Because safety is the most important IDF priority, the board is always striving to improve upon the safety it has built. In this article, you will find how the board enforced existing safety protocols and added new safety protocols in 2019, as well as how it is continuing to improve safety in 2020.

IDF Board Member, Uldis Tretmanis, assisting the track-protection team at Gravity Fest 2019. Photo by Khaleeq Alfred.

Safety enforced in 2019:

  • Assessed risks with the event organizer prior to the event. In the past, event organizers have been responsible to submit safety plans to the IDF for approval. The 2019-20 board collected and reviewed these safety plans; any found risks were reviewed with the event organizer.
  • Walking the track to assess risk and assist the track-protection crew. To ensure proper placement of safety protections, the on-site representatives walk the track and assess all safety hazards. Then, they work with the track-protection crew to ensure the most effective coverage for optimal track safety.
  • Collected safety concerns from racers before and after events. Any safety concern that was brought to the IDF’s attention was shared with the full board for discussion in hopes of finding a solution. These concerns helped the board create new rules and procedures in 2020.
  • On-site enforcement of the rulebook. Specific rules have existed in the rulebook to encourage racer safety. The IDF on-site staff made it a point to enforce rules in 2019, including:
    • Helmet checks on the startline
    • Random gear checks throughout the event
    • Issuing verbal warnings to discourage racers from using intoxicating substances while racing
    • Issuing conduct penalties to racers who risk the safety of other racers

Safety improvements new to 2019:

  • Created the on-site “Safety Representative” Position. Every IDF event now has a Safety Rep on-site, who works with the event organizer’s staff to ensure safety throughout the event.
  • Increased the number of hay bales at events when possible. The IDF board recommended to each event organizer that they increase the number of hay bales on course; most event organizers were already planning this or happy to comply.
  • Worked proactively with a number of Event Organizers to raise the standard of Marshalling. When possible, the IDF took an active role with event Corner Marshalls by requesting information on their training prior to the event. For event organizers who were interested, the IDF also shared supporting documents to help the event organizer ensure proper training for their Corner Marshalls.
  • Collected crash data at Vulcan. To increase safety on our most advanced race track, the IDF worked with Vulcan event organizers to collect crash statistics. These statistics have been used to help identify the most pressing track-risks and increase safety in 2020.

Updated safety improvements as of April 2020:

  • Increased safety requirements in event contracts. In order to ensure consistent safety standards and responsibilities across all IDF events, the IDF added a multi-tiered safety clause to all event contracts.
  • Work with event organizers to decrease risks. The IDF is committed to working with event organizers to decrease all possible track risks. One example is the Vulcan race track; As one of the fastest courses on tour, the IDF works closely with the event organizers to ensure that all risks are identified and managed through safety solutions.
  • Support Event Organizers in Corner Marshal training. To continue supporting event staff, the IDF combined “best practices” from event organizers to create the “IDF Staff Reference Sheet.” Event Organizers may choose to use this document, or an approved version of their own, to distribute to their event staff weeks in advance to prepare for the event. This document will also be distributed on-site for reference.
  • Created the REM DSS form to collect crash data. In the event that red flags are used, Corner Marshals will be tasked with filling out the “Race Event Marshal Downhill Safety Statistics.” This form will allow the IDF to gather crash information and learn what needs improvement for the future.
  • Added new rules to help ensure racer safety. This includes:
    • Prohibiting vehicles on the course (for any reason) when racers are on course; this includes follow cars and shuttle vehicles.
    • Mandating spine protectors (starting 2021) so that racers don’t have to choose between safety and a competitive edge.
    • Mandating eye protection (visor or glasses) to protect racers' eyes from foreign objects that can’t be fully eliminated from the course.

Safety is the principal role of the IDF. It needs to ALWAYS be the first thing on our minds AND treated as a developing subject; Speeds will only increase, wheels and equipment will get better and faster. So the safe point-of-view needs to always be dynamic - moving with the times and new developments, such as increased speeds and new tracks.

If you have safety concerns or suggestions on how to improve safety, then please contact the full IDF board at Board@InternationalDownhillFederation.org.

Uldis Tretmanis

This post was written by Uldis Tretmanis

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