So what’s the deal with these new EWS Qualifier events?
Hello and welcome to the first Director’s blog, a new space on enduroworldseries.com devoted to clearing up any new announcements, giving you a bit of behind the scenes information on our decisions and maybe the odd piece of commentary from myself. I’m not going to hold myself to writing to a schedule but check in now and again, especially after any big EWS occurrence and feel free to share or quote any of the statements I make in here, just keep it polite!
So first up, we’ve got some big news this week, the announcement of the new schedule of Official Qualifier events for the Enduro World Series. I know this is something many of you have asked about over the years and urged us to get sorted out. And we have shared your views internally, it’s just we felt we had to take our time, let the discipline harmonise and catch up a little first. There’s nothing worse than a half-baked plan after all.
The global picture for enduro racing is now pretty impressive. There’s series and events popping up in countries all over the world from the Philippines to Peru, from the South Pacific to the North Atlantic. We’ve kept our rule book open throughout the past few years and urged new and old organisers to copy it to their heart’s content. Why? Because simply the closer we get to a unified global rule book, the easier it is for riders to understand, progress and develop within the sport. And that’s exactly what we want to help create; a clear, transparent and fair pathway for those riders dedicating themselves to enduro racing. I do thank every organiser over the years who have been in touch and taken some of our rules, we do find it really humbling.
As the rules have stabilised for this young discipline, so to have our relationships with a great number of fantastic organisers. I know there’s many more we have yet to meet and work with but for 2016, and to get this new qualification system right, we really wanted to keep it within a group we could trust, get feedback from and work with at the very beginning. Now it won’t always be like this, in fact for 2017 we hope that other new and exciting events, groups and countries come on board with Qualifier events, but to start we wanted a soft launch as a little system test is what’s needed.
This means we’re not changing anything last minute, the rules will remain the rules and the Reserve List for 2017 will be as it was this year, it’s just we’ll add in a new group of freshly qualified riders into it too. This has to be right and we don’t want to rush into anything.
So how does it work?
That’s simple. EMBA members competing in any one of the 16 new Qualifier Events will be awarded qualifier ranking points if they are placed highly enough. Throughout the year, each rider’s points will increase as they do more and more qualifier events, BUT, in order to keep it fair and to avoid forcing anyone into too much expensive travel, on 31 DECEMBER 2016, we will take each rider’s best 3 Qualifier results and create a final year-end ranking. And the top 80 Men, 30 Women, 20 Masters and 15 U21 riders on this year-end ranking will be added to the Reserve List for the following year.
Why don’t you do it like UCI points and just fix an amount each rider needs to enter an EWS?
Simple. We need to make sure we know exactly how many riders we have in our events at the start of the year. This is because firstly the venue and race format makes for some pretty stringent caps on rider volumes at each event and just as importantly, we always want to make sure there is room for some amateur racers too. With this system we know exactly how many riders have pre-qualified by January and then can offer remaining places out through the lottery system to amateurs wanting to experience the EWS.
Why the entry lottery and why not make everyone have to qualify?
Another question we get asked on many occasions. After trying multiple entry systems to various successes and failures over the past three years, we decided we really had to remove the stress and pressure from the riders, and from the administration itself. Although it wasn’t called a lottery before, having over 3000 people try and log in, across the world, on different time zones in one instant, with various internet speeds was a lottery before too. One we felt to be very unfair, and really stressful for our riders too. This year, with the lottery, everyone had the same chance as everyone else and that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve.
Now, why are we doing this in the first place? That’s because we feel the amateur involvement in enduro racing, even at the highest level, is fundamental to the ethos of the sport. Yes of course there will be slightly fewer amateur places available, but we have to make sure we have an equally fair system for riders who really want to reach the top, secure a spot and get their chance at the big title and a professional career.
Therefore once the quota of qualified riders get their start spot, we’ll continue to open out all remaining places to anyone via the lottery system.
But why did it take until March to announce?!
That’s a fair question but think of it this way, we’re now running, with an incredible group of organisers, eight rounds of the EWS with 33 Official Teams and over 3000 riders entries in January alone. We’ve just added an additional 16 Qualifier events into our family from all over the world and we only finished the 2015 season four months ago. The southern hemisphere have been in their peak summer season and the North American Enduro tour (NAET) has been reforming under Crankworx into a whole new and formidable group. It’s a busy time out there for everyone!
Most importantly though, this system needs to work for the riders around the world. It needs to be fair and we needed to think and re-think through every eventuality. I truly believe we are at the start of a whole new era in which the EWS, and it’s associated communities and organisations, can work together to make sure any rider really wanting to make it on the world stage has a fair chance.
Here’s to 2016.