Judge Dread and the Am Flat Circuit

The never ending judging drama reared its ugly head this weekend, I came across this interesting article on ESPN’s site by Brian Tunney about the recent judging controversy between Bo Wade and the Am flat circuit. Brian writes….

“This past weekend, the final round of the 2011 Am Flatland Circuit hit Buffalo, N.Y., with wins going to DK’s Dane Beardsley in Pro Flatland, Tyler Gilliard in Masters, Todd Carter in Expert, Tony Strickler in Vet and Jimmy Kibbons in Beginner. Unfortunately, the contest was not without controversy. According to riders in the contest, including pro Bo Wade, who placed third out of three riders, the judging was inaccurate…..

Hit the link to read more…


Steve Lapsley from the Am Flat circuit sent in a response:

When I decided to start running the Am Flatland Circuit in 2009 I did it for my love of Flatland and the hopes of growing the sport. I did not do this for money or popularity or publicity. In the last two years I have put everything I have into this circuit including every spare dollar my wife and I could save. Not one penny has been made off of this circuit personally; all money from t-Shirts and entry fees went directly back into contest expenses, trophies and pro purse.
It is very unfortunate that there are untrue statements floating around the internet regarding the round 5 judging and scoring system. In no way were judges asked to change scores or were scores altered. I am sorry that there are hard feelings over placements or scores but I stand by my system when the proper judges are in place. Every contest format and judging system has flaws and needs tweaks. Mine is no different.
I did my best to plan and raise sponsorships to plan the Battle at the Border in 30 days time. With this short time frame came little money to put towards the actual event. Everything from the DJ’s to the Trophies were donated. There were no funds to pay judges and we used the best people available for each class at the time of the event.
I will continue to run the Am Flatland Circuit with all of the recent comments as a stepping stone for next year’s circuit.
As I said I do this for my love of Flatland and I will continue to do this as so.

18 thoughts on “Judge Dread and the Am Flat Circuit

  1. i’m not sure that bo wade whatched the other guy runs because from what we see on video there is not to much to argue on the judges decision.

  2. And everyone wondered why I didn’t enter…
    Stoked to just do flat Jams from now on!
    Its no wonder riders go underground….

  3. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Tyler pulled the better part of a couple more complex and difficult combos whereas Bo did a spinning dork wheelie several times and finished a couple of them with a decade. Not to mention, Tyler totally rode out of that grip ride while wearing what appeared to be spandex, and that just shows a lot of balls…literally.

  4. Those pants/spandex are very scary! LOL. Uhh no comment on judging. Tired of hearing about it all to be honest.
    Huge crowd there?

  5. Bo Wade is not a pro level rider and needs to quit pretending like he is. Bo, spinning no kick mega spins to perverts are not easy, but that is literally all you bring to the vast cornucopia of our splendor; then you tweet your sacreligious ego’s tirades to our disciple’s. We frown upon your feeble efforts, lack of vision and unproffesional attitude.

    • My only comment is that this “drama” is not exclusive to the Am flat circuit, judging flatland is difficult, it strikes me that Steve should review the year, what worked what didnt, and take things from there. There has been definite progress with the circuit this year.

  6. I can’t see what the fuss is about either, and I would have put Tyler on second place as well, especially from what Lapsey has to say about the judging criteria.

    I have allways felt that flatland is not a good sport for competions. How many times have we not seen Matt Willhelm LASH OUT the sickest, hardest links around, only to be beaten by some stylish kid with only 80% of his skills? I’m not really stoked on spinny riding and get more stoked on slower and easier riding,but its bizarre to me that this has happened over and over again in competitions. Riding is SO diverse from one rider to another, and as long as we have no criteria on what is the correct way of doing tricks, we will allways have this problem. Of course, we would not want to have standards on style, its free in the nature of the sport.

    Ralph winning the worlds a few years back had me hoping for judging taking a new, better direction, but it continues to fail utterly.

