Continental CupGeneralNewsRacingResultsUS NationalsU.S. Nationals In Their Words: The Men’s Classic Sprint A-Final

Avatar Audrey ManganJanuary 9, 201222
Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol), Skyler Davis (SMS/USST) and Reese Hanneman (APU) skiing up the first hill in the semifinals. Photo: Flying Point Road.

RUMFORD, Maine — The major story to come out of the final race of the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Championships was Torin Koos’s disqualification for obstruction of competition (which he plans to appeal). But in addition to the drama, an entire classic sprint day went on at Black Mountain.

When the A-final field took the line Sunday afternoon, it was difficult to know what to expect. Koos seemed like the only safe bet to be first through the finish, as he’d handily won his quarterfinal and semifinal and his experience with high-stakes sprint racing was difficult to ignore.

Ryan Scott (MSU/Team HomeGrown) leading his semifinal. Photo: Flying Point Road.

Ryan Scott (MSU/Team HomeGrown) and Mike Sinnott (SVSEF) went 1-2 in their semi and had also skied strong throughout the day, and Tyler Kornfield (University of Alaska Fairbanks), who was third in their heat, looked like he was on fast skis.

Fresh off his bronze medal from Friday’s 30 k mass start, Eric Packer (Dartmouth) was a hard classic skier to bet against. Skyler Davis (SMS/USST) had a slow start to the week, but won both his quarter and semi in the classic sprint and seemed to have found familiar form.

The snow on the course at Black Mountain on Sunday was fast and icy in spots. As the day wore on, athletes said uphill parts of the trail in the shade became almost impossible to stride up, and in the men’s A-final, nearly everyone was slipping in those areas.

In sprint racing, anything can happen. At first it seemed as if Koos was the clear-cut victor, but as the top three athletes in Koos, Kornfield and Sinnot waited by the podium, Koos learned he was disqualified for his second infraction in two races at nationals. The bumped Kornfield to first, gave Sinnot second place and Packer third.

Tyler Kornfield (UAF) finishing the classic sprint A-final. Photo: Flying Point Road.

Though it was by default, the victory was Kornfield’s second-career nationals sprint title. Coincidentally, his first in Alaska two years ago was also by default, as the winner was his UAF teammate, Erik Melin-Soederstroem of Sweden. Non-American podium finishers at nationals races are awarded prize money (unless he or she is an NCAA athlete), but not given medals.

“It’s definitely not the way you’d want to win your national title,” Kornfield said in a phone interview on Sunday evening. “I mean, in the first place I was excited with second.”

With a few hours to have processed the day’s events, Kornfield still wasn’t sure how to interpret the outcome of the race but, “overall I’m pretty excited,” he said.

“Before this week, I hadn’t had the best start to the season, so I didn’t have great confidence,” he said immediately after his race. “I was pretty happy with the sprint at the beginning of the week, and the 30 k definitely gave me confidence. This is tied with the best result that I’ve gotten at Nationals, so I’m pretty excited about that.”

When he still thought he’d placed third, Sinnott said he was generally pleased with his performance.

“I’m pretty happy,” Sinnot said. “Obviously you always want the win, but I can’t really complain about a podium at nationals.”

Following Koos’s disqualification, Packer unexpectedly found himself on the podium. Though he believed Koos to have deserved the gold medal, he added that he was happy to have ended up with a top-three at Nationals for a second time this year.

Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol) crossing the line in first in the A-final of the men's classic sprint at U.S. Nationals. While waiting to take to the podium, he found out his win was in question. Photo: Flying Point Road.

FasterSkier talked to the contenders afterward — Sinnott and Kornfield before they learned of Koos’s disqualification, and Packer, Davis, Scott, Koos and Kornfield again afterwards. Here’s how the A-final unfolded in their eyes:

(Note: Quotes from Koos as told to Glenn Jordan of the Portland Press Herald)

Kornfield: “I hadn’t been getting very good starts [in earlier heats]. I was fifth or sixth coming out of the stadium [in the final]. I stuck with the pack beter than in the first two heats; that was definitely my weakness, so I wanted to change that a little bit. I was with the pack, and I was about fourth going down the hill to the switchback.”

Sinnott: “It didn’t start off as quick as I’d wanted; there were a lot of strong double polers in that heat … I got into a place where I wanted to after that first big hill.”

