To say that the 2014 BigDawg finals did not happen as planned would be an understatement. Until the last paring of the final 4, it was perhaps the most enjoyable webcast I have ever seen. Kudos to the great guys at WebCast-TV.
After a morning on the phone with officials, skiers, and spectators, I understand the details of last night’s BigDawg final as follows:
It was pretty dark, and visibility was a factor.
Another factor is that the officials were asked to keep things moving for the WebCast and spectators on site.
The pairing was Miller vs. Rogers. They both ran opening passes.
When it was Miller’s turn to run 39, he ran it without issue.
As Rogers was getting ready to make his deep water start and head down the lake for his 39, a VW Jetta was driving along the berm between the lakes. On the bumpy road the car’s headlights were essentially creating a strobe effect. The bouncing headlights were reported by one source to be bad enough to distract the boat driver and impact the boat path. Others on site strongly disagree that the distraction was no more than the other skiers encountered.
Because of the light distraction (or not), Rogers did not run 39 and immediately requested a re-ride. While the judges were being polled, the boat with Miller brought him back to the dock. By this point, the clock was ticking, and time was an issue.
When the decision was made to grant Rogers a re-ride, Miller requested a warm up pass. The fact was, that after Miller ran 39, he had to wait for Rogers to request the re-ride, then for the re-ride to be granted, and finally for Rogers’ second attempt at 39. This means that Miller was waiting longer than he would have preferred between his 39 and 41 passes. Because it was believed by the officials that all of this happened within the 10 minutes allocated by the rulebook, Miller’s request for a warmup pass before his attempt at 41 was denied.
Rogers ran his re-ride attempt at 39.
Miller then ran 1 at 41.
Rogers then ran 1.5 @ 41.
At this point, a faction of the skiers on site felt that Rogers had been given an unfair advantage and protested in mass. They asserted that Rogers should not have been granted a re-ride to start with, and that because Miller had to wait so long between his 39 and 41, he had a potential disadvantage. The result of the mass protest was an hour delay in the event. Spectators on shore walked away, and I can only imagine what happened to the webcast viewership.
An hour later, Mapple and Rogers finally went out as the final pair, and Mapple won.
In my opinion, the victory was far overshadowed by the previous round. The skiers were divided and angry, and the show became a farce. The value to sponsors was tarnished. If skiers wish for BigDawg type events to continue, they need to understand the idea of “don't bite the hand that feeds you”. At some point, the skiers have to understand that the judge’s call is final even if they disagree with it
Sources strongly disagree about how distracting the light was and/or how different it was for Rogers compared to the other skiers.
There will be rumors of conspiracies. Don’t be silly.
Some skiers assert that there is an unwritten rule about not asking for a re-ride in a Head to Head. If there is such a rule, it is “unwritten”.