2 highest scores from each heat to the halfpipe finals. This eleviates the unfairness of athletes from a "stacked" heat being left behind, while athletes with less skill from the "soft" heat get in. At the USASA Nationals, the slopestyle judges decided to take 6 from each heat, with no "wildcards", causing a few athletes with much higher scores to be left behind. This leads to a confused public, and athlete burnout. This scoring system needs to be standardized so these little discrepancies don't happen. These judging criteria shouldn't be changed at a rider meeting. They should be decided and adhered to at Congress, or at the committee level for all events.


To the IOC and the USSA's credit, they have been doing that, and the results are more fair than in the past. It is getting better. The USSA's push to get their events FIS points causes FIS to send a representative to the upper level events to oversee that their sanction and regulations are being adhered to. Getting this to filter down to the mid-level events is what's needed now. I'm hopeful that it's already being discussed at the committee level. I did hear a rumor that the USASA and the USSA will be merging soon, and I wonder what that really means. What the rumors say, and what actually happens are almost never quite the same.


Hopefully, increasing political disputes around the world don't lead to a new cold war, where the international judged events need an American judge to off-set the East German judge again.

post #12 of 31

I hope I didn't oversimplify the explanation, but I've read so much about the problems traditional freestyle (ballet, moguls, aerials) had getting into the Olympics and why ballet/acroski ultimately failed. It was a huge undertaking for snowboarding and freeskiing to get Olympic status.


Geoff Stump (Greg Stump's brother) wrote this article on "Who Killed Freeride Skiing?"




It's a good read and will give you the unabridged version of history.


I know one Olympic-level judge. He said it was some of the most stressful times in his life. The judges take it very seriously. It is a long, difficult process to get to that level. I follow freestyle primarily, but I would guess that there are not yet enough certified judges to go around for freeskiing. 


Sorry to go back to a freestyle example, but I want to show how a DD comes into play. In moguls, there are two jumps. Each has a degree of difficulty which is multiplied by the execution score and counts for 20% of the score. Speed makes up the other 20%. Turns and line are 60%.


I totally agree with your "boring" comment. Execution and degree of difficulty are important, but the flow in and out of each move and the amplitude and energy count for something--which is unfortunately intangible which makes it hard to quantify. And I go back and forth whether we should try to quantify this.


Also, with increased degree of difficulty comes danger and people prematurely taking too much risk. I hate hearing I tried this trick for the first time ever on snow at the Olympics. Whoa! Hold it! In aerials, there is a very distinct progression and qualification procedures going from trampolines to water ramps to snow. You need to be certified to perform aerial maneuvers on the snow--and this includes the mogul skiers. Although a lot of camps (such as Woodward) have incredible coaches that put the athletes through a full progression for the freeskiing skills, I worry what is being tried in the parks. In your teens you feel like your invincible. Even if you've seen something bad happen, you still don't think it can happen to you. The degree of difficulty has become so high that the consequences of an error are multiplied. What are the limits to the human body? A triple, a quad, a quint? Physics will ultimately determine how much air time you can get.


Now all these different snowsports are competing for TV time and sponsorship dollars. X-Games are way more popular than moguls or aerials. Ironically, I have heard top racers say that racing on TV is too difficult to understand. It's a timed sport--so at first I didn't that statement. But then it was explained to me that the races are so close and separated by hundredths of a second and the public doesn't understand where a race is won or lost unless there is a really obvious error. Although, they do like to see a good crash. So racing is even trying new things like head-to-head slalom to get the public interested.


That was a totally disjointed post, but I wanted to take the time to respond.

post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 

It's refreshing to hear from someone who understands the recent history of judging. Your post is right on. The Racing and Big Mountain forum is as close as Epic Ski gets to a forum about judging. Ambiguities about judging also extend to Big Mountain comps. The emphasis there is resisting a drift toward aerial tricks taking over as a major category. It's still a minor category, especially with the juniors. The Tahoe Junior Freeride Series is a regional event for juniors wishing to qualify for National IFSA events. There inverted aerials are prohibited, as they should be. Although many juniors can do them 50' over a cliff, the comp. is developmental with younger kids who can't. Still, even with that rule, an occasional rag doll through the rocks occurs. So far, no real mayhem. The promoters of this event are extremely careful to keep it as safe as can be managed, and the event is only open to teams with a coach representing the athletes. Even there, however, with a bombproof scoring system, and well trained judges, the public is sometimes baffled. That time-tested progression and certification process that Aerials has doesn't exist either. I think Freeskiing and Snowboarding in general resist going that way because of the huge costs involved. Both sports already fight over the scraps of sponsorship dollars and resources of the winter sports business as it is, and forcing the older system of aerials on them would probably kill the sport. That's why they call it "Free" skiing, even though it is absolutely "not" free by any means.


