Age-based versus Ability-based for AWSA

MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,432 Mega Baller
Perhaps I missed the thread on this, but I am hearing that there are proposals to move from age-based grouping to ability-based grouping in AWSA. I'm not sure of all the details, but I do have some questions:

1. Does this affect all tournament levels (C, States, Regionals, Nationals, E,L,R)?
2. Would the qualification COA and ranking scoring be moved to an ability-based model or remain age group?
3. If a skier does not want to reduce speed, would they receive the full buoy count for the higher speed and rope length that they select?
4. Would that higher buoy count (at any speed) apply to their ranking average and could it be assessed against the COA for their age division, assuming the COA remains an age-based qualification score?
6. Would the ranking scores from previous age-based divisions at higher speeds still be discounted when moving to the next division with a lower speed?
7. Are there details on this proposed approach posted anywhere? I did see a spreadsheet showing ability-based groupings by buoy count, but no specific rules or examples of how it would work in tournaments.
8. How does the model deal with changes in ability (either improvement or regression)?

I am open-minded about this. However, it probably does not impact me much. I have very little chance of any meaningful placement in any venue with or without this change. If the issue of higher speed options were handled correctly, I can see some benefit there and I know other skiers who have not wanted to slow down or would like the option to occasionally ski the higher speed. Allowing some flexibility there might be appealing.

@JeffSurdej, do you have information to share?
The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.


  • ntxntx Posts: 847 Crazy Baller
    I hope this is a rumor. If you want ability base division. PLEASE go ski INT events. Leave age groups alone.
  • JeffSurdejJeffSurdej Posts: 729 Open or Level 9 Skier
    I'v been waiting for this post :) Yes I have information to share and I will respond to this post in a few hours, just need time to write it up b.c it will be a long post to provide all information leading to this idea. The truth is, right now it is so so early in the discussions of this idea and concept that I literally can not even answer any of your 8 questions. I love to get feedback but I was hoping to have a little more details before everyone started weighing in. BRB
    Midwest Justin Bieber Fan Club President
  • HortonHorton Posts: 32,345 Administrator
    I am w/ @ntx on this. I know other sports are successful with ability based but i can't get my head around it.

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  • Mateo_VargasMateo_Vargas Posts: 948 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I don't see why both can't be done. A round of age based then a round of ability based. What competitor wouldn't want 2 ways to win?
    Success is failure that just hasn't happened yet
  • JeffSurdejJeffSurdej Posts: 729 Open or Level 9 Skier
    @MISkier as I stated before its way to early to answer those questions but they are all good things to consider. It may end up being just for local events or extend into reg/nat. There would be a great deal of testing and simulating for at least a year to see if it has any merit. I did notice a few of your questions seemed more based around another topic up for proposal and that is zero based scoring which would allow any skier to shorten the line or go up in speed after making 6 buoys. Ability based divisions is separate from that. Right now there is not anything posted to review b/c it has not been finalized yet. We had a 2 hour phone call yesterday with the skier qualifications committee on this subject and the discussion was great and a lot of pros and cons were discussed. And rules meets this saturday which this topic will come up as well. I would predict that the membership will be able to see a more concrete proposal by the time the winter meetings hit this Jan, but even then the committees objective as of right now for 2017 will be to run a few formats of ability based skiing on rankings as a test, just to see how skier would rank and start to view where they would fall. And we would also like to have these test divisions as options for developing running orders at local events. So if a LOC wants to group skiers by ability we give them that quick and easy option. Note: they can do this now but it would be more beneficial to test if the formats are provided to LOC's
    Midwest Justin Bieber Fan Club President
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,818 Mega Baller
    I'm with @Mateo Vargas why not offer both... A number of amateur sports are moving to ability based. Our local baseball softball league went from age based to a ability based hybrid with expaned age group ranges.
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,818 Mega Baller
    edited October 2016
    @JeffSurdej I really liked your 2:12pm post until I got to ... "Maybe we don't make any changes... :)
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,751 Mega Baller
    Seems like Juniors should stay together.B and G1 should stick to regional competition (no nationals for that young group)
    Combining genders... I can't imagine a G3 or W1 wants to compete against /hang out on the dock with M5+
    Seems jeffs idea of < level 6(or so) would like the ability based comp., but I saw the chart, the highest level has 8 guys in it.
    I just wonder: I thought the "problem" was people don't want to spend all weekend at another lake for 2 sets. Not that they don't win.
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • Ralph LeeRalph Lee Posts: 492
    Does INT work together with AWSA? Do they compete to draw skiers from one league to another? Or is it a friendly disagreement of how tournaments should be run?
  • skisprayskispray Posts: 239 Crazy Baller
    There are other sports that provide great examples - a good one is amateur motocross. If we adopted a similar structure then we would have some broad age categories (e.g. Keep Boys 1/2 & Girls 1/2, Senior age groups with slower speeds, and Mens/Womens divisions that are going the same speeds) and then within those categories go ability based. You'd end up with something like:

    Boys 1 & Girls 1
    Boys 2 & Girls 2 (break this out into Boys 2 novice & Boys 2 expert if needed, same for girls)
    Open Men novice (Under 36 mph)
    Open Men (36 mph) 15-28 off skiers
    Open Men (36 mph) 28-35 off skiers
    Open Men (36 mph) 38 off & above skiers
    Open Women (repeat same categories as Open Men but replace 36 mph with 34 mph)
    +35 Men novice (Under 34 mph)
    +35 Men (34 mph) - 15-28 off skiers
    +35 Men (34 mph) 28-35 off skiers
    +35 Men (34 mph) 38 off & above skiers
    +35 Women (repeat same categories as +35 Men but replace 34 mph with 32 mph)
    +65 Men novice (under whatever the max speed is)
    +65 Men (max speed) 15-28 off skiers

    You get the pattern. Just continue this at whatever age breaks are appropriate. If you made the age breaks 35 years, 65 years, and 75 years then you would have 36 to 38 divisions in theory but in practice you would not have more than 25 divisions at all but the largest tournaments (regionals and nationals). Of course @JeffSurdej can probably make some improvements given the data he is looking at when designing the divisions. One thing to point out here is that you'd basically be collapsing Boys 3, Mens 1, and Mens 2 together and breaking them into ability based divisions. That's because there's no reason I can think of not to do this - if you have two 36 mph skiers who can both get into 35 off, they should be competing. It shouldn't matter if one of them is 32 and the other is 17.

    Another point is that the divisions are large enough to make sure there are multiple people in each! That means that not everyone is going to be a threat to win. For example, if you can run into 15 off at max speed and are competing with people that run into 28 off, you probably won't win. You could, but probably not. That's okay though - you don't need to have everyone have a legit shot at a win. You just need them to be able to get to the point where they could be threatening for wins in their division in a year or two. That's what hooks people into tournaments!
  • ntxntx Posts: 847 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2016
    People see the numbers of collegate skiers and wonder how do we get them to continue to partcipate? The question is why do more than 50% of the collage skiers partcipate in the first place. It has nothing to do with competition. It is 75% social. My daughter has lived on a private site her entire life. Has a older brother that is a accomplished three event skier. Skied some tournaments (less than 5) in g1/g2. From the age of ten till 17 skis once a year. Starts college, and wants to join the ski team.Why??? It is all about the social aspect.

    Jeff says the collage skier running 3 balls is intimidated by Cole Mccormick in m1. Guess what...... How will they fell when they come out and get smoked by a 7 or 8 year old. We host three tournaments a year and each has a minimum of 35 skiers. About 10 will be b1&2/g1/2. Very few run less than a full pass.

    There are systems in place that allows the host site to set up the skier groups any way they see fit. Ability groups can be done now.

    What does the winner of a ability base tournament accomplish??? Bragging rights that allow you to say that you were the best skier of 3 skiers that can't run 22 off???

    I have seen score books with as few as ten skiers. How many ability divisions do you want?