    I might be the wrong person to talk about this cause competions have allways felt wrong for me, and that is part of why I chose riding freestyle in the first place. I feel that jams are the future of the sport. If not having a “winner” at an event makes flatland less appealing to the public….well I cant see why thats a big problem. Hardcore riders will allways ride, no matter who’s watching or no matter who is making money out of our “image”. Jams will bring out more hardcore riders as well, and be more exiting to, guess who, people who ride. For us, by us.

    Just look at the videos that spring out of The Masters\worlds every year. The jam-sessions at remote spots and even in the tent are ALLWAYS more enjoyable to watch and those sessions ALLWAYS contain better riding.

    We should stop beating our head against the wall and take it back to the roots, jamming and progressing.

  7. How do you judge what is frequently referred to as “art”? Problematic from the get-go. As long as there are flatland contests, there will be judging issues. Best to leave flatland where it belongs…free of judgement.

  8. I think people need to to stop falling on the excuse that flatland is too hard to judge when most of the biggest controversies in flatland judging were pretty clear cut who should have won certain contests and battles.

    On another note Bo wade is not qualified to ride pro…he brings like 3 tricks to the table timachine, turbine peg wheelie , and rollaid??? He’d get shitted on in the Expert class of events such as Jomopro.

  9. on a tangent, something that’s been milling around in my head for awhile is: do we NEED contests? could we “grow” the sport, gain sponsorships, etc. by simply having rad jams, open to the public? i sometimes wonder why we feel it’s so important to have a “winner” in what is most of the time, arguably, not the winning rider’s best riding anyways. idk. food for thought.

    that, and also having an actual training program available for people who attend contests and would like to judge, kind of as a way to standardize some of the criteria, and get everyone on the same page i guess.

    • Funny you mention, myself and bobby carter are about to drop a conversation that is basically what you are talking about jim, we had right after i wrote “time for flatland to grow up” article after the fise contest (its taking a while to edit), recent episodes fuel that argument, that contests are the worst time for flatland, look at all the drama! who needs that? what does that do for the public perception of the sport? and also more important, sponsors, why would they get involved?? There are lot of reasons, (judging systems, etc) these all cost money to be in place realistically (paying judges flights, hotels) thats kind of where we need to be at, right now, there are no concrete judging systems in place so of course it will fall flat on its ass, its kind of like a rider not preparing for a contest, 9 times out of 10 you wont have a good run.

  10. I spent a lot of time thinking about contests this year because it was my first competitive season in 20 years. Here are a few of my conclusions and rationale.

    – Judging tells you how #ridaz did within the constraints of the time limit of his/her run. It’s not necessarily a judgement of the #ridaz.
    – Judging systems are usually known ahead of time. That allows #ridaz to tune their run to that system’s preferences. It’s like a game of BIKE in a way.
    – Contests are a great way for you (the #ridaz) to give props to your buddies when they do something awesome.
    – Contests generally bring more #ridaz than jams. The #ridaz prepare more intensely – which brings out better riding. Jams end up happening before and after contests so it’s a 2-for-1.
    – Passionate debate about the merits of any given judging system end up bringing #ridaz’ diverse value systems to the surface. For instance, I’m finding that there’s some opportunity to run different classes/systems at one event: 1 for “progressionists” and 1 for “perfectionists” and that the events could have a casino flavor – where you enter the game (rule set) you prefer and have a strategy to play. (1 class would be “you get points only for what you pull)

    Now that I’ve shared my conclusion, I’ll share the perspective I took this year. It sounds wacky and silly, but it’s honest. I’ll tell it the way I was inspired:

    Rocky Balboa was taught the hazard of hubris in 3 when Clubber Lange handed him his ass. Did Rocky quit? No. He sat down with his thoughts and asked himself what an archetypal champion would do. He decided to double-down and push himself farther and with a mentor who had been there before. In the end, Rocky self-actualized and, by defeating Clubber in the rematch, showed us all the way through this type of adversity.

