October 2013 Technical Director Update



October 2013 Technical Director Update


Hey All,

I am always amazed at what happens between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Whoosh, the season disappears in a blur of travel. This one will be a bit lengthy as we have a lot of new things coming up in very few months. Hang on for the ride!

National Technical Commission Additions
We are beginning our transition period for the National Technical Commission. Leaving us at the end of the year will be Ed Dailey and Heidi Mingesz, both of whom contributed significantly to all of the programs that we have been offering to officials. I can’t thank them enough for their years of service to this great cause. Transitioning onto the NTC will be Steve Stone, National Commissaire from VA, and Steve Eppel, National Commissaire from IA. Both have been exceptional as Chief Referees for some of our biggest events, including National Championships. As Steve Brady then pointed out, “can we get some more Steves on the NTC?”

NASO Summit
I had the pleasure to attend the NASO annual summit. This year’s main theme was on game assignments. We had some excellent presenters, but my personal thrill was getting to meet Jerry Markbreit, a legend in the world of football referees. His dedication to professionalism totally changed officiating for all of us. I am currently in discussion about what it would take to get him to be our keynote speaker at the next officials summit. When the main summit was over, I had the honor of being invited to sit in on the Officials Development Alliance. It was pretty intimidating to sit in a room where every official in there had officiated at whatever the top event their sport had. The big discussion point had to do with safety in sports, head injuries, safety of officials, and the officials’ role in managing sports safety. Very timely stuff. The next NASO summit will be in Albuquerque, NM, and anybody who can make it should do so. It is just awe inspiring to see such a gala event dedicated to officials in all sports.

Rule of the Month
This month's Rule of the Month deals with rule 1A3(c), AKA one-day licenses. You can check out the full blog entry at https://www.usacycling.org/blog/usa-cycling-officials/october-rule-of-the-month.htm

2014 Assignments
We will be implementing our new official’s assignment tool in 2014. In fact we are building up the database for the 2014 championships, NRC, and NCC races now. Those of you used to getting a letter from me with a spreadsheet to fill out with availability will not be getting that this year. Instead assignment availability and decisions will be handled through your officials account with us. Of course, we will probably find some glitches as we go through this, but please stick with us as we shake these out early in the season. Fairly soon letters will go out to the officials announcing how to access the site and indicate their availability for the national-level events.

There is also a new set of guidelines for officials’ assignments that is different in several ways from the old one. We have been thinking about these assignments for some time at the office here as we try to modernize the sport and also create a system that takes multiple stakeholder perspectives into account. With some of the changes in our programs, specifically the Race Director certification program, we are trying to accommodate the desires of the Race Directors (RD) more than in the past. One of issues that comes up more and more is the use of technology. Technology has not only improved, but it has become more common and less expensive, and more Race Directors are hiring professional timing companies to produce results for their events. However, our assignment protocols were all written with a worst case scenario in mind, meaning we assumed that the RD’s did not have any technology, and if they did, it probably would fail. This leads to a situation where the RD is paying for a professional timing company to generate results and then also paying several judges to do the same thing. I can remember decades ago where the timing company really was the backup for the judges, because it often was error-ridden, slow, and only gave partial information. These days, however, it is more often the opposite. In an extreme case, the RD may have chips and a photofinish camera and they have a full set of results before the judges have finished checking the top 10. Based on feedback from RD’s, we redid our assignment guidelines to try to take into account a new basic philosophy – the Race Director is responsible for assuring that results are generated, accurate, and timely.

Now, there are several ways to do this. At the highest level, a top-notch professional company will have cameras and chips to do it all. According to our new model, such a race may only need one judge, the Chief Judge, who will be the point person for coordinating between the timing company, the riders who may question results, and USAC. At the lowest level, there will be no change at all because the RD will have no technology and will still need the same number of judges (s)he always did. There may be some middle ground races where a decision will have to be made.

What we envision in a perfect world is a dynamic where the RD, the assigning authority (Local Association, Regional Coordinator, or USA Cycling), and the Chief Referee have a three way dialogue early and often to establish what the needs of that event are. What we hope to avoid is a common situation where the RD is the forgotten person in this conversation. We will be looking very carefully at leading by example at the national level this year and, to the extent that the RD’s will respond in a timely fashion, I hope to establish what the true needs are for every top tier calendar race prior to assigning officials to them and having to deal with headaches later because we assigned too many or too few.

The new assignment protocols we will be trying out can be found here.

