Hey everyone! I posted this on facebook, and I figured I’d repost it here to get a different demographic’s response.
As a lot of you probably noticed, they released the updated 2012 IUF rulebook. Everything is mostly the same, but there’s one sentence that really stuck out to me in the flatland section: “Skills typically known from freestyle should be judged with equal weight” (Section 4.10). Now, this probably won’t affect the guys competition at all. Guys flatland is established enough that no freestyle rider could compete in a major flat comp and expect to win without doing any flip tricks or very few roll combos. However, I think this new rule could be a big problem for the girls competition.
There aren’t that many girls flat riders, and we’re lucky to have more than a handful of competitors at any given event. However, there are hundreds of female freestyle riders. I’m worried that the girls flatland competition is going to turn into a second freestyle competition. For example, at last EUC Winter there were a bunch of freestyle riders that registered for the competition (though most of them didn’t show up to compete…). As another example, check out the girls “flatland” final from EJC (at 4:14)
Now, I have nothing against freestyle riders entering the flat comp, or people using freestyle unicycles in the comp. However, I definitely think that flatland tricks should be weighted more than freestyle tricks in the flatland competition.
I’m planning to contact the IUF about this, but first I’d like to hear what you think! So please leave your opinion below.
How would you draw a line between Freestyle and Flatland tricks? I think the idea of the sentence in question is to remind people that there’s no easy way to do that.
Everything you can do in a Flatland performance is potentially a Freestyle trick. The question, then, is what parts of the Freestyle spectrum does Flatland not want to recognize?
IMHO, The difference between Freestyle and Flatland is the way you do the tricks, not the tricks. Where Freestyle is a mix of tricks and entertainment, Flat is almost all about the tricks, with the various other rule differences that make it quite different from Freestyle. Does this give Freestyle riders an advantage?
A pretty big difference formed, it’s pretty hard to define but when you look at, say a typical flatland video you can see that “potentially” the tricks would be possible to use in freestyle, but the technical difficulty isn’t readily apparant to the general public. Did you notice that the hick triple at the end had a sidejump in it? I didn’t, not until someone mentioned it.
So the difference that I would propose is something like this: The only tricks that get full points for judging are things that last one revolution or less. So flips and spins are good because they’re stationary, and then combos are good because the vast majority of them are made up of 1 rev roll tricks. And then we could make an exception for scuffcoasts and sideways ww maybe, because a lot of people do combos with them. But it wouldn’t give as many points for long combos with seat drag, stand up gliding, stuff like that which is almost only seen in freestyle.
I don’t know, the whole judging process seems very subjective. However, last winter EUC Mary had a really sick run (doubles, varial roll-360, ect). As in, when I watched it back I thought she could’ve won. But two years in a row now a freestyle rider placed above her. Their riding really wasn’t comparable just because it was so different, the freestyle rider was doing these insane long combos with stand up coasting-ww variations while Mary did typical flatland. And last year, I know that at least one of the judges only had experience with freestyle, and Janna was doing mostly freestyle… I don’t know. And frankly the judges matter less if the criteria for judging is clear, so I’m working on that aspect.
You might be on to something, but I wouldn’t want what we now call Freestyle to be limited to “dancy” stuff. That’s one approach to a Freestyle performance, but there are many others. The idea of Freestyle is that you can basically do anything, as long as it involves high levels of unicycle skill combined with good entertainment. So maybe call it something like Stage Unicycling (StageStyle?) or Entertainment Style.
But don’t call Flatland “Freestyle” if you plan to limit the type of riding you want to see…
No. Perhaps you haven’t read the actual rules yet? You can find a link to it on this page.
A key phrase (Section 4.10): A Flatland skill is any unicycle skill performed on a flat surface.
This is true for all forms of unicycling, and among specialists, still true for people who don’t spend much time in that specialty. In other words, I have a pretty good idea of the relative difficulty of most common Freestyle tricks. Not only because I used to do a lot of them, but from huge amounts of time watching others do it. But I have less of an understanding of the level of difficulty on common Flatland-style tricks since I have minimal experience doing them, and much less experience watching them. There are crazy-hard tricks in both events. And I’ll toss in that they get even harder in Freestyle if you want to make them look good, not just land them.
