As we prepare for the 2013 racing season people are looking closely at the IDF and asking serious questions about how it's going to work, and just what we mean when we talk about democracy and transparency. We take these principles seriously, so we'll always do our best to answer your questions.
SkateHouseMedia's Max Dubler has got right down into the details with the following set of questions.
SkateHouseMedia: 1. So will the rulebook you guys come up with be presented to the world as the rulebook for all of 2013 or do you plan to publish a draft and solicit public input?
IDF: The 2013 IDF rule book won't be too controversial. We intend to tinker around the edges this year to improve the flow of events. Greater change will occur in 2014 and will utilise a extensive input from riders, event organizers and race officials. As is the style of the IDF most of this will be openly discussed with all of our IDF members on our website. We don't intend to issue a draft; most of the changes will be expected as they will be discussed in a very public way for the entire year.
SkateHouseMedia: Will there be training or certifications for the Chiefs of Competition?
IDF: We certainly intend to run seminars and training for event organizers each year. We also provide ongoing assistance at any time via our website, events rep, and event organizers group. Being able to issue legal certifications may come down the track.
SkateHouseMedia: 2. There's more to format than heat size. Last year at Peyragudes, there was a racing bracket in addition to timed qualifying. Riders were told that they only had to make it through one round of the preliminary bracket to qualify for Open class the next day, so many decided to conserve wheels and energy by riding conservatively. That preliminary bracket was used to assign final placings when the race was cancelled due to inclement weather. What's to stop this from happening again? Will you have policies and guidelines in the event of inclement weather?
IDF: While the weather is entirely up to the gods, the rules and guidelines are up to the IDF. When a race is cancelled or run in bad weather there will always be winners and losers in the results. We will certainly have guidelines on this but there is not much one can do about the weather. The benefit of the Peyragudes situation was at least there was some racing completed whereas in the old days a result would simply be taken from the qualifying and I think we can all agree that is a bad result for everybody. In the case of an event being cancelled due to weather the final result is likely to be taken from the last completed section of the event. In the event of Peyragudes that was the preliminary qualifying bracket, in some cases that may be the timed qualifying.
Completed section means:
Completed qualifying run (every rider must have a timed run on the board)
Completed round (If cancelled during a racing bracket you would likely refer to the result of the most recently completed round)
SkateHouseMedia: 3. The IDF is now the global governing body of downhill skateboard racing. Yes, it's impossible to control "skateboarding" as a whole but you guys are now in control of downhill skateboard racing and where it goes, so this is your responsibility.
The summer Olympics needs skateboarding for the same kind of cool factor that snowboarding brings to the winter olympics. Some skate industry people think this could happen as early as 2016 and street and vert skaters are already preparing for this possibility. Do you guys plan to?
IDF: Mainstream skateboarding is a very unstructured beast and has no real internationally recognized structure. In the world of the IOC this is unworkable. It's a great idea but unlike snowboarding, skateboarding does not have the legal structure that would allow it to become an Olympic sport any time soon. The IDF has been set up within the organizational rules of the IOC which would allow if the opportunity arises for Downhill Skateboarding to explore that possibility in the future. It is certainly something we would not rule out and the IDF was set up very purposely in that way to take advantage of this.
SkateHouseMedia: 4. I checked the website and clicked the "IDF Constitution" link, which led me to the IDF Articles of Association. Are those the same thing? If not, do you guys plan to post the Constitution soon?
IDF: "Articles of Association" is the required legal term under French law. It's just another term for "Constitution". Two different terms - one thing.
SkateHouseMedia: 5. I read the FAQ. It says that some events will continue to have luge, but nothing about classic luge. Why is there a separate racing class for inferior equipment? Can we get a special class for all-wood skateboards, no metal or composite decks allowed? If not, why does luge have a separate class for wood boards?
IDF: The IDF FAQ used the word "luge" to refer to both street AND classic luge. We're certainly having a debate right now about how and why there are two luge classes but only one skateboarding class, and this issue will be explored extensively over the coming year. I'm sorry to all those budding Penny riders out there but there will only be one class of Downhill Skateboarding.
SkateHouseMedia: 6. A number of parents I've talked to are really upset with the single under-18 juniors' class. An eleven year old child simply does not have the physical size and power to compete with post-pubescent 16-18 year olds and would simply get knocked out first round. What parent in their right mind would want to pay for travel and entry fees if they knew their 90-pound 12 year old was going to have to race Byron Essert? How is this good stewardship of the sport?
On a related note, how will the IDF enforce age cutoffs? Will you be considering a rider's age on race day? On the first of the year?
