Monday, February 15, 2010

Danged Super-Qs!

SUMMARY: New championships for fellow Bay Teamers from this weekend's VAST trial.

(Yes, it seems to be a catch-up day on blog posts. I posted a slightly shorter version of this to my club but wanted to also post it here to remember parts of my weekend.)

What a wild weekend at VAST--at least from the Masters score table's perspective! We fit in a full 5 masters classes in ring 1 on Saturday (and steeplechase ran in ring 2); and 4 masters classes plus Grand Prix on sunday in Ring 1 (and Steeplechase Round 2 in Ring 2).

I woke at 4:30 to dense fog in San Jose and dreaded the 2-hour drive to Turlock, because the Central Valley can be the King of Pea-Soup Fog in the early morning.

Fortunately it was thick enough to slow me to 50 or 55 MPH in only a few places (but not the folks whipping by me at 65-70! Sheesh! No wonder we get 30-car pileups in the fog!), so light-enough fog most of the way that I could see clearly far ahead.

Cold fog enveloped the trial site briefly Saturday and again well into Sunday morning, but it warmed up nicely to shirtsleeve weather for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

Having TWO Snooker classes and TWO Gamblers classes gave wonderful opportunities to fill in Qs that prove challenging for many handlers, in particular, Snooker Super-Qs. [Three Super-Qs are required to earn a Championship. To earn one, your score must be in the top 15% of dogs competing in your height. This makes the competition fierce and the super-Qs hard to come by in this highly competitive northern California, even for many excellent dogs.]

Saturday Super-Qs

Saturday's Snooker required that you attempt all 4 reds, which were spread out around the outside of the course. This meant that people chose a variety of paths through the course with many off-course opportunities, and it was virtually impossible to earn the highest possible score (although I think one dog might have done it), so scores were unpredictable. At the score table, we had the usual cluster of people praying for Super-Qs and still in contention hovering nearby and waiting to see how many Super-Qs would be awarded and whether they'd be on.

The pressure sits on the score table to double-and-triple check all the scribe sheets and the accumulator sheets, because there are lots of numbers involved and there's nothing worse than having to tell someone later that we've taken away a super-Q they thought they had earned (which we had to do saturday due to a math error, fortunately not one needed for a title and handled graciously by the handler, thanks Barbara).

The 22" class, as usual, had a huge number of entrants--over 30--so 22" handlers had to wait forEVER for us to finish marking the scores.

Linda Greene, seeing me put an "SQ" on her score, asked about 4 times was I absolutely positively sure about that, and I confirmed that yes, I was, and she said, "Thank goodness I don't have to worry about Super-Qs any more." What she DIDN'T tell me was that it had been the only thing standing between Kiwi and her ADCH! (championship title)

I was delighted to see them take a victory lap with their new ADCH pole shortly thereafter to cheers and applause.

Saturday ran very late, until after dark, at least 6 or 7 p.m.

Sunday Super-Qs

Sunday was similar, except that Snooker was the VERY last class of the weekend, and 22" was the VERY last group to run, and it was well after dark so people ran under artificial field lighting rather than daylight, and the cold began creeping in, and many competitors abandoned ship. We had *so* many scratches that it wasn't clear how many Super-Qs we'd be able to give until we had completed the running order.

Furthermore, this course had only 3 reds right next to the 7-point obstacle, so we knew that you'd have to do the highest-possible 51 points AND be among the fastest to do it to earn a super-Q. All of us remaining to do score table also had to run 2 dogs each, so the score table seemed chaotic at times, but we kept at it, double-and-triple checking as we went. [Special thanks to those who stuck it out to the bitter end to help me at the score table--Sandy Zajkowski, Holly Newman, Karey Krauter--]

It astounded me how many 26" and 22" competitors remained for their runs after 6 p.m. on a Sunday, amazing hardy super-competitive NorCal peoples! Still, between trying to verify scratches and keep track of scribe sheets raining in on us, we made it through to 7:00, when competition ended. We sat there, working, with half a dozen people tearing down the field and half a dozen people and one judge hanging around waiting to see the final scores. I was cold, tired, pressured [but revved high with the excitement of the class], and so I think moving more slowly on confirming scores than I might have earlier in the weekend.

Sure enough, almost every group had multiple 51-point scores, so they weren't all going to get Super-Qs. In the end, several of those took themselves out of the running by touching their dogs before crossing the finish line, so they still Qed but, because they had no valid course time, they ranked below those who earned a time at the finish line.

The very very very last individual mark I made on the accumulator sheet was "SQ" for Dave Bennett and Zack. About 40 people (OK really only 2 or 3) kept asking Are you sure are you sure, he's had one taken away from him before?! And I double-checked with Karey looking over my shoulder and, sure enough, it was a Super-Q for Zack, and holy cow, another ADCH for the weekend! So, with the remaining dozen of us cheering and screaming and applauding as loudly as we could, Dave and Zack took their victory lap around the field, and then we all went home.

Other titles

ALSO earning an ADCH this weekend, Lauri Plummer and the delightful pointy-eared Lark ;-), who's one of those dogs about whom you think, "What, they don't ALREADY have their ADCH?" I missed that entire escapade, so I can't fill in the story.

And two others, Katrina/Maddie and Jeanne/Brandy Mae [OK, which is the dog and which is the handler in each team?!] completed their Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) Silver and ADCH-Gold this weekend.

I Was SO Busy That--

Dang, I never got to sign *anyone's* ADCH bars! I hope they reappear at the next trial--

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