Wow! I just checked the stats and you are correct cinciracer! I have two questions...
#1 How did you find this?
#2 How/why did NASTAR let this happen?
"Not always fast... but always on edge!"
A friend that races with her brought it my attention as she runs in one of the same series I do, but for another club.
As for why she was able to drop down, you would have to ask NASTAR.
Thanks for bringing that up, I know who you are taking about and I am not sure why she ended up in the gold division. I have been aware of her for many Nationals since we are close in age and usually race on the same course (not this year though). And she has usually been in the gold division in the past at Nationals....
Hmmm...I guess only Nastar HQ can say why. I think there is probably a good reason.
Last edited by ChiTownChick; 05-19-2011 at 07:33 PM.
This is a topic that comes up every year. I have been trying to reconcile an intelligent proposal for communication to HQ, but am struggling to find the right "solutions".
Let me start by saying this was my 11th Nationals so I am not griping after one experience. I have both won and lost my division based on my own mistakes and successes- overall this is a great event. I am going to focus on a couple of issues that became very obvious this year- some related to sandbagging, some related to qualifications, and a couple of other issues.
First, there needs to be a way to deal with the abnormally low and abnormally high handicaps that are generated through the year. A mechanism to move up or down based on what happens at Nationals. As a gold division racer on steeper terrain and longer courses that we see during the year, I typically give up 5-8 handicap points when at Nationals. I firmly believe that this is common- particularly in the 59 and under group. How then can two gold qualifiers each run a Platinum handicap on the toughest run we will face during the year? This year I felt that I was competing for 4th place- Friday we had a 9.x, a low 11 and a 12 handicap from the top 3 racers in our division. Anything under an 11 is Platinum. Then a 17.x and my 20.x. When looking at the records, qualifications were either on a single day- one a business league at Copper and the other is a Pacesetter with a Platinum handicap wearing a coat and low gold wearing a suit.
Looking at his record, he was Platinum on a standard Nastar course and gold on other "series" races. This doesn't seem right to me.
My suggestion is that qualifications should be based on the standard NASTAR hill at any mountain. If results are posted that are not on a standard NASTAR hill, your 1st day handicap at Nationals should determine your racing division. If your 1st day handicap is more than 8 percentage points below your qualifying handicap, you stay where you are.
Second, using slalom times as valid qualification for Nationals when the pacesetters have not been handicapped in a slalom is inappropriate. NASTAR was built on a modified GS and that is what it should be unless pacesetting trials are going to include a slalom component.
Third, there needs to be a way to deal with pacesetter handicap creep during the season. In most cases, the Pacesetters are competing in trials that take place on a course away from their home mountain, then they come back and pace the same course for the rest of the season.
My suggestion is create a "slope rating" (as discussed in another thread)- actually pace the hills with the travelling pacesetter at every venue. This could take a couple of years to complete, but would stabilize the results to a great extent.
Fourth, no qualifications should be allowed with a single day of racing during the season. This is not an accurate sampling of a person's ability and they could end up in a group that is either above or below their ability.
If a person has less than a national ranking, prior year's results should be taken into account when assigning a Nationals division- to include ALL prior year's results, not just those prior to the Nationals cutoff.
Fifth, I do not believe that someone with competition points on the World Cup circuit should be considered a "recreational racer" The trip to Chile should be reserved for up and coming racers that could get exposure to the US team and coaches- who knows- the next Bode or Ted or Lindsey could come from NASTAR. I also don't believe that you should be able to win the trip more than once. My best wishes to Mr. Christianson on a speedy recovery- no one wants to see a serious injury like that.
Sorry for the long post- no sour grapes here- I will be back next year. Many of my concerns will take significant effort on the part of HQ to correct, but as the costs to participate rise, so will the pressure to run a truly competitive event. Someone mentioned $1000 to compete- that may be true if you are local to the venue, but for those of us who have to travel a distance costs are much higher. $350 airfare, $800 room, $200 entry fee, $200 lift tickets, $250 rental car= $1800.
Thanks for reading! Also looking for suggestions or pitfalls I probably didn't think of.
The Nastar handicap system is an assumption, based on a presumption, layered upon a supposition.
And that's not a complaint - that's about the only way you can "compare" a racer on Wednesday night in Minnesota with a racer in California on Saturday afternoon.
As far as one-day qualifiers - some people don't get out to ski much or ski at places where there is more to do than race, or normally ski at places where there is no racing. A one-day result can be illegitimately high as well as low. As for "National" rankings - they tend to be more and more artificially high for racers who race more during a season. The ranking comes from the average of the second through fourth best days - and the "best" days are determined by the best runs on those days. So a person who races 20 days is ranked according to their three best results on their three best days of racing. This places their National handicap at the high end of their bell curve distribution. A person who races only five days gets ranked by only three days of racing which may or may not represent their natural, hypothetical "average" or mean or median.
Or maybe someone races at a Nastar course - but they are not in a league, do not wax especially for the race, or do not bring their race skies, and do not wear a race suit. Then when they go to the "Nationals" - they wear a race suit, bring race skis, wax for the event and do better than they might have been expected to do. Is that "sandbagging" or just the normal results of being someone who likes to race now and again but does not live close to a ski area and does not have the benefit of being in a league.
I've seen several people be accused of sandbagging in circumstances where, if you actually look at their history of results, they probably weren't really sandbagging. A two-day qualifier who barely gets a gold on the first day and nearly gets a gold on the second day will qualify as a silver. People will accuse him of being a sandbagger because sometimes he gets a gold. But the winners of silver are generally the kinds of people at the cusp who, on a good day, can get a gold. Of course, a ten day racing qualifier might get bumped up into gold because they had a couple lucky days. They get to Nationals and are out of their league. That same person might have qualified silver with only two days of skiing, where they may or may not have been competitive for a medal.
Of course, the cut-off point for bronze/silver/gold/platinum are also "arbitrary". I understand that they intend for the divisions to represent a certain percentile range of skiing ability, but that can fluctuate with the ability of the zero par racer each year. If the cutoff from silver to gold were one number higher in my age group, I might be racing in gold. If I had a couple lucky days in my racing days this year, I might have raced gold. Whatcha gonna do?
There are people who get ranked as platinum skiers who have no business as platinum skiers - either because of where they race, who their pacesetters are, or skiing so often that they get ranked artificially high according to their best possible scores during the year. A guy in my age group two years ago was platinum. Last year he raced silver and medalled. This year, he was not at the championships, but his results show that he was silver this year. So, did he sandbag last year to medal? Or was his platinum effort two years ago a lucky fluke? I dunno. You be the judge.
It's a system. You only really get to see how you do when you show up at a large event and race against people who are at least hypothetically similar to you in ability and age.
If I raced the World Cup circuit from time to time and did not have a guarantee of having my training trip to Chile paid in full - I would probably come to Nastar too. I always imagined that the prize was there to lure better skiers. I'm surprised that it hasn't lured more, better, up-and-coming skiers.
For my part, I think the entire event would be slightly more fun without all of the second guessing and grumbling that I hear at the event, although that does provide an element of entertainment that cannot be ignored.