Reference: JW Harding, K Toohey, DT Martin, AG Hahn, DA James, Technology and Half-Pipe Competition - Insight from Elite-Level Judges, The Engineering of Sport 7, 467-476
Abstract: Automated and objective information specific to half-pipe snowboarding has now been made available with micro-technology and signal processing techniques. In consultation with the practice community this has been introduced into training and competition in Australia. It is understood that any integration of technology into elite sport can effect change beyond the original purpose and can often generate unintended consequences. We have therefore evaluated the perceptions of key members of the elite half-pipe snowboard community in regards to how emerging technology could interface with the sport. Data were collected via semi-structured, open ended interviews with 16 international, elite-level half-pipe snowboard competition judges. This study revealed 8 dimensions and 42 sub-dimensions related to the community’s perceptions to 5 major themes that emerged during interviews. The major themes included: 1. Snowboarding’s Underlying Cultural Ethos 2. Snowboarding’s Underlying Self-Annihilating Teleology 3. Technological Objectivity 4. Concept Management 5. Coveted Future Directions. There was dominant perception that an underlying self-annihilating teleology could exist within competitive half-pipe snowboarding. This was believed however to pose a distant threat on judging protocols to reliably assess performance. Judges sampled in this study were largely in favour of using automated objectivity to enhance the judging process however, with a number of caveats. Most importantly that objective information is to be used as a judging aid and not for automatic generation of scores. This would address the most prevalent concern that integrating any automated objectivity into snowboarding could potentially remove freedom of expression and the opportunity to showcase athletic individuality — traits valued by the practice community. Our data highlight that successful implementation of emerging technologies in sport will be not be based on the type of technology developed but instead by the integration process which must feature a large element of control imparted to the key players within the sport.