Today I’m introducing you the project I’ve been working on for the last weeks. It’s been two years now since I started judging ski jumping national competitions. From the judge’s point of view, the job is simple and funny: you write your vote for every athlete on a sheet of paper until all the racers have jumped. What is tedious and needs a lot of focus it’s the task of the guy sitting behind the computer that, after or during the race, he/she has to insert into a software program all the distances and scores gained by every single competitor. We can easily understand the difficulty if we suppose a kids race with 200 racers jumping for two (but they could be even three) rounds (without the second “30-best-athletes” round) and under-estimate a time of 1 second to insert all the data per athlete, the total time to produce a final rank is more than six hours. It takes a lot of time and of course the process must be carried on during the competition.
There are some solutions that use numeric keypads in order to let judges insert their votes directly in the classification system instead of writing them on paper. These systems can be find in top-level competitions or in big and important ski jumping centers, but very often they are expensive and hard to install (indeed this task is usually made by the proprietary company of the system before every race).
Nowadays we are surrounded by powerful computers, right in our pockets. Why do not use them? So, instead of put down meters of cables and connect keyboards to a computer, why do not take some smartphones or tablets, draw on them a digital keyboard and let judges write there their vote? The ingredients of the idea I’ve developed (and I’m still working on) are things that are easy accessible: a personal computer, some smartphones/tablets, and a router. The system will be called SkiJumpingRaceManagerPro and will be composed by computer application and a smartphone/tablet app. The router can be a simple domestic one and is needed to create a communication channel between the devices and the pc.
Here is how things work. Every single judge (they can be 3 or 5) will have a smartphone/tablet with the SkiJumpingRaceManagerPro app installed. Once the app is running, it will let the judge insert its vote (with the usual detractions method) and it will communicate it to the counterpart app on the personal computer. Here, the guy who before was inserting manually all the data, now simply selects an athlete from the ones registrated in the competition, and that one will compare on judges’ device’s screen allowing them to insert a score.
The installation is very easy. The only things to do are: setup a local Wi-Fi network, download and install the pc program, tell the judges to download the app from the usual platforms. Next up, start the race.
Notice that the computer program is sufficient to manage a competition. In fact, it allows the manual entry of the competitors’ scores and distances and it is responsible of race creation, of athletes’ enrollment, of producing startlists and final ranks PDFs. Moreover, SkiJumpingRaceManagerPro features tool to create and manage athletes’ database, avoiding the repeating process of registrating the same athletes in different races. The system also manages nordic combined competitions (with the Gundersen method). The program is capable of create cross-country startlists and produce final ranks after the insertion of entrants’ race times. Currently, the competition rules present in the software are that of FIS and FISI (Italian Winter Sports Federation) with the relative coefficients for the distance-points conversion and no-co handicap calculation.
Last sunday, the system was officially tested for the first time in a 40-50 kids ski jumping and nordic combined national competition and it worked efficiently. Right after the first jump standings were ready, and right after the last competitor the unofficial ranks were announced. PDFs of the competition can be found at this link (photocopies). With an additional monitor connected to the computer, the system could be able to visualize real time competition’s standings.
There are some improvements to be done but the main features are pretty much complete. The final version should be available for the start of the winter season.
SkiJumpingRaceManager currently works only on Apple’s Mac, iPad and iPhone. For the final release, an Android version for the judges’ devices will be available.