Events like the Xgames came to life just because of attempts to "over-regulate" it by big sanctioning bodies like FIS and the IOC. When snowboarding first was admitted to the Olympics in halfpipe, the whole deal was almost sunk by the industry refusing to go along with the IOC's attempts to over-regulate it. Thanks to a desire for some of the pie being served up to snowboarding by big money sponsors of events like Xgames, and more popular viewership, an ever-changing "deal" has been worked out. It's a tight-rope walk between over-regulation, and a free for all.


You are so right about the huge struggle freeskiing has had to fight to get skier pipe and skier slopestyle into the Olympics. Even though snowboarding paved the way for freeskiing to be an Olympic Sport, both sports now compete against each other for resources and sponsorship dollars. Even after 25 years, there is still pushback from snowboarding about being excluded from the ski industry when snowboarding was new. There are a lot of snowboard only events and promotions still, as well as skier only events. Even at the grass-roots level, I see snowboard only privileges granted to the snowboard division of national groups like USASA. There are quite a few organizers of these events that fight for equality, but not everyone. Burton is a prime example of a company that to this day refuses to provide a penny for the skiers. Too bad too, because the Freeskiing kids love their stuff.


Sorry to bounce around on this post (It's "Free" skiing you know.) Thanks for the tip on the "Who killed Freeskiing" book, but you should try the Netflix movie, "Ready to Fly", the Lindsy Van Story about the struggles of women's ski jumping getting a place at the Olympic table. Talk about a struggle. Freeskiing & snowboarding had it rough too. I hope to see a Netflix movie on the "Sahah Burke Story" too. Without that lady's efforts, Freeskiing would still be fighting that fight.


Now that Freeskiing is finally in the Olympics, it's time to polish up the rules and educate the public about the specifics of the judging system, & also strengthen the whole system. That's going to cost some bucks, too, but I feel an educated public is an interested public. Interested = more $$ for sponsors. That's the gas that televised sports runs on. Look how popular baseball & football are. The public is so educated about the rules, any bad calls could cause a riot, giving rise to the video Instant replay. Could you imagine using Instant replay in Freeskiing events, to protest bad calls? I often videotape my son's competitions, and sometimes review the HD video when I feel he's been robbed. I've discovered some shocking stuff through detailed video analysis. That is one of the reasons I question the viability of Overall impression and the weight it should be given in the judging formula. To their credit, however, most of the time, the video reveals details that the judges eye picked up, but the public did not. I think coaches have an obligation to teach their kids the "Jedi Mind Trick" if Overall Impression is to remain a major judging criteria. It's part of the game, if not too big a part. Ignorance is still bliss when it comes to using video to be an arm chair judge, at least at the kid level. As the kids become teenagers, you can see them getting burnout when they don't get judged fairly.

post #14 of 31

The trend from "free" towards standardized, especially with bumps changed the nature of the event to more of a timed/speed scoring instead of style scored event.  They needed seeded bumps and pre-fab airs to more easily compare the different competitors.  It was much harder when we/they had a whole wide trail of natural features to work with.  I never skied seeded bumps in any of my USSA meets... up through spring of 1982.  I kind if wish they went back to natural because it is more fun to watch, but admit that is a nightmare to judge objectively.

post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 

Just read that article by Geoff Stump. Well done! I love the photos, especially the Wayne Wong photo. Makes me want to sponsor an "Old School" Hot Dog contest, complete with drunk judges & bikini clad cheerleaders. Seeing Henrick Harlaut's photo in there is "classic". Henrik is the perfect example of a "rat" that can't be gotten rid of. Even after the Olympic judges down-scored him for a "Wardrobe Malfunction" in the slopestyle in Socchi, he just shrugged it off, and continued having fun in front of the cameras like it was nothing. He did his duty for his country and got right back to the business of promoting the "free" of freeskiing. I never knew "Wardrobe" was a judged criteria in Olympic Slopestyle. Harlaut is a pure ambassador of real Freeskiing. He's loved by the kids more than all the "Officials" of Olympic Sport, combined. I think that makes them all really jealous. what do you think? I'm jealous & I'm not even a judge. Who outside of Jamaica gets to have hair like that anyway?! I'm suggesting a new criteria for Olympic judges. (All judges must be minors. No grown-ups allowed. What do you think of that IOC?) I know Red Bull would sponsor it. They love the kids. Some of their whacky, well-financed events, are 100 times more fun to watch than the Olympics. Make it ok to feed Red Bull to the children & we'll have a deal. I'm sure Merck & Procter & Gamble would probably throw in some big bucks to support it.

