The Future of USA Conventions

I wrote an article for the next issue of On One Wheel, asking people to let
us know what they like or don’t like about our conventions. I don’t want to
wait for that to get printed, mailed, and read by everyone, so I’m letting
all of you see it first. What do y’all think about the way we do
conventions? Read this and respond:

by John Foss, your outgoing USA President

If you attended the excellently-run conventions this summer in Washington,
you may have some opinions about what you’d like to see, or do, or not have
to experience at future conventions. But we usually don’t hear much from
most of our members, except at the conventions themselves, when it’s too
late to do anything about it. We’d like to hear from you now.

The USA has a Rules Committee that works on our competition rules. But this
process generally does not determine the basic nuts and bolts of the
convention. It only works with the rules for the competition events, and has
little effect on the rest of your convention experience. In any case, we
still welcome new members to the USA Rules Committee. You can see what we do

But what about the overall convention? Would you like to see more of some
things, or less of others? Perhaps it is time to make some changes. At the
moment, we do not have a host scheduled for our 2003 convention. These
events are hard to put together. Are they too hard? Should we perhaps do
something to make it easier?


  • So much time is taken up by competition that there’s never enough time for
    workshops or other non-competitive events
  • It’s the North American championships, and yet beginner and beginner-level
    riders are doing artistic competitions at beginner levels, which takes up a
    lot of time
  • Level One riders are entering Standard Skill, and winning awards
  • Racing takes up two whole days or nearly that
  • Awards ceremonies, even when minimized, are deadly boring

Here’s an example of my own. Based on the competition result information at, there were 291 competitors at this summer’s USA Convention.
For each racing event with the full range of age groups (such as the 100m),
there were 110 age group medals and ribbons, plus another 10 Expert medals
and ribbons. That’s 120 awards each for the 100m, 400m, 800/1500 as a unit,
Backward Slow, Forward Slow, High Jump, Long Jump, Obstacle Course, and Walk
the Wheel (10m and 30m as a unit). Plus another 120 awards for Racing Point
Total awards. That’s 1200 awards, just for racing. And this was a “minimal”
convention, in that many events that would normally be included were saved

1200 racing awards. Add to that another approximately 340 awards for the
artistic events. Actually there are many more, because each rider in a club
or group gets one. To allow for that we can figure a conservative 10 riders
each for Club Show, and add another 50. The 340 assumes a minimal three
riders each in Group Freestyle. This gives us a grand total of 1590 awards.

Granted, not all of these awards are given out, because some age groups are
not full. In fact, this year, like most years, some age groups only had one
rider in them. What kind of competition is that? But regardless, the hosts
had to purchase all those awards, because they must be ordered in advance.
And with numbers like those, the costs add up fast.

1590 divided by 291? Roughly 5 and a half. This means that on average,
people attending the relatively bare-bones 2002 NAUCC went home with 5.5
ribbons, medals, and a few trophies. Is this excessive for a North American
championship? People are of wildly various opinions on that, though this
average is perhaps the lowest it’s been since the 1980s due to the smaller
number of events.

It’s good to have events to encourage young and beginning riders. I would
not do away with that. But should we treat it more like a championship
event, perhaps by having fewer events with all those age groups? This would
not only lower the cost of the convention, it would allow more time to do
other events such as workshops, group rides, games, etc.

What do you think? Please let us know. You can write to the USA P.O. Box
(40534, Redford, MI, 48240), or send e-mail to,
where interested volunteers can see it. We can’t make the changes you want
until we know what they are!

Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone

Re: The Future of USA Conventions

John Foss <> wrote in message news:<>…
> I wrote an article for the next issue of On One Wheel, asking people to let
> us know what they like or don’t like about our conventions. I don’t want to
> wait for that to get printed, mailed, and read by everyone, so I’m letting
> all of you see it first. What do y’all think about the way we do
> conventions? Read this and respond:

First up congratulations must go to everyone who was involved in
organising NUC (now known as NAUCC). It was a great event. Here are
a few of my thoughts on what could be improved.

