Page 1 of 1

Critique of 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:23 pm
by KirkB
As a keen fan, coach, and past participant of PV, it was a thrill for me to attend such a high caliber meet in person! A lot has changed over the years - some good, some bad, some debatable ...

The Good
1. The format of the event (men and women vaulting together at a time separate from all other events) was excellent! The fans were able to focus on just the PV, and the spotlight was on the vaulters the entire time (except during that damn game show crap).

2. Huge screens on each end of the 200m track.

3. Real-time vids, replays, and slo-mos of each vault. Great camera angles.

4. MC and announcers were excellent. They kept the fans well-informed and on the edge of their seats.

5. Interviews with past World Champion vaulters (Stacy Dragila) and other athletes was good. However, I thought they should have interviewed some of the coaches of the vaulters in the event (for example, Phil D’Encausse and/or Jeff Hartwig). Hartwig would have been a good interview, even if he wasn’t Barber's coach.

6. Heck, even a couple of my buddies should have been interviewed. John Altendorf currently holds multiple Masters age group WRs, and Gerard Dumas – author of Who’s Who in Pole Vaulting – holds the record for the most consecutive years of PV competition (67 and counting), and speaks fluent French - he could have given some color commentary on Lavillenie with his deep knowledge of PV.

7. The obligatory Opening Ceremonies during PV warmups was a good compromise. It didn’t take long, and speeches were short. I had feared that it might delay the start of the PV for too long after the vaulters had warmed up, but I don’t think that was the case.

8. The background music was OK. Personally, I might have preferred a different mix, but the general idea of improving the excitement in the air by a little up-beat music was good.

9. Intros of athletes running down a ramp (rather than just appearing from below the stands) was a great idea.

10. The track (with runways and pits) was good. Having a full 200m around the track is much better than old-style wooden boards that must fit within a hockey rink (but hockey rinks have better seating). The last time I attended an indoor meet in Portland was in the Rose Garden in 1971, where Kjell Isaksson started his runup from the top of the banked curve (not even legal for WRs).

The Bad
1. The men’s event was too long (over 3 hours). This was due to the delays of waiting for the women to vault; too many men in the field; and starting too low. (The women also complained of waiting for the men.)

2. The game show during PV warmups was absolutely stupid. There is enough drama in athletics and in PV that we don’t need a side-show that distracts from the main event.

3. There was a huge pillar in the way of a large number of seats on one side of the track. Anyone sitting behind it was blocked from a full view of the entire runway and pit.

4. The seating was even lop-sided. On the side with the big pillar, there were about 20 rows of seats. On the opposite side (the side where races started and ended), there were only about 10. That’s not much seating on the most important side of the track.

5. The MC (and other organisers) sounded proud of the venue, but without full views of the track, and without full views of each event, the venue was far less than perfect. I think a covered football stadium (which Portland lacks) would have been a far better venue – with the meet in half the stadium, and the warmup area in the other half (curtained off).

6. The seating capacity wasn’t nearly big enough for a world-class event like this. Capacity was less than 7,000, I think. I heard Sebastian Coe brag at a press conference that “ticket sales were solid”, but if you put this into the perspective of the crowds attending almost every pro football, soccer, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball game in North America (and even add to that the crowds attending the March Madness NCAA basketball games this month), IMHO ticket sales (and the size of the venue) were actually quite depressing. I would have preferred a bigger venue and lower ticket prices (albeit PV was “free”).

7. The limit of 2 athletes per country was stupid. Demi Payne should have been allowed to compete. Period. With her PR and SB of 4.90, she would have been a strong medal contender. Isn't the Indoor World Championships for the best in the world? :confused:

8. No WiFi. Yes, you could connect to the OCC hotspot, but the signal was so weak, and its capacity was so low, that it was impossible to reach the internet. Any sporting venue needs reliable WiFi with a strong signal these days.

9. I thought it was rude of the MC to interview Kendricks before Lavillenie had finished vaulting. Yes, the places were already decided, but Lavillenie still had a 6.02 to make and a 6.17 WR to attempt. If the MC wanted to interview Kendricks' coach then that's fine, but not Kendricks. It wasn't fair to Lavillenie for Kendricks to celebrate his silver medal before the competition was over.

The Debatable
1. The precise back-and-forth alternating of men and women, one-by-one was bad, as it imposed additional delays.

