Ability Based Competition......Again

I know this has been discussed a ton before, but with Nationals over and now the new World Elite Slalom I think we should discuss again. Here's my rant...

When are we going to just admit that we really do want ability based competition and acknowledge that we already have it and are doing it and just move forward all in? Don't believe we already are doing it?

College skiing already has it. Some of the bigger programs, especially in the Midwest have an A team and a B team. That is ability based. They also have a D1 and D2 Nationals, that is also ability based. OM, OW, and Masters divisions are ability based and whenever someone comes down from one of those to ski their age group in Nationals there is always a group to start complaining. The Big Dawg series and now the new World Elite series are also ability based, limiting how good you can be and still be eligible. If you are too good, you can't ski.

So Why not just switch to ability based for all divisions? I have heard the past arguments that nobody wants to say they are the best skier that can't run 35 off (or similar). Are these same skiers OK to say they are the best skier between the ages of 35 and 44, knowing that a person that is a couple years older is skiing the same speed on the same course but somehow not competing with them?

If you want to grow the sport, then start ability based competitions. It is pretty hard to convince someone to start skiing competitions in their 30s or 40s or 50s knowing they are 20 years or more behind most of the other skiers that have been doing this since they were a kid. The only skiers that can walk into tournament skiing and be competitive are very young kids. Winning isn't what it is about, but the point of competing is to be competitive. Yes, there are grass roots events. So someone can compete in ability based until they are good enough to run the course and then back to competing against someone running 38 off.

What is holding us back? What am I missing?


  • jcampjcamp Posts: 961 Mega Baller
    edited September 2020
    Organizers can (and some do) hold ability-based tournaments now. But the vast majority are not. Maybe it's a case of the market has already spoken.

    Hold your own ability-based tournament. If people love it it will inspire more of them and eventually the market will speak again.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,054 Mega Baller
    At least inside MY head, there is a HUGE difference between well-defined "peer" divisions such as age, gender, or region, compared to ability-based divisions. Being equal to the people who are at my ability level is tautological. How can I feel that is any accomplishment at all? Being equal to others of my age who have also worked hard is an actual achievement.

    There are plenty of reasons that ability-based divisions can make sense, but I definitely cannot agree that they are "the same" as other types of divisions.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    @Than_Bogan with a PB of 1 at 39 I assume you are already able to be competitive in any event you enter. Even if there was an ability based competition you would likely be in the top division or close to it. So it probably wouldn't change your situation. The bigger impact would be skiers that are running the course but not anywhere near the top of their division. Would it increase their desire to compete? I dont know.
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 961 Mega Baller
    The INT League isn't exactly killing it (or still around) these days ...
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,834 Mega Baller
    @horton - nice work on @Than_Bogan 's panda, I had to look up that definition :

    Definition of tautology
    1a: needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word
    Rhetorical repetition, tautology ('always and for ever'), banal metaphor, and short paragraphs are part of the jargon.
    — Philip Howard
    b: an instance of such repetition
    The phrase "a beginner who has just started" is a tautology
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
    Trickle down tournament structure. That's why. Whatever is done at Nationals is what will be done at Regionals, and then at State. Then local tournaments all want to prepare for those. In some areas with a handful of elite skiers, a lot of tournaments are run as L for world rankings lists. That's why there is so much resistance to ability based.

    I guarantee that if Nationals was structured with any portion of ability based (D1/D2, or Advanced/Standard/Beginner) format, it would trickle down.

    Side note: I know other sports have the Advanced/Standard/Beginner type of designations within the age groupings. Some have rules like after 3 podiums as Beginner, you are moved to Standard and same for Standard to Advanced designation. It both increases competition and still drives people upward.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • griff1008griff1008 Posts: 11 Baller
    The data is already there with every tournament. Keep the divisions the way they are, by age. If you want to crunch the score numbers differently, like; all who have an average of [email protected] 34mph regardless of age, gender, division, etc… you will effectively have an ability based ranking score list. Heck, crunch it anyway you want. All skiers that ran at least [email protected] before 12:00 noon that day or only females over the last 2 months of tournaments that ran 35. You could even crunch the data by boat or driver or site. The data is there. It’s just the way you look at it. You don’t have to change HOW we do tournaments, just how we look at the results. My 2 cents.
  • sunperchsunperch Posts: 295 Crazy Baller
    edited September 2020
    @PurdueSkier how would you structure the divisions? By line length? By speed? How would you differentiate between the -32 @32mph vs. [email protected] skier?
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,917 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @griff1008 has the right idea. We can and do ability based stuff all the time. The challenge is there is no “easy” way to setup a tournament with the scoring tools. It can be done and there are lots of options but it’s not “click and run”. I think a good step is to setup a few “common” options and make it easier to use as a tournament sponsor/scorer.