Packer: “I tried to take it easy out of the start — I didn’t want to expend too much energy, since it’s a long course. A 3:30 sprint is pretty long, so I tried to conserve energy up the first hill and really push the second.”

Kornfield: “A lot of people were slipping on the step big hill, and I kind of got boxed in and that’s where Koos got away from us. He was slipping too — everybody was slipping — but he just got a few more strides in and he broke away.”

Sinnott: “I just kind of pulled up right behind Torin, and felt like I was skiing well. Then it’s kind of icy there, I started sipping, and Torin made his move and that was kind of the end of the race for the rest of us and it was just a scramble to see who could hold on for second.”

Koos: “I took the lead on the second climb, which was pretty difficult because it’s in the shade, so it’s not as soft as the rest of the course. It’s a little more glazed, so skis play a big factor there.”

Scott (4th place): “We were all pretty tight in the group going down the hill … The heat was pretty aggressive, and how it worked out in the bottom there, everyone was tight on the turn.”

Kornfield: “We were all double poling, and Torin was about one boot length in front of Ryan, and it seemed like he had a clear shot on what lane he wanted to choose. Right after he moved on Ryan there was a break in the tracks, so you had to pick another track. Torin tried to pick the inside track, and he moved onto Ryan’s skis, and it knocked Ryan off balance. It seemed like it took a while to get back his balance.”

Koos: “My plan for the final was to stay in the top three … but if I could decide the race before [the final stretch] then, why not?”

Sinnott: “[It was] really great racing by Torin to make a strong move while people were struggling …  It’s just a tough pitch because they washed out the tracks, and because it’s in the shade, it’s hard to get kick there. I had trouble there in the qualifier as well, and it’s just kind of a tough, off camber, steep little slick place and tough to go fast there. Torin made the most of it so that he attacked right at the top when everyone else was still in the middle of it. It was a smart move.”

Packer: “I personally didn’t see anything that merited disqualification … I think [Koos] deserved the win today. He skied away from everybody.”

Kornfield: “I was in third, then Ryan Scott moved over and I was able to double pole and make a gap with the downhill. My skis were running wicked fast. [I] just double poled to the finish.”

Davis (5th): “The back hill kind of got really icy, and I slipped really badly. I started herring boning for the first time, and by that time I was like, [groans]. So with sixth, I obviously wanted to be on the podium, but that’s probably pretty good for how the season’s been going. It’s definitely good to be feeling strong.”

(Note: Davis initially thought he placed sixth and was later moved to fifth with Koos’s disqualification. Karl Nygren won the B-final, which would have put him in seventh, but his place improved to sixth.)

***

For men’s classic sprint results, click here.

For qualifier results, click here.

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Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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22 comments

  • Avatar
    highstream

    January 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    The FIS rule on overtaking, 340.1.3, includes the following: “When overtaking, competitors must not obstruct each other.” On the face of it, Kornfield’s statement is a witness account that provides a basis for penalizing Koos for violation of that rule (the DQ itself was apparently a cumulative matter).

  • Avatar
    highstream

    January 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Actually, there’s an amendment (precision) and apparent renumbering of sections of this to 340.1.4.

    “The responsibility for a correct passing without obstruction is on the overtaking skier. The overtaking skier must have his/her skis in front of the skis of the overtaken skier before skiing his/her best line.”

    Obstruction is defined as “deliberately…,” but that’s not necessarily deliberate as in intentionally trying to impede another skier, athough it may be, which could be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and a basis for direct DQ under another rule. Rather, it’s deliberate as opposed to accidental.

  • Avatar
    JustinFereshetian

    January 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I was at Nationals watching these races, and while I was not in a position where I could see what happened in the woods where the Jury gave Torin the violation, he clearly appeared to be the strongest skier in the A-Final. Like I said I couldn’t see what happened on the hill in the woods so I have no idea if he got a clear advantage from it, but I feel like something would’ve had to go drastically different in that heat for someone to overtake Torin going down the finishing stretch, it just seemed to me like he was skiing so strong that even if he didn’t move in front of Ryan Scott, that he still was going to take the win.

  • Avatar
    zimborst

    January 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    The missing info is whether Ryan Scott felt he was impeded. Sprints are inherently aggressive. It doesn’t sound like Koos intended to impede or obstruct Scott. The jury behaved very legalistically, like an old-fashioned schoolmarm. This seems unfairly punitive to a skier who was clearly the fastest in the race, and the consequences of that punitive action are significant. The DSQ wouldn’t have happened if not for Koos’ mistaken start position in the 30 K, where the race organizers apparently didn’t help him at all and there was no real benefit to starting in 29th vs, 45th or whatever. I hate to see legalistic decisions impact any race but especially a national championship event.

