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Thread: Sandbagging

  1. #1
    Senior Member Racer X's Avatar
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    As nationals get closer every year, the issues of sandbagging comes up, as it has once again this year.

    The only true way to prevent this is to place racers in the division they are in at the start of Nationals (or 2-3 days before) rather than the divsion you qualified in at cut off day.

    This would seem to be more fair than the way it is done now.

    I know it would be logistially more difficult for HQ, but if the problem is as big as some of you think it is, maybe it is something that HQ should address.


    JMHO
    If you win, but in so doing, lose the respect of your competitors, you've not won anything at all - Paul Elvestrom - 4 time Danish Olympic gold medalist in Sailing

  2. #2
    Senior Member ChiTownChick's Avatar
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    RacerX I agree, an ideal situation would be to have people qualify as they do now, but once the Nationals registration deadline is met Nastar HQ adjusts the divisions based on standings the last day of Nationals registration. I don't know how hard that would be but I think they probably don't know exactly how many they have in each division until that day anyway....and wouldn't start the race lists and other paperwork until then.

    That having been said I think the sandbagging issue has not been as bad since they broke the medals out into four divisions. When the bronze/silver divisions were one as the "Recreational" division and the gold/platinum divisions were one, the "Expert" division, and only two sets of medals were given out, many Expert racers tried to sandbag down into the Recreational division...particularly those in gold who knew they could not medal racing against the platinum racers. I think the "break out" rule has been a good defense against sandbagging as well.

    But there will always be shenanigans I suppose. Just for the record, I don't feel there are any sandbaggers among the active members of this Forum, we all discuss our racing honestly and are upfront about doing the best we can, even if it means we are in a division above our level for Nationals. Why bother going if you have not done your best and will not compete against racers with the same ability? Will that medal mean anything? It wouldn't to me.

    There are situations where people have injuries and medical conditions, or just get slower as they age where people drop into lower divisions. That is just natural. Or they suddenly have breakthroughs and do better, their track record all year shows they have improved and that is not sandbagging. The sandbaggers are evident when they only race one or two days and then wait for the qualification deadline to qualify with their slower resort or state handicap even though they know it won't hold up, then race right after qualifying and move into the next division up the next day of racing. Or when its blatant that they are not giving their all in league racing....against other racers they have clearly bested in the past. Then suddenly after qualifications improve by 2-3 seconds on the same course set up.

    There are also situations that look like sandbagging that are not. Two years ago at Nationals I was in the Bronze division and won the silver medal. The woman who won the gold was much better than all of us and her Nationals handicap was about 30 points lower than the rest of us in the bronze division, and better than all the women in the silver division. When I got home my friends questioned that, since she looked like she should be in the gold division. But she was honestly a bronze racer at her home resort and she honestly could only get bronze in the league she was in because the league Nastar was so much harder where she raced. She was NOT a sandbagger. Last time I checked she was still a bronze racer at that resort. Anywhere else she would probably be a gold racer. So some of it is the disparity between Nastar set ups at different resorts.

    Ok, enough from me on sandbagging. I feel bad that people who used to race at the Nationals in Park City never showed up for Steamboat. One woman I used to race with from Pennsylvania told me the last Nationals at Park City, when a woman won in the Recreational Division who was clearly a platinum racer, that she was so sick of the sandbagging she would never do Nationals again. And she has not been seen since. It didn't bother me as much because I was not a medal contender anyway, but it had a direct impact on her standings.

    CTC :neutral:

  3. #3
    Member RacerChick's Avatar
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    IMHO I liked the system of being placed in your classification at the Nastar Open based on your first run. At the Open there were only 2 divisions (Plat/Gold and Silver/Bronze) . . . I think they should use a similar system at Nationals with 4 divisions (i.e, Plat, Gold, Silver & Bronze). I think this would eliminate the sandbagging problem . . . and for those who aren't comfortable or have the opportunity to race steeper terrain, would be appropriately placed in a division.


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    IMHO I liked the system of being placed in your classification at the Nastar Open based on your first run. At the Open there were only 2 divisions (Plat/Gold and Silver/Bronze) . . . I think they should use a similar system at Nationals with 4 divisions (i.e, Plat, Gold, Silver & Bronze). I think this would eliminate the sandbagging problem . . . and for those who aren't comfortable or have the opportunity to race steeper terrain, would be appropriately placed in a division.[/b]
    Thanks RacerChick for suggesting that. It would be a great system! Then they would all race in their age category on appropriate nationals courses, but be scored in medal divisions by their actual nationals finish handicaps.

    The way it is set up now with no way go do a slope rating, or degree of difficulty rating, for each resorts course, there is too much variation all over the nation in Nastar courses and conditions. For right now, instead of sandbagging, the best way to position a racer for their true nationals category is for for them to NOT race on certain flat resort courses, and generally stay away from the easy weekend family style course sets, unless those courses are more technical setups on a steeper hill. Instead the racer must just focus on race training, lessons and clinics, racing mostly clubs, leagues, open races, mac racing, masters, ussa, etc. These would be much closer to what Nationals courses would be like, then the nationals race results would be more consistent with the other race results for the season. This is kind of the opposite of sandbagging. It is more like a golfer challenging themselves more by playing on harder private courses and staying away from the easier municipal courses where their handicaps can be falsely inflated.

