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Update from the Judges Room
By Claire King

The Judges Committee has kept itself busy over the last few months and is starting to reap rewards for all the hard work.  The IPC Plenary was held in February and this year the SSA sent an official representative - Jacqui Bruwer.  Besides presenting the winning bid for the CP World Cup, she did a great job and has returned with feedback for the SSA and the judges on changes implemented at the meeting.  The heavy impact and emphasis on judging matters makes the Plenary a vital event for judges and judging matters and since none of our judges could attend this year, Jacqui’s feedback was invaluable.

With the Plenary comes chief judge selection, which means that just after that come the judging panel selections by each event’s Chief Judge.  4 of our FAI judges – Sam Schook, Ettienne Bosch, Chanel Gibbens-Robinson and Claire King - have already had unofficial invitations to judge at the British National Championships – with about 40 4-way FS teams, you can imagine the size of the event compared to our Nationals, offering huge opportunity and exposure for our judges.   Claire King has been selected onto the judging panel for the 2009 World Cup of Formation Skydiving and the 2009 European Championships in Czech Republic this September.  With the CP World Cup coming to South Africa, we are hoping to have our CP judges selected onto that panel too.  The opportunity to judge at first category events of this calibre is beyond exciting for a new judge on the international circuit.

So our judges have all continued to show themselves and keep involved internationally, but it hasn’t stopped local developments.  The upcoming SGM will deal with the proposal to formalise the new judging structure into PASA.  We feel that this not only structures our existence more clearly and formally, but it supports our goals of maintaining transparency, professionalism and answerability to the membership that we serve.

We have also continued training – existing judges and new trainees – in all the disciplines and competitors will enjoy a fuller panel of skilled judges in all the disciplines as we follow the trend set with the FS and CP judging growth in recent years.  We are receiving FAI level training in AE Judging this April.  With assistance from the AE Sub-committee and the SSA, we will be having Elisabet Petterssen out to South Africa to train us in the Artistic component of AE judging – something we haven’t had any formal training in and which promises to infinitely improve the service we can offer to AE competitors.  

Still on the Nationals note, the judges are currently very excited about a long awaited and sorely needed improvement to launch at Nationals 2009:  An electronic scoring system.  dPhi (who is better known for their skydiving clothing and creeper sales) in partnership with Namespace Technologies and some of our judges have been working feverishly over the past few months to develop an electronic scoring system. 

SSA has been investigating the purchase of such a system over the past few years and with Omniskore being laid to rest, new alternatives that are progressive but very expensive are available.  The South African system brings with it countless advantages and we’re very excited to be able to use a trial version of the system at Nationals.

Just some of the benefits of this system include:

  • Timing accuracy
  • Results accuracy
  • Freeze frame as required by FAI rules
  • Increased judging cycle speed
  • Improved judging comfort (media playback and monitor quality)
  • Scoring transparency
  • Electronic record keeping and historical record storing
  • Audience screens displaying the judges’ scoring during video playback in the works
  • Speed and accuracy of reporting and results document generation

The beta version is currently being tested by the judges committee and is being used for FS Judge evaluations.  It is hoped that the system will not just offer FS scoring but scoring, or at least score capture, for all the disciplines.