Flipping and spinning tricks can be super-quick; sometimes hard even for judges to count out. This is where slow motion makes for awesome Flat videos, but makes it tougher for people to appreciate some of what is actually going on.
That’s actually a pretty clever way to separate the essence of a major difference between the two styles. Interesting. But I don’t think it’s a good idea. you would have to do some surgery on the existing Flatland rules to fit this, of course. Things like creative combos, lines and “flow” must be considered in terms of how to judge them within your trick time limits.
This means you are telling riders what they can and can’t do. This will lead to Flat eventually looking like other sports with little variation in routines. I don’t recommend setting limits.
It sounds like you are worried you will be out-skilled by Freestylers (which apparently is a worry in Women’s Flatland). As it is currently written, Flatland clearly seeks “any unicycle skill performed on a flat surface.” I recommend you embrace that idea, and let the event grow and evolve without limitations.
The 2012 Rulebook is finished, and those are the rules for Unicon XVI. It’s extremely unlikely that rules will be changed at this late date. But I do believe that the younger events, like Flat, Street and even Trials, should not be tied to such a long-term timeline as the more traditional events. These newer events change faster, and I’d rather see the big competitions be on the cutting edge, rather than holding things back.
BTW, I will be the Artistic Director for Freestyle Competition at Unicon XVI. I will be working with Chief Judge Haruko Matsunaga. I would love to see more Flatland-style tricks come into the gym and lend themselves to audience-friendly performance! Both events can only benefit from sharing the skills.
Surely the easiest way to get around the issue without overt regulation in terms of rules is to make sure the judging panel is made up of the appropriate people with a good knowledge of the discipline. A panel made up of the riders peers will hold more legitimacy than any IUF appointed one. I imagine there will be a number of riders who don’t make it into the finals who would really like to take a role as a judge.
Freestylers in a flatland competition can lead to problems, when the Flatland competition is used as a second chance for freestyle-riders, which it isn’t made for…Flatland battles are designed for short combos/lines/tricks, and freestylers often do a trick very long, until they make the transition to other tricks…in a Battle “freestyler” vs. “Flatlander” the Flatlander has to be carefull that he gets the equal amount of time for riding and showing his tricks, and often doesn’t land tricks because he is just not used to long lines, while the Freestyler does 10 revolutions of standupww…And often Flat judges don’t have any idea if a Pirouette is harder than a 540° unispin or not, so it can be really hard to judge…
okay… no way am I not chiming in here. I gotta stand up for my people.
Here is the problem:
There is this ongoing idea that structure is the only way to fairly judge something. While there is truth in that, there is a huge contradiction happening (has been happening) in the unicycle world.
Lets look back 30(or whatever) years when freestyle ruled the roost. To fairly judge these dancing clowns a list of skill levels was needed, and a list of rules to judge them on. Now thats all fine and dandy, arms straight, fingers pointed… just so damn orderly and precise, hell add some music and you got a dance.
Now lets jump ahead to about 2008 (sorry if im getting this year wrong). Extreme unicycling is taking over, dirt is flying, kids are scuffing, and someone is front flipping. I will never forget the article posted in the USA’s newletter about Adriens Front flip. They bashed it like it was sloppy, dangerous, and should not be re-created.
(sorry for the language)WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
Bashing groundbreaking inovation. Something he trained for(with a personal trainer), for over a year. Thats just backassword jealousy.
Sorry dance monkeys, Extreme is taking over. Thats that. You can not put 30 year old standards on a new limitless part of this sport. It just Can’t work. Better and better it may get… but these are only compromises. One day it needs to end.
Now on to the Topic at hand:
I truly believe the IUF, USA have no place deciding how to run, judge, and exploit flatland unicycling, nor street or mountain. Trials sure, trials needs judging structure. The whole point of street and flat culture is progression, and telling the rest of the word to stick it up theirs. If that offends you… good. Its not suppose to be neat and titty in a little package with a bow, that you can give to your grandma.
When I wake up I know I can go outside and ride my unicycle, no money, no rules, no regulation. Just me my progression and style for days.
Do I think there should be flat competitions, hell yea. Do I think their needs to be a judging format, hell yea. Do you use words like “skills typical know from freestyle”? Get out of town. Get your freestyling monkey ass out my sport .
