Due to the fact that so much controversy has been tossed around in Pinkbike's comments sections regarding the judging at this year’s Redbull Rampage competition, I feel the need to write this article in hopes of shedding some light on the situation. There seems to be no doubt that Kurt Sorge was the obvious winner and that Logan Bingelli and Antoine Bizet had great runs, however most of the comments suggest that Kyle Norbraten and the McCaul brothers should have been scored higher. A few things that will need to be considered before we get started:1)
I was one of four judges at the event, so what I say/write is not the view of all of the other judges or the head judge.2)
It is a judged event so there are obviously differences of opinion, to what degree I think something is hard or stylish or risky may not be to the same degree that someone else thinks is the same. If all judges agreed on everything you would only need one and not four.3)
Rampage is a very unique comp on the FMB World Tour. It was created as a true test of “big mountain freeriding” and this is the way it will always be. A major factor in big mountain riding is line choice and it weighs heavily in this event.4)
Judges' scores are tallied and averaged to give the riders a ranking. Scores determined by the early riders and their performance set up a base score from which all of the other judges' scores must be equated to determine their ranking of the riders. Yes, this can lead to issues if you do not leave room in between riders’ scores to allow for other riders to “fit in” which is sometimes why scores look “out of line.”
Last year the FMBA introduced judging clinics and judge certification in order to bring consistent and knowledgeable judges to the world tour. The association now has numerous certified judges that it uses to judge all levels of events. Only the most experienced judges can judge events like Joyride or Rampage. The judges at Rampage were:
|Head Judge: Paul Rak||Paul sits on the advisory board of the FMBA and was instrumental in developing and instructing the judging clinics. He has been a judge for numerous events over the last 7 years including Joyride and Rampage. He comes from a background in World Cup Snowboard judging and has used proven judging models in order to define the criteria for the FMB World Tour.|
|Tibor Simai||Tibor is a professional mountain biker from Germany with over 10 years experience. He has judged pretty much all of the major competitions in Europe including Redbull District Ride, 26 TRIX and the Qashqai series. This was his first year judging at the event and he is the first European to judge at Rampage.|
|Josh Bender||Josh is one of the co-creators of the Rampage event, in the summer of 2001 he and event organizer Todd Barber scouted the original site in the Kolob Reservoir just a few minutes from where Josh was living in Virgin. He has since been a previous judge and a competitor, scoping and developing some of the biggest drops in Rampage history. Josh is also one of the current builders for the event and has put in countless hours hiking, digging and sculpting the current Rampage site. His knowledge and expertise were pivotal in deciding line difficulty scores at this year's event.|
|Dave Smutok||Dave has been a pro rider for over 7 years and is currently the manager/trail boss at the Highland Mountain Bike Park. His background as a racer and as a pro freerider make him an excellent FMB World Tour judge. He is also the co-founder/organizer of the Claymore Challenge.|
|Chris Lawrence||One of the original pioneering freeriders who starred along side Tippie, Simmons and Schley in Kranked I and II. Moved to the other side of the camera in 2003 to work for Freeride Entertainment and help produce the New World Disorder series. A past Canadian DH Champ, an ex-freeride pro with K2 and the only person to have judged all 7 Redbull Rampage events.|
There should be no question that the team of judges appointed for the 2012 Redbull Rampage possess the necessary qualifications to judge the biggest and most prestigious stop on the FMB World Tour. All have been certified and are quite experienced in judging at this level. The categories for judging at Rampage are as follows
Fluidity and Style 2)
Air and Amplitude 3)
As I mentioned earlier, Rampage is a very unique event on the tour and also one of the hardest to judge. Dividing the score into 4 marks out of 25 allows for a breakdown of each rider's run and their performance. Criteria #1
deals with how fast or slow the rider travels on their line; are they charging and flowing or are they pausing and hesitant? Do they have a loose and comfortable style or do they look robotic and stiff? Category #2
accounts for the size of the jumps or drops and if they stick the landings or come up short. Next is the amount, variety and difficulty of tricks landed as well as where they are placed within the run. Lastly and most importantly is the choice of line. In a big mountain comp this is worth 25% of your score, obviously a lot more than any other type of event on the tour.
This may hold the answer to the majority of the questions and controversy behind some of the scores that seem to be so confusing. More specifically Kyle Norbraten’s line, which, in the opinion of this judge, lacked creativity or difficulty. If he had shown more difficulty and creativity in his line and pulled the same tricks with the same fluidity and amplitude he would have added at least 5 points to his score and that would have moved him up at least 4 places. And not to say that line choice is the only way to win in this competition. Semenuk followed a similar line to Kyle's in 2008, he scored low in comparison to others in line choice, but his other marks were so high that he was able to pull off the win.
The McCauls were similar in that their runs were smooth, fluid and had some amplitude, but lacked the tricks and the line difficulty or creativity than that of some of the other riders. Cam’s line had one element that was definitely more difficult than any other rider on the mountain, but you can’t “put all your eggs in one basket.” Tyler’s line can be analyzed the same way. His trick score was average and so was his line choice mark. He was definitely fast, flowing, smooth and stylish, but that is only one of the categories on the scorecard. If we analyze Sorge’s run we can see that his line interpretation showed difficulty and creativity, he had various tricks and he displayed great fluidity and lots of amplitude.
The level of riding on the World Tour is very high and extremely competitive. Rankings are decided by fractions of points. 3 or 4 points can move you 5 places up the result sheet. Part of being a world-class competitor is knowing the game and how it’s played. I can only assume that these riders will learn from their results and if they want to improve will return to Rampage with a different strategy. Good luck to all and may the best man win.
Please feel free to ask questions in regards to this article or any other questions you have about the judging on the FMB World Tour in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them as quickly and as accurately as possible.