From my years of traveling to international competitions of varying levels, I’ve seen a lot of things that I wouldn’t mind seeing at national events.
One of my favorite things at international competitions is the punctuality and organization. It is a known fact that at national competitions- whether they be North American Cups, Super Youth Circuit events, or local competitions- they never run on time. I always feel significantly more organized, when I know what strip to be on, and exactly what time I need to be focused and ready. It’s not as stressful as having to listen to referees calling out different names, and constantly shuffling through direct elimination sheets for the order.
Another wonderful thing about international competitions, is that you always see the same referees. While I may not love every single one of them, I at least have an understanding of what calls they tend to make. When I step onto the strip, I don’t have to focus as much on what will or will not be called. It seems as if I’m constantly seeing new faces at every North American Cup. This puts a lot more stress put on the bout. Instead of putting all of my energy on my actual opponent, I have to decipher what actions are favored, and which aren’t accepted; it’s undoubtedly very distracting. While it’s great that we have so many different people committing so much of their time as referees to help make our competitions run smoothly, the more consistent the competitions are with who the referees are, the better.
Knowing who my opponents are going to be the day before is also another positive aspect. Being able to come up with a game plan for each competitor that I will have to face in pools, is a huge advantage. I am one of those fencers who has a notebook filled with notes on fencers, and I like to read it before a competition. It is also beneficial that many international fencers can be found on YouTube. This makes it much easier to come up with a solid plan of action, resulting in confidence.
When competing in national events, we always see the same kind of venue. Practically every North American Cup is hosted in a convention hall. We have quads with railings, the same bright lights, and the exact same concrete floors. If you were to describe any one of those venues to me, I would never be able to tell you what city it was hosted in. However, when it comes to international competitions, they’re always in a different setting. Some of these may be worse than others, but it is always a nice change of scenery.
This doesn’t apply to every single international event, but a sufficient amount of them put a lot of effort into the presentation of the top finishers. Nearly all of the senior events that I have participated in, the top 4 is always announced, prior to competing, as well as the officials. Of course, the top 4 is also awarded medals in a similar manner. This makes the achievement feel even more impressive. There have been many North American Cups, during which I have fenced on the finals strip and my peers had no idea. That’s unheard of at international events.
Some of these things are probably impossible to incorporate into national events; nevertheless, it still would be refreshing to see us taking steps to improve our domestic competitions by using the international model as a base.
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Perhaps the USFA’s new marketing director will facilitate some of these items.
Thank you for you post. It will inspire others to make that first big jump overseas!