BC Diary: NAC A, Day 1

I never sleep well the first night in a hotel. I don’t know whether it’s the time change or just obsessing over what needs doing first thing in the morning, but I usually wake up every hour or so and then finally fall solidly asleep about 20 minutes before my alarm goes off. This morning was no exception.

According to the information sheet they gave us at check-in, the officials’ breakfast is at the hotel, instead of at the convention center as originally announced. When I get there promptly at 6:00 am, I’m surprised to be the first one there—usually a few of the armorers beat me. When I comment on being first, the hotel staff say they were told breakfast service started at 6:30, even though the officials were told 6:00. But the food was ready, so I was happy.

I head over to the venue around 6:30; I want to finish getting those strip numbers up and make sure the initial seedings are posted, since we weren’t able to do that last night. It takes about 20 minutes to finish with the strip numbers, and by that time, the computer staff is arriving, and we can see to getting the seeding up.

Or maybe not. Somebody’s grabbed the collated stack of signs and, thinking they were all mixed up, sorted them by weapon, so we need to resort them by day, which takes forever. Finally, as it nears 8:00, I tell everybody to just post the seedings and we can worry about getting the signs up once the pools are out.

Not a good start to the day. As a matter of fact, today turns out to be the worst start to a tournament in my decade working bout committee, aside from that disastrous first day of the 2003 Summer Nationals in Austin, which is in a class all its own.

It turns out that there’s breakfast for the officials over here, too. The local sports commission, in addition to the airport transportation for officials, is also providing breakfast and lunch. So there’s a continental breakfast here in the venue in addition to the hot breakfast over at the hotel, which it seems is included in the THS contract.

With the confusion over getting the seedings posted, I haven’t had time to talk with the BC staff about the data the Process Improvement Task Force has asked us to try to collect. They’ve provided a form to use for each event to enter times for various stages and make notes of delays or other problems, but with as many events as we have this weekend, I doubt we’ll be able to keep up. Most BC staff, unless they’re running one of the larger events, will be running three events simultaneously, and keeping up with the data collection will be difficult if not impossible. Eventually, we talk about the forms, and I tell people that if it’s a choice between keeping events moving along or collecting the data, data collection loses.

The day jerks along in fits and starts. I’m frustrated with fencers coming to us—just as we’re about to send out the pools for their event—to tell us they’re listed as a U when they’re really an A10 or that their points are entirely missing. It’s especially annoying when it’s information that’s been posted on the USA Fencing website for at least a week. Why don’t fencers remember to check their entry info until they’re about to fence? If it only affected these specific individuals, I’d be happy to let them suffer the consequences, but it affects others in their events, too, who shouldn’t have to pay for the laggards’ failure to verify their placement. So we call back too many sets of pools to fix errors uncaught before the close of registration.

The D1MF pools finish in time to make room for the assortment of Veteran events closing at 11:00, but the D2WE is slow enough that I end up delaying the start of the Veteran ME. I could dribble out a few pools scattered all over the room, but since the WE and the ME use essentially the same pool of referees, we decide to wait and start the ME all at once on contiguous strips once the WE works its way down to its round of 8.  I don’t like the delay much, but at least this way we’ll avoid worse problems later in the day when the Div 1 WF comes in.

The replay systems are all set up, though, so I send out the D1MF round of 8 to the finals strip and the three strips in pod F that have the replay systems. As it happens, though, the head referees have decided to use replay only for the semifinals on, at least until more people get trained on the system.

I wander over to the curtained-off officials’ area to grab some lunch. I’m happy to see it’s not box lunches, which are often pretty sad, but I’m not all that happy—it’s deconstructed box lunches: bread and cheese and cold cuts and condiments so we can make our own sandwiches. Oh, well—maybe it will be better tomorrow.

I’m happy to have strips to start the D1WF on time. It will run late—WF always runs later than our projections, so it’s good that there are enough referees to start their DEs wide on 24 strips, which will make it run a bit shorter. In the end, the WF gets to their 8 at about the time they were projected to finish, so that means we’ll finish up around 10:00 or 10:30.

At some point this afternoon, the real copier shows up, which is excellent. The tabletop copiers we were using up until the big one arrived are almost as slow as our printers. Copying and posting is slow enough as it is, with as few runners as we have here so far.

Those of us staying late (defined as after 7:00 pm) discover when we redeem our meal tickets at the venue concession stand that they cook their sandwiches to order. There are three different kinds of panini and hamburgers made with handformed patties. It’s the first tournament I can remember where the concession food is better than the regular officials’ food.

While the WF is fencing their 8, we post the initial seedings for tomorrow. That much, at least, will be done, and we can make lots of “check your seeding” announcements before close of registration in the morning.

Friday stats:
12 events
554 competitors
End of competition: approximately 10:15 pm

Alarm’s set for 6:00 am.


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