    Ability based divisions will not grow the sport. More people on the shore that moon the jumper if he lands a jump might. Good luck with that. No one wants to see my BIG white butt.
  • skisprayskispray Posts: 239 Crazy Baller
    @ntx you make some fair points but my take away from @JeffSurdej is:

    (1) AWSA membership is declining at 5% per year
    (2) Member surveys show that non-participation in tournaments is due to feelings of intimidation, presumably due to our class structure
    (3) Member surveys show that the #1 response in terms of what skiers want is ability based divisions

    If true, then we have to move to ability based divisions for the sake of the sport. I simply don't understand how anyone can see the above facts and resist trying ability based divisions.

    Yeah, they won't help with every tournament. There are plenty of tournaments that are too small for ability based divisions to matter, but there are tournaments where they would make a difference. And people that experience that difference might ski more tournaments as a result. That's growth. It doesn't help at every tournament, every city, every state, maybe not every region. But if it helps anywhere, then that is progress. Why resist that possibility?
    [Deleted User]RazorRoss3
  • ntxntx Posts: 847 Crazy Baller
    @skispray. I don't know the answer to this question....but I wonder if INT is seeing the same rate of loss of membership. I think in my area, it is nonexistent. I don't resist good change. I resist change that won't effect what it was intended to do.

    How about changes in the structure that allows the host site of nationals to to retain more money from hosting a event. Right now, I don't think we have a site for next years nationals. Lets get that long time problem fixed. Who wants to host the event next year when we have this huge new influx of ability based skiers?

    The sport will only continue to exist with skiers who have passion for it. Passion won't be developed by ability based division. You have it, or you don't.
  • sunvalleylawsunvalleylaw Posts: 1,262 Mega Baller
    In either case, I am in the lower classes. And I do intend on trying my first tournament next year. I am both old, and without cred. For me, in a sense, I think having the class I am skiing in consist of a variety of ages working on their skills rather than a bunch of old white guys sounds better to me.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,994 Mega Baller
    edited October 2016
    If you want to know why the membership rates are down, you need to ask those people who once were members and are not now. Polling current membership about decline is just 2nd-hand insight about other people's opinions/reasons.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,994 Mega Baller
    edited October 2016
    My local club has done ability group awards for years. We overlay our structure on-top of the score books. For Slalom, we would normalize buoy counts to a 34 MPH equivalent and have divisions based upon line length.
    3 to 4 passes under Max
    1 to 2 passes under Max
    Max Speed
    -28, etc.

    Just FYI - This year's experiment with junior Class C zero-based scoring messed our method up. If we adopt zero based scoring, our solution would need to re-think how to handle skiers and scores where the rope gets shorter before max speed. It would have been nice for there to be a data flag in the score books when a skier is getting credit for line shortening buoys prior to reaching max speed.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,994 Mega Baller
    Another division method:
    Juniors B/G
    Adults M/W
    Senior M/W
    by Novice/Competitive/Expert
    3 age groups by 3 ability groups by gender = 18 divisions.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,994 Mega Baller
    Another consideration -
    Please realize that the number of skiers per division is influenced by the passage of the baby boomers and the waves of boomer kids and boomer grand-kids.
    Just because M4/5 divisions are huge doesn't mean that they always will be.

    If decisions are to be made based upon skier numbers, please take several snapshots over time to get an average % of total skiers by current divisions. By using average % of total for each division, and sampling many years (1960 to present in 5 year increments?), you will control for the boomer waves' influence.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ntxntx Posts: 847 Crazy Baller
    @Mateo Vargas your comment about "two ways to win" What exactly are you winning?
    With the exception of regional and nationals, what is the prize?
  • ntxntx Posts: 847 Crazy Baller
    @John Brooks Ding. Ding. Ding. You are right SOCIAL events.
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,898 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I still don't understand what problem we are trying to fix? Are we trying to get more people to Regionals/Nationals? More members in general? Are we trying to find ways to add (reinvigorate) competition at the local level?

    Or are we trying to encourage participation across the board? Trying to make things like the 'ole days'?

