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School Champs Grades. Remit from NWOC for AGM2016

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 13 February 2016, 3:17 PM  
I thought this remit was worth some discussion. If you interested in this topic, see my post with some questions on the ONZ Forum... in the schools Group.

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 23 February 2016, 7:05 AM  
I gave it a shot, but the ONZ forum is just not happening. I will give it a nudge here and see if the O community thinks it worthy of discussion.
My post was

With regard Remit 2 in the ONZ AGM Agenda:

Can I use this forum to ask some background questions on this topic prior to it being discussed by our club committee?

1: The remit states in the consultation section that this topic has been discussed by ‘ONZ Heads of Committee’s group’. Is this the same as the Junior Development Committee listed on the ONZ Contact list? Does this means that this Committee have formally (or informally) approved this recommendation?

2: Has anyone worked out what this proposed format will do to the organisational structure of the event. The current grade/course structure requires the organizing club to set 9 courses for the Long event. Will this new structure require more or less courses?

3: The suggested grade table in Remit 2 refers to winning times. Is this intended for the relays as well as the Long race? Ie does this propose that the Senior winning time for the relay should be 3 x 40 minutes. Ie 2:00 hours?

4: I am unclear if Sprint orienteering even has different levels of difficulty… but should the Year7/8 Sprint course be any easier than the course for Seniors? Should ONZ stipulate course difficulty for the Sprint race?

5: The 2nd to last point in the ‘Reasons to change’ states that Standard grade competitors currently take significantly longer than estimated. Is this an opinion or has analysis been done to back this up?

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 23 February 2016, 7:06 AM  
North West response to these questions is as follows (slightly different than the same post on ONZ)

1 The Heads of Committee was made of just that. Paul T-S Junior Development Committee, Tom Reynolds Junior Selection Committee, Dwayne Smith Technical Committee, Malcolm Ingham High Performance, Nick Hann Mapping Committee and Alan Horn. Paul Turner was there as was Catriona. So yes it was formally /informally recommended at that level. During the Junior camps in December a further was held with some of the coaches and people involved with the running of the camps. Nick Smith and myself also attended along with Jean Cory Wright and Malcolm Ingham. Each of the groups felt it was important to move the idea forward to the remit stage. The JDC has also had some discussions on the matter as well and continues to do so.

2 The new format will probably require more courses probably 11-12, 2 orange and a yellow. The actual number is not yet sorted. With the extra orange courses the orange controls already been used can be utilised and just add a few extra control sites to mix and the match the courses. You don’t have to set three different courses with three separate sets of control sites. Same with yellow.

3 The winning times are only aimed at the long, not relays.

4 Yes I believe there is a change in difficulty from Yr 7/8. I think in the past clubs have used their own discretion. You can only make sprints so hard for the senior courses, generally around technical route choice and more technical control placement, whereas Yr 7/8’s you don’t make them so complicated. They need to enjoy their experience not be put off.

5 It’s been backed up from many previous occasions. However last year in Nelson the winning times in some of the standard courses weren’t quite as long but that was mainly because the champ grade courses were too short and their winning were well inside what they should have been. So the std times looked respectable but the champs times suffered. They’re better off on different courses not those running the champ grade below them. Standard grade courses should have the same winning time as those on the champs on the same grade but on a course equal to their speed and technical abilities particularly at the senior level where the problem is most noticeable. Here you can have quite inexperienced students being asked to run an orange course that’s when the long times come into play. As above with the Yr7/8’s they need to enjoy the experience not be put off.

It also means you can run nearly all the grades champ and Standard off in the same start blocks. At the moment you have to wait to clear the champs grade before you can start the standards, who are running on the same course. This also drags the whole day out even further for everyone, organisers as well as attendees.. Being able to start all the grades of at the same time is a bonus for the organisers as they can hold the prize giving earlier and start on the process of control pick up and event centre pull down. You don’t still have students out there finishing their courses as they had late start times.

Show Profile  Rolf Posted: 23 February 2016, 7:30 AM  
With regard my questions 2-4, it just feels like there is something missing.
Although I can see the merit in moving some of the grades to a higher difficulty level, I am struggling with the following.

The Remit asks ONZ to stipulate a grade/difficultly combination.
Presumably this is intended as some variation of an existing school event set of rules.

1) Where is the current ONZ set of event rules for school champs? I can find nothing on the ONZ website and so I just assume there is an 'accepted' set of course / grades that just gets passed on from club to club.

