I hope you had a happy Xmas and are enjoying a break from work. You will appreciate that we are trying to standardize grades and eliminate riders from riding a variety of grades so we would like you to seriously consider the following:
Let us “visit” the grading requirements for 2011
First let me give you a brief history of how grading and section standards have arrived at where they are at today. It was simple really. Riders decided which in grade they believed they should compete and section setters have gone about setting sections that challenge those riders’ choices. Effectively riders have dictated the standards of sections. In my time involved with the sport [and it has been as long as most] officialdom has NEVER been responsible for placing riders in grades or dictating the severity of sections.
Second let me remind you of part of our 2010 workshop outcomes that were circulated to all and published in the Sept issue of ‘Megaphone’ [Pioneer’s newsletter]. I quote…………..
GRADING / CLASSES
Section setters need to try to benchmark standards on section “levels’ as opposed to rider “levels”;
i.e.….White line [entry level]… sections should be able to be ridden by a 125cc “Trail bike” while sitting on the seat.
Blue line …rocks and ledges no higher than the knee.
Green line.. As for Blue with ONE added element of increased difficulty but with limited risk of injury.
Yellow line..rocks and ledges at waist height and turns able to be ridden without the need of “hopping”
Red line… rocks and ledges shoulder high.
Orange line…large but “ridable” elements
A study of “points lost” by Gary Samson was submitted and assessed as an accurate snapshot of the sport and deemed to contain ideal targets for organisers to “aim” for. The ‘thrust’ of the statistics showed that the A grade is the grade that is consistently too difficult.
The workshop also discussed the easing of downhill elements as they are the elements that are potentially the most dangerous.
Organisers of events need to ensure that section standards are adhered to so as to avoid riders changing classes to suit “section difficulty on the day”.
This was an attempt to tell you, the section setters, to ‘tame down’ the ‘A’ grade. We believe that if this happened we would see riders make their way ‘up’ the grades in greater numbers than we have seen recently. There is also a general call to ease the yellow line as well. Especially by those who did not want to see the green line opened to all riders. It will be very hard for experienced section setters to ‘adjust’ their standards [indeed I have seen no evidence that it has happened yet] and it is nigh on impossible to take an exact standard from the above heights of obstacles which were only ever to be a rough guide so we, the ‘Grading Committee,’ would like to give you, the section setters, some further guidelines to reduce the difficulty level in the coming Trials season. After listening to an in depth discussion amongst senior, astute and passionate riders recently I as commissioner realised that the changing of grading standards would not be an easy and overnight fix and could also lead to a ‘kneejerk’ and overkill situation so we think that to start with the easing of the A grade for the coming season may be as much as we can and should achieve for this year. We are asking that section setters attempt to reduce the scores of the current bona fide “A” grade riders so that the winners are losing around 20 to 30pts per Trial. We believe that the roll on effect will be a movement of top Intermediate riders into the “A” grade for 2012 which may necessitate an easing of that [Intermediate] grade next year. In the mean time we would like to see the Intermediate grade maintain a standard equal to an easy/medium difficulty level of 2010 with bona fide Intermediate winners losing around 20 to 30 pts
For other grades we ask that you maintain standards similar to 2010 for the ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ lines and use the Orange arrows a little more as originally intended and that is as an extra ‘element of difficulty’ to the “A” line. Not as a complete line in a section. We ask that you try to adhere to 3 elements of difficulty per section per grade.
Why do we need to do anything?
Most riders are contented with the grade that they are in but those who are at top of Intermediate are daunted by the gap to A grade. An effort to reduce that gap will hopefully see more attempt the higher grade. As administrators it becomes embarrassing when we cannot find enough riders to fill championship grades [the number is 6]. We have used the amalgamation of A and Expert to cover this clause in the constitution for some years but this year it will be looking very ‘tight’ [close to 6] for some of our rounds….[maybe]!
I hope you will all give this serious consideration because, as we have required riders to stay in one grade from now on, we believe it only right that they can rely on a fair standard of section setting throughout NZ.
We have riders who are considering which grade is appropriate for them in 2011 who are reading this document. They will make decisions based on the premise that “A” is to be eased. It will certainly be a “blow” to the sports credibility if this letter is ignored
Jim Henderson Paul McLeod Colin Kelland