IDF: We have not made a final decision on this but the question remains whether a 10-12 year old belongs at a Senior World Cup event? It's not something that generally occurs in other sports so it's something the IDF are looking into. Kids race in events all over the world in different age divisions but at 10-12 they are the grassroots of our sport rather than World Cup ready. The best thing for future development of kids might be to cut their teeth in domestic events in order to both develop as skaters and mature as riders. Talent should dictate if a rider is ready for a World Cup but in most other sports, including the Olympics, there are age restrictions enforced for the benefit of what are still young children. This issue has not been finalised yet but a directive will be issued by the end of this year.
Regarding age cutoffs, the age a rider turns in that calender year is the division they race in. In other words, if you turn 18 in the calender year you will race in the Opens. This effectively makes the junior age cutoff younger than in the past.
SkateHouseMedia: 7. Article 14 of your Articles of Association says that the IDF Board, which isn't up for reelection until 2014 (2015 for the executive positions) can basically blacklist anyone, for any reason:
"Membership of the IDF is at the discretion of the Board and the Board reserves the right to deny an individual membership in the IDF due to ANY concerns about the individual's identity, behavior, or moral character, or any other relevant considerations that may be brought to the attention of the Board."
What would someone have to do to give the board concerns about their "identity, behavior [or] moral character?" What considerations would you deem "relevant" to deny someone membership?
IDF: This rule is standard for just about any association. What we are talking about here is very obvious things like criminals, drug cheats, people that don't exist, extreme racists and the like. A less obvious thing might be fraud or an individual with a business interest in doing damage to the federation and the sport. It's simply a check on abuse that is required when an association has an open membership.
SkateHouseMedia: 8. Your disciplinary measures (Article 16) say that:
"A complaint may be made to the Board by any person that a member of the Federation: (a) has persistently refused or neglected to comply with a provision or provisions of these rules, or (b) has persistently and willfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Federation."
Couldn't writing this article be construed as "willfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Federation? How is that clause going to be used in practice? Also, what "rules" are you talking about here? Race rules or the regulations in the Articles of Association?
IDF: The interests of the IDF lie in having an open and accountable federation. This interview isn't prejudicial - it's welcome. We hope all our members show this level of interest and involvement. The collection of diverse opinions and ideas is something we value and is in our interests and our structure. Being asked the hard questions is something that always lacked in the past so we encourage this to the benefit of the entire community. The IDF has a direct responsibility to respond and be accountable to its member's concerns.
The 'Articles of Association', ie Constitution, relates to governance of the IDF, and not to the racing rules.
SkateHouseMedia: 9. Under Article 17, the accused is allowed to present evidence in his own support. Should the board rule against him, the accused can: "appeal to the Federation in a general meeting against the resolution of the Board under Article 16, within 7 days after notice of the resolution is served on the member..." Where would such a general meeting be held? How do you plan to round up all the members of a worldwide organization, whose board members are spread across 3 continents and 5 countries, for voting in just seven days, especially if, as Article 17 requires, "no business other than the question of the appeal is to be transacted?"
IDF: As I mentioned before this is unlikely to apply to any normal person as the reasons for being presented to the board for serious misconduct against the rules of the federation need to be extreme and abnormal. In the very unlikely event that this occurs the board will consider its position. Being an International Federation the IDF would extensively use video communication for the purpose of meetings. Not all members are required to be at every meeting; a simple quorum will suffice.
SkateHouseMedia: Also, wouldn't this vote just be a popularity contest? I get the feeling that Martin Siegrist wouldn't have much hope of winning any appeal election while, say, King Brian would have a pretty good shot at getting reinstated.
IDF: Disciplinary action is a stepped process and is not handled by a general vote of all members so I would not consider this a popularity contest. If something is brought to our attention the IDF Board is legally bound to investigate it. Once this investigation is complete the board will make a decision to either dismiss it or take action to suspend the member. The power to suspend a member lays solely with the board. Only in the event of the board taking action to suspend a member and than only if the member appeals does it go to a general vote. This vote is not for the purpose of suspending a member; that power lies only with the board. It's a vote on removing the suspension of a member and allowing them back into the federation.
The sequence of events for this is a complaint or action is received against a member, with the duration of the investigation at the discretion of the board. The member is notified of the investigation and is given at least 14 days to respond with a written submission to the board. Once the investigation is complete the board will either suspend the member or dismiss the complaint. The member has to be notified by the Secretary within 14 days of this decision and the member then has 7 days to lodge a written appeal. The board must call a general meeting within 28 days of this appeal; the member does not have to be present at this meeting. A general vote is taken at this meeting for the sole purpose of reinstating this member.