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What I learned from the Mens Slalom Final at the Masters


Horton
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First what happened - as far as I can tell

• Asher went out second to last

• Asher ran 5 @ 39

• Asher was scored 4.5 @ 39

• Once back at the dock – (hundreds of yards from the judges) Asher requested a video review of his score

• When Nate started his ride the judge told him he needed 5 @ 39 to win

• Nate ran the 5 @ 39 that he was told he needed

• During Nate’s ride or soon after the judges revised Asher’s score to 5 @ 39

 

What I did not know until yesterday is the skier has an implied right to know the score needed to win. As far as I can tell this right is clearly stated for Jump but not for slalom. I am under the impression that this is generally accepted in pro slalom as true.

 

Here is the rub – the starting dock is hundreds of yards from the judges tower and there are a lot of people watching the show. (This is where @FWinter makes some comment about how if the review could be MUCH faster none of this would happen). The show must go on. It was a pickle for the judges. I do not know the exact order of events but you can see how a smooth outcome would be unlikely.

 

They could have given just Nate a re-ride for bad information but they scored both skiers at 5 @ 39 – forcing a run off. I think they did the best thing for the show. I also think that was the best solution in terms of competition. On the other hand you could say it was unfair to Nate. He won anyway but he was a risk.

 

It is all messy but I think the officials did a good job. It seems to me that the rules and the event logistics put the officials in an odd situation.

 

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@Horton Some further detail.

 

After Wills score was reviewed and he was given the score of 5@39 that retroactively tied the lead, Nate was given the option of either:

 

-a rerun in which he could go out again and beat 5@39 for the win. Will would not ski again. For some reason the judges stated that for this rerun he had to start at 38.

 

-a run off with Will for the title. Nate would go first and, unlike in any other run off, Will had to beat Nates score or he would be the loser of the tie and therefore Nate would get the title.

 

Nate initially chose the former option and was on his way to the dock until he asked if his score was protected. The judges said that it wasn't meaning that if Nate got a score of 3.5@39 or less he would end up in 4th place. Obviously Nate didn't want to risk this on the rolly water having already got the score to at least get 2nd place so he chose to take the run off. And we know what happened there.

 

But yes, if we had better video Will would have been scored correctly first time round and Nate would have turned 5@39 in the actual final and this whole situation would have been over before it began.

 

 

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I am not sure why Nate's score wouldn't have been protected. Given that he was given information that changed during his set it seems like it should have been protected.

 

I agree it would be nice to have NFL quality instant replay but given the money involved with the sport I don't think that is likely to happen particularly at a site that hosts one tournament a year.

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For slalom-Get rid of video entirely (except end course for records only). I understand the intent to try and get it right but reality is judges over ruling other judges without any better information. I believe skiers would prefer living with a few bad calls more than all these controversies.
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With this info the judging got even more weird.

Why wouldn't Nates score be protected from 4th place???

Runoff was for the win.

Why was Will punished for the judging errors???

Are they making up the rules as they go along??

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@FWinter thank you so much for giving inside informations. Looking from the webcast it is difficult to really understand what was going on. And thanks' @Horton for the review too. It is easy to have an opinion when we don't have to make THE decision in this particular case espacially a event like The Masters. But I think Nate should have known for sure the score to beat before hitting the water. If the show has to go on then they can have a show skier ready to jump on the water and do some tricks...show.....just the time for the judges to make the right call.
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You would have thought that the Chief Judge would have called the boat to tell Nate that the score of 4 1/2 is under review for a potential score of 5 for Will.

There is a rule that the gate review can only be viewed twice ( page 54 ) but it doesn't say anything about anywhere else in the course.

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This seems to be a not too uncommon happening. My solution, ski your ass off and run the full pass instead of just what u think it takes to win. I can see the point of not letting Nate run until a concrete score is in place. But, if Nate would have chosen to crush 39 off and run into 41, no questions. Maybe this is a result of the skiers just doing what it takes. Ok, crucify me now...
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Okay gt2003. You are wrong. It's a tournament with a winner and prize money. You do what it takes to win. Period.

 

Look at all the old videos from the 80's with Mapple, Cox, etc. when there was a tour. You will see a lot of stand up for whichever full buoy is needed to win. It's great to put on a show for the fans if it's reasonable to do so, but you are there to WIN. I can't even see how this is a thing.