    Except for some of the more innovative "leagues", handicap tournaments, and series events that have popped up, a class C or local tournament (even class E/L/R) are simply ways to improve the score used to calculate a skiers average on either the World or AWSA ranking list. They are not "competitions" per se but rather a place to ski where a set of rules are followed to post a score.

    The current system of age groups and ranking list is in fact an ability based system. We just sort by age FIRST then ability (Level 9, level 8, level 7, etc). The way we score slalom or tricks or jump is precisely the same whether we "rank" a group by ability or age. So the actual score isn't going to change. You want ability based scoring just sort the scores differently.

    OM/OW and MM/MW are ability based divisions which are a combination of groups of ages groups. Saying "Level 8 qualifies for Nationals" is an ability based threshold (adjusted by individual age groups).

    Nothing in our current system prevents ability based divisions at a local (even class E/L/R) level. You can sort skiers that way now. Nothing in our current system prevents us from putting a new face on the ranking list database to juggle up the skiers into ability based levels. Nothing in our current system prevents a site/club from putting on a handicapped tournament (except it's difficult to get unaltered averages from the ranking list). Nothing prevents setting up a league system where groups or mixed groups of skiers ski against each other over several tournaments to declare a winner or series champion, etc. All of these examples are some form of competition. However, except for the pure slalom score that hits the ranking list, nothing helps advancing to the Regionals or Nationals (maybe they shouldn't). The BOS tournament format is ability based all the way to the top - make it into the top 'half' and you ski head to head for the win. Bottom 'half' still skis but against a handicap.

    Also, nothing prevents a tournament from including Novice/Grassroots, or using just a boat judge or a 4 pass minimum. You might need to sanction as a Class F (free if also sanctioning as a class C) to do it however. Class F scores DO go on the ranking list up to level 5 assuming they are included in the scorebook AND the skiers are properly flagged as class F. All that can be done today.

    So why aren't all these things done today? First I believe that the template for a basic class C tournament is simple and well know. Alternative formats are typically home grown and require manual scoring or are some how confusing/more difficult to organize and run. Second, there are still enough skiers that attend the tournaments who are simply looking for a score to boost their ranking average. We've drifted so far away from the competitive nature of a local tournament (C/E/L) that they're just practice with an official now. Spend some effort on creating the templates (scoring ability) and leagues (developed and coming soon). Find a way to grab scores/averages out of the ranking list in such a way that some of the handicap systems can work more efficiently. Refine the NOPS system to better "equate" scores over different age groups/ability levels and events. Encourage 3-event again.

    Third, I think our published ranking list is the de facto replacement for competition. Climb the list and you can "compete" constantly. Ironically I also think it's effectively killed the competitiveness of the local tournament and I think it significantly hurts participation at the Regionals and Nationals. Why go to the "big" tournaments when you have a pretty good idea where you're going to place anyway, plus or minus. If it wasn't published, perhaps people would show up to actually compete. One idea, just post the top 10 or top 5% scores and log in to see your own score - keep the rest of the list hidden.

    Fourth, focus on the things that make starting out less intimidating. Legitimize the inner buoys by defining how to score them. Establish rules/standards around how to handle grassroots skier - mulligans, 4 pass minimums, etc. Find ways to include the entire family.

    A great friend of mine reminded me that some people are passionate about waterskiing with no competitive spirit. It takes both to be a tournament skier. We have no shortage of passionate skiers (even many who are not USAWS members). Passionate skiers want to ski as much as possible regardless of competition and, as said in a previous post, tournaments are an expensive, inefficient way to get those "practice" rounds. Competitive skiers certainly have passion for the sport but the local tournament experience has little to offer to feed that competitive bug.

    So what change are we really trying to make and, as importantly, how is it measured to know if we're succeeding? If a year today we discussed whether any change is working, how will we know?
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,898 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @John Brooks I had the fortune of being the chief judge of the Queens Cup this year. What John described is completely accurate. I think to a participant (skier and official) folks really liked it and it was exciting.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • JeffSurdejJeffSurdej Posts: 729 Open or Level 9 Skier
    @ToddL here is the survey that went out to members that did not renew in the last 5 years.
    Midwest Justin Bieber Fan Club President
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