I hope I didn’t offend you all, but if Im lucky I maybe I got a couple. IUF you just don’t get it… you can’t put your ancient regulations and structure on a new idea. You are the ones keeping the sport down, not the kids who don’t want to compete against freestylers.
Wrapping this up:
There are plenty of freestyle tricks that cross over, hell im not a fool, flat would not be here without it. But there is a difference for sure in how these tricks are preformed, and if you start throwing out points to people who perform a technical trick that has less to do with flow and style, and more to do with composure and pointed fingers, then you are screwing over the kid who is inventing new tricks with tons of steeze. He may not know or even Fing care what an IUF skill level is. This kid learned to ride on the street, not his clubs gym.
Well, it’s more like freestyle is being judged on: [A] pointless props (like Woessner’s background, that he flew in just for points), [B] halloween-alike costumes, and [C] corresponding or conflicting music, [D] a choreography (or lack of), [E] smiles and/or fake kisses, then especially [F***] mistakes, and [Geez] timelimit, and [Huh?] floor-boundaries, and [Huh again?] more floor boundaries (yes!!), and -oh, I almost forgot- [Zzzzz] unicycling weights also a tiny bit. Plus bonus points for an unwritten requirement: [K] the costume change. And minus points if your [L] nationality doesn’t match with any of the judges.
This makes Simon Wells, Jose Barreto, Julien Monney, Annie Harding simply stupid losers that don’t fit in this system.
Then behind the scene there is an IUF rulebook commitee (I was silently removed by a single decission of miss Conny), in a closed forum which is hidden behind passwords, and even unintended but for some comfortable deleted in no-time (1st DB, then PHP, and then DNS). Having essential information disappearing is an "I"UF habit trough it’s self-mutating history. This club of volunteers exposes sometimes the true discriminating intentions of members (Swiss age, Japanese floor boundaries, endless randomizing a start order). Although the majority of these volunteers have the best intentions to improve, the rulebook is getting thicker and thicker each time, and pretty much each rule is not providing freedom nor improving the unicycling itself, but logical only the competition rules - that is; if working out well.
Therefor, contrary, flatland was intended to be what freestyle should have been; a dicipline where all ugly riders, even from France or Hungary, have a fair change, simply because a fair judging sytem values [a] their amazing unicycle skills, regardless of how poeple wish to name these.
I fail to understand why one should be worried by absent riders.
Like I explained above, under flatland rules you don’t have to be worried about Smurfs costuming, or music of the Dutch Father Abraham, like in that video is - a perfect example of what I was writing about freestyle -eh- costumes/music above (sorry dear German Smurfs).
That’s heartwarming. It also sound better that you became #1 out of 3 competitors, then #2 out of 2 including yourself.
In that rulebook; move over to the standard section, and see a brave, pointless and failing atempt to rank skills by difficulty.
I’m worried that you are worried that riders who do -eh, let’s just say…- a running mount to stand-up coasting, stand-up coasting to dragseat fw, dragseat backspin, dragseat frontspin, wrapped up with a pickup, are valued on the shown required skills/stability and therefor are more appreciated than a short but strong and daring unispin (after a very weak battle), something never shown before by any female unicyclist.
Sounds like it could have been a grip to bend the rules in your favor.
I think you better focus on your unicycling, than waste your time on creating or bending rules (or lack of), such that your unicycling style is in benefit over your competitors style. Before you’ll know it you’re in a lague of totally your own…
I think you should respect your competitor, starting by honestly value’ing their skills. Take the challange, in stead of making it yourself easy by removing it.
Wow, thanks everyone, I didn’t expect to get so much feedback on this. Currently the flatlanders unanimously agree that the sentence should be taken out. It looks like we’re moving in the direction of ensuring quality judges (as in, flatland riders) to keep the judging up to date.
Thanks John! I was pretty happy when I came up with that idea. For now though I’m setting it aside, I didn’t want to restrict creativity in any way and the extra explanations would get lengthy and complicated fast.
The reason for this is that I want to make sure that the flatland competition stays flatland. By using predominantly riders as judges, it would ensure that the people who understand the sport best will be deciding the comp. It seems like several of you think this whole thing is about me, and though I can’t change your mind I will say that I’m just trying to protect the female side of flatland. After all, as leo so eloquently put, there are very few female flatland riders.