  • Avatar
    anchskier

    January 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Although I agree with what people are saying about how Koos would have likely won with or without the “infraction”, there is more to consider. What about the impact to Scott’s race? Maybe he could have finished higher than 4th if not for being held up (read Kornfield’s view of him getting knocked off balance some and taking a while to get it back). If Torin’s “infraction” didn’t happen, the rest of the race could have ended differently for the other racers. Who knows.

    Also, the statements in previous stories regarding how these things go on all the time and aren’t penalized is not valid in my opinion. That would be like trying to argue against a speeding ticket when you were clearly speeding because you know others have gotten away with it before. Sorry, you were just unlucky this time and got caught.

    Just my view from what has been reported.

  • Avatar
    T.Eastman

    January 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I wasn’t there. I don’t know how it went down and whether it was a close call or not.

    But, when I raced I had the opportunity to race in Europe with and against some very good skiers. After several bruising races with lots of contact, starts like concert crushes, and roller derby downhills, I adjusted to what real competitive racing was really like. My game got better as I adjusted to real ski racing. When I returned for spring races in the US and Canada I had to revert to the no-contact and at times painfully restrained version of skiing we do here.

    There are rules, and as guidelines they are fine but skiing as practiced in Europe is a rough and tumble and extremely competitive (fun) game. Let’s not coddle the few skiers we have by preparing them for a type of skiing that the rest of the world doesn’t practice.

    Few course workers, TDs, and those serving on the juries have experienced the rough and tumble world of actual racing beyond North America and seen how the game is played in the midst of the scrum of skiing.

    Congratulations to all the course workers, technical staff, coaches, parents, and skiers out there in Rumford and remember that skiing, while the best sport in the World, is at its core, about having fun with your friends and the other crazy skiers out there!

  • Avatar
    freeheels

    January 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    The interesting question in my mind is if the coarse official has ever seen a race outside of Northern Maine. I’m guessing not. My hunch is he/her didn’t realize the consequences of his draconian enforcement of FIS rules. From what I can tell it’s weak sauce and Torin got F’d. Too bad. We need more and better venues in this country…..!

  • Avatar
    Tim Kelley

    January 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I wasn’t there, and I don’t care what the outcome is. But it seems that this FIS interference rule is too weighted against skiers. In the real world usually the “victim” is the focus of the problem resolution course of action. In the real world if someone gets hurt, impeded or screwed by another person and an official is involved, like a police officer, the victim is often asked: “Do you want to press charges?”

    Was the kid that got bumped asked if he wanted to “press charges”, and have the race official file a naughty skier complaint against Koos? From what I’ve read it seems that it doesn’t work that way, when probably it should. Instead, some nameless official knocks a skier off the podium when none of the other athletes in the race seem to have any complaints. Draconian, as freewheels says? Yes. Makes me feel glad I ski raced when ski racing was about ski racing, and not about a thick FIS bible of rules.

  • Avatar
    highstream

    January 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I wish one of you who are critical of the jury would write forthrightly, “I believe that running over another racer’s skis while changing lanes is acceptable because…”

    The moral of the story is that if you’re going to run over someone else’s skis, don’t do it in front of a TD. And if you do, don’t complain.

  • Avatar
    joeconn4

    January 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Those above who are critical of the officials should step up and become part of the solution. If you think officials at our races don’t have the proper backgrounds or are trained incorrectly, and you think you can better fill those roles, please step up and volunteer your time to help officiate ski races.

    I’ve been on many race juries. A couple years ago a jury I was on DQ’d a high finishing racer for skating in a classic race. It was a few steps to get around another skier (instead of calling track), and I think it was a 15k or 20k so the fact that this racer skated one small section likely had no impact on his finish. The instructions the jury was given were, “if you feel this is a technique violation then make the call without regard to what the penalty might be.” Since we had the infraction on video and it was clear cut we agreed that it was a rules violation. Per the rulebook for that race the only penalty that could be imposed was DQ. None of us felt good about that, but we did agree 100% that the technique used was not classic.

    In this case, Koos’s actions apparently put him in the situation where he could be ruled to have committed a foul. His competitors and the officials did not create that situation, Torin did. Actions have consequences. If any of you think any of the officials felt good about making this call against Koos, think again.