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3 disagrees (updating to 5), wow, maybe i get my own shirt.

 

First off, if it came across that I was being negative, that wasn't my intention. I am fully aware that Nate can run 39 in his sleep and has run more 41's than anyone.

 

As @MrJones says " It's a tournament with a winner and prize money. You do what it takes to win. Period." That's exactly what i'm saying.

 

My point, agree or not, If you run a ball or two more than needed then this is a non-issue (not necessarily the full pass but a little more than needed). If you make the decision to run just 1/2 buoy more, knowing the judges may change their minds on a previous score, then you are taking the chance on this happening again. It's up to the skier to make that choice knowing what might happen.

 

The other fix is not letting Nate (or whoever) run until there is a final decision.

 

Just throwing out another point of view out there. Not taking sides one way or the other.

 

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I'm about to sound like an elitist ahole, but I hope I am also going to provide some useful insight: People without shortline experience are not aware of how much risk is involved in trying to continue. I don't care how early and ahead you seem to be, you are one tiny mistake from being in the drink. And that's before even considering the conditions.

 

So there is quite a lot of strategy and skill involved to give yourself the highest chance of running a particular score. And the way you give yourself the highest chance to get 4.5 is NOT the same as the way you give yourself the highest chance to get 6. Or said another way, the strategy with the highest chance to get 6+ actually has a lower chance of getting 4.5+. That' because more risk has to be taken early to get 6. If you need 6, that risk is clearly worth it. But you may end up with 1.5.

 

So I think it's frankly crazy to think that Nate's strategy should have been to aim for a dominant score. Lowering your chance to win for an increase in a chance to win-by-a-lot is either foolish or showboating, depending on how you look at it.

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Thanks @Than_Bogan , that's not a point of view i'll likely ever be familiar with. So, you aren't sounding anything like an elitist a-hole but just telling it how it is. I can 100% accept that.

 

Out of my own ignorance of anything shortline, is the difference between 5 and 5.5 significant (100% serious question)? I wasn't being an ass in the 1st post saying "run the pass", that was me getting carried away because I know Nate can do it. My thought was, if it's not uncommon for the judges to "re-score" 1/2 a buoy higher then maybe shoot for 1 buoy extra instead of just 1/2.

 

 

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@Edbrazil was told it has happened the last 4 out of 5 yrs at the Masters. In one case a reverse decision got reversed again. @DanE the only way I see it is they made stuff up as they went along. Maybe they had something sorta written down for "Masters" rules but was told that even in the morning athletes meeting, where rules are shared, things changed.

 

Things I learned; It's cool to get to see more slalom live and in person....but totally not worth it considering the harm this is doing to all involved.

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Judging is never perfect. But still it's weird that Masters has so many problems. Trying too hard to be perfect?

 

As both a spectator and an occasional high stakes competitor, skiing just for the win is weak. I always try to do the best I can. Sometimes due to training or physical constraints I scale back my potential but I always give 100%. Win by 1/2 buoy is cool if that's what you're worth. Really sucks if you just stop there. Or you stop because the wrong boat is pulling the event. You are out there to entertain the spectators or followers. The couple bucks of prize money in waterskiing hopefully is not keeping the stars from starvation. Pros have a bigger responsibility to stoke the show.

 

Give 100%. Always.

 

Eric

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From the starting dock on Robin Lake, can the skiers see the previous skiers pass at all? I'm pretty certain Nate had no idea the 1/2 ball was in question or he would have gone out skiing to turn 5.

How is it that he has to go out at -38, but his score is not protected? That's crap. It's one or the other. Go out for a full re-run unprotected, or a protected start at short line.

I still love that tournament, but 4 out of the last 5 years? This is not a funny joke.

Freddie won last year

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5.5 is completely different from 5. To have any chance at 5.5, you must finish the turn hard, which always brings some risk of getting 4.5 instead. At least at -35 (the shortest line that I can potentially strategize on), the major difference would be at 3. If you need a score of 5 to win, you begin to be a hair cautious at 3. If you need a score of 5.5, you have to go all out at 3 and accept the usual risk. I wouldn't be surprised if the calculus is a bit different at -39/-41.

 

Someday I'm gonna start a firestorm of a discussion about how significantly changing the scoring rules could improve skier's incentives to continue and make the sport more fun for everyone. But I gotta be up for fielding a lot of stupid questions and lecturing about game theory and ignoring the death threats. So not today :).