2) If it is good enough for the ONZ rules to include clear guidelines stating clearly how many courses should be created with clear allocations of grades, difficulty and Winning time (see PG 16 of ONZ FootO Competition Rules as at 2014). Then I am confused as to why NWOC have not presented a clear table of similar layout. The alternative is that clubs just work it out as best they can which may defeat the intent of the Remit!

3) Given the Sprint race has the same weighting as the Long race in the points systems, then I am also surprised as to why there has been no guidelines presented as to the difficulty requirements for the Sprint Race. The level of difficulty in the long race appears to be worthy of lot of discussion to the extent that the Remit asks that the issue gets raised and discussed at an ONZ AGM, yet no-one is bothered if a Sprint race is super easy!!

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 23 February 2016, 10:24 AM  
3) Sprint as a discipline has always been hard to define in terms of difficulty, as you cannot create the same concrete definitions as in the forest, eg "Within 50m of a handrail feature." I think the current system seems to be working well enough at the moment, at least I haven't heard of any major complaints. If one were to propose implementing some guidelines it would probably fall under the Technical Committee area. I can imagine that some guidelines could be useful to organisors, for example, x number of decision points per leg, some example maps of courses for different age grades etc, however the key word would be guidelines and not strict rules.

Coming back to why the sprint difficulty is not included in the remit, I think it's simply because there has been no problems with the difficulty in sprint races. I would say it's actually relatively difficult to plan a sprint that is too easy, as sprint races are always made harder the faster you run, hence top competitors get a harder challenge from the same course. The same is not as true of forest orienteering where the challenge is more equal for all competitors.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 23 February 2016, 12:11 PM  
Yes the normal difficulty scale doesn't work in parks and schools. All courses are yellow. You can't even set a true white because there are handrails wherever you look. We can perhaps distinguish a complicated maze-like situation from a straightforward "walk in the park". Two subjective levels. An aware planner (one who has kids) could set an "easy" course in a maze-like area. Do we need to codify this?

But this is a side-issue from the remit. Which is about upping the difficulty levels on traditional orienteering one notch.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 23 February 2016, 2:03 PM  
Thanks Rolf for kicking discussion with some good questions, and to Nick & Michael for your comments.

NW has been concerned that our age/grade/course settings in schools O are out of step with the number and ability of competitors, which causes a number of unfavourable outcomes. The remit is an attempt to recalibrate; to iron out the anomalies, bring schools O into closer alignment with club O so they work together as a development pathway for juniors, and to ensure integrity in our competitions.

We are hopeful that the discussion of the remit at AGM will be informed and constructive, so we're very keen to see this thread continue. We think we've got the proposal about right, but there will be arguments for & against. We're comfortable with that. In fact, we'd like to see it discussed here before the AGM so that all the advantages and disadvantages are laid out.
So, Rolf we will respond to your further questions but I'll give people a chance to post further comments/questions first.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 23 February 2016, 2:22 PM  
I'm in agreeance with NS on the sprint. It is what it is and I've never heard any negative comments about any of the sprint events at the NISS or NZSS in recent years.

The only negatives around sprint maps is that some schools can be a bit light on buildings but have plenty of open grass areas which will often turns the event into a running race than orienteering challenge.

So selection of a suitable venue is the more important factor.

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 23 February 2016, 2:51 PM  
I heard a few negative comments about the nationals sprint last year. The area was good but the setting lacked route choices which is what the sprint race is all about really.

Sprint guidelines are definitely required to ensure the quality of events in the future. As a starting point I would suggest the following which is based on the IOF competition rules, British Federation’s Sprint Guideline and IOF Guidelines for Course Planning World Class Events.

Colour difficulty for Urban Sprint:

Controls for a sprint are technically easy.

White: Little to no route choice. Simple legs with minimal navigation needed. Limited changes of direction.

Yellow: Easy route choices with little technical detail. E.g. Two similar routes that are easy to identify.

Orange: Legs with several possible route choices, or longer routes which are complex to execute and concentration required. Some route choices not immediately obvious and/or some technical challenge.

Red: Aim to make every leg pose a route choice challenge. Include complex route choices with detailed navigation. Many decision points and frequent changes of direction. A high level of concentration required.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 24 February 2016, 12:57 AM  
Constructive contribution Fraser - cheers. Those guidelines look good to me. They are about Sprint course-setting for different difficulty levels. Next question - Does the remit have the grade allocations for Sprint at the right difficulty levels?

