Horak comments the new suggested Combined format

EDITORIAL

18 November 2021

Reino Horak, team manager for Norway and part of the IFSC rules commission, says he is puzzled about the new suggested Combined format and here are his comments and some questions.

"I agree with the IFSC working group that a new Combined scoring system should be more understandable. I am also in favour of two zones and having eights guys rotating on four boulders which have been suggested. I have taken part in two IFSC meetings and analysed the PDF presentations and it seems like many, including myself, are a bit puzzled. With all the question marks that have been put forward, it seems a bit strange that within two weeks there will be a decision if this new Combined format would run its "test" during the European Championship next year. Here are some of my question marks; (Possibly some of them are just based on misunderstandings which then hopefully could be cleared out.)"

1. The history and the Olympics show that route setting is difficult. Sometimes we see many tops or that the climbers just reach half the wall, at the same time too many or even no tops in bouldering. In practice, we could see scoring in Paris where the result will mainly be decided based on just one discipline, i.e. in the Olympic male boulder final, almost all would have scored within 5 points, which could be the same as doing one move in bouldering

2. Currently, the boulder score is presented with four columns, i.e. 2T 3Z 3:9. It seems now it will be presented in six columns, 2T 3Z 3z 3:9:6 and then later this score will be converted to points. As a matter of a fact, first, possibly each boulder will be presented with up to six columns and then converted into points, before they are added together with another six columns and a point score.

3. How should it be commentated and presented in the live-streamings? "He topped out the first boulder (after falling four times) and possibly scored 25 points." Then after the second guy also topping out (after falling three times to the Top and two times to the second zone). "Great Top which currently gives him a score of 24.7 points." Then after the third climber also toppíng out in his fourth go and only falling one time to the second zone. "Nice Top... and based on also number of falls to the second zone...he scores 24.69 points." Later, after the next climber the commentator possibly needs to say. "Another Top...wait...it seems his score is 24.688 on boulder one." You can just imagine how difficult it then would be for both the commentator as well the audience, to sum up and present the scoring for the four boulders.

It might be that I have totally misunderstood something and are out in the blue but anyhow I wanted to share this in order so this could be made more understandable. I also understand that we could give them all 25 points on the first boulder and only do countbacks if they are tied overall also after their Lead score. In any case, I just wanted to show how the scoring would have been if the suggested format would have been used also in the World Cup.

4. How should the selection to the Combined European Championship be done in August? I mean this must be done based on the relative ranking after the Boulder and Lead events? In other words, first, a ranking based selection in order to qualify to the Combined where they use a performance-based format to select the medalists?

Overall, I personally think that the format in Lead and Boulder must be the same in the World Cup and in Combined. If we will make climbing competitions more understandable, clearly, we can not run them in different formats. From the athletes perspective, different formats would mean different strategies based on if it is a World Cup or a Combined event. In reality, during the European Championship, the athletes will first opt on doing as few attempts as possible as well as climbing fast but later in the Combined event, these tactics will have very limited impact, if non.

In other words, we need to have the same format for Boulder and Lead, no matter if it is a World Cup or a Combined event. To use the suggested format also for the Boulder and Lead World Cups in 2023 would mean that possibly one third of the climber would score 0 points in Lead and imagine how this would be for the youth and the national comps. As have been shown above, the bouldering scoring will be much more complicated and uncertain until the last climber is out.

I should also mention that for the upcoming Norweigian Bouldering Cup, we will be testing a new format on a test competition including two zones and points, where the max score is 44 points just like the max score in the Bouldering Worlds Cups, 4T and 4 Z = 44 points. In that system you will get one bonus point for a flash, which is seen directly in the result board. There are of course many more scoring alternatives possible and we should opt for the most understandable. It is great that IFSC has brought up this on the table.

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