Footage of Koos’ Obstructive Move Surfaces

Audrey ManganJuly 19, 201215

One of the most controversial ski-related narratives to come out of the U.S. in 2012 was Torin Koos’ disqualification from the classic sprint at U.S. Nationals in Rumford, Maine. It’s not every day that a race unfolds the way that one did, and in its aftermath the incident generated heated discussion in the ski community.

We revisit the incident now because video of the move has recently surfaced. Koos never denied that his skis made contact with Scott’s, but his appeal did object to the legitimacy of the jury’s evidence. He didn’t think a marshall had seen him make the move, and at the time nobody had film that clearly showed the event — until now.

Quick rehash, since it’s been a few months: Koos cut across Ryan Scott’s skis on his way to winning the classic A-final, only to be reported by a course marshall and subsequently stripped of the win for obstruction of another competitor, which is against International Ski Federation (FIS) rules. Due to a prior warning for an separate incident earlier that week, what would have been relegation to sixth place defaulted to outright disqualification. Koos appealed the decision, but FIS rejected it, and the season went on.

The above footage was taken by Corky Harrer for Revived Films, and was unearthed from the cutting room floor during work on the company’s new movie, Fact or Fiction, in the process of interviewing its producers for a forthcoming review on FasterSkier. Though grainy, the image is clear enough to see Koos change tracks and nick Scott’s skis, causing the latter to stumble.

The film’s editors, Tyler Foulkes and Mac Fisher, had to zoom in on the shot to get a decent view of the move; hence the pixelated quality. Zoomed out, the figures were too far away to make the cut in the film, and the pair scrapped it without realizing what they’d barely managed to capture.

“It happened towards the beginning of the shot — that’s why it’s pixilated, because I blew it up a bit,” Foulkes said. “We don’t usually use that part of the shot; we don’t even look at it and wait until they’re more towards the camera. So I didn’t even realize it, but once you brought it up I was like, “Well we probably have something,’ and we did. I looked towards the beginning, and it was right there.

“I wish we’d realized at the time that we had that shot.”

Seven months removed, the new evidence has no official bearing as the case has long been closed. But the video does provide a look at what, in this case, was ruled obstruction.

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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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  • chadsalmela

    July 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    You are looking at pure evil on skis right there.

    Just kidding. The USST/USSA want 5/10k mass starts at the Supertours so our aspiring skiers learn just how to race tougher in this kind of proximity, and thats with a field of a couple hundred, not 6. But we spend 7 months kicking this whole thing around? It’s silly.

    I think we can all see that Torin makes a move that could very well get him a penalty–which it did– but it’s not even remotely an insane move, evidenced by the fact Ryan Scott was still on his feet and missed maybe a pole plant. At high level racing, we’ve seen dq’s for stuff like this, but not for much less, and usually for much more. To me, it looks like Torin makes the move to get around…probably thinking eventually to get back in the track for best line to finish, but the move he sees on his right, hurries that decision up. You are really looking at world class sprinting experience at work here more than anything super controversial. Torin is a product of his environment–that of a world cup sprinter. Basically Torin is instinctually doing what he senses he needs to do to win…or more importantly not to lose. He’s doing this because he has probably been in this very situation at a higher level with much tighter competition, enough times to know that to second guess your instincts, means you will be watching the next round, not skiing in it. I dont think there was anything in his consciousness thinking he’s going to mess up Ryan Scott’s business. My hunch is, Ryan understood this, but I’m just guessing on that one.

    Torin got a penalty, and the video shows the penalty was warranted. It wasnt nasty or flagrant. It was the result of racing to win that was tight. But this whole “controversy” paints Torin as mean spirited, which he is not and if you watch the video or know him even as passively as I do, I think that’s clear. He is simply what the USST is trying to get their sprinters to be, so give the guy a break already. He’s a great competitor.

  • highstream

    July 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Chad, you missed a calling as a lawyer. The vehemence came from his defenders – and to some degree Torin himself (and his protest/appeal). While I appreciate your recognition that the infraction was real and the penalty warranted – it’s hard to miss – I think it’s more than a bit disingenuous to say that Scott only “missed maybe a pole plant.” He was forced out of the tracks, one ski going off to the side diagonally, and he substantially lost his speed and momentum. If that latter hadn’t occurred, there probably would have only been a warning.

    I’m forgetting the American skier’s name, but was struck by his (interview) comment on this site a few months, based on his experience with the U.S. team for the latter part this past WC season. It was to the effect that warnings for on-course infractions in WC races are very much more common than is publicly known. That’s completely the opposite of what was being claimed in defense of Torin against the “parochial” and “small-minded” American race officials. I’m glad this video surfaced.

  • D. Diehl

    July 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Highstream once again you need to take your own advice. “You’re in over your head”. Let it be.

  • Tim Kelley

    July 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Are you sure this is the right video? I watched it 5 times and I can’t see what could justify a penalty or DQ. Nobody stumbled or fell, nobody’s pace was altered. So Koos changing lanes in front of another skier is defined as a heinous skiing-crime these days? Seriously? If so, then that is pathetic statement on what xc ski racing has become in the US.

