Saturday, 16 April 2011

Flatland sucks? Consistency kills progression

This popped up on my twitter this afternoon, by an unknown writer/rider, mainly centred around judging in the US, but this is a worldwide problem, not just US...

Jomopro 2011 Pro Flatland Finals: Terry Adams vs Matt Wilhelm from jm on Vimeo.
"On the other side comes originality. In most cases, Originality is billed as the top criteria for judging, but how often does it REALLY count? Is a trick or link no one has ever seen more original than something original that has been done by a rider for years around the globe? Do original links still carry weight when it really counts? Are they worth doing if they are not pulled 100%? What about new links for a rider? That’s a good question that I haven’t heard an answer to."


Related link: http://flatlandsucks.tumblr.com/

22 comments:

flatmatters said...

"There are two sides to this, but first I’ll lay out the criteria that contests judge on officially. Usually what the judgements are based on are 3 things; consistency (pulling it without touching), difficulty, and originality. In the heat of judging it would seem that the criteria comes down to one thing—did the rider touch?"

The writer refers to this as The Loophole- when push comes to shove, this seems to be what counts.
There are plenty of counter arguments to everything related to this.
1) Contests are about consistency. Videos are about progression.
2) If the riders are holding back, does that make flatland boring? Tense even...
3) What is flatland about? What do people outside of the sport see?
3) If the criteria for judging, is originality, difficulty, flow? what percentages are they given at? How long in advance are the riders aware of this....
4) The battle format means a quick decision needs to be made, that is a lot of pressure. And also with flatland it is not always easy to make a quick judgement, there are a lot of subtle technical things to consider.I don't think the battle format favours tight judging decisions.

Last year at KOG, if you touched, that was the end of your run (battle)

Colin said...

Couple more...

Originality - also comes down to the judges knowledge, somebody might think something is brand new, others might know some obscure rider was doing it 10 years ago.

Consistancy - often seems riders can get away with messing up quite a bit as long as they pull a hard last link clean....

Judging - I always found it fairly easy to note , and for each rider when I was judging, and then rank them in order.
But it's a lot harder to turn that into accurate points gaps (1st place to 2nd place should be 65 to 60, or 70 to 60?) so any "combined points" judging system has to be run a lot tighter.....

Colin said...

Oops - formatting messed up a bit, should read

I always found it fairly easy to note (touches), (pulled links) and (great pulled links) for each rider when I was judging, and then rank them in order.

ortho said...

Consistency and progression are on different wavelengths, they are not at opposite ends of a scale or mutually exclusive. They're more like separate types of riding focus, along with originality, speed, flow, difficulty, etc. Thinking of the way certain video game cars/characters have a list of strengths and weaknesses in various areas of ability. In flatland there could be almost a dozen different realms of ability.

Even old original tricks are still definitely rad if they're hard and/or no one else does them. Oldness shouldn't really matter too much.

Consistency should count a little less these days at contests. Not that I think any of today's Pro's are holding back their "good stuff" for fear of losing, because that would be crazy for me to say. People are still shredding and landing wild unexpected stuff in their runs.

flatmatters said...

"Originality - also comes down to the judges knowledge, somebody might think something is brand new, others might know some obscure rider was doing it 10 years ago."

Thats it gets very tricky, without video proof, you only have to look at the modern day, I have lost count how many times I have posted a video on this blog (not my videos I might add) and people private message, "I did that first"....

flatmatters said...

"Even old original tricks are still definitely rad if they're hard and/or no one else does them. Oldness shouldn't really matter too much."

Good valid points, is a newer trick better than an older trick. An older trick has been analysed way more. Very tricky...

ortho said...

I'll just go ahead and say when I said "old original" I was referring to Terry's Katrina and Pimp Glide and a few other sig tricks. He's been doing them for years and years but they're not any less impressive today than they were X years ago, especially when done in a contest run. They'll always be bomb tricks even if they're not exactly rare to see.

Ok but if a judge were presented with a Monster Whip, Perry Doom, bike flip, Whopper to MegaSpin, or Kickflip Half Packer... well they're def gonna have to factor in a big bonus. The unexpected should be rewarded highly somehow.

flatmatters said...

Definitely agree, bomb tricks that have more risk should be awarded higher. But also bomb tricks that are "yours" and executed well even higher!

carter said...

How about having a 'hardest trick' round at the end of each battle? So each rider has a minute or so to drop their hardest stuff - touches don't matter so much. You'd get points awarded for how well your battle combos were and seperate marks for hardest trick, and they get added together.

I understand that this begs the original question of judging criteria, but I'm curious - has anyone tried something like this before?

flatmatters said...

Groundtactics finals last year in Helsinki, Martti experimented with a 5 run format, he was asking to see the riders hardest run possible at that time, 5 tries to do it, thats kind of going in that direction, giving the rider multiple tries, giving them a format where they can take a risk.