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Kinda off topic, but still in the realm of scoring and risk. Long ago, prior to many of you young whippersnappers, there was a system of qualifying for Nationals called EP ratings. For a real long time it required a whole buoy score. (Various obviously based on division) In order to be safe if you were just close to making it and not far beyond the needed score in ability, you got the whole buoy and stood up to avoid the possibility of falling at the buoy and scoring half. Later the scores required were changed to half buoy breaks to eliminate some of that.
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Thanks @Than_Bogan . Good input for us non shortliners. Kinda sounds like the scorers should be allowed a certain amount of time to review, make a decision and not be able to go back and change it. Then the next participant can ski. Maybe this could be enacted in the finals only?

 

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@gt2003 I think the objective of a webcast is to share the exciting part of the sport, not the waiting around part. If I wanna watch people sitting on a dock or floating at the end of a course, I'll head out to my local reservoir. (@eleeski) ,the pros stoke the sport by showing incredible athleticism in conditions that the majority of tournament skiers would miss their opener. You obviously are financially successful, but to an open skier the rare,small, amount of money matters, as does the title..

 

Video obviously does not work.lose the video

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Should the skier be notified while in the water that a challenge has been initiated and given the option to continue without knowing the score to beat or get out if the water and start the set over unprotected when the ruling in the challenge is complete? Certainly an imperfect solution but it can't be a bad idea to communicate with the skier on the water can it?
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@Drago , financially successful, meh, I can pay the bills and have a little left over for fun but I still gotta watch it! Many folks make LOTS more $ than I ever will.

 

I agree the telecast should be exciting. But, if the time limit to decide was 2 minutes or so, the commentators could maybe show the run in question in slow motion, describe what the judges are deciding and then by that time a final decision would be made. Not sure if this would be possible at the actual event. It would take a big JumboTron and I've never been to a live event so I don't know the set ups. I do think this should be limited to the finals only due to time/boredom. Maybe if its limited to the finals, no jumbo tron is needed?

 

@RazorRoss3 , I would totally agree. We'll never know what Nate's decision might have been. With your proposal, if he chooses to wait then that's OK and gives him a concrete score to beat without having to wonder if the judges will change something later. If the conditions are good and he's in the mood to rip it, he might make that decision as well. I do think its only fair that the skier be kept informed and given the final decision. Being what might be seen as "penalized" for indecisive judging isn't fair to the skier.

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@FWinter Pros are the face of waterskiing. Their behavior is carefully watched. In a niche sport, every individual effort matters and is seen.

 

In career science, pro athletes are in the same career cluster as entertainers (EdITS.net). Do your best to put on the best show.

 

Without interesting characters like @FWinter , @Detrick , @MarcusBrown and the other great pros, @Horton would be the voice of the sport! Help us!

 

Eric

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@eleeski While I agree with you that 'pro skiers' are somewhat the face of water skiing (after the Big Dogs. JOKE). However I don't see that extend to a responsibility to run more buoys than necessary. Currently there is no incentive to go further than is needed in pro events. There is only the disincentive of hitting a roller trying to do an unnecessary turn and come second when standing up and taking the full buoy would get the title or get injured.

 

Last year I made the mistake of taking the extra pass at 41 in the semi final of a pro head to head that I'd already won by running 39. I crashed really badly and broke my bindings. The end result was that I only just managed to make the final after fixing the bindings and couldn't ski for a few days in the lead up to the next big event because I'd injured myself. It was a lesson. Don't do too much in pro events, don't be a hero.

 

As for the crowd not witnessing the best possible score, is it not enough that you've seen the best skiers in the world try their best and then the last guy go out and beat them all? For me that's a show and what I used to love about pro skiing, far before I became a pro skier.

 

I agree, Nate was in good enough shape to turn 5 and get the full pass which would have stopped this whole debate but, as I proved on Saturday, it is not easy to ski there. That side of the course near the pavilion is very rolly and that's his off side turn as a righty. He's obviously easily a good enough skier to have turned it but none of us can blame him for ensuring (so far as he knew) the win with a solid 5 count instead of a potential 4.5.