  • newtmiles

    July 20, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Breaking News!!!! Vegard Ulvang has been disqualified from the American Birke classic race last Feb. for impeding Michael Myers forward movement, not once but twice during the early stages of the race by crossing over Myers skis. This would have moved Myers from 13th to 12th in the results, but he was also DQ’ed for a farmers snot blow that resulted in faster skis for David Chamberlain, the events winner. Asked about the incident afterward, David said, “I didn’t want to have an unfair advantage of faster snot skis, but I was just in the right place at the right time”. Officials are reviewing the evidence and could DQ Chamberlain if they follow the rules without common sense or good judgment.
    In related news, video of the Torin Koos DQ clearly shows that Ryan Scott lost all momentum, fell down, broke one pole, and got his feelings hurt. Chad Salmala, video ski guru and all around good guy, has determined this kind of accidental and incidental contact should be penalized, even though it happens in every heat of every sprint and at every level of competition. Seriously Chad? This has now dominoed up to the highest levels in FIS. Chairman of FIS Ulvang has been fired after the Am. Birke DQ and new rule maker and enforcer Highstream has said, “We will not tolerate any practice of common sense by officiating crews this year in World Cup races. The new obstruction rule will not allow any skier to be with-in a 2 meter area around any other skier. Furthermore, skiers in violation of the new rule will be shot with a paint gun on the course by retired biathlete Magdalene Neuner”.
    Highstream’s comments on fasterskier have been highly regarded in the past, even though no one knows who he is, because he uses big words like ‘vehemence, disingenuous, and parochial’, to argue the same point somebody already made. He was a great pick for the newly opened FIS position.

    Roving Reporter Newt Miles aka(Michael Myers)

  • chadsalmela

    July 20, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I wouldn’t have voted for any penalty out of precedent had I been on a jury, but I think a strict interpretation of rules could render what he got, but it was the harshest of possible outcomes for what occurred. Also, the fact Scott didn’t protest and this came from a course official would have been problematic in swaying my vote for penalty.

  • newtmiles

    July 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Glad you clarified Chad. I can’t imagine there is anyone with more ski video and general viewing experience than you. Thanks, Mike

  • sportalaska

    July 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    For those of you who think that penalizing a skier for an infractions such as that depicted in this video is way out of line, or who think “this kind of stuff happens all the time at the World Cup,” I encourage you to find the video of the Otepaa World Cup sprint from this past season.

    In the semifinal the Russian skier Gafarov made almost the same move and impeded Dario Cologna in a similar way – probably less so – and was penalized for the infraction. His penalty was relegation to the back of his semi-final heat in the results. If you have access to the video, look just before the 41-minute mark. Another skier was penalized during this competition for causing a pileup on a downhill.

    So, even at the World Cup level, this sort of infraction draws a penalty. This is NOT a case of US ski officials being weenies. It is more a case of US ski officials being in tune with how events are being officiated at the World Cup level. That’s a good thing.

    Remember that the disqualification of Torin Koos was not due solely to this infraction, but was a result of this being the second infraction during SRNC. The disqualification is a whole ‘nother issue to the penalty for the infraction in the sprint.

    So . . . before you make assertions about what goes on in World Cup races these days, it’s worth it to actually watch World Cup races and see what is happening. Maybe the World Cup officials are weenies, too, but it is unfair and inaccurate to make a statement that the US officials involved in this decision were making a call that “never would have been made” at the World Cup level.

    So, if you think it was a weenie call, then you need to take it up with FIS officials, not with the US officials, who were doing a good job of adhering to the guidelines and interpretations disseminated prior to the season by FIS.

    John Estle, Fairbanks, Alaska

  • ianharvey

    July 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    This kind of thing DOES happen all of the time on the World Cup without penalty. Because last winter someone did something similar once and got penalized does not justify this decision. It happened a slew of other times without notice (pretty much every single race). It’s “normal”.
    I think pretty much everyone who comments on this website watches the World Cup races…that’s nothing unique.

  • ianharvey

    July 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    (That said, it’s over and done with – I don’t think anybody really cares anymore.)

  • newtmiles

    July 21, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Well John has fallen completely off his rocker. As Ian said, he’s picked one example out of a possible 6 penaltlies handed out for obstruction for the whole season. Anyone watching ski video regularly knows these 6 are a tiny fraction of the actual happening. When was the last time you were actually in a ski race John?

    Michael Myers

  • cepb

    July 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I don´t think anybody painted Torin as mean spirited. Everyone here understands he didn´t do it on purpose.
    But what would happen if FIS established a move like that should go without penalty?
    Don´t you think there are athletes out there who would be willing to block a competitor, if that meant a medal at, let´s say, a Word Championships sprint final?

  • newtmiles

    July 22, 2012 at 12:20 am

    cepb, you basically answered your own question. Torin had no bad intentions and it was incidental contact that didn’t cause a change in the final result. If accidental contact results in a skier falling during a sprint race or if it occurs at the end of the race in the finishing straight, then of course it should be penalized. And what you refer to ‘actual intent to block’ is the reason the rule is there in the first place. This purposeful intent should always receive penalty. We need rules in sport. And having a jury that can help with grey areas is also important. Torin’s jury had all the information they needed to make a different decision. 1) Ryan didn’t fall or even protest the action. 2) Torin had no intentional motivations. 3) The incident didn’t change the final result. 4) At the time they couldn’t review video to confirm what the course offical saw was in fact result changing or purposeful.
    They made a mistake in my view, but a small one in the grand scheme of the world. Sometimes the underdog wins even without the help of jury mistake. That is why we watch sport. I can’t wait to watch Torin and the other US skiers again this next season! Although I think Kikkan might not be considered an underdog anymore. =D

    Michael Myers

  • cepb

    July 23, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I´m wondering about what would be the right thing to do in the future.
    Intentions are hard to evaluate objectively and without prejudice.
    If a nice American makes that move at a World Cup sprint final, you would expect the jury to do nothing, because it was unintentional.
    If an unknown Russian makes the same thing, would you be so sure?
    Besides, if unintentionally an athlete makes a mistake that causes the other guy to loose a few seconds, I think this athlete should loose a few seconds.

  • trski

    July 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    it is water under the bridge… let it go. Does not matter if it is skiing, cycling, car racing you name it.. it happens. It is racing.

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