Wednesday, May 31, 2006

CPE Nationals This Weekend

SUMMARY: We're leaving tomorrow morning for a long weekend of fun in the sun. Both Tika and Jake will be competing.

Well, here it is, that time of year again when we go off to some big event and I try not to choke when it really counts. Have I been concentrating hard on training out our weaknesses? You betcha I haven't!

CPE Nationals was here in Elk Grove 2 years ago and wasn't supposed to be back west coast again for another year, but something happened to their non-west-coast sponsor and here they are. So it'll probably be another 3 years after this before the CPE Nationals again return, and I'm in no hurry to fly or drive great swathes of this great nation for an agility trial that I'm not likely to "win".

There are 3 events each of the 3 days (Fri/Sat/Sun). Tika and Jake are both entered in everything (by default; that was the choice: enter everything or nothing). It's supposed to be up in the low 90s this weekend. A bit warmer than the other weekend when Jake was so happy to run. Today it's only in the upper 70s here and Tika has been lying around panting all day. Actually the weather has been drop-dead gorgeous and my yard looks so nice and I hate to be in here working (well--nominally anyway--really, I was) even with the sliding door wide open and the yard beginning a mere 10 feet from me.

They will be running 3 rings, so one event per ring. I'm not sure whether this will be the grand debut of their brand-new second outdoor ring, but I sure hope so. Two years ago, they ran two rings inside the arena in a space that's usually barely large enough for one ring. You'd never see events in that small space at a USDAA trial. I didn't like it much, but I'll admit that the Full House course was kind of fun because of the small space. In that class, you can take each obstacle up to 2 times for points in your 30-second point-accumulation period. What with the small distance between obstacles and the fact that they had only jumps and tunnels, Tika took everything on the entire course twice with the exception of, I believe, 3 jumps that she took only once, for a very nice high score. But other than that, I don't like those little crowded spaces.

The nice thing about the CPE Nationals is that all the classes are titling classes--that is, you can earn Qualifying scores towards titles just as you can at any run-of-the-mill CPE trial. So here's Tika's updated list of what she needs towards her CPE Agility Team Extraordinaire (C-ATE) title and for an Extr. title in each individual class:
Class extraordinaire  C-ATE
Standard2111+
Colors2414+
Wildcard2212+
Snooker2212+
Jackpot2212+
Full House2212+
Jumpers2818+ (do you detect a problem with knocked bars here?)

The "+" is because the CATE requires 3000 points (where each leg is worth from 15-25 points) as listed above plus an additional 2000 points (an average of another 100 legs) in any combination of classes.

Now, what's interesting to note is that it is still possible to Q in Snooker, Jackpot, and Full House at the C level even with knocked bars (depending on which ones are knocked). In Standard, Wildcard, Colors, and Jumpers at the C level you cannot have any bars down--so I'm not sure how we managed to now be ahead of everthing else in Standard when we've had so many bar problems. Of course, jumps make up only about a quarter of the obstacles on a Standard course, compared to most of the obstacles on a Jumpers course.

Two years ago (I think I mentioned recently), Jake was 2nd place C-level dog over the cumulative 3 Standard courses for the weekend. I doubt we'll be anywhere near there this time, considering how consistently he blasts off the dogwalk without bothering to make the contact. And I might pull him if he looks too hot or tired, since I entered the ancient dude only so he'd have something to do for 3 days.

Tika could do it IF ... well, OK, the list is pretty long. One of our "handicaps" is the way that they score for the overall championships. Normally, in Jackpot, Snooker, and Full House, Tika earns more points than almost any other dog competing, and if she's going to keep her bars up, she usually is among the fastest dogs in the other classes. That's good for blue ribbons, which I must admit I enjoy immensely.

But, for the Nationals, "to give all dogs an equal chance at the overall titles", they start by counting ONLY a dog's Qs. This means that Tika, who must run clean (in other words, a near-perfect run) at level C to earn a Q, counts equally with a dog at level 2 or 3 who can have up to 2 different fault types for a total of 10 faults and still earn a Q. Then, in the point-accumulation classes, if multiple dogs Q (which of course they will), they use *time* as a tie-breaker, not points! So, if we go out in Full House, use our full 30 seconds, and score more points than any other dog at the trial, we would get a blue ribbon for that class BUT will place *lower* in the overall standings than a dog who comes out, does the minimum points required for a Q, and leaves the course after 15 seconds (because you're not *required* to continue earning points).

Soooo--if I want to aim for a national championship, I will slow her down in the regular classes to try to avoid having faults so that we can get a Q and forgo pushing our limits to do the best we both possibly can (and possibly forgo blue ribbons), and I will do only a minimal course with little creativity or zest in the point-accumulation rounds in an attempt to have the lowest time (possibly forgoing blue ribbons). But of course if I do that all weekend and then end up missing a Q or two anyway due to knocked bars or whatever, I'll have given up the possibility of winning individual classes for what would prove to be nothing.

I believe someone said that the dogs who have won the national overall awards in the past have *also* been the dogs who've done the best in individual classes, but the *possibility* is there that many dogs who are at the top in the individual classes could be beaten out by many dogs and handlers who never managed to even place in the individual classes.

Wellllllll we shall see what the weekend brings.

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