post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 

How do they "water" those seeded bumps in winter when it's below freezing? What happens when they grow too big? Where do they store the moguls in the summertime? Seriously, though, your right. Moguls aren't really moguls anymore unless you go to "Gunbarrel" at Heavenly on a holiday. Thanks to snowboarding and shorter skis, even "real" moguls are different. We need a new event. "The US. Natural" a "real" mogul contest. Costumes not optional, like the Red Bull Slopesoakers at Copper.

post #17 of 31

I'm all for a natural mogul course competition. Right now it's so hard to see the difference between competitors in the turns and lines score since they are skiing a cookie cutter course. Put them on natural moguls and the differences would be obvious. No inverted aerials or pre-made jumps. I only competed until about 1989--never skied a seeded course.

post #18 of 31
Is there going go be Freeskiing in the Olympics in S. Korea??
post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 

So that's how they do it. Gigantic cookies, eh? Do they bake them in a gigantic oven? How do they keep them from getting soggy? Are those rocks in them, or giant chocolate chips? How, do they keep the competitors from stopping and eating them?


Sorry, just trying to keep the sport fun, & keep this thread from getting overly technical (and boring like skiing will become if we don't keep it "free".)


As far as Freeskiing in Seoul goes, I think it's still in, but there was talk from the stiff-necked turds at Socchi about removing Snowboard Slopestyle because of "Safety" issues. The real reason is that the IOC and the promoters in Socchi, (probably Putin's hand-picked park crew) were getting a lot of complaints from the riders about poorly designed, dangerous jumps. The snowboarders, who won't submit to bullying, wouldn't practice on the "out of proportion" jumps until they fixed them. Punishing the snowboarders for their "insolence" may be the goal here.


As I talked about in previous posts, when snowboarding halfpipe was first introduced to the Olympics, the IOC tried to bully the snowboarders into running their event the IOC's way. They, as a group, refused to go along with it. Already having the Xgames & other snowboarding events, which were kicking the Olympics ass in terms of advertising $$, and viewership, the boarders held their ground, thank god. Freeskiing owes snowboarding a great deal of gratitude for standing up for the "free" part of both sports.


Of course now, egos are getting in the way again, and nasty, dirty tricks, like exposing the IOC and greedy promoters to the truth, is causing a lot of ego damage. Revenge is always on the table with these folks. Luckily, the IOC, USSA, USASA,  have a growing number of younger, more-open minded board members, athletes, and parents, reminding the "dinosaurs" that the very survival of these sports as marketable viewing venues depends on keeping them free.


I feel that blaming the snowboarders for "safety" issues in Socchi is just typical, and a smoke-screen to the real problem of "screwing the pooch" on picking the best park crew for the job in Socchi. I feel that the whole "Shaun White withdrawal debacle" may have had ties to the snowboarders protesting the safety of the jumps. It seemed like Shaun may have been doing some back-peddling on the reasons for the withdrawal from slope, & his final excuse may have been politically corrected to appease the IOC and his sponsors. Of course, this is all my personal speculation, and I'm sure there are many angry egomaniacs who will vigorously disagree.


If Freesking does get kicked out of the Olympics, it will be a seriously foolish mistake. The world has already seen how exciting of a sport it is to watch, how charismatic and "real" it's athletes are. They walk around 6 feet off the ground and light up a room when they enter. Kids flock around them like steel to a magnet the way kids flock to Michael Jordan or Glen Plake. The advertising dollars and sponsors will do the same if these "free" minded athletes leave the Olympics and the IOC knows it. It would only be a boost to the Xgames.