    As for the comment above about real world problem resolution, “do you want to press charges”, we all know that is not how sports works. In sports officials make calls all the time without asking the other party their thoughts. Can you imagine Kobe drives the lane against Shaq, maybe gets fouled, and the official asks Kobe if he wants foul shots? We’re lucky in skiing that outcomes rarely come down to calls made by officials, but the fact is we have rulebooks and racers need to understand that their actions in a race need to be within those rules. If not you put yourself in the position where rulings like this can be made.

    In the long run I bet this rolls off Koos’ back and he chalks it up as a learning experience. The guy has been a class competitor for years, has been a solid representative for our country on the international circuit and a solid representative for his clubs on the domestic cicruit. The way he’s racing right now he has bigger things to accomplish the rest of this season.

  • Avatar
    sportalaska

    January 11, 2012 at 2:43 am

    One thing to consider – for the past two years the athletes on the World Cup have asked FIS, through their TD’s, to take strong steps to ensure fair and safe skiing in sprints, and to take a strong stand against rough skiing in sprints. If you are a FIS TD, and FIS sends out this message, you really need to listen.

    People may have their own definitions of rough skiing, but if you read the FIS Rules and the FIS “Precisions” which go into more details about implementation of the rule (available on the FIS website for anyone who wants to read them), what is and is not a violation is as clear as any subjective judgment call can be. Making a call like this is, and always will be, a judgment call.

    Todd Eastman has probably accurately portrayed his experience in Europe. However, at risk of giving away Todd’s general age (roughly the same as mine), I am betting that his experience was in the era before sprinting. Like, Todd, I always enjoyed skiing in a crowd in a mass start, and the occasional bit of contact.

    However . . . the advent of sprinting changed a lot of things in the sport, not least of which was how rules for overtaking are written and applied.

    Sprinting is almost a “whole ‘nother sport,” and, with regard to the elimination of “rough skiing,” it’s the athletes who are driving this. It’s not coming from the TD’s, the TD’s are implementing policies requested by the athletes.

    No official worthy of the name has any desire to disqualify anyone. The decision to disqualify is NEVER taken lightly. In this case, the infraction in the sprint was not necessarily enough to disqualify Torin Koos. It was only because of the earlier infraction in the mass start that there was a disqualification, as per FIS rules in this situation.

    However, any infraction called for obstruction in a sprint likely would result in a penalty of some sort – perhaps relegation to last in the heat. There are rules and there are rules. They are applied by human beings who are imperfect. That’s sport.

    I was not in Rumford, I didn’t see the race, and thus I have no opinion on the infraction itself. However, once an infraction is called, the wheels (rules) start turning, and the process goes on to it’s conclusion.

    The comments of “highstream” and “joeconn4” are, I believe, on target.

  • Avatar
    T.Eastman

    January 11, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Thanks to “sportalaska” and other for bringing their perspectives to this discussion. I was not aware of the work done by the athlete reps on developing rules and standards that make sprinting better, safer, and more fair.

    I will have to check the AARP’s stance regarding contact during sprint racing…

  • Avatar
    newtmiles

    January 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Sportalaska says skiers are taking a strong stand against rough skiing in sprints. How can it be considered rough skiing when the tails of one skier clip the tips of another? Rough skiing in my eyes would be pushing and knocking down. And if it’s the skiers taking a strong stand, then why didn’t Ryan Scott file a protest? I moved to Norway 3 years ago from Montana, and I have the privilege of watching the World Cup on TV every weekend. Of all the sprint racing I’ve ever seen, no athlete has ever been DQ’ed for this kind of contact early or in the middle of a sprint race. If they are DQ’ed, it is for a total knock down in any portion of the race, or a lane change in the last 200m, that would have affected the outcome. So you can quote as many rule numbers and FIS jargon as you want, but common sense says you don’t give someone a written warning for a bib start mix up, when the athlete’s bib doesn’t even have a number on it. And common sense says that you don’t put a skier to the back of the heat (in this case DQ), when the contact didn’t affect the outcome of the race. Petter Northug skied outside the course and got clear advantage in the second to last race of the tour, and was given a yellow card, not relegated to the back of the group he was part of. Joeconn4 compares the situation to Kobe and the NBA. This is almost laughable as the NBA refs have been given preferential treatment to the better players since the league began. A judgement call? Yes, and the best in the game should have officiating that uses both the rule book and common sense. Joeconn4 also says, In the long run I bet this rolls off Koos’ back and he chalks it up as a learning experience. The guy has been a class competitor for years, has been a solid representative for our country on the international circuit and a solid representative for his clubs on the domestic cicruit. The way he’s racing right now he has bigger things to accomplish the rest of this season.
    This is a great and true statement, and as a Koos fan, I agree. The problem is the US coaching staff has already decided for what ever reason, that they think Torin is over the hill. For him to get the World Cup starts he still deserves, he has to bring it with points! I think this has more ramifications than people realize. This is not a meaningless high school or college race. Nor is it some guy who gets 10 or 20 world cup starts each year, and can just show up in Europe and toe the line as he wishes. I would like to thank Todd, Jim and Justin for expressing their opinions with a name behind them. Thank you also to the others that have expressed their views, I may disagree, but it is great to have these discussions. My name is Michael Myers and I raced with Rossignol for almost 20 years before moving to Norway. Do I have a biased opinion? Probably!

