Wind Games 2020

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The seventh edition of the Wind Games is just around the corner!

The Windoor team is at full throttle putting together another ground-breaking event, running from Thursday 30 January to Saturday 1 February.

Fred Fernandez competing in freestyle as Freddie Mercury, Wind Games 2019

Article by Anne Maxwell, Freelance Meet Director of the Wind Games

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The Future is NOW

Here is a snapshot of what has been going on behind the scenes and what to look out for. The event is shaping up to be the largest ever, with 91 teams competing overall…

FS 4-way

There are 3 teams in the FS Female competition including the current Indoor World Champions 2019, Nephtys Weembi, from France and the Indoor World Cup Champions (2018), NFTO from the UK, as well as the young Voss Girls Team.

There are 18 teams in the FS Open. Hayabusa will be returning to defend their unbeaten 6-times Wind Games FS Champions title. 2019 saw them set a new World Record average; with a kind draw it’s possible they could even beat that performance. Hayabusa have inspired a healthy Belgian FS scene, for example, ISR Fireflash are here with a talented line-up that includes Sven Ibens from Thunder (bronze, 2014 Wind Games); they will be ones to look out for. Not to be outdone, Sven’s old teammate Paul Hofstee will be competing with a German/Dutch team – Oceanside AtomIX, which could prove an interesting battle. Both Airzona Airspeed and SDC Rhythm XP from the USA will be competing for the first time with their new line-ups and the FS world will be interested in seeing how their training has been going.  IFS Moscow, a hugely talented Russian team will also be looking to get in the medals. Places are up for grabs, because Echochamber (Sweden) and Weembi Unicorns (France) are also going to be fighting for every round. This is going to be a very exciting competition.

Esercito, 2019 Wind Games VFS Champions

VFS

There has been a welcome resurgence in the past year in teams competing in VFS.  There will be 7 teams competing at the Wind Games, which is the highest ever number in this discipline.  2019 Champions, Esercito, from Italy will be returning to defend their title, but they will have stiff competition, especially from the French team Full Speed. The team includes former World Champions Raph Coudray and Fred Nenet from the legendary 4Speed.

Hayabusa, 2019 champions, waiting for their World Record to be proclaimed live

Live Judging

There has been a lot of discussion in the past year about the introduction of live judging to the FS and VFS events. Several competitions have tried that format, most notably at the last two Belgian Nationals. The live format provides a combination of fast scores for competitors and more excitement for the audience, but it has not been without its drawbacks. The formats used mean that teams are given a score with a total number of busts, but not given the information on where those busts occurred. On the spot judging is also more prone to judging errors due to the increased workload for judges with the pressure of counting points and identifying busts at the same time – two different brain processes. To test the accuracy of one of those competitions, we formed a panel of judges to re-judge the rounds and found an error rate of up to 10%. With that information we decided that the technology would need to be improved to use this type of judging securely at Category 1 events.

For round 10 of the Wind Games 2019, Windoor used live judging on the InTime technology that was available at the time. That round resulted in Hayabusa celebrating their new world record live, however, although there was no compromise in judging standards, it came at a cost of 4-minute rounds per team; unsustainable for a whole competition.

Over the past 6 months, Windoor, InTime and I [author Anne Maxwell] have been working closely to improve the technology to create a better system. We have reached a point where the system can provide the quality of judging expected at a high-level competition, in a framework that can deliver those results in a much shorter time period. The time required will be similar to those of other live events, like dynamic disciplines.

The judges will score the round on the first live performance, the points appearing on the audience screen. At the end of the 35 seconds freezeframe, and as the teams are winding down and exiting the chamber, the judges will immediately watch a second time in half speed. No download delays. There will only be a 3rd view in the event of an ‘absolute’ and then only on that one point. [An ‘absolute’ is a judging call that can be made if a judge notices a definite mistake that has not been spotted by everyone – for example, building an incorrect formation – and directs the other judges to that specific area for review.] Exceptionally, after the draw is made, the chief judge may call for a 3rd view on any round with the potential to be a record breaker (to be sure the result is correct).

The decision was made to prioritise the quality of the judging, even though it cannot provide instantaneous results. Most other disciplines, even dynamic, trade off an element of their live judging to provide reviews, to be certain that judging decisions are correct. The length of the FS and VFS rounds in a large event could provide some logistical issues for an organizer, as this type of judging requires more time in a competition schedule, but should be easily manageable in most smaller events.

For this Wind Games, with 91 teams overall in the competition and 3 very full days, we will work with a compromise. The first 8 rounds will be judged ‘live’ by the judges in their judging room, but there will be a delay on the audience screens, as the teams rotate their flights without waiting for the judging results. Day 3, and after 8 rounds of practice on the system, rounds 9 and 10 will be judged live on the audience screens. The competition schedule will slow down to facilitate this procedure. At the end of the competition we will analyse the outcome in terms of competitor and audience satisfaction as well as security in the judging scores. Those results will be made publicly available for any interested parties and will hopefully be the basis for future competitions. The live format will require intense training of judges and selection of only the very best and current for Category 1 and 2 events.

