2015 Races

shafeeq
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Re: 2015 Races

Postby shafeeq » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:00 pm

PiKA A also DQ'd out of a likely top 4 men's time. The winning women's time was only 2s off of last year's and faster than all but one non-SDC team since the 2009 record.

SDC's domination has been pulling up the average for almost the last decade, and only occasionally in that time has an extraordinary team challenged them. For whatever reason, they don't seem to have the talent this year that they have in the past. I suspect that some of it has been spread across the field rather than concentrated in one team, resulting in closer competition but slower victors, much like the salary cap in pro sports.

The hill 2 pusher has a big effect on the freeroll times, and a number of teams lost out there - most notably SigEp A men and SDC A women. Lack of practice days and tight races probably didn't help there. Lack of practice days also hurt the driving - PiKA, SDC, maybe even Fringe, while in no doubt about making it through, lost more speed in the chute and rolled out worse than normal - see how rapidly SDC goes backwards in their women's final. The damp roads on Friday seemed to cause footing problems for several pushers, but that factor wasn't present in finals.

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Re: 2015 Races

Postby nbonaddio » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:05 pm

hvincent wrote:What do you mean by "historically fastest"? Do you really expect a course record set every year? Just because no one beat last year's first place time doesn't mean everyone went slower; if you're just looking at the fastest run as an indicator of speed, I think you're missing part of the picture.

2014 Women's top 4 average: 2:44.04
2015 Women's top 4 average: 2.42.49 (-1.55)

2014 Men's top 4 average: 2:13.35
2015 Men's top 4 average: 2:13.04 (-0.31)

I think what you're actually observing is that a previously dominating team has lost some ground this year, and the rest of the pack is closing the gap. The top times are objectively faster overall than last year (regardless if this is happening in freeroll or pushing), and the difference in those times is smaller.

Sam Swift did a excellent data analysis of historical data (I don't have a link handy for the slides at the moment), and I am pretty interested to see how this year affects the dataset. One of the thoughts I had was to try and break it down further between freeroll and pushing, but I'm not quite bored enough yet to sign up for watching a ton of race footage to get those numbers.


I have pretty mixed feelings about this year. On the plus side, it's great to see an exciting race day and it's even more exciting to see organizations make breakthroughs (CIA, SAE), but on the flip side, it's disappointing to see a 2:10+ winning time on a day where the weather was simply perfect.

It was obvious from the get go that SDC was not rolling all that well. I'm not sure the heat offhand but I distinctly remember SigEp pulling away from them on the downhill. I don't have the data in front of me, but I'd be shocked if any time freerolled better than CIA - which is sort of amazing.

My other observations:
The driving wasn't all that strong, but it sure was exciting - multiple chute passes and crash avoidance. Sure, the drivers could have avoided by having better lines, but it made for an exciting day in the Chute.

Pushing was abysmal. No excuse ever for pushbar DQs - and there were multiple - and generally, no singular pusher appeared to put up an impressive performance bar Spirit's Hill 1. Not sure if it's related to a track meet on Raceday or what, but just it was just generally poor pushing, particularly given the weather.

Great commentary by Connor, Bordick, and Will. It seems thankless so I don't want to take their effort for granted - they deserve kudos because they did a great job, particularly Connor.

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Re: 2015 Races

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Sun Apr 19, 2015 5:32 pm

You have to go back 10 years to find a Sweepstakes in which the winning time exceeded 2:10.
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Re: 2015 Races

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Sun Apr 19, 2015 5:45 pm

The only really fast FR time was posted by PiKA A in the exhibition heat Saturday morning, despite a late tailslide coming out of the corner.

In round numbers, SDC A was about ~6% slower this than last year in FR. CIA A was quicker, but not as quick as the best FR times ever recorded, and not as quick as PiKA A.

The most of the very fastest teams were slower this year (SDC, Fringe.) Sig Ep was marginally faster than 2014.

And I agree with the analysis about the push teams: very weak across the board this year. For a long time, my sense has been that most teams (other than the very fastest ones) haven't been taking push practice/preparation seriously for several years. And this year, even SDC A's push team was lackluster compare with just a year ago, or push teams from decades ago.
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Re: 2015 Races

Postby nbonaddio » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:10 pm

Elmo Zoneball wrote:The only really fast FR time was posted by PiKA A in the exhibition heat Saturday morning, despite a late tailslide coming out of the corner.

In round numbers, SDC A was about ~6% slower this than last year in FR. CIA A was quicker, but not as quick as the best FR times ever recorded, and not as quick as PiKA A.