  • Avatar
    highstream

    January 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    newtiles (Mike), you describe the situation as if an observer from a distant planet, i.e., one skier’s tails clip tips of another. Come on, as an experienced and highly successful classical skier you know exactly what’s been described by witnesses: Torin made a lane change by skiing over the tips of Ryan Scott’s skis. That’s not allowed, period, end of discussion. It’s not necessary for Ryan to have to file a protest (which could have repercussions for him in future races), anymore than officials need to ask (or wait) for football players if they object to being held or basketball ones if they object to being fouled. The pushing and knock down standard you refer to is covered under the unsportsmanlike conduct rules, and an automatic DQ if witnessed by officials. Skiing over someone else’s skis while changing lanes (obstruction) is effectively in the same category as skating in a classical race, which I’m sure you wouldn’t have appreciated your close competitors doing.

    To give an example of how juries work, at a recent SuperTour interval start race a skier didn’t respond to a repeated call from behind to pass, causing the passing skier to have to slow down, nearly stop at a key point. And to make matters worse, this passing skier ended up losing the race by a small fraction of second, hence the violation had a material effect on the outcome of the race, as well money earned. What was done? The blocking skier, who finished down the list, received only a warning because the incident had not been witnessed by volunteers but not by a jury member, and there was no video taken at the location. In this case, the blocked skier was also very gracious about it all, knowing that whether they complained nothing could be done about the top finish order. So these violations short of shoving, etc., can have a big effect, and juries are forced to use their best judgment within the rules in handling them.

  • Avatar
    sportalaska

    January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Didn’t meant to leave my name off. It’s John Estle. Just to let newtiles know I’m not afraid to leave my name.

    Todd – let’s compare AARP membership numbers!

    Newtiles/Mike — I didn’t see the infraction. I don’t believe you did either. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know how complete or incomplete the explanation in the article is or was. Without being there, I can’t make a judgment. Neither can you.

    I wasn’t defending the judgment call or questioning the judgment call. I was trying to explain how the jury members and the FIS TD would evaluate the incident in light of instructions from FIS.

    You are correct that Northug received a “yellow card” (equivalent) from the Jury for his move in Toblach/Dobbiaco. Had it been his second warning of the tour (or season) he may have been disqualified.

    Once could argue that in that case, the Jury used the NBA rules and handed down a penalty that was quite mild, given that what Northug did was clearly against the rules, was clearly done intentionally, was clearly done to gain an advantage over his competitors, and was not his only choice of a course of action — he could have gone to the outside to pass. I saw that race.

    I’m not saying Northug should have been disqualified, only that the warning he received was based on a judgment call made by the Jury.

    To synopsize the comments of joecon4 and highstream (accurately, I hope), when you do something that can be viewed as against the rules, you need to be prepared for possible penalties in case someone on the Jury witnessed the infraction.

  • Avatar
    Flying Fungi from Yuggoth

    January 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Most of the problem seems to be there are only 2 possible punitive responses, warning or DQ. So either nothing happens or the racer is very harshly punished for what may have been an inadvertent or relatively minor transgression. Docking a certain amount of points seems to be fair compromise for these cases.
    Here is a recent example of that kind of action taking place..
    http://fasterskier.com/2011/02/ski-classics-penalty-to-sandra-hansson-with-video/
    To my knowledge the winner was not dq’d but she received fewer points in what was apparently a prestigious competition. Not even having seen any sprint video I don’t think anyone would argue what Torin allegedly did was as blatant as what occurred in this example.
    Obviously this still wouldn’t be a perfect system as skiers not chasing points wouldn’t care too much, but most top National skiers probably would. Skiers would still have incentive to try to avoid contact and the very bad situation of DQing a clear winner for a minor incident could be avoided.

