Monday 20 October

0800
The webmaster walked out of the hotel this morning to find wet stuff falling from the sky, we are on a weather hold here but the forecast is for clearing skies. I know it to be true, because the chief pilot said so! So I'm going to whip out this here camera and take a walkabout....

and streeeeeeeeetch... "....okay, if I have to..."
"Hello Arizona!"
Synchronicity and Chikara

...okay, now to the inbox...some more feedback on the tunnel training topic. A reader points out these minutes from USPA'S July BOD meeting:

The Committee discussed whether competitors would be allowed to use the wind tunnel after the draw. The Committee interpreted 1-1.6:B. Once an event begins, no competitor in that event will be permitted training or fun jumps. to include wind tunnel use. Based on this interpretation the wind tunnel will not be permitted after the draw at the 2003 Nationals in Lake Wales. A motion to add the word wind tunnel to the SCM will be happen [sic] at the next meeting.

So, there you have it. I'm pretty sure someone brought this all up at the competitors' briefing, while I was in here formatting team pages.

The weather looks like it's starting to break up...wait, it's sprinkling again...no wait, here comes the sun...what is this, Florida? ... ;-)

...I was up VERY LATE last night making those steaming videos (here  and here and here and here) for you guys, so I better be seeing something in the inbox besides all those Viagra pitches... no thanks, I already got some Vicodin...

...during this little weather hold, and last night while making those steaming videos, I had a better look at Airspeed's round 5. I don't agree with the score; the video was flat after exit, and they got scored "- J 0" for the first three formations. I just don't understand how the second scoring formation can be a "J" and the third a "0." I think we need to get rid of the "J" concept altogether. If it's the team's responsibility to show all the scoring formations and inters to the judges, what difference does the camera angle make? The judges can either see it or they can't, and a video angle can hide a grip whether it's 5 degrees off vertical or 90 degrees off vertical. You can see it or you can't. Why separate the blame with "J" and "0"? To make the problem worse, you'll see some judges pushing a J and some a 0 and you wind up with a score that doesn't collate, even though all the judges can't see the formation or inter. My bottom line: Where exactly does a "J" turn into a "0"? Is it a certain amount of time after the exit, or is it a certain angle off of vertical? I say, we get rid of the J and have nothing but penalties, with the penalty being nothing more than the team not getting credit for the formation (with no additional penalty applied). My two cents. Anyone else?

1020
Still on a cloud hold...some nice feedback in the inbox:

Steaming videos R O C K !
I'm able to show the videos to my co-workers, and thus help explain why i spend most (all) of my time here at work keeping up with the wonderful coverage that you and ted provide. honestly, i don't know what i'd do if y'all decided to stop going to these events (maybe i should send Amy a thank you?)...

y'all ROCK!

Yes, please do send Amy a thank you! You rock too!

Okay, back outside with the camera we go...

All-Girl Teams

Above is a photo of all the all-girl 4-way teams present at these nationals. At least two of them are competing in Open class, you know, against the BIG boys!

Mr. Meet Director, Scott Smith Snoozing

Some feedback on the Js & Os discussion:

"I do agree with your opinion on the Airspeed round 5 judging. I am an actual licensed FAI judge myself and also an active 4-way competitor. I was judging the WAG in Spain in 2001, and competing at Malevsky Meet 2002 and 2003.

"I don't see even a hint, giving judges the right to set a 0 for the third formation. I also think that a bust on 17th formation is also a very doubtful one. I also think that removing the Js from the scoring is a good idea. It will be actually done starting from the year 2004, when the new rules will be applied."

Well, that's great news if we're set to get rid of that pesky "J" once and for all! Time will tell...

[T1 inserts: say what?!? 2004? What new rules?? Does the IPC FS Subcommittee have something in the works I'm not aware of? Anyone with any info on this please let me know]

1200
15 MINUTE CALL, 15 MINUTE CALL FOR 4-WAY

But first, one more from the inbox:

"hey - just wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks! You Omniskore boys are what makes competition exciting - you keep us updated, you are very knowledgeable about the subject, and the tidbits are funny and witty.... without you, following the competition just wouldn't be fun!

"thanks again - keep up the great work!"

We just *CAN'T* get enough feedback like that! Thank you!

Hey, I hear planes taking off...

1215
DOH! I hear planes landing...looks like they went up and came back down, so we're back on a weather hold...

...getting back to the J & O discussion, I was talking to one of the competitors about just making all penalties to where the teams just wouldn't get credit for the formation in question, to which the issue was brought up "what would you do if a team decided to skip an inter or formation because it would be faster and incur less penalty to skip it?" to which my reply is, just stop scoring until the team does the correct formation. So if you were to skip a formation or inter, your scoring would just stop right there. Also, eliminating the J and just having the 0 with no additional penalty would free judges up more to "call it like you see it." More on this later...