Malachi De’Ath, winner of junior freestyle 2019

Freestyle

The Wind Games will use the same format for the Freestyle open and junior as in past years. There is a total of 19 competitors in both disciplines. Freestyle to music rounds will be the longer length, which differs from the FAI format. Former indoor world champion, Toms Ivans and current junior champion, Sydney Kellett will both be competing. Last year’s Wind Games freestyle junior winner, Malachi De’Ath will step up a level and compete in the open category.

Windoor DC, 2-way Dymanic competitors, about to exit in style

Dynamic Disciplines

D2W

The competition has 16 teams from all over the world, including Singapore, USA, South America and many of the European tunnels represented. The current FAI Indoor World Champions, Aspire, will be returning for a rematch, and will have stiff competition from last year’s Wind Games Champions, Windoor DC, as well as the current British Champions, Windoor Bulldogs. Windoor will once again be using their unique 2-way Dynamic format, with knockout battles on day 2, allowing the bottom half of the classification from day 1 a second opportunity to step up and reach the quarter finals. The current FAI D2W format needs a rethink, and the format used at the Wind Games is one example of harnessing the audience potential in this discipline.

4Speed

Once again, the classic D4W is unable to go ahead, as so few teams are currently training free rounds. For that reason, the Wind Games will run the speed-only version. The World Cup in Charleroi will also be a speed-only event. Most people agree that the D4W free routines are spectacular, and it is up to competitors and organizers to work together to encourage teams to train and bring back the full 4-way Dynamic format.

Solo Speed

This year will see a record number of 21 participants in this solo speed, the discipline created by Spanish Champion Cesar Rico, and premiered at the 2017 Wind Games. This discipline is easy to communicate to the audience and very exciting to watch. Competitors will travel from USA, Singapore, South America, Russia and all over Europe to compete for the accolade of ‘fastest flyer’. Some of those flyers are competing in other disciplines and some are coming just to contest this one discipline. Cesar Rico will be defending his title, but there are at least 10 other competitors who will be battling it out for the top 3 places.  Last year saw a heated battle between 1st and 2nd place and everything came down to one hundredth of a second in the final round with the audience on the edge of their seats. Solo speed is not yet an FAI discipline, but with this number of participants and a lot of media attention, hopefully that will change in the future. Windoor has made the discipline an official sport within Catalonia, and the Catalan sporting federation will award medals to the top 3 Spanish competitors and the title of Catalan Champion to the winner.

Relay Races

The Wind Games will run the second competition in Relay Races.  It is a hugely exciting event, with speed and lots of drama. The teams consist of 4 flyers and each round has 4 separate routines based on solo speed. There is a large red button in the rear of the ante chamber that plays a very important part in this competition. Time starts when one team member presses the red button. The first flyer enters the tunnel, flies their routine as fast and cleanly as possible… when they exit the tunnel, usually at high speed, they must press the red button to allow the second team member to enter the tunnel and begin flying.  If any team member enters before the red button is pressed, the team scores a penalty. Each team member performs their routine and when the final person exits the chamber he/she must press the red button to stop the clock. The team time is the total of all 4 flyers plus any penalties. The winning team is the fastest over 6 rounds. There is a lot of excitement generated in this competition as team mates urge each other on. The speed of competitors exiting the tunnel means that the entire ante chamber must be covered in padding to prevent injuries. The Wind Games will hold the final of this exciting competition as the last competition on Friday 31st January (asll other finals in Saturday).

Commentator Regan Tetlow giving it his all

Commentatary

The live experience is an important part of every Wind Games. It provides the audience with the professional experience that they would get if they were watching other live sports. Commentators play a vital role in communicating the cornerstone of each discipline, explaining the rules and bringing to life the personalities involved.  FS and VFS will have the charismatic team of Pete Allum and Rai Ahmed. Freestyle will be interpreted by Inka Tiitto and the Dynamic disciplines will be introduced by Emma Mattacola. All of them have broad technical knowledge from years of competition. Lesley Gale will be providing colour to all disciplines with live interviews and Twitter updates. The mighty Regan Tetlow will anchor the production team with his combination of wit and charm.

Kai Menejima, the youngest competitor, wowed the world in 2019 Wind Games

Media

As always, the Wind Games continues to capture intense media attention. This year there will also be two separate film groups making programs alongside the competition. Doc Skinner, a Director from the USA, made a casting call a few months ago, and will be shooting scenes from an upcoming film during the Wind Games.  There will also be a film crew from a Belgian television station following Hayabusa for an upcoming program.

We are looking forward to another ground-breaking competition and hope that you can join us in person or on the live feed. Stay tuned.

Check out Wind Games 2020

Article by Anne Maxwell, Freelance Meet Director of the Wind Games



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