    The only problem is how do you "qualify" for nationals with a system like those used at regional Open races? At the Open we just registered if we were interested. My advice is that you should have to qualify in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at a resort race in order to go on to a regional Open race, where you can then advance to nationals if you have earned a medal in your age category. You would still have to be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in one of the 4 handicapped medal categories for your age in order to qualify for nationals.

    Then of course there would have to be several more Regional Open Nastar events, which would be more work for HQ, but also more money for Nastar, to be able to give enough racers a chance to qualify and fill up the expected ranks 1400 nationals competitiors.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Racer X's Avatar
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    .......or they could just set up the courses at Nationals to more accurately reflect what NASTAR courses around the country are actually like, so a racer who earns a gold medal at Nubs Nob, Blue Knob or Wisp is going to be able to earn that same medal at Nationals.

    I'm sure I'm going to catch some flak for this, and maybe this is getting off topic, but if you really think about it, every racer (or at least the vast majority) in each class should theortically earn that same medal at nationals that they qualified in. For instance, every platinum racer should earn a platinum medal at nationals (or at least be very close) - if they don't, then that means that something is inherently flawed with the format, either at Nationals, or in the system as a whole.

    JMHO
    If you win, but in so doing, lose the respect of your competitors, you've not won anything at all - Paul Elvestrom - 4 time Danish Olympic gold medalist in Sailing

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    .......or they could just set up the courses at Nationals to more accurately reflect what NASTAR courses around the country are actually like, so a racer who earns a gold medal at Nubs Nob, Blue Knob or Wisp is going to be able to earn that same medal at Nationals.

    I'm sure I'm going to catch some flak for this, and maybe this is getting off topic, but if you really think about it, every racer (or at least the vast majority) in each class should theortically earn that same medal at nationals that they qualified in. For instance, every platinum racer should earn a platinum medal at nationals (or at least be very close) - if they don't, then that means that something is inherently flawed with the format, either at Nationals, or in the system as a whole.

    JMHO[/b]
    Another good idea! Yeah, you're right, and they do set up courses at nationals like that, but only the snowboarders courses! LOL, I think the snowboarders courses should be in the glades, just wrap a flag around certain trees so they know approx. which way to go, then put a finish wand at the bottom! Big Al would LOVE that!

  7. #7
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    Right on, RacerX.

    This is NASTAR after all, not Master's, USST, etc racing.


  8. #8
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    the cutoff date for qualifying would be arbitrary whether it was after President's day or right before the nationals if someone really wanted to sandbag

    I'm then antithesis of sandbagging - got great times and handicaps at the beginning of the season, but now can't break out of silver times no matter how hard I'm trying.

    In light of Bodeosophy, I feel my starts, turns, vision are all improving and like the way I'm skiing, even though the times and handicaps don't reflect it.

    On the lighter side, I believe I'm the first this year to wipeout catching an inside edge while skating and poling by the first flag, wiping out and taking out the next two gates - IT WAS GLORIOUS :oops: .

    I'm also ranked 1 at the resort out of 1 participant that hikes back up the Nastar course setting the Platinum time and handicap that no one else has matched or beat :grin: . Each time I get back up to the top, I reflect on my climb to see if there was anything I could have executed, and am overcome with the feeling of accomplishment, right before the guys in the start shack open the window and exclaim, "Fastest of the Day"



  9. #9
    Senior Member putterman's Avatar
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    Don't know if you saw it FuMan, but a woman did just that in the Olympics in the downhill! Can you believe it? You train your whole life to go to the Olympics to compete amoung the world's best. You prepare mentally and physically. You are in the moment. The butterflies are turning your stomach inside out. You focus... beep, beep, beep, beeeeeeeeeep.... skate, skate, skaaaaaaaaate oooooooooppppppppsssssssssssss........... Olympic dreams up in smoke, or should I say powder? I think they need to do some editing to that old footage of the Olympics when they say the agony of defeat, and insert THAT clip!
    I drink, therefore I am!
    CRU145

  10. #10
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    the cutoff date for qualifying would be arbitrary whether it was after President's day or right before the nationals if someone really wanted to sandbag

    I'm then antithesis of sandbagging - got great times and handicaps at the beginning of the season, but now can't break out of silver times no matter how hard I'm trying.

    In light of Bodeosophy, I feel my starts, turns, vision are all improving and like the way I'm skiing, even though the times and handicaps don't reflect it.

    On the lighter side, I believe I'm the first this year to wipeout catching an inside edge while skating and poling by the first flag, wiping out and taking out the next two gates - IT WAS GLORIOUS :oops: .

    I'm also ranked 1 at the resort out of 1 participant that hikes back up the Nastar course setting the Platinum time and handicap that no one else has matched or beat :grin: . Each time I get back up to the top, I reflect on my climb to see if there was anything I could have executed, and am overcome with the feeling of accomplishment, right before the guys in the start shack open the window and exclaim, "Fastest of the Day"[/b]
    Fuman, I got you beat, I hooked a ski on the first gate, so you made it further down the course than I did.



    As far as sandbagging, Nastar is far from perfect but they do a great job in allowing wanabees like me feel like we can race. Also getting the kids involved in racing is huge. Its amazing to see the smiles on kids faces at the Nationals





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