2. It would have been better for the men and the women to just run their own events – still at the same time, but without one imposing delays on the other. This is easily done, as it’s no different than the normal way that multiple events occur simultaneously in a meet. Athletes generally wait until a quiet period in other simultaneous events before they start their run anyway, so the chances of both a man and a woman running down the runway at the same time would still be low. A slight drawback of running independent events would be that the single boom camera might miss a few of the bar-level shots that we all like. But so what if we don’t see slo-mos of all 60 jumps the women took, and all 96 jumps the men took? The vaulters would usually wait for the camera to swing over anyway - the officials don't have to enforce that with their damn red cones on the runway.

3. For the men, the competition took over 3 hours, which is far too long, for both fans and vaulters. I even saw some fans leave early. That's what they do in outdoor meets! I thought that's what they were trying to fix with the new format! :confused:

4. Three hours is an average of 1.9 minutes (roughly 100 seconds) per vault. If you consider that a vault takes less than 10 seconds, then there’s action for only 10% of the 3 hours, and delays or waiting for 90% of the time. Yes, some of this “delay” is part of the suspense as the vaulter prepares to vault, and a part of the time is well spent marveling at the slo-mo vid reviews of bar clearances and near-misses, but still, at least two-thirds of the time is spent just waiting. This is too boring for the average fan, and prolongs the event far too long for a guy like Lavillenie, who’s trying to stay warm and ready for vaults late in the last hour of the event (not the first 2 hours - when he passes). As fans, we want him to be sharp when he attempts the WR! So adding additional delays on top of the normal amount of time that PV takes is a bad, bad idea. Instead, meet organisers should consider cutting the field down (from 14 to 8-12), and consider increasing the starting height.

5. Nobody needed to attempt 5.40 (they all cleared it). 10 of them attempted it, and 4 of them took 2 attempts. That’s 14 boring vaults (out of the 96) – taking about half an hour – that could have been easily eliminated. Even at 5.55, only one vaulter was eliminated (10 others cleared it, and 3 passed). So I think 5.55 would have been a better starting height.

6. To reduce the field down to 8-12 vaulters, I suggest that the qualifying height could have been raised only for tie-breaking purposes. And I suggest that the qualifying time be reduced down to about 4 months (ample for the true indoor season).

7. Ties can be broken by clearing above the qualifying mark. There were only 5 vaulters that cleared above 5.77, so they’re safe. But anyone at exactly 5.77, and anyone with a mark older than 4 months shouldn’t automatically qualify.

8. Oliveira had only a 5.57i within the qualifying time, and Balner only had 5.70i (their 5.82s were outdoors), so those 2 shouldn’t have qualified. (To allow for southern hemisphere outdoor meets, it shouldn’t matter that qualifying marks were made outdoors, but it should matter that they were made so long ago.)

9. If further reductions were needed, some of the vaulters at 5.77 would have vaulted (or at least attempted) 5.78 or 5.79 in some of their qualifying meets, and that could have (if the rules were as I propose) increased their chances to make the cut.

10. The electronic event boards were OK, but could have been better. They showed the current bar height; the name and pic of the vaulter on deck; their current place in the competition; and their number of misses at the current height. The format for current place was "P:x"; and their # of attempts was shown as "A:y". To tell you the truth, I hadn't even noticed what these cryptic labels meant. As a better human interface, I would suggest improving them to "1st", "2nd", "3rd", etc, and use the standard symbols "O", "X", and "P" for makes, misses, and passes. You could even show the vaulter's makes, misses, and passes for the entire event at once!

11. I don't think the e-boards showed the bib #s of the athletes either (not sure). The quality of the pic wasn't very good - so why even show it? :confused: Instead, I think the bib # would have been better info to show.


Edit: Corrected "one-third" in The Debatable #4 to be "two-thirds".

Re: Critique of 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:23 pm
by rainbowgirl28
4. The seating was even lop-sided. On the side with the big pillar, there were about 20 rows of seats. On the opposite side (the side where races started and ended), there were only about 10. That’s not much seating on the most important side of the track.

The rest of the space above those rows is filled with the Media Tribune, Television guys, VIP area, VVIP area (yes, that's a thing)... all part of putting on a World Championships...

Re: Critique of 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:51 pm
by KirkB
rainbowgirl28 wrote: VVIP area (yes, that's a thing)...

I had to look that up ...
VVIP Very Very Important Person

Sorry I missed seeing you there, Becca. You must have been in the VVIP section. :D


Re: Critique of 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:08 am
by rainbowgirl28
Haha no, I was in the media tribune :)