Monday, January 19, 2009

They Just Don't Make False Starts Like They Used To

I'm sure by now you've heard that Garrott Kuzzy was disqualified from the Whistler Sprint World Cup Friday for, according to fasterskier, "false starting twice." At the time fasterskier went to press there was no video available, but this has since been remedied. You can view the sprints at Universal Sports now, on demand.

So the fasterskier article made Kuzzy sound like a real clown, I mean, what kind of guy manages to get DQ'ed by false starting twice? The kind of guy who doesn't understand how the FIS sprint rules have changed, apparently. Based on the incredible number of false starts we saw throughout the day, it's safe to say that many other athletes don't either.

The first false start is charged to the field, so it doesn't matter who was responsible for the first false start in Kuzzy's heat -- he was responsible for the second, so he's out. (Although, he was clearly responsible for the first false start, so that may have swayed the jury.)

Anyway, in the past a false start has been enforced as "breaking the wand before the gun fires." At Whistler, a false start was defined as "flinching after the SET command is heard." Multiple women's heat were run where someone moved a bit after they said "SET," and they all were called false starts. It happened with such frequency it's hard to believe the athletes were aware of the rule change/strict enforcement (whatever you want to call it). And clearly Kuzzy was not -- on his second false start he only teetered and dropped his hands a split second before the gun fired. The gun went off, but then immediately went off again, signaling a false start. Kuzzy can be heard protesting "but I didn't break the wand" and is obviously incredulous that he's been charged a false start. Of course, the officials werent't even remotely sympathetic, not that they should be.

It will be interesting to see, going forward, if this is a real change dictated by FIS, or a case of the Whistler judges choosing to enforce the rules completely differently than the rest of the World Cup season. Furthermore, based on what my eyes could see, the "false start" that got Kuzzy DQ'ed was complete and utter BS, as several athletes flinched that much in other heats without getting charged. To put it simply -- I blame Canada.


Cyrus said...

I would have to totally agree with you. This is a case of the officials taking the rule of the law far too seriously. When I saw the video I couldn't believe they DQed him for that. If that were Hattestad instead of Kuzzy, I guarantee there would have been outrage in the streets of Oslo.
Having been around the scene for a few years, it appears whenever there is a big race in Canada, all FIS rules are enforced to the max, no matter how ludicrous the situation. I've seen Dasha get DQed for walking to the stadium through a "restricted" area before her start, Ivan DQed numerous times of skating in a classic race and my brother DQed for skiing out of lane in a sprint. I also have to mention the thing about skiing backwards on the course (so many warnings at Canmore!).
Welcome to Canada. Sprinters better learn to be as still as statues on the start line in 2010.

ADS said...

A member of my family was the Chief of Start this past weekend for the races. In the officials meeting before the races the TD for the weekend wanted the starter to wait at least 5 seconds until he pulled the trigger on the start gun. I feel bad for the athletes because waiting that long is torture. Hopefully they get a different TD for the Olympics, I'm not sure they will though.

Colin R said...

I didn't even mention how ticky-tack the skating infraction against Ivanov was -- yeah, he was basically skating around the downhill turn, a bit more egregiously than everyone else, but to fully DQ him from the event instead of relegating him to 6th in the heat? That seems incredibly harsh, unless he had been given a prior warning or something.

Canadian judges are HARSH.

Christopher Tassava said...

I watched Ivanov's heats several times, trying to find the "skating" and coming up only with a few side-to-side lane changes. I suppose it was skating in a ridiculously technical sense, but in my recollection he gained no ground with it...

keeron said...

Some very gung ho officials give us all a bad rap...
Though I would disagree with Cyrus' assertion that it happens every time there is a major race in Canada. I happen to be friends with enough people who have skied dozens of high level Canadian and Int'l races who have never ran into any officiating troubles.
But regardless, it was BS that Kuzzy got tossed for twitching, while Kershaw still got to stay in after turning Hellner into a Swedish pancake in the city sprints on the Tour.
Even though I am Canadian, I will venture that some Canadian officials have decided to exact retribution for all the times Devon has gotten into trouble, perceiving them as slights, rather than as he himself admits, poor decision making. Or maybe this is being blown out of proportion. Fortunately, that's what the internet is best for.

Colin R said...

There was definitely an inordinate about of racing affected by the officials at Whistler, which is *not* a good thing.

Kuzzy wasn't even the only one to get DQed, German Tom Brunner had the exact same problem in the heat directly after Kuzzy. And then Wenzl and Brunner accidentally raced with each other's bibs on Saturday, leading to them both getting DQ'ed.

That last one is kind of understandable, although I'd still rather the officials look the other way on it -- the two german sprinters aren't weren't exactly at the front of the race due to swapping numbers or anything.

Lastly, Kershaw *WAS* relegated to last in his heat for pancaking Hellner, which is the appropriate punishment in my opinion.