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New Turn Markers Brainstorm Thread

ToddLToddL Posts: 2,832 Mega Baller
So, @MarcusBrown commented "how about we change the effing turn markers into something that is safer than anything so far, AND easier to judge??!!!"

So, if you could build a better turn "ball" or "marker" what would it be? What features would it have? How would it be safer? How would it be easier to judge?
-- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.


  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,832 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    Here's my crazy idea... some sort of soft pole style of marker (not quite a swim noodle (unsafe), but similar) that is less than 25cm tall. Contains a sensor which determines when the skier passes by it crossing the outbound pane and changes a color indicator (yellow) on top to indicate 1/4 buoy, then can sense when a skier passed by on the inbound pane and changes another color (green) to indicate a 1/2 buoy score. At this point it is just a concept. Not sure how to actually accomplish this, but with sensors these days... why not!?!
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,645 Mega Baller
    @ToddL One challenge of such an approach is maintaining the direction of the sensors. However, every marker has two buddies (aka same-side markers) that can help it recalibrate as often as needed. If you are pointing at your buddies, and they at you, then you know where the 1/4 and half lines must be.

    Unfortunately, that data might not be enough because of the "don't significantly displace" rule. But maybe that goes away under this new idea anyhow.

    The biggest challenge of almost any "interesting" proposal is converting over all the existing courses!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • webbdawg99webbdawg99 Posts: 1,067 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    That's not the only thing that got whacked! I'll just say it was painful. I guess if I was skiing a shorter line, that would be a non-issue. Oh well.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    Maybe attach a transponder unit right in front of the front binding that senses where the ski goes around a magnetic object in the buoy. Some tech junkie could work on it.

    Down course video with zoom could also tell if the ski gets around or inside a buoy. From the video I saw, it appears that the majority of the ski was on a path inside the buoy line, so it should have been easy to see from a down course zoomed in camera. Top money events would need video down both buoy lines as well as down center course for boat.
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,106 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I do not know the logistics or the cost but if they can tell if a Tennis ball is in or out, that is travelling at quite a speed, can similar technology work for water skiing.

    If Only I Was Perfect

  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 184 Baller
    I understand the idea of no more technology, and I agree. So first lets state that this is wouldn't apply to C tournaments. In those cases, make a judgment call and move on. For record tournaments, instead of trying to watch the turn marker, why can't we just watch the ski? These courses are already surveyed in. It would be easy to relate the exact location of the course and all turn markers to a real world location. Then mount one of these to each ski and overlay the path onto the course on a computer. I don't know how accurate those GPS pucks are, so that could derail the idea. This would add new technology, but then could get rid of some other existing cameras and recorders.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,548 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Snow ski breakaway gates and lots of padding. We hit them at well over waterski speeds so they must be safe ;)
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    Ok, why not have a pylon mounted video camera that can be reviewed? I know it is fast in real life, but it is pretty easy to slowmo and freeze frame the pylon video for buoys.. just saying.
    This is a 41 pass of Nate from pylon mount froze at one ball. Easy to see the orange buoy on the correct side of the ski. Not all tourneys need this, just majors or "big" money events.

  • mwetskiermwetskier Posts: 1,337 Mega Baller
    um i have buddies who complain that overtons buoys used to be under $4. good luck recovering r & d money on the sensor activated led buoys.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    I am convinced that pylon video mount and review if needed is the way to go. Enough good hardware out there and not that expensive for a Region to have for the big events. You only need to review it if the judges can't determine in real time. Would have cleared up the Masters issue in a few minutes. But think it needed to be cleared up before Nate jumped in the water.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,832 Mega Baller
    LOL, @webbdawg99!

    I was thinking only 1-foot tall markers to avoid unnecessary slap risks, at least for the average skier...
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 837 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    @A_B isn't answering the original post (can we design a better buoy?) but I think he's nailed it as far as the simplest solution to judging whether the ski has gone inside or outside a ball/gate. Pylon mounts are pretty cheap, high-frame rate cameras are pretty cheap. I agree with @MattP that that less technology is better, especially at our practice lakes (re redesigned buoys), but as for as top-level tournaments, a pylon mount camera ought to be simple and way less expensive than end-course boat-path video, on a per-tournament basis.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,832 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    The fun of brainstorming is going way out there with ideas. The sensor LED idea is just that.

