The Great Snowmass Timing Snafu of 2007

From a timing and results standpoint, last weekend’s Snowmass MSC was terrible: timing chips unavailable at registration, names missing from start sheets, major delays, screwed up times, no times for several days, and on and on. Events ran late. People waited for hours. Late Sunday evening, downhillers went home without their results. Bad news. Extremely irritating.

To get the official scoop I called Mike McCormack, the man in charge at Bigfoot Production, which promotes the Mountain States Cup. Mike sounded wrung out, and he was heading out for a therapeutic XC ride, so I kept the interview short:

Hi Mike, what went wrong with the timing system?

It was a bizarre combination of timing inadequacy, inadequate preparation and random but concentrated equipment failure [Mike actually talks like this.]. Things just seemed to go wrong. There was a gremlin in the system. A lot of equipment chose this moment to completely fry. Computers, printers, etc. We made the fixes fast, but a 20-minute fix is a 20-minute wait. Things worked against each other. That adds up to a stressed operations crew and timing crew, and it’s hard to succeed under that condition.

What is Bigfoot going to do about it?

At a MSC, you pay for a time and a good time. The first is a given. That’s the expectation of the customer, and of us.

I’m very proud of the Bigfoot crew. They were very prepared and put a whole lot into the ground to make this happen; they’ve stepped up to a new level of operational excellence — a fact that is totally lost on the customer because of what happened this weekend.

We can’t continue as is, but right now we need the racers to help. Contact the timing company and tell them in a nice way that their results are 30 seconds off, or they’re missing from the results, or whatever. If we work together, we’ll get so close to the truth it’ll be indistinguishable.

CJ Timing seemed to be doing a fine job last year. Why did you switch to Red Rock Company?

CJ’s price went up so significantly, we decided to explore other options.

We believe Red Rock has the capability to do a great job. They’re feeling the pain; they know they they came up short. Hopefully this will help them figure out what they need to do, and they could be our timing company for years.

For what we’re doing there’s a 10-year learning curve. It’s hard — it’s so freaking stressful, nobody stays in it for 10 years.

It’s all new. Until we get everything dialed, we need everyone’s support and flexibility.

Hmm. I understand that, but this is a business. Your customers pay fees, and they expect professionalism. Should we pay our money and just accept this is a hobby, accept that we’ll miss dinner reservations and come home late to our families. still without results?

No. Not with the MSC crew.

We’ve been around the block. We know the expectation. Anything less than perfect sends us home asking why it wasn’t perfect and what we can do better. We start every event planning the best possible way to put it on, and how to make that happen.

So, basically, you need this timing company to step up, or you’ll find one who will?


What about the next race, at Telluride?

We’re going to have a frank discussion with Red Rock about capabilities, hardware, etc. We see the potential in them. They get it, and it hurts them too. To bring them back to Telluride we need to know they’re up to the task.

Dude — if needed I’ll be out there with a stopwatch. We’ll go completely analog, but we’ll get it right.

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