SN Day 5: Zoo Day

Today was a zoo.

Not the biggest day, nor the most complicated schedule, but just one of those barely-under-control days. Maybe it was the combination of lots of youth events (2 Y10s, 2 Y14s, and 1 Y12), one big event (27 pools followed with an 8-page table in Jr WE), and three good-sized team events (Jr WE, with 17, Sr WS with 15, and Sr ME with 32 teams), but today never felt as though it flowed smoothly—there were always lots of people talking, lots of people running around, lots of noise.

We had a bit of a scare in the Youth 14 MS, thinking for a bit that several incorrect bouts had been fenced in the DEs, but it turned out that it was just confusion over the bout numbers on the scoresheets—the bouts had been sent out on the wrong slips, but the fencers were matched up correctly all the way through, so it only confused the computer operator. It was exciting for a while, though, contemplating the potential for re-fencing a couple of rounds of those DEs. (That kind of thrill is why we prefer not to have trainees at SN.)

I decided today that three teams are too many to have going on at the same time. It wasn’t so much the fencing as the check-in. No matter how often and vehemently we ask for captains only to the team table, there are always quite a few teams who seem to work collaboratively to decide how to fence their event. Which means the whole team comes to the team table to discuss who will be their captain and what the bout order for each round will be—not a bad practice in principle, but a bit overwhelming when you’ve got 64 teams in three events to deal with all at once.

One interesting aspect of the collaborative teams is the difference in dynamics between the men’s and women’s teams. (I don’t contend that this applies uniformly to all teams, but it was fairly common among the teams who hadn’t already organized themselves by check-in or who didn’t have a coach acting as team captain.) With men’s teams, it was routine that more than one of the team members wanted to be captain; with women’s teams, the conversation was more “You should be captain.” “No, I think you’d be better. You should be the captain.” “No, you do it.”

Overall, though, team is much easier to run than it used to be, now that we no longer wait for both team captains to show up before we flip the coin to decide who will be 1-2-3 and who 4-5-6 in the bout order. That saves a huge amount of time moving from one round to the next, both for BC staff and for the fencers who formerly stood around for 15 or 20 minutes each round waiting for the captain of their next opponent to show up.

At least today was the last of the épée events with repéchage. With 186 fencers in the Jr WE today, repéchage added about 2 hours and 45 minutes to the length of that event, which was 2 hours and 45 minutes that those strips could not be used for any other event. Without rep, those 32 Sr ME teams could have started a couple hours earlier in the day.

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