    I think too much tech is an issue, too. I also agree with not appropriate for C. Heck, how about not appropriate unless Pro or Cash on the line.

    But, let's keep the ideas coming. The key is to not be limited by the idea that it must be a round buoy above the water.

    The challenge was safer and easier to judge.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • kstateskierkstateskier Posts: 524 Solid Baller
    Could a drone with an HD video camera fly over each skier providing a birds eye view? Surely that could work for the 5-6 skiers in each event at a pro (money) event?
    Bradley Beach - Lone Rock Ski Club, Missouri
    2004 Malibu Response LXI, 2014 D3 Helix 66"
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    In my mind the goal is a clear visual representation of where the buoy is for skier and judging purposes with very minimal surface area at the water line to prevent skier related injuries.

    My thought is a submerged buoy 5-10" below the surface with a soft flexible stick and a smaller softball sized foam ball sitting a few inches out of the water. This allows clear visual representation of the buoy and if the skier went around it since it's not being overshadowed by the wake at the gates, glare in the course, or reflection off the water. Obviously there is still a reflection but it's displaced from the actual buoy so it's easier to distinguish. During times of the day when glare is an issue, this idea would cast a shadow making it easier to distinguish the buoy from small wind chop.

    If you hit it with your hip or leg, you'd just knock it over instead of displacing it like a normal buoy. If you run over it, you'd also only knock it over instead of it displacing your ski which is quite painful.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,832 Mega Baller
    @Waternut's idea is a good start! What if, the flexible stick was hinged such that a strike in an outbound direction would cause some indication? The logic is that an outbound strike on the marker was likely not a valid rounding of the marker, where a down course strike is likely a glancing blow while rounding it. This is hard to put into words, but I hope you are getting what I am suggesting.

    One thought is a pivot point on the "stick" which triggers an indicator when the stick is hit from an outbound direction...

    There are plenty of criticisms of this concept...
    Is an outbound strike of the marker really a missed buoy?
    With an indicator, then the marker has to be reset... so delays there.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • thompjsthompjs Posts: 542 Solid Baller
    I was TC at Utopia tournament and turned in WR application for Regina that ultimately did not pass. We had HD (expensive) camera in boat and took recording off the chip. Picture was extremely clear and focused. Judges at tournament said she cleared the buoy, IWWF didn't think so. No WR. So even with that it is often judgement call on displacement.

    They did have boat video at Masters since it was R event, but they were looking at wireless transmission that was probably 640X480 with snow interference.

    Glad I was not judging at Masters. Sounds like a tough call.

    [Deleted User]klindyWishsantangelo
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    I don't know why a video feed into an iPad or smart tablet couldnt be used in a matter of minutes by the boat judge. The boat judge would make the final call if there is non-agreement with the towers. Going for video streaming etc would just be ridiculously expensive and time consuming. You wouldnt need to keep a Brazilian gigs of data, as once a skiers score is in the books, it's done, delete after each group. Next skier.
  • bishop8950bishop8950 Posts: 1,177 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Seems line you could have a flexible and soft gate sticking up a foot max. Lightweight and safe so you could run it over but hopefully would be easy to see if you got your ski around it.

    I have skied tall noodles and got punched in the nuts a few times. No thanks!
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    I agree, higher quality video is probably the way to go for judging. With respect to safety, I've got nothing. I was under the impression that newer buoys are much softer than they used to be?

    Anyhoo, the video used to judge the masters finals was apparently wirelessly transmitted to shore and of low quality due to compression, etc. (source FWinter). Even without new hardware, wouldn't having a boat-stored copy of higher quality solve the issue?
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    @OB - I am saying give the video call to the boat judge, not pipe it up to onshore judges. The video could stay in the boat. The rules would need to change. If you can't tell from the pylon video, it goes to the skier.
    [Deleted User]AndreEd_ObermeierWish
  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,187 Crazy Baller
    You would think a video camera in the boat would be enough to make sure someone got outside of a buoy..
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    edited May 2015
    So going back to the original topic "turn markers brainstorming". I'll start out by defining the requirements as noted by others in this thread:

