Written by Emily Pross, Marketing and Communications Major
Downhill skateboarding/longboarding and I don’t exactly go way back. I’ve been skateboarding for 4 years and racing for 3. For my first year of skateboarding, I stuck with the freestyle-sliding aspect of the sport. It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to race, but I raced only in the east coast area races. 2014 was my first year racing in the IDF’s world circuit, however I only raced in North America because money was a huge issue. 2015 was my first year fully participating in the World Circuit, and it was also the year I was the IDF women’s world champion. With the start of the 2016 racing season looming and the excitement building, I think it’s only fair that my first blog entry explains the organization behind downhill skateboarding’s international racing circuit. Although I am still “new” to the downhill skateboard racing scene, I made sure my facts were straight, and I chatted it up with one of the IDF’s own volunteers, Lee Cation.
Birth of a New Organization
The IDF is a relatively young organization. Before the IDF came into existence, there was the International Gravity Sports Association, or IGSA. The IGSA was setup up more as a business rather than a sports association. According to Lee, the IGSA was setup in way so that it can “profit the riders and event organizers.” The IDF started coming into existence towards the end of the 2012 racing season. The master minds who were working to build the organization were Cyrille Harnay, Lee Cation, and Kevin Reimer, with additional help from the Australian Skateboard Racing Association (ASRA) and the European Downhill Community. The IDF was created with the sole intention “to raise the profile of downhill skateboarding and represent all riders.” Unlike the IGSA, the IDF is a centralized, not for profit sport group, that runs solely on the help of volunteers. The best part is that all of the volunteers are riders, which helps maximize the representation of each rider from every discipline in the IDF. The IDF also requires its members to pay an annual membership fee of $30. The membership fee is necessary because it helps keep the organization a not for profit, and the fees also go to cover the cost of the timing equipment.
Types of IDF Races and the Ranking System
There are two types of IDF races, a World Qualifying Series (WQS) and a World Cup (WC). Since the IDF scores riders by rewarding them points based on their finishes at an event, what makes these events different from another is the amount of points a rider can earn. In a WC event about 150-250 of the world’s best riders square off for first place in their respective categories, and a reward of 1000 points from the IDF. From the 1000 points each rider below the top spot is rewarded a few points less than the finisher before them. A WQS is generally a regional event in terms of attendance, but in most cases you get riders from around the world that show up because these races are normally held near the time of WC event. So riders can make a trip of it and attend multiple races in one trip. Although in the name, a World Qualifying Series race is not a true qualifier event for a World Cup race. Due to the scene and the industry still being small, “there aren’t enough riders to accommodate a true qualifying event,” according to Lee. However, WQS are worth less points. With a new IDF rule that was implemented this year, a first in a WQS event is now worth the equivalent to a 10th place finish in a WC event. WQS used to be worth 650 points which was equivalent to a 30th place finish in an WC event. The rule was implemented in order to give more value to WQS events and encourage more attendance. How are the points tallied to determine world champions at the end of the year? Well in secondary categories such as, Junior’s, Master’s, and Women’s those categories are ranked based on the individual’s top 4 WC finishes and their top 2 WQS finishes throughout the year. In Open their ranking is taken from the individual’s top 5 WC finishes and their top 2 WQS series finishes.
The Timing Device, Qualifying, and Racing Formats
The IDF utilizes an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) to record racing results. Riders wear their RFID devices via an ankle strap. The RFID system works by picking up pings whenever the rider’s ankle strap crosses the start and finish line. With qualifying, the RFID’s advance system can detect multiple riders on the track at once, unlike the IGSA device which could only calculate one rider at a time during timed qualifying. Speaking of qualifying, normally riders are given an opportunity to run a solo timed qualification run to determine their seeding for racing the next day. If running solo runs with a timing device is not possible, then riders race to qualify, or end up being seeded based on past IDF rankings. All WC events do timed qualifying. In WQS events its sometimes too expensive for the event organizer to send the timing system and the IDF official who runs the system, to the event. So they rely on the secondary means of qualification in order to seed riders for the race the next day. The Racing format is generally all ran the same at every event, WC and WQS. Your typical format is normally heats of 4 with double elimination. At some events they end up doing 6 man heats with triple elimination. Those are generally my favorite because the racing is tighter and there are more drafting opportunities.
The IDF and the Future of Downhill Skateboarding
Since the organization’s creation, the IDF has been working closely with organizers to help find and establish their own regional and continental racing associations. Working with a region’s own racing association is ideal for the IDF because it’s more organized. According to Lee, Regional racing associations are key to the future worldwide development of downhill skateboarding, “they are important if we want to push downhill skateboarding into the Olympics.”
Looking for more information? Want to stay up-to-date on the action and the rankings?
Want to try skateboarding? Come on! Give it a go!
Checkout: http://www.daddiesboardshop.com/ – they can set you up with the right product. And don’t be afraid to email them with questions you might have regarding the right gear for you
Special thanks to Lee Cation for taking the time to talk to me about the IDF
And Additional Thanks to:
Daddies Board Shop
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