This year’s NUC venues were very spread out. This meant a lot of time
was wasted travelling to and fro plus missing out on things because
you couldn’t find a lift to where you wanted to go. I know the
reasons surrounding why the venues ended up being spread out but for
future reference I think it is very important to have everything
really close, preferably all at the same venue. This adds to the
atmosphere and allows people to be involved in more things.

There seemed to be a lot of time wasted hanging around the track.
This could have been solved if there was a practice hall nearby
(within PA distance perhaps) where workshops were run. I think track
days are the ideal time to run workshops as you often have an hour or
two to kill between events and a lot of people are hanging around with
not much to do.

Obviously the policy of not allowing international competitors at NUC
made sense this year. I’m wondering what the policy for future NUCs
will be? I think it is a good idea not to discourage international
participation as they can contribute positively to the event. A
policy like the one used in the Australian nationals may be a good
idea. International competitors were allowed to compete and received a
placing and time but medals and ribbons were only given to Australian
citizens. This means the top 3 Australians in an event are awarded
gold, silver and bronze even if an international placed first, second
or third. This encourages people to come over for the competition but
does not discourage participation from national people who feel they
are not up to international level.

I think there are too many placings awarded at NUC and UNICON.
Although it is nice to get a ribbon, it does make for a long and
boring ceremony. Also people know where they placed anyway when they
see the results posted. I would suggest only awarding first, second
and third place awards rather than down to fifth place. This would
greatly reduce the award load and make ribbons/medals a little more
special. It may encourage people to practice harder too if they know
it is a little more difficult to get a ribbon.

Hope that feedback helps,

Regarding medals:
I totally agree that the awards ceremony is a huge bore. I totally agree that way too many awards are purchased/given out. I totally agree that level 1 (and 2 -like myself) riders are competing with more advanced riders. But I’m sure you’d agree that it is just as fun to get an award as it is to be blown away by a better rider. Perhaps awards could be given as a “coupon” or entitlement to an award, and the recipient could then purchase his/her own reward if they want to. These coupons could be mailed out. This would illiminate the need for an awards ceremony, and cut the cost.

Regarding the convention:
I liked the way it was run and am thankful someone is willing to do it. It is a huge job and takes a lot of time.

Hey John
Hey Peter
Hey Jerry (Jerry has the best Ultimate Wheel ever)

I hope that future conventions become easier to organize and host. I was going to say also to cut down the 5 ribbon places to only 3, i think that would cut down a big chunk from those expenses, and shorten the cerimonies. Racing took alot of time and i dont know if that can be changed, unless you somehow assigned days, racing times, and numbers at registration…but that would create more work. What would also be nice is new registration papers, to make it more quik and easy to fill out…it was kindof a pain…Just my thoughts.
Hope to see you guys in Santa Cruz.
Jon Sprague

First off I should say I have never been to a Unicon or any other kind of unicycling compition. If anything in this post is not accurate please correct me.

With that said it sounds to me like you guys have tee ball games going at the same time as your throwing the world series. Thats just way to much to do. Its not the olyimpics. I say follow the KISS Principal.

Although it may seem mean to some of the younger and older athleats I would say cut out alot of the age brackets. If a few 5 year olds loose medals to some kids who are say 16 perhaps. I say have 3 main brackets Jr. Amature (pro), Senior. Where as these are the only groups that are competing for Medals. ( Track)

Also have events for beginers that are after the real events. Dont let them compete, perhaps have qualifiying rounds to set them appart from the people that have a chance at a metal. No different classes for skill level of rider. Everyone for themselves.

Metals should be given to thoes that are the BEST. Not just everyone that goes as a lets feel happy for trying. They already do that on their own for the most part. Give them a good show and they will forget about the silly ribbon they got last year.

As far as award ceramony make it short and sweet. Long and drawn out no one has fun.

The only thing I would add is more aggressive stuff perhaps a new Street portion where benches and boxes are set out to trick off of like in Street BMX or Skateboarding. You have to keep the kids interested. Honestly I’m not interested at all in artistic preformances. I want to see people go big or go home. I know alot of other kids that are like this too.

Just my thoughts on the subject… Perhaps next year I’ll actually go.