All in all, the day went largely as expected. I'm not Sam, so I'm not going to be comprehensive. Also, I was at work, not in Pittsburgh, so my perspective was left to the tender mercies of CMUtv, WRCT, Bordick, and Estes. They did a great job, but it isn't like being there. Here are the things that stuck out in my mind, in no particular order:
Spirit was rolling very well, especially on the women's side, until they spun in the chute. That could be considered a theme for them. They made it around with Fuko in men's, but it was a pretty pokey roll compared to their other times. Their A and B teams finished neck-and-neck on the men's side. C & D spun. Women's B finished barely under the 3-minute mark, but their A-team spun on what was a pretty incredible roll until that point. They clearly need to look into their wheel prep. This is pure conjecture on my part, but I worry that their square tire profile is not doing them any favors.
SigEp continued to be competitive on all fronts. They still don't have a buggy that can roll with the top teams, especially in terms of roll-out. It also looked like they left some seconds on the hills, but I'd want to look at the replays before making such an accusation. SigEp was a good step behind SDC, Fringe, and PiKA, but they are obviously on the rise. I'll say this: 2 men's teams in the top 10 from a team that was not competitive just a few years ago. Well done!
Pioneers rolled and I'm really happy about that. They remind me a lot of Fringe when I was a student - returning from the brink of destruction. Their fate rests firmly in their ability to recruit.
CIA's new buggies look to be for real. Not top-tier quite yet, but giving a good showing. They were consistent and big (7 teams) but don't appear to have the runners needed to really compete. When Spirit and SAE both in front of then, CIA once again showed great driving skills. The pushbar came up and I cheered and everyone else in my office looked at me funny. I'm used to that.
SigNu had a bad crash in the chute. We didn't get any video of it, so I can't really comment on the circumstances. But there was an ambulance and the driver was beat-up a bit. There was chatter of a bump on the head and/or a bleeding elbow, but I don't know how much I'm going to trust what I read on IRC. SigNu only had one team rolling this year, which is better than no teams, but I'd really like to see more of them. They are shiny and I miss 'em. They are also the only team running in a fully-enclosed reverse-trike configuration and I like the variety.
PiKA was back to rolling like PiKA, although it is more like PiKA of 2007 than 2008 or 2009. A few years ago their times would have won, but since 2004 a 2:08 is just not enough to win. PiKA was actually pretty unexciting, which I mean as a compliment. There were some times when I disagree with the pusher's technique -- there was a lot of chatter about pushers closing their hands, misjudged transitions, etc. Generally speaking, they rolled smooth and solid, and consistently a few seconds behind SDC and Fringe. Their new standard trike performed well, but not any better than their reverse trikes of the last few years. As the first buggy of a completely new design, that is quite an accomplishment, even if it doesn't make for exciting copy. PiKA is 3rd in a 3-horse race.
SDC rolled like a bat out of hell. Their stop-sign time on men's A was somewhere around 49 seconds, which is just nuts. The line got a little squirrelly near the gazebo, which may have been the difference between first and second on the men's side. They also had the distinct disadvantage of a very long delay because of the SigNu crash. Was it a factor? Only those in the truck will know for sure. The women's A race was weird. They rolled a 2:31, but had to re-roll the whole heat because of a false start. Re-rolls are always a crap shoot, and SDC lost about 4 seconds their second time around. That cut their lead on Fringe to under a tenth of a second, but they still took home the trophy. In my mind, the biggest story about SDC is how incredibly deep they are. They went 2,4,6,14 in men's and 1,4,6,13 in women's. That is straight up crazy. Old, bitter rivalries aside, my hat is off to the people running that squad.
Fringe.... well Fringe kicked ass. There was a missed pushbar (men's C) because if Fringe doesn't miss at least once per Carnival, the devil will rise from Hell and devour us all. That is the only explanation for the consistency. First off, anyone who hadn't been convinced before now knows: Bonsai a more-than-worthy successor to the A-team mantle for Fringe. Banyan was not out this year, reasons why will not fit in the margins of this book. Oh, and it has a bad-ass paint job. On the women's side, Fringe managed to nearly match their 2001 team record. It was a great roll to watch for the Fringe faithful, although I think I remember the hill 4 pusher having to reach back for the bar. Don't quote me on that. Fringe men's A beat their team record, and for the first time came in under the 2:06.2 bar, joining PiKA and SDC as the only teams to do that. The stop sign time was a little behind SDC, but the clock in the video is crap, so don't put too much stock in that. Both teams were around 50 seconds, so let's call it comparable. I have to admit, I was so excited that I didn't have my most critical eye on. I was yelling too much.
The untold story here is about the teams that were gone. KKG/ZBT, KDR, PhiKap, and, Beta are gone. Pioneers and SigNu are shells of their previous glory. Getting another 8 rolls on both sides of the race would be great, but that is a story for another thread.
Lastly, giant props again to Sam Swift for running the timing, keeping the site up-to-date, and being a generally great guy. Sam, you are my hero.
Last edited by DangerMike
on Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.