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2016 IFCS WAC Biathlon Jumping Analysis

IFCS USA Team Member Shane Miller analyzes a course from this years World Agility Championships.

(This article is reprinted with kind permission from Shane Miller).

At the recently completed 2016 IFCS WAC the last full course Luna and I ran was the biathlon jumping course on Sunday. It was a clean run for us and good enough to be 8th fastest which helped us finish 7th overall in the biathlon event. However, when I looked at the times of the dogs above me, the top dogs were a full 2 seconds faster than Luna and I. After watching our run on video I had my suspicions on why we were 2 seconds slower, but without videos of the top dogs running I would have no way of knowing for certain. Thankfully, teammate Jody Lolich had videoed some of the top dogs and she shared those videos with me so that I could analyze their runs compared to mine. After my crude analysis my suspicion was wrong and what Jody thought was correct.

My suspicion was that the opening (1-7 exiting the tunnel) was going to be way slower than the other dogs. Watching my run I ran an incorrect line to 3 which added some yardage and then after landing at 4 she took her time going to 5. Those coupled with some, IMO, wider turns throughout the rest of the course I thought was going to equal those 2 seconds. Jody's thought was that Luna's path at jump 9 and 19 was going to contribute a lot to the added extra time. After watching it, I initially agreed that it wasn't an efficient line, but no way would it equal the time difference. I did kick Luna further out on the backside than she probably needed to go, but didn't seem that out of line. So, with all of that said, on to the analysis.

For comparison, I have videos of Agent Black (-1.86 seconds), Winner Skip (-1.54 seconds), and Fu (-1.32 seconds). They finished, respectively, 2nd-4th. Unfortunately I do not have Gallant's video who finished first. The analysis was done kind of crudely as the quality of their videos was not nearly as good as my video of Luna so frame by frame comparison was difficult. So times are approximate in my analysis, but match up close enough with official course time to give me a good idea of what I was looking for.

For reference, here is the course map.

IFCS WAC 2016 Biathlon Jumping

I decided to break the course down into 4 sections. Section #1 consists of 1-7 (exiting the tunnel). Section #2 consists of 7 (exiting the tunnel)-13 (just prior to entering the weaves). Section #3 consists of 13-16 (exiting the tunnel). Section #4 consists of 16 (exiting the tunnel) to finish.

Right away, my theory was blown out of the water because for section #1 there was not that much separation between the 4 dogs. Winner Skip ran it the fastest by .2 seconds. Otherwise, the other 3 dogs all ran it virtually the same speed. Some of the things I noticed about Luna that I thought would be the cause of her slowness I noticed in the other dogs. 4-5 especially showed that Luna was not abnormal in the speed she ran between the obstacles.

Section #2 begins to show where Luna starts to fall behind. Section #2 has obstacle #9 and her wide line caused by me. In this section, Agent Black runs it the fastest, followed by Winner Skip and Fu about .2 seconds behind while Luna brings up the rear almost 1 second slower than Agent Black. This section also had the chute which may have caused Luna to slow down considerably, but it's hard to tell from my video because I'm completely blocking the view of Luna. Not being used to this chute, Luna may have been at a disadvantage compared to the other 3 competitors if they see this type of chute normally.

Section #3 had shocking results. It was a small sequence with only 4 obstacles. However, what was shocking was that Luna easily was the fastest through it. Luna was .5 seconds faster than Winner Skip and Agent Black and was .6 seconds faster than Fu. I was not expecting that result.

Section #4 brings us to obstacle #19 which sees Luna carry out wide to take the backside. And, once again, Luna falls way behind in time to the other dogs who take much better paths to the backside. Winner Skip and Agent Black beat Luna by 1.1 seconds while Fu is even faster at 1.3 seconds better than Luna.

So, what does this analysis tell me? First that I need to stop underestimating Luna's ground speed. She can easily match these dogs in ground speed. Secondly, efficient lines and paths to obstacles are the name of the game at this level. They are the difference between 1st and 8th place. I know it's a problem, but I need to stop creating that extra yardage for Luna when queuing backside jumps. I know why I do it so I just need to stop doing it and let Luna figure it out. Her job is to take that jump and I need to let her do it her way. So that's something I will be working on going forward.

Shane's biography from his IFCS World Team profile this year: I'm Shane Miller and together with 5 year old Luna we are a part of the 2016 IFCS World team in the 26" class. We have been competing in agility since Luna was 15 months old. She has been a natural in agility from the beginning and is a pure joy to live with. We live in Illinois and don't spend as much time doing agility as you would think. Outside of agility Luna wants to do whatever I'm doing. That could be just going out to the back yard to run in our 2 acre field or just to sit on the couch and chill out. Whatever it is, she adjusts perfectly to the situation at hand. This will be our 3rd trip to Europe to compete at an international event and I'm hoping that we can help the team win some medals!

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