Judging a competition like this is a great challenge, because as I explained in the previous paragraphs, the level is extremely high, and the stakes are considerable.
To compete for the title of “lord” there are the best riders of the world freestyle tour, important names who have already participated in the KING OF THE AIR, but also young people less known, but no less talented, thirsty for success.
Each one has a great desire to win, some to confirm their status as professionals, others to show themselves up to the situation.
In this combination of athletes finding a way to determine who is the winner is not always so obvious.
My role, as a judge, is to be as objective as possible, noting trick after trick, comparing similar jumps and trying to forget who is the rider performing it, aware that when the athlete’s name is important, the pressure increases.
I am not a robot and like everyone else I have my preferences, in terms of style and execution. In addition, the world of kiting is relatively small, and I therefore find myself judging my friends, riders I appreciate, potentially people I don’t get along with, and the difficulty lies in abstracting from all this and thinking of the rider as a number and judging him only for his maneuver, and not for who he is.
Thus, the most important work must take place before the competition: during the meetings between the Director of the competition, head judge and judges, in which must be established the format (categories, method of evaluation, etc..) that will then be communicated in the briefings and that will be used as a guideline for judging and to which we must stick. It will then be up to the riders to understand it and adapt to it.
But we all know how boring riders can be in certain situations. The extreme conditions, the tension that increases, the high stakes, the desire to do well, etc., means that you may receive all kinds of complaints (the wind is not good, when is my turn, I didn’t see the flag, why was I judged like this, I didn’t understand the rule, etc.) and this creates additional stress. But it is necessary not to be influenced by it and to remain impartial!
My goal as a judge at LORDS OF TRAM is not only to write down some notations on a piece of paper, but to create cohesion with the organization on one hand, and with the riders on the other.
The cohesion with the organization comes from the desire to do a common project, knowing that there will be some tough decisions to make, potentially not easy for the riders to digest. But our support, as judges, must never be missing.
Cohesion with the riders to establish a relationship of trust by showing our awareness that these competitions are made primarily for them, as well as to show the beauty of our sport and make it evolve, and that we aim to put our skills at their service.
It is necessary to reiterate, that the judges’ tower remains one of the nodal points for the execution of the competition and it is necessary to trust in our work, conscious of the fact that we are human and that some decisions are susceptible to error.
Complaints or comments from participants about the way we judge are and will always be heard, because it is through communication and dialogue that we can improve and find what works best for this format. Genuine and constructive interaction allows the smooth running and evolution of the competition.
Each judge is and must be chosen for his or her individual qualities, but more importantly, it is necessary to assemble a team that is capable of homogenous and coherent judging.
The expectations on the judges’ work are high, because it is on us that the final result depends.
This year I was joined by Nico Delmas and Jessy Bignon.
We combined three similar but different judging styles.
Similar because we have a common guideline defined by mutual agreement during the meetings, but also and especially because we are open to dialogue and discussion on almost every trick, especially when the discrepancy of judgment is relevant, different because each of us has a specific expertise: Nico is the Freestyle specialist, Jessy is the Big Air one, and I was chosen for my critical spirit of analysis, which is also effective to mediate the two points of view and give a balance to the notations.
My analytical spirit evolves more and more thanks to my interest for all kind of kite competitions, thanks to years of teaching and coaching, thanks to my participation as a judge in various contests (big air, freestyle, strapless), and thanks to my interest for this sport.
I know that Tristan is counting on me and I think it is important to fulfill his expectations, as well as those of all riders. This is a source of motivation and pushes me to do my job with passion, which always brings positive results.
So, judging LORDS OF TRAM is about being able to cope with pressure and make important decisions in a short time, it’s about being both observant and analytical, it’s about being able to be clear in explaining the format and expectations of the competition, and all of this sounds in part like my routine as a kite coach and instructor, which is why I am at ease.