    Low Maintenance

    I would argue that the current buoys are functional, low maintenance, cheap, and at least safer than they used to be. So really we're trying to find something safer and more visible. Let's make a safer turn marker list which really translates to light and soft:

    Sub-surface buoy with very light floating marker (think paper thin but it needs to be resilient)
    Ultra-low density closed cell foam
    Buoys with very thin walls (i.e. Balloons)
    Clumps of feathers floating in the water

    I think the sub-surface buoy idea has some promise, but it might not be as visible, low-maintenance, or as cheap as the current solution. Although I would argue if you can move the bulk of the mass underwater away from the skier you have something that is safer and just as functional as far as the skier is concerned. Judges would likely have a hard time seeing anything so thin and light in a messy situation, but there are potentially ways to design it for better visibility such as using bright colors or making it reflective.

    So now let's make a list of visibility features for turn markers:

    High-contrast against water
    Contrast patterning so it has contrast against itself in order to detect motion

    So that's not too many, but any one of those could greatly enhance the ability of a judge to observe what is happening to the buoy, either on film or first-hand, in a messy situation. Another approach to solve the judging issue, rather than visibility, would be passive hit-detection features so that the event can be investigated after the fact using an independent metric. Of course these would need to be reset and could be a real pain in the ass. I'm only got one example for this:

    Bouys which bruise when hit (think pressure sensitive film, it exists)
    If a mechanism could be devised to ensure the buoys maintained a known-orientation with respect to the course, we would know exactly where the ski hit. We could use this to make an independent determination of where someone hit the buoy, which could go a long way to determining if they got around it. Of course, you would need to replace the buoys or films quite often. I get the feeling at 39 and 41 skiers pretty much graze the balls constantly.

    Well, I'm all out of ideas for now.
  • Ed_ObermeierEd_Obermeier Posts: 1,343 Crazy Baller
    The real world issue with all of that additional tech stuff is, as usual, the cost to the average course owner/user/maintainer as @mwetskier correctly stated above. For 99.85% of the target audience it is, as usual, a non starter due to 1) cost and 2) hassle to maintain. Impossible to ever get anywhere close to making the investment back to develop. Fun to Blue Sky but in the real world it simply ain't gonna happen. Yawn....
    Ed Obermeier - owner, EZ-Slalom Course Systems
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,242 Mega Baller
    @OB - pylon video usually shakes when the skier puts load on it. For the purpose of viewing the ski outside or inside the ball, it shouldn't be an issue.

    Sorry to not post more (I did above) on the concept of new buoys, I just think it can get done with what exists today.
    [Deleted User]Wishrawly
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 791 Crazy Baller
    Would it be feasible to use RFID. Short Radio Frequence ID devices?
    Used in supermarkets, for running biking, Crosscontry ski, etc races.

    Put one with different ID's on each side on the skier (Binding or legs)
    Put a device in the boie that detects that both was on the outside when passing the boie.
    RFID are available for different ranges. From inches to a range up to type 8 yards.
    Can cope with the speed.
    Can cost a few dollars.
    I do not know so much about the receiver but would guess in the range of 100.
    (For a short period there was a RFID in in mobile phones)

    Only problem I see is to secure that the boie do not spin around.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • 94009400 Posts: 634 Crazy Baller
    Quick review with leaning to the skier's favor, move on. Less cameras, less judges, less review time, move the show along.
  • WishWish Posts: 8,056 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited May 2015
    I know it's not on topic but @A_B seems to have the most logical idea. No reason not to have the boat judge make the final call off a durable high def iPad type device. Easy as pie to operate. Redaly available and not all that expensive. And skier knows exactly what's going on. If it's still unclear, have both driver and judge do the vid review and have them make the call. Tie goes to the skier. That way it's not all on the single judge and there is another set of eyes that never saw it to begin with. Judge gets 60 sec to review and makes a call. Skier can opt for an additional 90 sec for closer review by both driver and judge if in disagreement. That decision is final. Move on.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
    [Deleted User]Mike GileMickeyThompson
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,106 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Wish I was going to throw that in just before I read your post, I,m with you on this one, Camera in the Boat if the Judges cannot make the call from the tower, then the Boat Judge reviews the boat camera and makes the call, one person makes the call no arguments or discussion, no protest, job done.

    If Only I Was Perfect

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