Oh, also I got an email with a letter from the IUF that I think said that the rulebook was open for comments until the first of May? I’m not sure, I can’t check here at school. By the way, how does one get involved with the rulebook committee?
Yep, haha you pretty much jumped straight to the idea that took me a week to get to. The judging solution is also favorable because it has a longevity and flexibility that adding a million specific rules doesn’t.
Thank you finnspin, that’s exactly what I mean. Trying to compare freestyle and flatland is like comparing apples and oranges. After EUC this year several people approached me with the difficulty they had comparing Janna’s run to mine and Mary’s, just because they were so different!
Thanks Sam, it’s good to see a couple other flatlanders are still around the forums! The funny thing is, when the IUF (whoever that is) met to discuss the rulebook, Spencer noticed that sentence and requested that it be removed. However, someone told him that they were just reorganizing the sections and it had been in the previous rules as well. But when we looked through the old rulebook, it was nowhere to be found! I’m just wondering who put it there, and why? I’m glad to see you back riding, and I added you to the group on facebook so you can check out that discussion.
Alright leo, you get a whole post to yourself. First off, I understand english might not be your first language, but I couldn’t understand a lot of what you were saying. But the one thing that did come across pretty strongly was a strong dislike of me. I’m not sure we’ve met, but it sounds like you were at EUC… So maybe you could explain yourself a bit before you delve right into insulting me.
It sounds like you feel that freestyle is about the show, and flatland is everything else. Certainly a valid viewpoint, but it’s a bit out of touch with current flatland. As I explained before, current flatland is centered around flips, spins, and combos. Check out the video I posted earlier for a good example.
Their absence doesn’t worry me at all. It’s the fact that they registered for the competition. Again, in guys flatland freestyle riders would never register for the flatland comp just because they know the style is so different.
I guess you’re alleging that I said that because I just want more people to enter so that I can say I beat more people. Not sure why you would say that, but what I meant was that I’m fully in support of predominantly freestyle riders taking up a little flatland on the side and entering the competition. I’m just trying to grow the sport and get more exposure. I’ve been working with the Girls Riders Organization (an organization that promotes women in action sports) for several months now to try to get more participation. And it seems to be going well. Also, I’m not sure how I would go from 1 out of 3 to 2 out of 2 if less people enter?
No one wants to rank tricks by difficulty here, but by style. You should do flatland tricks in the flatland competition. I’m not sure how you can dispute that? The question is, what are flatland tricks? And to keep up with the evolving nature of the sport we’re encouraging riders to judge the competitions, as their knowledge of the sport is very up to date.
Thanks for summarizing the last tricks this year in Germany. I was not talking about myself at any time, but now that you’ve brought this up I will defend myself. I have not heard any flatland rider or judge say that they thought Janna’s last trick was better than mine. On the contrary, most people said that my last trick was the deciding factor. As you say, it has not been done by any other female unicyclist. You may call my battle weak if you like, you can view it here if you wish. Again, many tricks in it have never been done by other female unicyclists, and you are the first I have heard say that my win was not deserved.
You keep restating that you think I’m just trying to manipulate the rules in my favor. That’s fine, you can think what you like. Really though, I do not understand why you have such a vested interest in this. Yes, I do believe that flatland tricks should be the most highly valued tricks in a flatland competition. I’m not attempting to define what that should be. That’s why we’re working on the judging aspect, because riders have the most current knowledge on what flatland is.
Again, since you are bringing up specific people I’ll respond to that. I respect Janna greatly, she is amazing at freestyle. Much better than me, by far! I was very impressed by her last trick, though I did think it wasn’t quite fitting for the flatland competition. And the judging reflected that.
Well I’m at school and class just ended so I have to run, I’ll respond more later. Thanks for the input everyone!
Please not stage unicycling, you pretty much can perform anything you want on stage, as it’s a way to express yourself when you create an act and present it on stage… at least that’s what I think.
For the following I will use:
Freestyle: ANY trick done on flat
Flatland: Flips, rolls, unispin (and such) aiming for flow, style, creativity, originality, skills, etc.
Routine: What freestyle is right now
I think if the was a distinct competition between freestyle, flatland BATTLE and routines it would be fair to everyone. Freestyle being maybe 2 minutes of showing your best tricks, judge only on technique (something around that). Flatland battles being what they are right now with more, and finally keeping the cheesy routine as a third thing.
