New Technology Brings All-New Spectator Appeal to Developing Discipline
For the first time ever, a completely paperless real-time scoring system will help determine the winners of the International Canoe Federation’s Freestyle World Championships. A new, custom-designed scoring system will debut in championship-level competition at the 2013 Freestyle Worlds, which begin September 2 on the Nantahala River in North Carolina. Designed by the event’s host Nantahala Outdoor Center, the system promises to take freestyle competition to the next level, informing spectators and athletes of competition status and results immediately after each run.
Until now all freestyle competitions — even international-caliber events — have been scored and tallied with pen and paper, a process that includes time-consuming compiling and review processes before scores can be published. Consequently, spectators could rarely be certain of the ongoing status of the competition, including basic information such as which paddler is in the lead and which tricks counted.
Thanks to Nantahala Outdoor Center’s IT System Administrator Raymond Brugger, the creator of the new scoring program, athletes at this year’s Worlds will know exactly how many points they need in order to earn a place on the podium before they begin their runs.
Brugger, a whitewater kayaker himself, has worked for over a year developing and perfecting the system. Beyond the instant results, the system also provides a comprehensive solution to event organizers by handling athlete registration, and auto-generating competition heats. For judges, the system essentially removes the risk of human error by using an intuitive touch-screen scoring interface, and by using large, illustrated score cards that allow the head judge to quickly but accurately scan for glaring anomalies before issuing his/her final approval.
“Imagine watching a basketball game without a scoreboard,” Brugger said. “You would be able to see players score baskets, but you wouldn’t have a clue which team was winning. This is basically how the old scoring system worked. The new system gives instant feedback to the athletes and spectators allowing fans to invest more in the competition emotionally and follow their favorite athlete’s progress.”
Brugger explains that the system will also introduce a new dimension of strategy for the athletes. “Instead of feeling like you have to give your absolute best ride all three rounds, if you nail your first two rounds then you can relax and conserve energy on your third round since you will know what your scores look like going into the round.”
NOC’s goal for the project was to help make freestyle kayaking more spectator-friendly and more suitable for a live television broadcast. The project was a key component of NOC’s bid for the 2013 Freestyle Worlds, and it should remain a valuable contribution for many years to come.