[T1 inserts: this situation is already covered by the "Omitted formation", which shows as an "X" in the score sheet, and results in the loss of an additional point. One step at a time -- let's just get rid of the J first! -T1]

...alas, more from the inbox, where -- like this weather -- the sun does not always shine:

"I do hope that you will not treat the style & accuracy team like red-headed step children again - you ignored them completely at the world meet with the lame excuse that you could not get the information. The women worked hard for the bronze medal and competed with teams whose countries BELIEVE in their sport."

*sigh*. We get this every year. Will it help to point out that Style & Accuracy doesn't even begin until THURSDAY? Can you at least wait until we are actually ignoring the classics before you trash us for it? Please pretty please? Where's my pain pills...

[T1 adds: what's this person's problem with red-headed step children?!

I feel compelled to defend our Gap coverage (the world meet the above whiner is referring to). One of the main reasons we're able to provide near-real-time coverage of the FS, CF and Artistic events is because we provide the judging systems for those events -- OmniSkore for FS/CF and Pegasus for AE. So we have hip-pocket tools like NetPost and PegPost that listen on the OmniSkore/Pegasus LAN and create web page files each time a score is created. I have immediate access to all of the results.

The style & accuracy events are not judged with my tools. Accuracy results are managed by hand, and another company's system was used for judging style in Gap. Those results might as well have been on the other side of the planet. The organizer had taken the primary task of posting coverage and results at www.mondial03.com, and I could have gone there to get results (eventually), but why bother cutting and pasting someone else's coverage?

Back to you, T2 ... /T1-out]

A question from the gallery:

Question: What do you think about the rule of the cameraflyer also having to be female starting next year?

Uhm, I assume you're talking about World Meet women's teams? I would agree with it, but I don't believe in a separate women's event in formation skydiving, unless you completely separate the sexes, like in the NBA and tennis...

...more from the gallery (which is one bright side of bad weather):

"...the videos are great. I wish you could get all of them on the Web. Is there any chance of seeing a round from Airspeed Dragon?"

Okay, your wish is my command (I'm such a sucker)...

...okay, another quick email:

"Tim, I believe that your pain "pills" are supplied in a corked bottle marked "Shiraz". Hey, you're not judging, and it's for medicinal purposes only. Go for it! PS: I don't mind if you ignore STAC. But I understand there are 3-4 people out there who are interested in it."

Okay, but if I add Shiraz to my Vicodin, there may not be any more tidbits today! ;-)

Above: Everyone is visualizing round seven.
Below (click for big pic): The judges are getting positive reviews for their consistency here. They did a great job training before the competition.
Thank you judges!

Another email from the gallery:

"Omniskore RULES!!! and the coverage of NATIONALS has been excellent. With everything you guys do it's amazing you have time to write Tidbits. The streaming videos are great too. I'm glad you included countdown timer and judging info in the videos.

"Regarding practice in the tunnel before competition: NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS it should not be allowed to happen. It would definitely give an unfair advantage to teams that could get in the tunnel. What's to keep a well funded team from booking several hours to try and block some of the competition from getting in the tunnel. Let alone practice the draw during those several hours.

"Regarding the "J"s: I like the idea of getting rid of them. No credit if you can't see all the grips. I like the idea you mentioned about stopping the scoring on a team if they decide to drop a formation or inter for the sake of speed. That would keep everyone on the up-and-up. Plus it's one less button for the judges to worry about.

"Thanks and keep up the great work!!!"

Okay, it's obvious now that Omniskore does indeed rock, and it's pretty official that wind tunnels are strictly verboten during competition, and pretty much everyone I've talked to agrees that the "J" needs to be tossed in the can.

What? More email? Well okay then:

"I greatly appreciate your coverage of nationals, it's nice to be able to keep up with what's going on over there since I can't be there to watch. Especially like your humorous take on it all in your tidbits.....but what's up with not mentioning a single team in Open besides the 3 that are always there? Okay, all I really want is a mention of how much the Perris School Boys are kicking butt for being a last minute team. :) Just a loyal fan trying to get them some recognition....thanks!"

Indeed, I am guilty of not talking enough about other teams, and I really wish I had time to mingle among them and get the inside talk. I do say it sure is interesting to watch Dan BC and Jack Jefferies competing, and neither one of them is on Airspeed! Also, I need to emphasize, we are more than happy to publish tidbits from competitors who read these pages - send them to us! We are also actively looking for an AE competitor to write some bits in that department, anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Where's Boel when we need her...

[T1 sits in again ...

For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, my loyal sidekick and OmniWebmaster, T2, is the primary author of these 'Bits -- I toss something in now and then when I catch him away from his keyboard. So if you have specific feedback on Tidbits content or corrections, please e-mail them to him with cc to me (so I can crack the whip when necessary).

