IDF: Breakdown of the Protected Position rule[wptouch target=”mobile”]
As we all know, this year the new International Downhill Federation has replaced the International Gravity Sport Association as the sanctioning body for world cup downhill skateboarding. So far they’ve made three major changes: they’ve changed the world-cup circuit by sanctioning different events, purchased a new RFID timing system for qualifying runs, and changed the rulebook in small but meaningful ways.
One of the most significant rule changes implemented by the IDF is the new Protected Position rule, and it came into play during one of the semifinals at Maryhill.
There are two basic rules for making passes in a downhill skateboard race. First, the lead rider gets line choice. If you’re in front, you get to choose whatever line you want while those behind have to skate around you. Second, it’s the overtaking rider’s responsibility to pass cleanly and without making contact.
The IDF’s new Protected Position rule deals with crashes in the final turn or straightaway of a track. Under this rule, your position going into the final corner of a track is protected. If an overtaking rider causes a crash in the final corner or straightaway and the crashed-out rider protests, IDF race officials can choose to let the leading, crashed-out rider advance to the next round.
Under the IGSA’s rules, the offending rider would have been assigned last place in the heat and the crashed-out rider would get second-to-last. We saw this happen two years ago in the Maryhill Festival of Speed finals. Martin Siegrist put his hands on Zen Shikaze in the final corner and Zen crashed. Martin finished the race in second, but was given sixth after Zen protested.
(Click on the above image to play the GIF)
There was another, similar event during a semifinal at this year’s Maryhill. Max Ballesteros and Kevin Reimer were battling for third place coming into the final left. Max had about a half board-length lead on Kevin and was drafting Thiago Lessa into the corner. As Max started to lean in to the turn, Kevin put the back of his hand on Max’s hip, fully extended his arm and subtly pushed Max backward and off his line. Max slid out and crashed at the exit of the corner.
You can see most of this in these exclusive photos. Pay close attention to the movement of Kevin’s elbow and wrist. Note how Kevin fully extends his arm and pushes Max backward and off his line.
When the corner marshals and event organizers reviewed these photos, Kevin was given sixth and Max advanced to the semifinal.
The adoption of this rule is probably a good thing, but could have unintended consequences. If I’m in fourth place heading into that last corner, why shouldn’t I try for a sketchy pass? If I make it, yachtzee. If not, the leading riders keep their positions. Similarly, if I’m leading and I can hear someone coming up to pass at the finish line, I could intentionally rub wheels with them, crash out, and still get first. We’ll see how this plays out in the future.[sam id=”9″ codes=”true”]