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Rolled out in 2010 as a fairer and more transparent way of scoring, the Snowboarding Live Scoring System (SLS), has become a mainstay for more accurately noting the skill of a run. By having dedicated judges for Overall Impression (OI) and tricks, final scores can be compared trick to trick and run to run. So how does it work?
So how are snowboard events judged during world events? The OI was the original system before the SLS was introduced, being updated to include dedicated scoring for tricks. The OI is weighted on criteria based on the impact of the run across the entire course.
They generally look for variation, style and combinations. This invites little to no feedback with the audience, who can only guess to how the judges had been impressed. The general idea is have a panel to accredit the flow of the run as a whole. By taking into account the performance of the entirety rather than awarding individual moments, riders can earn points in more areas like the routline, progression and trick sequences.
If that sounds vague, then it becomes understandable as to why people felt the need for the scoring system to be revamped. The OI basis for scoring is a subjective impression the boarder has left on the judge, which by it's nature means that 1st place performance for one judge could be a 2nd place for another. Without an attempt to create a definitive measuring system, judging would seem too arbitrary.
In the current system, by splitting the verdict 50/50 with the trick score an average from 0-100 is calculated to provide the final run score. The subjective impression of the run is, of course, very important in a critique of the boarder's performance however in pairing with scores of individual moments a fairer assessment is found.
Tricks are judged in teams of 2; focusing on one obstacle in Slopestyle and one hit for Half-pipe. The criteria is amplitude, difficulty and execution. Each obstacle on a Slopestyle has 2 dedicated judges with a maximum value assigned to the obstacle to base the scoring against, while in Half-pipe all hits are the same value and the 4 best rated hits are the only ones selected.
These are then calculated to create the total trick score, which when combined with the OI gives the final run total and decides the final position of the boarder. Trick and OI judges rate seperately on a 0-100 scale, which is also used for the final total, which is the ultimate ranking for that event.
The SLS system is used across TTR events around the world, having been brought around for TTR Arctic Challenge Slopestyle in 2010 and 5star BGOS in New Zealand for Half-pipe the same year. It's incorporation is believed to have ushered in a much fairer system that doesn't discourage risk-taking, particularly by expert riders for fear of compromising points on the OI.