National Commissaire Class
We have asked the UCI to host an Elite Road National Commissaire course in March of 2014, our typical timeframe for that. Their version of the Nat Comm course is pretty short, like 4 days, but it is road only, so we will tack on several days allowing for track and CX to also be taught and tested in. Our approved dates from the UCI are March 6-9, 2014. We will bring people in on March 2 if they are wanting to upgrade in track. Cyclocross day will be March 5th. The instructors for the course will be Wayne Pomario, UCI International Commissaire from Canada, and Randy Shafer, UCI International Commissaire from Colorado.  Please find below the requirements to take the class. Now would be a good time to start thinking about it and letting us know you are interested, since we will need at least 10 candidates to hold the course. We will also open the UCI portion up to Canadians that are interested.

To Upgrade to National Commissaire
A National Commissaire is someone whom we would trust to be the Chief Referee of any of our National Championships, and whom we would consider for appointment to referee positions at international races held in the US. It is primarily a management position and predominantly for Referees. The achievement of the title of National Commissaire may be a stepping stone to becoming an International Commissaire, or the highest level of achievement offered for USA Cycling officials. A Category A official is eligible to be Chief Judge, or most other positions at our National Championships and international events, but National Commissaires will get priority for assignments as Chief Referees. The upgrading seminar consists of a 7-day class with a written and oral exam portion, as well as in class presentations. It takes a score of 80% to pass.

Requirements for Upgrading to National Commissaire (since reaching Level A)

  • Must be at least 23 years old.
  • Must have been a category A official for at least 2 seasons.
  • Must have worked a minimum of 50 days of racing of which 10 must have been at the national level(top tier calendar vents, National Championships, and international events).
  • Must have been a chief Referee f0r 20 race days, of which 3 must be at the regional level.
  • Must have been Chief Judge or Race Secretary for 5 race days, of which 2 must have been at the regional level.
  • Must be proposed by the RTC.
  • Must be approved by the NTC.
  • Must submit 3 letters of recommendation from International Commissaires or National Commissaires that have worked with the official in the past and can directly speak to his or her management skills.
  • Must have at least 3 formal evaluations with an average scor of 3 or higher.
  • Must have no reprimands in the last 3 years in the last 3 years and no suspensions in the last 5 years.
If, after reviewing these, you feel you are qualified and interested, please let me know. Then start gathering your documents. If you are light on formal evaluations, there is still time to get those prior to the class, but we have to know of that need.

Motor Vehicle Report Checks
Perhaps not the favorite topic of the motoref, but we do have good news. MVR’s are now good for two years! So, if you are a motoref and you did your MVR in 2013, you will not have to do it again in 2014. You will have to do it again in 2015. We plan to continue to use LexisNexis, although they have been absorbed by First Advantage. It will take awhile to get used to that nomenclature change. New motorefs, or those who did not renew in 2013 will have to do the MVR and will receive an email stating such when they attempt to renew.

Background Checks
Following on a mandate from the US Olympic Committee to develop the SafeSport program, including background checks, we will be beginning background checks on officials in 2014. We will be using NCSI and the system being developed should be fairly painless. The background checks will also be good for two years. For those not familiar with this type of program, what it means is that if you try to renew your official’s license, it will be pended until you have completed your background check. There will be a button to push on your My USA Cycling account that will take you to the site, and you will receive an email with the same info when you attempt to renew. Please be advised that NCSI can take some time to do a background check.

Please do not wait until Friday to renew your license if you have a race on Saturday, as you will not have a valid license on Saturday. You may not have a valid license for another 2-3 weeks. For anyone who has January races, please remember that as of December 1, 2013, you can purchase your 2014 license, and it would be a good idea to do so at that time so that the background check is out of the way in time for your January races.

For more information about what we look for in background checks, make sure to check out the USA Cycling Criminal Background Check Policy. Also, make sure to check out the Criminal Background Check Procedures page so you can fully understand the process. Please note that both of these pages are written for those constituency groups that need background checks for the 2013 season. These will be updated in the coming weeks for all the constituency groups that will have to go through the process in 2014.

Continuing Education
This year we began expanding our continuing education program. This will likely be the most complicated piece of some changes to the licensing of officials. We are starting out slowly on the requirements, although we have given many opportunities to get CEU’s. While we shake out the reporting options, to renew in 2014 an official must have had a seminar on new rules within the last 12 months. If that is all you have done, then when you go to renew, you will either get an email or a pop up menu where you enter how you met that requirement. Other methods of completing CEU’s would include taking the webinars we have been offering, attending the officials summit, taking the Nat Comm class or level A class, or even attending the NASO summit. If you are one those people, then the system should already recognize that you have completed your CEU’s and not bother to hassle you for more info. In some case, such as attendance at the summit, you scored enough CEU’s to be good for two years.

Please see the following article for more on continuing education:

That is all for this one.

Shawn Farrell
Technical Director




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