Howard said...

Who's to dter whats original and whats not ? the judges or the rider,i mean something in the riders eyes may be original but in the judges eyes it may not be,there's probably some unknown riders out there doing unthinkable combo's we will nev er get to see.

Most of todays tricks are based around tricks 20 + years old Hitchikers,Backpackers,Rolaids,Whoppers,Whiplash's etc spring to mind so variations on these incorporated into their run would that be considered original ?

Granted alot of what we see tends to get a little repetitive and seeing something different does catch the eye more ,but then there's the Brakeless verses brakes scenario should there be different classes ? as brakeless is more challenging and way harder than the added security of having a brake.

The bottom line is the judges make the desicion they are there to give a fair analysis based on an overall performance,in any sport or recreational activity judges or referee's etc are knocked for their honesty and opinion ,granted some time's it does not seem fair but we have to respect their decision regardless if we think its wrong, you cannot please everyone .

At the end of the day theirs the fun factor which is the reason why we ride in a competitive sense or recreational ,ride on flat4life :-)

flatmatters said...

As I said Howard, it gets so difficult, and also into like "I did it first" scenerio. I can see why a lot of events use the consistency factor high, its because its right there, its not subjective. The thing is, flatland is not like racing, its entirely subjective.
Also what we haven't talked about, is rider familarity, Terry's name seems to come up a lot, but then you see Terry every week in the media, so riders know his combos inside and out.

Howard said...

Totally E consistency is a key factor could'nt agree more ,what we don't want though is a rider to be judged purely on his name ,it has to be on his performance regardless if he's a big name or an unknown if a big rider has a bad run judge him on it ,if an unknown or less of a big name has a good run judge him on it.

consistency does not kill progression thats ridiculous to progress to a higher level you have to be consistent as your bike control and focus goes up to a new level so the two are combined, most riders in the comp runs do the combo's they are more comfortable with ,if they are trying a combo which they don't nail that much it would lower their overall score and dampen their run.

Video's and mixed and solo sessions and jams etc are about progression less pressure more relaxing and riders can feed off each other ,in a competitive situation that would not happen there its about winning pure and simple but in flatland its in a non pretentious way as ego's are generally not always i have to be honest but generally not that commonplace in flatland.

A mental battle with yourself not others generally that's the bottom line in any competitive flatland situation .

phil dolan said...

consistency is mastery

phil dolan said...

mastery qualifys you to progress

flatmatters said...

"consistency does not kill progression thats ridiculous to progress to a higher level you have to be consistent as your bike control and focus goes up to a new level so the two are combined, most riders in the comp runs do the combo's they are more comfortable with ,if they are trying a combo which they don't nail that much it would lower their overall score and dampen their run."

Totally agree Howard! I know when I was doing 5 in a row, at a point I found it easier to progress, and gave me basis to where I am at right now.
Phil's comment, "consistency is mastery" is also bang on.
Mastery is a form of progression, theres nothing at all easy about flatland.
What Howard was saying about names, is also a problem, and the only way around that, is to have a factual judging system, then you upset a whole load of people who care about the originality side of things as thats subjective.

jm said...

"4) The battle format means a quick decision needs to be made, that is a lot of pressure. And also with flatland it is not always easy to make a quick judgement, there are a lot of subtle technical things to consider.I don't think the battle format favours tight judging decisions."

I totally agree with Effraim on that. There is very little time to calculate or reflect on the runs. I don't really have any suggestions to make it better tho, short of having an "instant replay" type of thing and slowing down the process tremendously. Judges have a very tough job to do. Good topic!

flatmatters said...

Yes Jim! What could you do! I mean how long would you really analyse two riders riding... where does it stop?

jm said...

^exactly! I think part of the reason people sometimes gripe about results is because they are able to watch the runs on video at home or whatever and basically have waay more time to determine who they think won. It's much different from the judges perspective, I'm guessing. In the heat of a battle, there's probably almost zero time to think about it you know. The riding stops and the judges need to make a choice on the spot.

jm said...

...but yeah, I don't know where it would stop. It seems like a very slippery slope to go down. And even if judges did let's say take 30 minutes to review before anouncing placement, they would have like a totally different perspective than the crowd had in a sense. I think people would still complain lol.

flatmatters said...

One thing I seriously think would help- but would need some thought, is ear plugs, judges can easily be swayed by an announcer (bigging up one rider more than another), or by the crowd, there would need to be some system in place so they could recognise when time was up...

jm said...

^very interesting idea with the ear plugs. I wanted to add that I don't think consistency kills progression; actually the riders I know that are the most consistent are also the most progressive. However, if a rider only practices a set of contest links, there may not always be time to learn new tricks and get them dialed. I guess in that sense it may stifle new tricks, but progression takes many forms...