Energy Judge Tracks Score On Throttle

Alvaro - Energy Judge Osaka 2013
Date: 15/07/2013

In its never-ending quest to come up with as perfect a judging system as possible, the Red Bull X-Fighters has introduced a real-time dial on a set of stationary handlebars for the "energy, entertainment and excitement" judge this year that has enhanced the accuracy of the judging. It's a new system that might also change the dynamics of freestyle motocross with riders less likely to save their best for last to impress the energy judge because their energy tally is now an average of their entire run rather than a "snapshot" of emotions taken at the very end.

The "energy" judge has become the most prestigious of five judges on the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour thanks to a new real-time gadget -- a desktop throttle that instantly measures the energy of the moment whenever the judge feels an increase or decrease in excitement from the rider on the course. The energy judge has now been thrust into the spotlight twisting the energy throttle up and down, becoming a focal point of attention for crowds and worldwide television audiences as everyone can now track the energy component of the scoring ofor every riders' run in real time.

"If we could put a hard wire right into your brain and your heart, maybe it would be even more accurate but this new system is pretty close to that," said Red Bull X-Fighters sporting director Tes Sewell, who added Red Bull X-Fighters and a Berlin company had been working on and testing the real time energy judging system for years before introducing it this season. "It's the one category where you can track the level the whole way through the run and not just wait for the score at the end. The energy judge's score tracks how they're feeling up and down the whole run."

Drake McElroy, one of the most stylish and respected riders in the FMX world, has been in the hot seat as the energy judge in the first two Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour stops this season in Mexico City and Dubai. "The energy judge is no longer flying under the radar with the other judges," the 32-year-old American said. He added the crowds want to be excited and entertained and can also usually spot the difference between a ride with an abundance of energy and another run that is lacking.

"It's a lot more real-time and interactive with the rider and the audience," said McElroy, smiling at the irony when asked if is only fitting that an energy drink company like Red Bull has put an emphasis on the energy category. The other four categories are: Variety, Execution, Form and Flow, Use of Course. "Instead of watching from start to finish and then doing the score, you can track the score on the throttle the whole time. You're out there tracking your feelings and emotions as they happen. It's capturing the mood of your feelings about how the run was."

Both Sewell and McElroy, who will pass the energy judge handlebars over to Alvaro Dal Farra of Italy for Glen Helen and Osaka as part of a regular rotation of judges, believe the real time energy judging will start get riders thinking more about trying to get the most out of their entire runs and not just finishing with a bang. Before judges might subconsciously weigh their scores to favor flashy finishes but not anymore with the averaging out. "It's just human emotion," said McElroy. "I think now we're getting a more accurate reflection of the energy throughout the run."


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July 20 - Japan: 5.15am (JST), Australia: 6.15am (AEST)
, New Zealand: 08.15pm (NZST)