The most of the very fastest teams were slower this year (SDC, Fringe.) Sig Ep was marginally faster than 2014.

And I agree with the analysis about the push teams: very weak across the board this year. For a long time, my sense has been that most teams (other than the very fastest ones) haven't been taking push practice/preparation seriously for several years. And this year, even SDC A's push team was lackluster compare with just a year ago, or push teams from decades ago.


My sense is actually that it's related to recruiting more than it is to preparation. Without Beta and other organizations that typically draw from the varsity sports pool, there is zero reason why the more successful independents can't get the better athletes on campus onto their teams. I'm not as up on rosters as I used to be, but based on the push teams that I saw, I'd be surprised if the number of varsity basketball/football/soccer athletes was higher than one or two in sum.

Secondly - and I've been beating this drum for years, considering it was a key KDR strategy between 2004-2008 - failing a cogent push preparation program, have someone else do it for you: the track team.

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Re: 2015 Races - why so slow? TL:DR: IT WAS THE WEATHER

Postby felmley » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:34 pm

I went to all but one of the freerolls (Easter Morning) this Spring. Which means I got up early for rolls a total of four times this Spring. There were not 5 weekends of rolls, but 5 days. And yet people are going "Where's the speed?"
Yes, teams should have rolled over Spring Break. But even then I think they would have had one day not cancelled by weather. For those of you not paying attention:
IT WAS THE WEATHER.
Not that weather affects speed, we set 2:06.2 in ~40degrees, it affects practice. It affects the drivers, of course, but also pushers and mechanics. You can't become proficient at something as weird as buggy w/o doing it over and over. With temperatures lower than on average (~10 degrees lower over most of March), you have drivers freezing their lil' spandex covered buns off, trying to concentrate, not fog up or cramp up, and pushers constricted by layers or freezing and pulling muscles. Push Practice really suffered too. Go to weather.com or your favorite weather site that has past weather conditions. I believe there were a few weeks with only one or two nights out of five for Push Practice, most of them cancelled because of snow or rain, not cold. Teams opted to condition instead, but you can't learn pushing on a track or in a stairwell or in the gym. I think a major portion of the slowness was in technique on the Hills.
With the buggies, the students are often reckless, as we all were, but none of them are quite crazy enough to go wheels out on that little bit of practice. Look at SDC dropping (being forced to drop?) two (2) teams. Yes they were switching ends in the chute, but they were getting better, IMO. A few more days and they would have that slide down enough to at least race. This event is one of the few that offers so little time on the racing course before going full speed. And some folks on the active "How to Improve Buggy" thread thinks we should make Truck Weekend MORE competitive. Three days then full speed to get your heat selection? No thanks.
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Re: 2015 Races - why so slow? TL:DR: IT WAS THE WEATHER

Postby nbonaddio » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:30 pm

felmley wrote:you can't learn pushing on a track


If such a thing were possible, I'd win a gold medal and set a new world record at the 2015 World Championships of Disagreement in regards to this statement.

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Re: 2015 Races

Postby Carleton » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:52 pm

I think he meant that you can't learn push technique and transition technique on a track as a substitute for push practice. I'm guessing he was not directly referring to track events such as relays, merely the idea of conditioning in an 'artificial' setting in lieu of push practice.

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Re: 2015 Races

Postby nbonaddio » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:30 pm

Carleton wrote:I think he meant that you can't learn push technique and transition technique on a track as a substitute for push practice. I'm guessing he was not directly referring to track events such as relays, merely the idea of conditioning in an 'artificial' setting in lieu of push practice.


I would vociferously disagree with that too.

Push technique? I was unaware that every current student was recently the victim of head trauma so severe that they forgot how to extend their arms.

Hold it. Run.

Transitions? Go load up the race video of any 4x100 race since the return of the modern Olympics and you're good there.

I can appreciate wanting to be political and friendly and perhaps chalking up this year's horrific pushing to weather, but that has nothing to do with it; you can train cardiovascular strength and speed inside of a bus terminal if you wanted. It has everything to do with lack of perceived competition, lack of event stature on campus, and lack of varsity athlete involvement.

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Re: 2015 Races

Postby McCue » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:16 pm

I would suggest that the absolute fastest pushers are those who know a lot about and train for buggy, but it's a motivation thing. Except for a couple feet on hills 2, 3, and (specifically the last foot of) 5, 95% of performance improvements are athletic and not technical. You can see this yourself by watching me push a buggy ever.


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