Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tie Breakers

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Last Saturday US star, and giant slalom ace, Ted Ligety won his 5th giant slalom Crystal Globe. He and Austrian racer Marcel Hirscher actually had a tie because they earned the same amount of points. But Ted won the tie breaker because he had more wins. But what if Ted and Marcel each had the same number of points and wins? What would be the tie breaker then? Our intrepid research team obtained a copy of the International Ski Federation's (FIS) Big Book of Rules to give our readers the answers they deserve. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is one of our intrepid researchers, who is also our Answer Man when people send in questions. Let's find out what the Answer Man has to say.
BB: Ted Ligety won the GS globe because he had more wins than Marcel Hirscher, even though they finished with the same number of points. Why couldn't they each have a globe?
Answer Man: The FIS only makes 8 small globes, one for each of the four disciplines for both men and women. We don't have the money to have an extra globe made. Like everyone else, we are doing our best to economize.
BB: Why not give racers who have a points tie half a globe each?
Answer Man: First of all, that would not look good in the photos to see a racer holding half a globe. Having a tie breaker also avoids arguments over who got the bigger half. The FIS has the stealth technology to determine if a ski racer is wearing her arm protectors over her speed suit instead of underneath it. The FIS also has super measuring instruments that can tell if a skier's boots are 0.0000001 mm to high or if his skis are 0.000000001 mm too wide or long. If two racers each got half of a globe, the first thing they would do is have it measured to see whose half was actually bigger. The FIS tie breaking system avoids that issue.
BB: Fair enough. Suppose that Ted and Marcel both had the same number of wins. What would be the next tie breaker?
Answer Man: According to The Big Book of Rules, the next tie breaker is the number of podium finishes. Whoever had more podium finishes would get the globe.
BB: That sounds good. But in the interest of expanding our knowledge, we are going to carry on and find out what the tie breaker would be if Ted and Marcel had the same number of points, wins, and podium finishes.
Answer Man: The racer who received the higher mark for artistic impression for a fall or mistake would get the globe. This is why it is very important for racers to look good, and even come up with original moves, when they fall or make an error. Artistry scores may seem like a big joke to the athletes, but they could turn out to be the difference between winning a globe and getting second place.
BB: If two racers end up with the same artistic impression score, does the FIS look at the marks from the individual judges?
Answer Man: That's right. The FIS looks at both the highest counting scores and the high scores that were thrown out. If two racers had the same individual high score that counted toward their average, then the FIS looks at the high scores that were thrown out. The athlete with the higher individual score wins. For example, if Ted's highest counting score was 8.7 and he had a 9.2 thrown out, and Marcel had an 8.7 that counted and a 9.1 that was thrown out, Ted would win the tiebreaker.
BB: I see. But what if both Ted and Marcel were perfectly even across the board with their artistic impression and scores from the individual judges? What is the next tie breaker?
Answer Man: Racers would then be given a special math test. It would start off easy, then get progressively more difficult. The racer with the higest score on the math test would get the globe.
BB: Wait a minute! These athletes are supposed to be geniuses at skiing, not math. If they were super skilled in mathematics, they would have become mathematicians and not ski racers.
Answer Man: The FIS had to find a good tie breaker if two athletes tied for points, wins, podium finishes, and artistic impression scores. Mathematics is a universal language that everyone understands. Therefore, a math test is a fair tie breaker.
BB: When is this math test given? Ted knew that he won the GS globe immediately after the race. If he and Marcel had tied for everything else, when would there be time for a math test between the end of the race and the award ceremony?
Answer Man: The math test is given during the season to anyone who has even the slightest chance of winning a crystal globe. The results are put into a sealed envelope, which is only opened if needed. If there are no ties, then the contents of the envelope are shredded and recycled. The next season, if necessary, the racers will take a new test.
BB: I'm sure you know the next question. Is there another tie breaker if both have the same score on the math test?
Answer Man: There is. The penultimate tie breaker is a spelling test.
BB: A spelling test? In which language would it be? If Ted and Marcel tied for points, wins, podium finishes, artistic scores, and mathematical ability, would the test be in German or English?
Answer Man: This season the test was in Swahili.
BB: Swahili?
Answer Man: Yes, that is correct. Every season a different language is selected through a random draw. The FIS finds a native speaker of that language, in this case Swahili, who gives each racer a dictation test. The racer who makes the fewest spelling errors gets the crystal globe.
BB: Is this test also given during the season?
Answer Man: Yes, but at a different time than the math test. It is also given to any athlete who has even a small chance of winning a crystal globe. The FIS evidently can't be too careful. Like the math test, the spelling test results are put into a sealed envelope and only opened when necessary. They are also destroyed after all of the globes have been given out.
BB: But why Swahili?
Answer Man: The FIS has eight different languages that it uses for the test: Swahili, Gujarati, Dari, Uyghur, Hmong, Quechua, Navajo, and Klingon. They wanted to use languages that are unknown to most of the ski racers. Therefore, it would be a neutral and fair test. If they used more common languages, like French, English, Italian, or German, then many of the racers would have an unfair advantage.
BB: You said Klingon was one of the languages used.
Answer Man: That's right.
BB: Klingon is not a real language.
Answer Man: You obviously don't spend much time at Star Trek conventions.
BB: I don't. Anyway, you said that the dictation and spelling test was the second-to-last tie breaker. What is the ultimate tie breaker for a crystal globe?
Answer Man: A coin flip.
BB: Did you just say that a crystal globe could all come down to the flip of a coin?
Answer Man: Yes. Let's say that Ted and Marcel are still tied after all of the tests. A representative from the US team and one from the Austrian team would watch as a coin is flipped by an FIS official. One team would be heads and the other tails. There will be up to 5 coin flips. The first team representative to get to 3 correct guesses wins and his racer gets the crystal globe.
BB: When would this coin flip take place?
Answer Man: After the last race in that discipline in the finals. The envelopes with the results of the math and spelling tests would be opened. If the racers in question have equal scores on both, then the team officials would gather for the coin flip. After the coin flip, the winner gets his or her globe and the award ceremony can proceed.
BB: Does someone test that the coin is fair?
Answer Man: It is tested by FIS scientists. Need I say more?
BB: Let's hope that a crystal globe never has to come down to a coin flip. Well, it looks like we have run out of time. I want to thank you for all of the information on tie breakers for crystal globes. I'm sure our readers learned something. On behalf of the Boston Blickbild, I also want to congratulate Ted Ligety on his 5th GS crystal globe. It is an incredible achievement. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.
The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Nobody is in a tie with our reporters for being intrepid.
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