Show Profile  NSmith Posted: 24 February 2016, 2:48 AM  
The guidelines look good, as far as I can see they relate well to the proposed grades. However this is slightly off the main topic of the remit so perhaps a separate thread would be best for this discussion.

To provide some more context on the remit, it is quite clear that over the last few years the ability of competitors at a schools level has improved. This naturally leads to the question of should the difficulty be increased in line with increasing ability, in order to keep the same level of challenge for competitors, one of the key aspects of our sport.

In the past those who have the ability to complete the course at a harder difficulty than those currently specified have been those that have also been club orienteers, so the numbers of those who would benefit have been limited. However, in the past couple of years there has been a large increase (in some areas) of juniors who take part at a Year 7/8 level, which also runs yellow courses. This means that when they move up a grade to the Juniors (depending on DOB they either run this for one or two years) there is no increase in difficulty, so it's possible that people run three of four years of yellow courses. However as stated above this is not true of all areas as some regions get many people starting at a Year 9 level, and Yellow is generally a suitable difficulty for those new to the sport at this stage.

It's important to note at this point that although there has been lots of discussion within various groups, ie the ones Mike mentioned above, neither ONZ Council or the Junior Development Committee has adopted a formal position on this remit. We recognize the fact that clubs will be in different positions as to whether increasing the difficulty of the grading or not is the 'right' choice, and, having not consulted clubs on their views, we are in no position to judge what is 'right' for the whole of NZ.

When clubs are considering their view on the remit, it would be useful to consider the remit in the context of two questions:

1) When is the 'right' time to increase the difficulty?

This is a question that has no correct answer, however there are several considerations that should be taken into account:
- Should the School Championship cater for the top competitors or be focused on getting as many people to complete the course as possible, or most probably somewhere in the middle?
- What effects will increasing the difficulty have on the people that can run the increased difficulty? Should we expect a beneficial improvement that will result in better results further down the track? Will increasing the difficulty force juniors to step up their game and perform beyond what we expect at the moment?
- What effects will increasing the difficulty have on those who can no longer run the A grade? Would this discourage competitors to the point where they may not continue orienteering?

I'm sure there are many other considerations to take into account and this should form the basis of our debate.

2) Have we reached the 'right'time?

I expect this question will be answered differently by different clubs. Hopefully the vote at the AGM will result in an outcome that represents what is beneficial to NZ orienteering as a whole.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 24 February 2016, 12:44 PM  
Constructive contribution Fraser - cheers. Those guidelines look good to me. They are about Sprint course-setting for different difficulty levels. Next question - Does the remit have the grade allocations for Sprint at the right difficulty levels?

Show Profile  nick Posted: 24 February 2016, 3:25 PM  
Constructive contribution Fraser - cheers. Those guidelines look good to me. They are about Sprint course-setting for different difficulty levels. Next question - Does the remit have the grade allocations for Sprint at the right difficulty levels?

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 25 February 2016, 10:15 AM  
Adding a third question to N Smith item above

3) Have we reached the right time to ditch Novice races for Juniors grade?

My replies:
1. Yes its the right time to increase the difficulty.
2. Yes it can happen now.
3. No. Some newcomers in Yr 9 may not be ready by April to run Yellow races at NISS. Bring back the Novice for Juniors and I might agree this remit should go ahead.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 25 February 2016, 2:09 PM  
Jane is there really a huge difference in a white course and a yellow course particularly on farmland where both the NISS and NZSS are being held this year

I'm a firm believer that clubs should be encouraging kids, who are intending to represent their schools at these events, attend club events and develop their skills there rather than trying to blood them in major school events.

Surely many of these Yr 9's have had some experience as Yr 7/8's. I think the white course should only be for Yr 7/8 standard only.

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 26 February 2016, 12:04 PM  
In response to above [Mike's]
Firstly would the NISS hosts over the next 10 years promise never to have their event in a forest? I think not, so we should plan for all eventualities.

Secondly, if you look at the HBOC calendar of events we have only two club events scheduled that a Secondary School new-comer would attend before NISS. If they do a white the first event, we would have to push them into a yellow the second event, only 10 days before NISS. If they are then still keen to attend our local event NISS with their friends I would prefer they run a white course at the Champs rather than persuade them not to attend.

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