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Did You Know...

... that the finish-line is the end of a competition?

Blue Skies Mag: TURNING POINTS in May
posted May 23rd, 2018 - It was 2013 the last time I touched a very sensitive nerve in Formation Skydiving competition: the FAI/IPC rules for my beloved sport.

I always try not to be too critical, as I really love the sport and its community, and often I just swallow a few times and move on without saying anything. On the other hand, my German roots, I guess, make it very difficult for me to keep my mouth shut when there is something controversial that I should contribute to a discussion.

However, I have come to the point again where I cannot keep my mouth shut and it is the same topic, the rules. For several years, I have given our sanctioning organization, the International Parachuting Commission (IPC) of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), credit for leaving the rules untouched, as they were good and working well. Then I recently felt like picking up the topic again when suggestions for new dive pool changes came to my attention (Turning Points: Slippery Road).

I am still hoping that the rules - and the dive pool as part of them - will not change, as I support continuity and consistency if there is no major problem. And there is nothing wrong with the current dive pool.

Tie-breaking procedure for gold in 2013

TURNING POINTS: Tie-Breaking Drama - Forward into the Past

Unfortunately, there is another issue that seemed to be already resolved. Just as the lawmakers in our sport seem to have agreed that consistent and reliable rules are beneficial for a sport (as for any administration), while they fix things when they need to be fixed, which happened last time after the FAI World Cup 2013 in Banja Luka.

It was the tie-breaking procedure that was flawed and it came to the surface when the athletic outcome of the 4-way Women's competition was questioned:

"Several participants questioned whether the score for Round 2 was the proper and fair factor to break the tie between the two teams in Banja Luka - and for any other competition. The jump-off itself as the first level of the tie-breaking procedure was never in doubt and is fully supported by everybody.

Of course, it adds extra spice to an exciting competition and offers another opportunity for the teams to win the battle in freefall (in the flying chamber). The main questions are behind the next level of tie-breaking, in case the teams don't do it in the jump-off round, or when the weather situation or the schedule may not allow any additional jumps."

FAI World Cup 2013
RankAAA ClassO,4,H,39,17,PL,1,G,127,10,2116,E,A,158,2,B18,5,QF,14,K,NM,C,D,1320,J,1922,11,6TotalAvg
1Aerodyne French Girls FR 212716182017172324201720320.3
2Golden Knights US 222517171918212024201720320.3
3Bodyflight Isis UK 19181714161616172116-17017.0
4Kaizen UK 16211416151415181915-16316.3
5Dubai Asaar Ladies AE 15161312151213171414-14114.1
6Seraphim UK 14141113131211131410-12512.5
7Fire SE 13141091011131615121012312.3
8Infra Red Band RU 14121312111010161411812312.3
9Team XX UK 131310101011111314--10511.7
10SolarFlakes LT 882788410106-717.1

The lawmakers (FAI/IPC) took on the issue and had it fixed with a new definition for the tie-breaking procedure and it was successfully applied a few times between 2014 and 2017. In fact, the last time the tie-breaking procedure of that time period was used was the FAI World Cup 2017 in Saarlouis where the Russian team Bubble Trouble won silver medals after applying the rules when bad weather stopped the meet short of completion. Bubble Trouble was the stronger team at the end of the meet (Round 5), the finish line in our sport, and the silver medals went to Russia.

Tie-breaking procedure for silver in 2017
It would have been different according to the tie-breaking rules of the time period before 2014. Fuzion Voltige from Canada would have won the silver with the highest score of the meet in Round 1 - which was completed several days before reaching the finish line in Saarlouis.

The FAI/IPC law makers apparently still did not like the rules they had applied since 2014, as they changed the tie-breaking procedure again at the beginning of this year. It did not catch my attention, as I did not expect a step backward in time. Only the latest tie-breaking situation at FAI's new European Indoor Championships in Norway made me wonder what was going on.

The British national team NFTO and again Russia's Bubble Trouble were tied after Round 10 and went back into the flying chamber for an extra round, and I love that. They tied their scores again and that was it for the flying part. The rules allow only one extra round and then require the application of the tie-breaking procedure.

Fine - until I found out that the winner of the silver medals was the team with the highest score in the 10-round meet. What... ??? Yes, the rules had changed again and they are identical with the ones until 2013. Forward into the past...

FAI World Cup 2017
Rank4-way WomenL,O,F,K,11C,3,713,2,G1,17,205,E,21TotalAvg
1French Weembi GirlsFR291719162310420.8
2Bubble TroubleRU23201614189118.2
3Parachute Montreal FuzionCA24201615169118.2
4No MercyPL20151013157314.6
Tie-breaking procedure for silver in 2018
Somebody told me that it was too difficult or too complicated for the judges and officials to find out who won the very last round by following the previous tie-breaking procedure of 2014 - 2017. This meant in Norway, in April 2018, that NFTO won with a score in Round 8, which was completed a day earlier.

The results of Round 9, 10 and the extra round had become irrelevant. The finish line of the competition was simply moved backward into the middle of the meet.

Don't get me wrong, please. I am completely neutral about the winner, I just love the excitement and drama of 4-way competition and I wish there were medals for everybody.

NFTO and Bubble Trouble are both winners by competing at all and only one team could have the silver medals. However, the question is still the same: Who should get the medals in such a situation?

The answer is simple to me. I suggested it five years ago and the FAI/IPC law makers obviously agreed then:

FAI European Indoor Championships 2018
Rank4-way WomenG,12,20F,16,22N,E,D,2117,L,418,14,O19,2,57,15,Q6,B,M,PK,11,98,H,J,C10,A,3TotalAvg
1Aerodyne Weembi GirlsFR25303929252733453238-32332.3
3Bubble TroubleRU172530242323243926342126526.5
4Team XSE19242924192226312427-24524.5
5No MercyPL18202420191927322323-22522.5
6Voss Vind GirlsNO15192217161619262225-19719.7
Finish-line in a bike race
"The tied teams are performing the same sequence at any time of the meet and always try to complete as many scoring formations in the 35-second working time as possible. There is always the last formation within working time for each team. That's literally the last action of the competition for all teams, including the two or more tied teams. The first team may have completed the last scoring formation at 34.78 seconds, and the other team at 34.95 seconds. The first team was obviously a little bit faster/better at the very end of the competition and would be the winner with this tie-breaking procedure."

"As usual, I like to look around at other sports instead of re-inventing wheels, or rules. Sudden Death it is called when ice-hockey teams break their tie in overtime. Everything that happened before doesn't matter any longer. The same counts for any other overtime rules in other sports (running, basketball, football, soccer, etc.). Golfers play additional holes and have to forget what happened earlier."

"The jump-off in Formation Skydiving competition follows the same rule and the same idea: The performance of a team at the jump-off point in time is the deciding factor. In other words, the better team at the last point in time should be the winner. This is not the case when the tie-breaking procedure finds the winning factor in Round 2 of a 10-round meet, which was done days earlier."

Nothing more to say, five years later...

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