  • Avatar
    newtmiles

    January 12, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Thanks John, your opinions and information carry so much more weight, knowing who you are. And I agree with your statements reguarding Northug’s infraction and also the point that I wasn’t there in Rumford. I wasn’t even a distant planet observer! But everyone knows that contrary to highstreams comment; that skiing over someone else’s skis is not allowed period, skiers are actually allowed to do this very thing and more. I have had my skis stepped on from the back, the front and from the side in almost every mass start race I’ve ever competed in. I’ve had my pole stepped on going up hills, and I’ve had my skis skied over as someone changes lanes in front of me without enough space. The majority of the time these people apologize for this accidental contact, and the race goes on. Nobody being DQed or even reprimanded. I myself have committed these crimes (hopefully much less than has been done to me), I apologize, and I have never been DQed or penalized. This also happens frequently on the World Cup and even more so in sprint racing, as we can all easily witness first hand from so much awesome video coverage. I think people are arguing apples and oranges here. To skate in a classic race means a person is making a decison to cheat, and should be penalized. That is different than accidental contact when 4 lanes go to 3, and sprinters are battling for the positions. Again, when this accidental contact results in a crash or a lane change in the last 200m affects the outcome of the race, even accidental incidents are penalized. I believe that highstream has possibly never actually skied a race, as he or she would then know these things to be true. And it is annoying that this unsportsmen like conduct keeps being mentioned, as it is implying that something else happen here, other than Torin misjudging where Scott was in the track. Torin appologized for his misjudgment, which is what most people do. My father Larry ( a former certified TD) remembers when Bill Koch was DQed at Giants Ridge Olympic trails for skating in the classic race. The jury there correctly changed their mind, because Billy had only skated to get back to the course after going the wrong way. Personally I think this jury is wrong in their judgement call not only of the infraction itself, but also of the penalty handed out. They had an opportunity to change their mind, and they didn’t. They are the one’s that have to try and sleep at night after such a decision. I respect the job they are trying to do and don’t envy them in this incident. But I disagree with the decision 100%. Michael Myers

  • Avatar
    caldxski

    January 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This is a very interesting discussion and I think helps many people to better understand the sport from an international viewpoint. I’ll mention a few incidents.

    In the 1948 Olympics, Gordy Wren got knocked (pushed, shoved) right out of the xc track by a passing Swede. Gordy was so mad he chased the Swede and might have resorted to fisticuffs, but he couldn’t catch him

    In 1966 Mike Gallagher led off for our relay team at the WSC in Czechoslovakia and got pushed off a narrow bridge right after the start. He complained to me afterwards and all I could say was, “Welcome to the big leagues.”

    I was on the jury referred to in Kochie’s case of skating in a classic race at Giants Ridge. Most of us argued according to this thinking–Why is skating not allowed in a classic race? The answer is because it gains time for the competitor. We asked ourselves, did Kochie gain time? In one way, yes, because he got back on the course more quickly. But then the question came up–was he even on the course when he skated? Then the question arises about the competitor having to follow the course. There were all sorts of ways he could have been disq’d. We had films of the whole incident and he lost something like 27 (34?) seconds. It was a dumb move on his part, but should he have been disq’d? It was a split decision in favor of Kochie and there were some very unhappy people.

    This leads me to talk about strictly following the rules. I TD’d the Birkie once, right during the craze about illegal uniform markings. Many of you will remember officials walking around with templates, measuring uniform advertisements and on finding some, whipping out the duct tape and covering them up. I always thought this was silly and so just before the Birkie was about to start, an official came up to me and asked if I wanted measurements taken on the uniforms (of several thousand skiers, I guess.) I looked him right in the eye and asked, “Will those markings make them go faster?” End of discussion.

    It’s important for us in this country to better understand the Euro approach to sport and it is simple–do almost anything you can get away with to gain an advantage. (People will scream at me me when I say that is why so many of them have resorted to drugs. Some of these skiers have the attitude that if they get caught, they will serve the suspension. That’s sport, they say.) But to illustrate with a more normal example: I TD’d an international relay at Giants Ridge once and fully expected the international teams to jump the gun at the start, so I stationed a bunch of guys (good roughnecks) at the top of the first hill and gave them a signal to stop the race, if necessary. The racers jumped, I signaled and the race was stopped. The Euros had stationed a manager so he could see the countdown clock and he gave the signal to start ahead of time. The racers didn’t need to hear anything.