I predict that it's not going to happen. Even people who only understand $$ get this. It's in the best interests of everyone to hammer out the kinks and move forward. Maybe even the N. Koreans will show with a "Freeski" Team. I'll bet there are some "Sick" turns hiding behind that Iron Curtain. Anybody remember when the USSR opened up the Ural Mountains to the international ski/snowboard industry? Who out there remembers Warren Miller's "Steep n' Deep?"

post #20 of 31
Thread Starter 

Just went back to the beginning of this thread and saw that someone added a pic at the beginning of the thread showing a judge holding up a "10+". Bravo! A picture really is worth a 1000 words. I think that the debate about giving a "perfect score" to anyone, anywhere, anytime, is subject that sorely needs to be debated. It's entirely deserving of it's own thread. Anybody care to take up the challenge here?

post #21 of 31
"Freeskiing" is not pipe, park, slopestyle, and moguls. I guess will still call that Freestyle. Freeskiing is skiing mountains.

The park and pipe in Sochi was poor. I guess they got it fixed sort of. In terms of the pipe they dug up the floor too much when they built it and couldn't get it hard. Thus athletes would dig in and loose speed or worse auger in in the flor. There really should be a system whereby the athletes get input before the comp and before final training to make things acceptable. It's simply too dangerous these days. We started with a hand built half pile under 12 feet in Nagano and we're up to 22 foot walls. They are better though if made right - safer, but the tricks have gotten much more dangerous.

Some on Sochi from the Snow Park Tecnologies guy.

I don't know which is worse, IOC or FIFA.
post #22 of 31

At the moment, ski and snowboard slopestyle, half pipe, and ski cross are in. Freestyle and moguls are in. Big Air has been talked about as a demo event, but without a World Championship event, highly doubtful. Potentially team aerials could be a demo. IMO, dual moguls should be added, but I have no idea of the status.

post #23 of 31
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

"Freeskiing" is not pipe, park, slopestyle, and moguls. I guess will still call that Freestyle. Freeskiing is skiing mountains.


Actually, under the USSA and FIS definitions, freeskiing is halfpipe, slopestyle and skicross which is a sub-discipline of Freestyle.

post #24 of 31
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post


Actually, under the USSA and FIS definitions, freeskiing is halfpipe, slopestyle and skicross which is a sub-discipline of Freestyle.

IMO they could just add bumps to all that and have it all together with an overall medal added for combined best.  Aerials (in the classic form) seems to be less skiing and more gymnastics these days, but if it is still more popular than I give credit they could keep it or combine it with Big Air when adding that as it will inevitably be included pretty soon.

post #25 of 31
Thread Starter 

It's so true, Tog. "Free skiing" used to go by "Skiing pow", "Xtreme skiing" "Backcountry Skiing" or back in the day when my Dad skied on handmade wood skis, using his own personal "Nut-cracker" to attach to the 1.25" dia. hemp haul rope on the "Rope-tow", a day of skiing where you didn't have to pay. The fact that Socchi was even chosen as a venue was because of the "Wow" factor, and that Putin wanted to attract tourism to this world class tourist zone. It's where all the Politburo and Soviet "Elite" used to take their "Beach" vacations during the Cold War. It was chosen for the $$. Slushy conditions prevailed during most of the Olympics there.


As far as pipe sizes go, 24' pipes and even double pipes are appearing thanks to companies like Red Bull. Keep up!


I haven't read that article about SPT yet, but I will as soon as I finish this post. Hopefully, I won't put my foot in it. SPT has been one of the best things to happen to parks in Tahoe in a long time. Unfortunately, the newest phenomenon now is to hire SPT to design and build a park right before a big National Pro Event, sponsored and paid for by some big wig company like Sprint or Visa, & then right after the event, get the resorts 8$/hr. park guys to copy their style, & then cut the budget on SPT. Further, Heavenly then plasters their whole mountain with a million "SPT" signs everywhere, advertising that they have SPT Parks, when it really only applies to the "Pro" jumps, and those jumps are routinely bull-dozed before the park is re-opened to the public. This has led to some seriously dis-functional and dangerous parks. Heavenly & Kirkwood are severely guilty of this sort of "penny pinching". Athlete complaints and injuries are becoming a big problem because of this. Vail's response to this is to blame the public and order that there be no jumps in their parks bigger than 30'. You would think that a park like this would be a perfect "safe" place for accountants, lawyers, & their kids to practice, but, sadly, a poorly designed 29' jump is even more dangerous than a well designed 45' jump, as it presents a false sense of security to the "blind-eyed" bozo. What Vail is basically saying about pro athletes and hopeful young amateurs is, "Go away and train somewhere else! Don't come back until you've made the US. Ski Team, & then we'll build you a great jump, using the SPT guys." (As long as Sprint pays for it, that is.)