Also, I agree with most of Sam (AgentQ)'s post. While actual freestyle unicycling is like gymnastics, so structured you can’t really have creativity, flatland is all about being different, stylish, flow, originality, skills, etc. Hence a really clean fifthflip could probably be worth more point than a trey double flip, 540 sidespin than a really sketchy 720 unispin.
Well, as it happens we do know each other. You’re that freestyle guy that decided to judge the flatland competition. This is a prime example of why the judging system should be revised so that more FLATLAND riders are judging.
Rereading your posts it sounds like you’re a bit resentful that the show aspect is so important in freestyle, so you’re looking for a new competition to do purely technical freestyle in. Flatland is not that competition. There is a difference between the styles, and I would advise you to try to get a different competition started.
Emile has some good ideas in that regard, maybe you could take some of them and approach the IUF about a new competition?
Edit: Out of curiosity, does anyone know who it was that added the rule about freestyle to the flatland rules in the first place??
I don’t think the line should be in the rule book. I think it should go without saying that amazing skills done with style are not ignored because they are ‘freestyle tricks’. But phrases like “equal weight” are tricky.
Flatland: ANY trick done on flat aiming for flow, style, creativity, originality, skills, etc
It seems ridiculous trying to define flatland in terms of the types of tricks you do. What matters is how you use them.
So if nobody had done a scuff coast in a combo, and they did it in a comp, it should be ignored? What about originality?
Yep, I’ve scrapped that idea for exactly that reason. The current proposal is to take out the freestyle sentence (so far, no one knows why it was added in the first place) and then add a short bit saying that in the selection of judges, flatland riders get priority over others. Since they are the most knowledgeable about the discipline at any given time, that should be effective in keeping the judging in line with however flatland is perceived at that time. How does that sound?
IUF is the host of Unicon, and the creator of the rules we’re talking about. The IUF is a collection of unpaid volunteers, working to spread unicycling internationally. And blah, blah, blah like that. In other words, to assume the IUF has different goals from “other” unicyclists is silly. Generally, the IUF people merely commit more to the idea.
In any type of judged competition, you’re going to want the best judges possible. They don’t necessarily have to be Flat experts (or even unicycle riders); as long as they are good Flatland judges. Being a top rider is a different skill set than being a top judge. At the events I’ve attended, I think the judging panels have been made up of mostly people who were good at judging Flatland. But sometimes you get into a bind, where you need judges and nobody wants to do it. Then you take volunteers with less experience. This should not be a problem at Unicon though…
Absolutely the riders must share time, and if one rider is taking too long for lines this should be addressed as early as possible.
A 540 is harder. Sort of. Depends on the quality of each. There’s a lot more room for variation in a pirouette so there’s no straight answer. No judge can necessarily be an expert on the full range of unicycle tricks. But in its current form, Flatland is open to any type of unicycle tricks. For this version, judges who know nothing of Freestyle tricks and are only versed in Flat-style tricks would be weak judges.
Sounds like you have Freestyle confused with Standard Skill and the Skill Levels. Have you ever seen a good Freestyle competition?
Now you appear to be confusing Flatland with Street. We’re still not up to actual rider+uni flips in Flat yet (though I’m not betting against Max doing one soon).
Slowly. Right now you seem to have a shortage of people to work on the infrastructure. I expect the rules to keep changing and evolving. I will continue to help. But when it’s time to work on the rules for the next Unicon (when we open up the Rulebook Committee) the job has to get done by whoever gets involved. I encourage Julie to be involved on the next round!
Uh, so you’re for the idea of people doing any and all unicycle tricks in Flat, or not?
But somebody had to sit down and come up with a set of rules for it. An event with no definition cannot be fairly judged. Spencer Hochberg was a major force in developing the original Flatland rules. Then he had help from others with developing a structure so you could describe how to run the event, describe how the battle format worked etc. I helped.
I think he just told me to stick it up mine.
That’s great, but it does not work for putting together international competitions. People have to agree on stuff and it gets complicated. Fortunately Flat is ultra-uncomplicated compared to Freestyle, and I hope it always stays that way.