    After they lined up again I walked over and told them not to jump the gun. Some of them pleaded a lack of understanding English. I said, in English, “OK, if you jump the gun again, I will call you back and put you in the rear ranks.” Suddenly everything was clear. The Euros know the rules and can follow them.

    Now we get to the Koos controversy. Reading about it, I have the following reactions: Koos got a yellow card earlier in the week. It’s difficult for me to believe an experienced competitor like Koos did not know he was doing something illegal then. Blaming the officials for whatever is kind of bush. Next, with a written warning under his belt he did something that was considered illegal, or unsportsmanlike, and so got disq’d. In some places–perhaps mainly in Europe–these infractions would not have resulted in a dis’q. Over here, with overzealous officials, a racer does these things at risk.

    It’s not all black and white.

    John Caldwell

  • Avatar
    davord

    January 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at situation and outcome), there is much more to this story/incident.

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    anchskier

    January 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    newtmiles – I see what you are saying, but I disagree somewhat with at least part of it. You are saying that people are allowed to ski over others skis in all sorts of situations. I don’t think that is necessarily correct. They are not necessarily allowed to, they just are not always penalized for it. It’s like my analogy to drivers speeding above. The fact that a lot of drivers speed doesn’t in any way mean that they are allowed to, they just haven’t been caught and penalized for it. Each and every one of those people are breaking the law and are risking getting caught and are subject to the penalties in the book. Koos just happened to get caught this time around. Whether he appologized or not doesn’t change the fact that the infraction occurred.

    To try to claim it did not have an impact on the outcome of the race is only speculation. Realize that this is a sprint race that only lasts a couple of minutes. Any hesitation just about anywhere on the course could mean the difference in multiple places. It’s not like it was 3k into a 30k race and there was still an hour of racing to go. We know from the written accounts that the move caused Scott (who was near the front at the time since he was ahead of Kornfield) to lose his balance and it took him a bit to get it back. Maybe that didn’t have an impact on the outcome, but we don’t know that.

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    highstream

    January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    sportalaska’s synoposis is correct. All sorts of things happen in races, as I’ve experienced too, though not nearly as much as newtmiles. But if it’s contrary to the rules, happens in front of an official and the jury decides that it had a material effect on the outcome, then tough luck – apologies, appeals or not. I do agree from my watching of WC and national level races that such violations seem to be rarely called during the main body of sprints. However, since none of us was present, we’re left with what’s been reported, essentially Kornfield’s statement, to surmise from.

    The reference to unsportsmanlike conduct was in response to the total knockdown comment, simply to specify that it’s covered under a different rules section than technique or lane change violations, and tends by its nature to reach DQ level more quickly.

    Finally, as I commented some moons ago, I’d love to feel free to write under my own name here and elsewhere, but given that many current and potential employers do scour the internet, what they read can – and in one case for me did – lead to bad things.

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    newtmiles

    January 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    anchskier, your analogy doesn’t hold any water in the real world or in this case. No police officer pulls over a driver for going 2 to 3 mph over the speed limit. So even thought you are correct in pointing out that is breaking the law, no one is penalized for it. The drivers speeding at 5 to 15 mph over the speed limit get pulled over and are given a warning and or ticket (penalty), depending on the severity of the offense. And drivers doing 90 in a 30 zone have their license suspended. What remains in question as so many have pointed out, is how big of an offense did Torin commit and we weren’t there so we can’t know. I am reading the same racer comments that the rest are and I have judged from their comments that Torin was doing at best 5 mph over the limit. This really is a bad analogy, I apologize. But to continue, he was not just sent to court for this speeding ticket, but given the suspended license for the offense.
    As for your comments on hesitation in a race, you could argue that if a skier fell in my path and caused me to hesitate and lose balance, that they should be penalized and possibly DQed. All skiers in a race affect the other skiers around them to some degree. It’s fun that way. Of course we don’t know the outcome if this or that happened in a different way. But winning a race by 50 meters and the majority of your competitors saying he was the strongest guy there and didn’t deserve DQ. I mean come on, what more do you need to know?
    Michael Myers

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