    We have a lot of creative people. Who love to build in competition into an event and that can look different to different groups.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    Good discussions. @jcamp you might be right, but I would agree with @ToddL that the organization needs to change how we run and structure the major tournaments and then local tournaments will follow. I don't know what happened with INT or how many of those skiers came to USAW or did both. I skied a few of those when they were around and enjoyed them. They were more focused on wakeboarding it seemed.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,468 Mega Baller
    Could you get an AWSA score in an INT event? If not, I suspect that is why it was not as popular. I think the skiers still want an official score under the official AWSA rules, but would also like some competitive options for placement while obtaining that homologated score.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    @griff1008 and @klindy if you guys are talking about the ranking list, then I agree. Anyone can sort the data however they want. I believe if we want to grow competitive skiing, we need to grow the actual tournaments; local, regional, and nationals. For the majority of the skiers who aren't at the top of the list, I don't think the ranking list means much. We should focus on the tournaments themselves. Create more competition at the tournaments. @sunperch we already have that solution. With zero ball scoring, all the divisions are compared at the same base scoring. So I wouldn't divide it based on speed or line length, but on total buoy count instead.
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,917 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @PurdueSkier im talking about how a tournament is organized and run. The scoring system is setup to score an event with the goal to post a score on the ranking list. You certainly can setup groups and teams and all sorts of other options that allow you to score any tournament as an ability based tournament. But you have to basically roll your own using the options in the software. What jm suggesting is a few “click and go” options that can pre group or setup things in a more semi automated way. Help guide the setup.

    The score will still be the score, it’ll post to the ranking list and nothing will change there. But the tournament results (locally) can reflect however the tournament was actually run.

    Again, to be clear, this can be done today! It’s just not as easy as it might be to help facilitate the effort.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    @klindy that sounds good. What about state regional and nationals? Can those or should those be run under an ability based format?
  • Keith_MenardKeith_Menard Posts: 816 Mega Baller
    Maybe I am over simplifying it, but I can't see why we can't have a golf tournament like structure. Look majors are majors...the big dogs show up and show us mortals how it's done...other tournaments you have a handicapped division...
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 3,004 Mega Baller
    The rankings list data is not easy to obtain. You have to search it by age division, then manually copy and paste into Excel, then clean it up dealing with random merged cells etc., then add a column to indicate which age division those pasted rows. You have to do this for each of the roughly 30 age groups.

    The rankings list database needs an export all to CSV file button. Then, that information can be used to establish ability based formats and handicaps. Heck, nearly every data element in AWSA needs the export all to CSV file button.

    Current Microsoft Excel products have amazing data management functions which could allow for analytics that AWSA leadership only dreams of. The barrier is simply making the data available to users.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • UCFskierUCFskier Posts: 167 Baller
    host local events.... unsanctioned fun tournaments... bracket events!!
    I do not think you can change state, regionals, or nationals as this is were the best of each division go to compete to better their standings. Pro events really create that separation you are talking about...
    !!!Support companies that support the protection of youth in Waterskiing!!!
  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    I still struggle to understand a single negative of an ability based format. I am not talking about an individual tournament. I know those can be done as fun tournaments. I am talking about the usa structure.
  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 211 Baller
    @markn I appreciate your dedication and success but would a different structure made that worse? All the top skiers would still be there to motivate you. For those who dont want different divisions then why have any? We have zero ball scoring. Why not let everyone ski whatever speed they want and have one division. Seems we are half in and half out.
  • UCFskierUCFskier Posts: 167 Baller
    I think it is set up that way now! the divisions imply some acknowledgement of ability. Jr. Boys and Jr. Girls are not competing against the best males or females in the world. they compete against individuals of a similar age/ability (to an extent) similar size, age, strength, etc.

    as well us old guys do not compete against the best males and females in the world. We compete against individuals of a similar age/ability (to an extent) similar size, age, strength, similar beer belly etc. in any sport there are the outliers which is cool to see
    !!!Support companies that support the protection of youth in Waterskiing!!!
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 961 Mega Baller
    @PurdueSkier here is one negative: you don't know if they will actually fix the problem you are trying to fix. And all previous attempts have either failed (INT) or not really gotten any traction (Class F).

    Again, go start your own tournaments. If they are better, that model will win out. For now the regular format is the overwhelming choice of skiers and organizers.
  • marknmarkn Posts: 529 Mega Baller
    I could be wrong, and perhaps I am showing my age, but could this be a result of the "everyone gets a trophy generation"? Just an I.U., grad and hoosier, but just sayin'....
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,917 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited September 2020
    @PurdueSkier YOU CAN DO ABILITY BASED TOURNAMENTS NOW! But it requires some thinking and setup. The scores will simply apply to the ranking list as they do today.

    By definition the competition happens on site locally. That’s where the idea “wins or loses”. One of the challenges of an organization wide system is it would likely need to be pretty rigid or static (e.g. - one or two variations). However anything would work locally - straight ability based, handicaps, age/ability, teams, etc.

    That said, again, a score is a score. So once the actual score is posted to a skiers database, that same database can be sliced/diced or sorted anyway at all. So run the local tournament anyway you want and we’ll go from there.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board

  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,332 Mega Baller
    @klindy while I agree but unless it comes from the top down or there is an ability based Nationals it will never really take off.
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,522 Mega Baller
    1. lets overlay the existing regional and national tournaments with a handicap event. there is no need for a rule change to implement this.
    3. Each event (maybe not all) ( maybe you set a cut off like there has to be at least 10 participants in the division) has the regular podium based on raw scores of course. Then there is a handicap podium. We can debate different handicap methods but that would be phase 2 of the project.

    The result hopefully would be more competition. The "masses" i.e. the 80%+ of skiers who have no chance at the regular podium would have a chance to win.

    A few specific rules would have to be set up, like a minimum number of scores to qualify and some sort fo system to throw out low scores form not running you opener etc.

    The only down side is a few extra bucks for medals.
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 961 Mega Baller
    I think my best ever Nationals finish was 14th. I am much more proud of that than I ever would be being crowned the "National Never Have Run 38 off Champion."
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