Sounds like you aren’t familiar with the Flatland rules either. Body form is not an important factor like it is in Freestyle. In Flat you can do your tricks “ugly”, but if you do this in Freestyle it will count against you.
I actually partly agree with you on that. In the past, Freestyle was a clear 50/50 between difficulty (of the unicycling) and presentation. In recent years the judging has grown ever more complex, to where it’s hard to tell what you’re actually scoring.
But it sounds like you don’t get the idea of Freestyle. As a professional performer it should make more sense to you, but not everyone has the same tastes. As a performer, you usually only get a limited space to work in (boundaries), and it’s usually smaller than you want. Think most stages. Your performance is presented to an audience, often with other types of entertainment, where music is expected, and dressing in street clothes will take away from your appearance.
But then I remember your Freestyle performance at a past Unicon. You didn’t like the marked boundaries (marked with cones) so you moved them to suit yourself. He moved the front cones up into the audience seating. He even climbed over a plastic judges table in the process; I remember thinking it was going to break! Then he was able to incorporate jumping on and off the bleachers as part of his performance. In that performance he was “more free” than everyone else.
You told me you were removed because you were not participating.
The IUF Rulebook Committee proposal and voting process has been held online for several years, with an evolving system of proposal, comment period, then voting. Only committee members can vote, to keep the committee from being “loaded” by biased voters who only show up for certain topics. The committee welcomes specialists, such as people only interested in Hockey, but they must participate in the discussion (and voting) on all Hockey topics.
The Committee website used to be public, so anybody could go in and see what the proposals were, read the discussions and even be able to contact committee members to share their ideas and opinions. But in the last couple of years we had some troubles with keeping it functioning without the skills of the site’s creators. It was hosted for free on my own (unicycling.com) Web hosting account, but I’m not a PHP programmer. Currently the files have been moved to the new USA website (along with the USA Rulebook Committee). I don’t have control over that site, but I would like to see that stuff be open to anyone that wants to read the discussions.
I agree. I’ve been involved in unicycle rules development since 1981 (31 years!) and we have definitely gotten bloated. This makes the rules harder to read, harder to understand, and harder to find stuff. Much of it is unnecessary, or only necessary on rare occasion. That’s why we have event officials, like a Flatland Director. That person is supposed to fill in gaps that aren’t covered by the written rules.
Leo communicates best when he is being really rude. That’s too bad. But Julia, I encourage you to get involved in the rule creation process. Not necessarily AgentQ though.
Part of that is because, in the 31 years I’ve been doing this there are some constants. People are quick to criticize, complain and be loaded with ideas when a new/changed set of rules comes out. But when it comes time to sit down and create them, or do the dirty work of trying to improve them without messing them up, it’s crickets. Nobody seems to be interested. Nobody asks about the Rulebook Committee after the conventions, when the actual work starts. But I think we need to make it easier to find out how to get involved. If it’s not on the web site, it should be there.
So any type of tricks should be welcome then? Long as they fit the event format; not taking up too much time for example.
Comments are always welcome. Even if they are only noted for the next time it’s open for edits. Making changes to the Flat event for Unicon XVI can probably only happen if that event’s Director insists on it.
Different is good. We get that a lot in Freestyle. You should want different.
Sorry Spencer, you voted for it:
“Proposal 59: [Flatland] Definition and Judging Consistency [Revision 2]” Background
There has been much debate in the Flatland and Freestyle world about what Flatland actually is. For example, how should a rolling wrap and crank spin be judged against sideways wheel walk and 1 foot extended backwards. While there is no perfect system, I believe that it is important to clarify what constitutes Flatland so that judging can be more consistent.
This proposal aims to provide a targeted definition of Flatland to:
Definition: A Flatland skill is any unicycle skill performed on a flat surface. Flatland encourages riders to demonstrate a high level of technical difficulty and variety, as well as combinations and transitions between skills. Skills typically known from freestyle should be judged with equal weight.
The proposal passed with 21 Agree, 0 Disagree and 11 Abstain. Spencer agreed. His added comment:
“I like it too, should make decisions easier for judges.”
I also commented:
“Great proposal! If some Flatlanders don’t like it, this may be the impetus they need to come up with some sort of meaningful definition.”
I don’t know how to make this stuff public so you guys can read it. Scott Wilton and Aaron Schmitz are the Webmasters, they should be able to open it up.