There's even an article out there somewhere, that talks about the safety of 18' vs. 22' halfpipes, and claims that a well-designed 22' pipe is safer than an 18' one, for several reasons. Their theories are supported by injury statistics as well as the opinions of reputable athletes. I can't find it right now, however. Anybody got a link to that article? I'm going to go read the "SPT" article & see if any of my points are supported there.

post #26 of 31
Thread Starter 

USSA and USASA both have an overall category in their National Championships. I'm not sure about USASA, but I think USSA just added Big Air to the "Overall" category, which includes pipe, slope, and X events, in both snowboarding and skiing. USASA also has slalom & GS, but only for the boarders. "Banked Slalom" and "Rail Jam" have already been added to the USASA "Shopping list" of events too, but I think they are both stand alone events still. I could be wrong about that. Rail Jam is an extremely popular event for spectators because it is usually held in close proximity to the "Village" with all it's bars & restaurants ($$), you don't need to pay to watch, the action never stops, and the event requires stamina as well as skill because the athletes must continually hike up the hill during their "heats" (generally 20 - 45 min.) Unfortunately, the sport is still relatively young, and the judging is very "subjective".


"Big Air" is kind of a misnomer since the jump isn't a whole lot bigger than the big jumps in Slopestyle. It's different more because the judging is on one hit, and it's supposed to be judged a lot more critically than the whole "run", which also includes a "rails" section in Slopestyle.


Imagine having an overall category that included all the disciplines? They'd have to call it the "Iron Man", since it would take two weeks and a million bucks per parent to get through it all.

post #27 of 31
Thread Starter 

"Aerials" may be going that way.(A bigger "Combined" event.)  At the Olympic Training Center in Park City, UT, the newly designed "Water Ramps" complex, which is being re-built as we speak, a Slopestyle jump sits right next to all the traditional "Aerials" jumps. Thanks to the forward thinking and generous donors, Slopestyle is most likely "Here to stay" concerning Olympic venues. Check out the conceptual design at the Squaw Free or Olympic Training Center's website.

post #28 of 31

Personally, I don't think aerials is on the way out. The improved aerials facility at Utah Olympic Park is going to be impressive. Project BIG AIR includes seven sport-specific ramps for aerials (3), moguls, freesking, snowboarding, and big air. This photo was posted earlier this week


post #29 of 31

I miss some type of combined or overall event.


The overall title for freestyle is more mathematical than anything else. I hate to use the word meaningless; however, comparing the top AE, MO, SX, HP, and SS athletes when they don't actually ever compete against each other doesn't seem right to me. Hannah Kearney knew she had locked up the crystal globe for moguls before the last competition, but the overall globe was between her and a SX athlete.


A combined event would be a logistical nightmare. Most aerials and moguls events are not even at the same location. Some of the aerials events don't even occur at a ski area--one is in the middle of Moscow and the other is in a stadium in Beijing. Based on a quick glance at FIS schedules, I think a HP/SS combined is possible. SX is all off on it's own.


I'm hoping the 2019 World Championships in Utah will be as good for freestyle/freeskiing and snowboarding as the 2015 World Championships in Beaver Creek is for racing. I wish some type of Big Mountain


"The innovative bid featured a partnership of three resorts – Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort – for an event that is expected to attract the very best skiers and snowboarders in the world for a minimum of 12 competitions over 10 days in February, 2019.

The event will bring together the traditional freestyle skiing events of moguls and aerials (Deer Valley) with halfpipe, slopestyle and big air skiing and snowboarding (Park City) plus skicross and snowboardcross (Canyons)."





To go off on another tangent, Rule 40 is hurting individual athletes at the Olympics. Rule 40 prohibits athletes from using their names or likenesses for advertising during a nearly month long period around the games. For example, unless Red Bull sponsors the the whole national team, an athlete cannot promote the sponsor at the games. It will be interesting to see if this gets overturned this summer.

post #30 of 31
Thread Starter 

Impressive photo. The Water Ramps are coming along. I was there in Apr. & it was still just a bunch of re-bar sticking out of the ground. Looks like it will be ready by 4th of July. Round up your boys & girls, & don't forget the sunscreen & towels!

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