Did someone have another comment about whether there should be an all-female FS category in addition to the open/"Co-ed" variety? My response: Any development that increases the number of women in our sport in general, and at competitions in particular, has my unqualified support! I understand the arguments on both sides, but we need the extra participation and media attention that comes with having the female category, and that's enough for me ... T1 out]

1600
The weather problem has been a persistent layer of clouds that just won't clear up. The weather is not bad enough to call it a day but not good enough to jump. So, let's go to some more email about Js and 0s. A reader contributes this dissent:

"I think the "J" verses a "0" serves a useful purpose when used correctly, and should be retained.

"A "0" should mean that the team, in the opinion of the judges, did not complete a formation. Based on the video evidence submitted to the judges, the prescribed sequence was not performed correctly. A "J" should mean that the formation may or may not have been performed correctly, the judges just cannot determine which it is in view of the available video evidence.

"When the team reviews the video, they are in a better position to determine the basis for the judges ruling if the judges use both a "J" and a "0" to indicate why they scored the jump the way they did. I also think that the scoring should provide different consequences based on whether it is a "J" or a "0".

"Here is a hypothetical that may be worth discussing. Say that a team has a second camera-person accompany them, for example, to shoot video for another purpose. In this hypothetical, say that the team's videographer has his or her lens fog up near the end of the jump, and the last few formations receive a "J" because the video is not judgeable. But the second camera-person obtained video that shows the remainder of the jump, and it can be scored. In addition, the team is in contention for the gold metal and this could make the difference between winning and losing. Should the rules allow video evidence from any source to be submitted to resolve a "J"? "

Any replies from the gallery? I might come up with one later. Right now, someone just saw a sliver of blue sky and we're on a 15 minute call again...

It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it......I'm getting requests for more steaming videos of specific teams...I'll do what I can, but your odds of getting your team go WAY WAY UP when a bottle of wine is delivered to the DZTV room...

1700
We be jumpin'! Round 7 under way...

...and Airspeed Vertical is up first for the Big Three, and they're off to the races, their hauling some butt here, moving with a purpose, is that freeze frame in time? 21, or 22? Come on, post it...they're going to watch it again...and again...and it's...wow, three judges pushed a button for the 22nd scoring formation, but one of them was an I, so it's a 21, how about them oranges...that was a sweet looking skydive...

...okay, here's an email reply from the J/0 dissent above:

That was such a lame argument to keep the J's. I can't believe you even posted it. Come on, he couldn't even spell "medal" correctly! Introducing hypotheticals like "a second camera" means simply one doesn't have a good argument. There are no second cameras, there never will be second cameras. And he doesn't address the question: at what point between flat, side-on video and perfect vertical video does it become a case of the team failing to show the formation, as the rules clearly (and always will) require, and a failure of the videographer to capture the evidence? The only resolution, of course, is to not differentiate the two: failure to show is failure to show, whether the team blew it or the videographer blew it. Lose the J's. Case closed.

Okay, Majik up now for round 7...they are having a tough time getting a start on it...another false start...another one...here we go now...nice jump, is their 21st in time? They're going to scrutinize that one too...it seems they didn't have quite a good start as Airspeed, but picked up the pace near the end...yes, it's a 21, posted...okay, now GK Gold is up...a couple of minor glitches in there, a 19 if it stands...and it does, and BAM we got a tie between Majik and GK Gold with three jumps left! GK Gold looked sharp but for a couple of bipole > bipoles that didn't seem quite as snappy...

...it sounds like they are going to jump round 8 for the Open class and release everyone else after their round 7 score has been posted...

1900
4-Way Open round 8 is now under the gun, and Majik just fired a 19 clean, pretty nice jump. Dang I never get tired of watching Graham's video work, it's so steep and smooth...Airspeed Dragon is looking sharp on this jump, a 17...Airspeed Vertical is up now, a very crisp and fast jump, except they had one brain-lock that may have cost them their 20th point...damn those were some sweet sidebody donuts > sideflake donuts...yep, that's a 19 to match Majik's score...wow, Synchronicity just posted a 15 on that jump, that was a dang nice jump...GK Gold up now...good start...nice but a couple of little glitches, if they get that last freeze frame it's a 19 to keep the tie...this is gonna be CLOSE....wow, they got the 19th, but the 15th formation is busted, so Majik takes a two-point lead into the final two rounds!

Well, that was an exciting end to a long day of mostly watching the clouds go by. I just took the liberty of reviewing the bust on GKG, and I think the judges made the right call. The Knights might have had a frame or two of separation -- maybe -- but sure didn't show it to the judges, as is their job. It was very close.

Folks, I thank you all for the (mostly) great email, and I'm wont to stay and make some steaming videos for you, but that will have to wait until tomorrow as T1 and I are ducking out for a much-needed meal of dead raw fish and rice wine. Thank you very much for watching and see you tomorrow for a (hopefully) a great finish to this 4-way!

T2 & T1

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Ted "T1" Wagner, Chief Engineer | Tim "T2" Wagner, Webmaster