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One of these days, the site owners need to get off their collective asses and really fix

the backwash situation from the far side. Plenty good site for the 1960's, 70's, but it

is obsolete now. Vertical walls over there. Lowering the water level helps a bit. But,

if they could bring in something like 110 freight car loads of sand to build the beach

circa 1960, they can bring in riprap rock or similar to stack against the walls

 

Maybe if the rolly water was exactly even for everyone, but it isn't, depending on just

minor variations in timing.

 

I have seen riprap rock do wonders at some Tour sites like the Precedent and St. Paul.

 

Expecting responses like: "Ed, tell us how you really feel."

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Watching it last night online Nate could of easily got a piece of 6 ball. I'm with @fwinter, as a skier we take risk, but to the pros its their livelihood. You gotta look at the big picture, take risks but calculated risk. I can think of a couple of pro-level skiers right away that never came back from ankle injuries. Then there's the whole concussion thing.
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Sounds like a "rule change" is in order to protect the skier as well as give them a "fair" shot, first time out.

 

Glad I could make you all come out of your shells and have a meaningful discussion...

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The expression "tournament conditions" by @Mark_Matis brings back a memory from

the past. When Wayne Grimditch was in his prime as a youngster, on the days when the

wind had kicked up and the water was rough, his dad would look out at the situation and

say something like: "Aha, tournament conditions"

Not very well known at all, but his dad was a world-class athlete in his time, as an ice

skater. Unfortunately, at the time when World War 2 broke out and Olympics were

canceled.

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Waterskiing is not a particularly dangerous sport (as evidenced by the quality of the skiing in the Big Dawgs and by the sheer numbers of older high level skiers). Avoiding an extra pass in the finals is not likely to extend your career. (Early rounds are different - but getting a preview of a critical pass might make sense - part of the game.)

 

To be sure, the competition is the show. Winning is what matters, not a couple extra buoys.

 

But your career legacy is built on the extra effort or showmanship. @FWinter has earned a good reputation as a "go for it" tough competitor - with an exceptional skillset. Maybe worth the risk in looking for that extra buoy.

 

Run the whole pass with a fist pump and the judge's opinions about that sketchy 5 ball might be influenced!

 

Eric

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Still think it's the smartest thing to do competitively, as well as considering your competition. Going out and making the statement that you're wanting them to can also be taken or interpreted the wrong way, you could see it both ways. Add to that the results look closer on paper, there's some potential marketing to that I'm sure, no one will tune in if Nate is crushing the competition this early in the season.
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I think there is a big difference between winning by a full buoy versus 1/2 and Nate crushing 39 and running well into 41 and likely running it as well. I would consider the latter showboating, the former securing a win despite sketchy judging.
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I didn't see the event this year but I was there last year under, apparently, similar circumstances. And I see both sides of the argument about skiing your best or "just enough" to win. But let's look at a few facts here...

 

In a random draw event or seeded event every single skier goes off the dock and gives it 100% to the end of their set. They're trying to set the mark as high as possible. That's true EXCEPT for the last off the dock. That's the only person that needs to get a score of "just enough". The other (sort of) exception is in head-to-head competition where there is a "last off the dock" skier in every pair. So in reality most of the day includes all-out performances.

 

I would agree with the implication that that the skier on the dock has a "right to know" what the scores were of the skiers ahead of them. If not, what's the purpose of seeding the event? So whether written or not, it makes sense to be able to know. What I believe severely lacks in every level of tournament I've been too (I've seen a lot!), is a lack of communication from the shore to boat and/or the boar to the current skier.

 

All the above comments about strategy are correct. You decide on a strategy based on what you know. Also correct is the fact that sometimes, depending on everything from technology to bathroom breaks, it may take a few minutes to complete reviews. The goal is always to make the correct call and care is generally taken to get it right.

 

So, if Nate was under the impression the call for the previous skier was 4.5 that certainly would establish a strategy in his mind. If it was 5 that likely would have caused a slightly different approach. My understanding (based on @Horton 's original post) was that the review was asked for while Nate was still on the water. Question is, what he told by the boat that the previous score was under review? I doubt it. What the boat told that the previous score was under review? I doubt that too. (But admittedly I have NO IDEA whether my assumptions are true). Even if told on the last pass that the previous score was being challenged, the strategy may have changed.

 

I'm sure there are plenty of those who say it's unfair to "get into the head" of the skier on the water and that it's best to just keep quiet. I get it. Valid point. But so is being informed of things as they unfold.

 

 

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