New system for the start-line

The trusty snap-line will be replaced by a random beep start at all future IDF World Cup races. Riders on the start-line will hear four beeps; the first three are one second apart, followed by a random gap of between two and six seconds before the fourth and final beep, which means GO.

The random gap between the third and fourth beeps is impossible to predict. There is no way to predict it - you must wait until you hear it.

Why the change?
Close observers over the years will know that riders sometimes barge the snap-line, and false starts are difficult to detect. Some snap-line holders forget to completely hide the hand holding the snap line, thus giving an advantage to riders with a better view. And each start-line person has their own rhythm and timing, which local riders will have better knowledge of. Occasionally the snap-line can be a safety hazard if it gets caught in the wheels or trucks of a rider.

Why are random beeps better?
Random beeps completely defeat any attempt to predict the start. Starts become purely a matter of reaction time rather than any other factor. The start will be predictably unpredictable, and will be the same at every World Cup race throughout the world.

Random starts are used in many other racing sports. The starting pistol in track and field is a classic example.

The experience so far
Random beeps were successfully used this year at Ruapehu Gravity Festival in New Zealand and Veggie High in the Philippines. False starts were very easy to detect, and were always due to a rider overbalancing while waiting for the fourth beep rather than any genuine attempt to push down the hill.

Colin Beck

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• Former Secretary, International Downhill Federation
• Founding member of ASRA (Australian Skateboard Racing Association)
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