    Later in 4, Rocky was faced with another philosophical challenger: state-sponsored, science-driven godless athletic elitism. Rocky’s mentor and cohort Apolo Creed fell tragic victim to hubris and lost his life at the hands of Ivan Drago. For Rocky, overcoming hubris and rising to a personal best was no longer the boundary of the game – the game had risen to a global stage and the consequences of not being sufficiently dedicated were demonstrably fatal. Rocky was abandoned – not unlike Luke with the passing of Yoda. Rocky dug deep into spirit – was the key to greatness a personal journey, was it national / state-sponsorship? Rocky decided to take it old-school and trained with Apolo’s trainer. His family joined him. He trained in Siberia, in the harsh unforgiving natural conditions. He discovered that it’s the human spirit, despite yet in adapted harmony with nature, which is the source of our power and the motivation to evolve, overcome, and succeed. In the end Ivan Drago, the manifestation of pure nationalism, was defeated by Rocky, the manifestation of pure human spirit.

    #deepInOurSoul #aQuietEmberKnows #itsYouAgainstYou #theParadoxThatDrivesUsOn

    Back to Flatland
    We, as flatlanders, are well-aware that our lifestyle choice is not rational. Mommas don’t let their babies grown up to be cowboys nor flatlanders. Accountants, engineers, craftsmen, and tradesmen pay the bills and their efforts keep the world’s resources flowing to where they’re needed to sustain the population. These are the disciplines where precision matters. Our irrational love for this sport is our tangible means by which we adapt our thinking, our bodies, and our world-view in order to evolve and become greater humans (by our own standards) than we were 1 year earlier.

    Ask yourself “what lesson did flatland teach me this year which transformed me from what I was last year?” and I think you’ll find your answer to be astounding.

    Now, please click on the link and laugh at what Danny Sirkin’s Japanese fan base made.

    • Great points Joe! “what lesson did flatland teach me this year which transformed me from what I was last year?” good question, well to answer this, may divert away from contests, with the tendonitus injury i got last summer, I decided to take a different path with my riding, and repeat a lot less, instead work on new things every session, and when i get the urge, to document share and progress, i found in some ways contests to be a lil bit selfish, its all about you, which is fine, but i don’t think it helps the sport, i thought if one of my clips motivates riders, even one rider then maybe that is effort more worthwhile, videos generally motivate other riders, contests are for yourself, and i also broke it down to this, when am i most stoked riding?? the answer is when i learn something new, i feel like a kid again, i still get the same buzz as i always did, i don’t think that feeling will ever get old.
      This coming week myself and bobby carter will discuss contests and flatland in great depth, look out for it real soon!

  11. More food for thought. Drama is maybe a good thing? Why do people watch TV? Why do people go see movies? Drama. Why are the best sporting events the ones that are between two rivalries? Drama. People like it. It makes things interesting and suspenseful. You get to pick a side and hope your side wins.

    Unfortunately flatland is very small and everyone knows everyone so the drama is quite insane when it does happen and friends become enemies and blah blah blah.

    Another thing is flatlanders seem to think we are the only sport that has judging problems, the only sport with drama. There is HUGE drama within every sport. There is insider politics and all the same problems we have within every single sport, trust me. Snowboarding has it. Dirt bike racing has it. Even figure skating has it. Every sport has problems, every sport will continue to have problems here and there. Should we aim to iron some of these problems out? Yes, probably, but its never going to be perfect. Olympic sports aren’t perfect, flatland is never going to be perfect.

    On a second note. Flatland, to me, is not an artform. It is a sport. And it wouldn’t be a sport to me without contests. That’s my opinion, if you don’t like contests, only go to jams, there are plenty of both. But I enjoy competing against all the riders that I consider my friends, then going and celebrating whoever won the contest with lots of liquor and beer.

  12. At every contest I have been to (6 of them) a non rider has questioned me about our sport. Sometimes a parent, asking, “How do I get my son into this?” Sometimes a kid asking, “What kind of bike is that?” “HOW DO YOU DO THAT?” Sometimes even a group of kids on street bikes watching, or a fan passing by just saying “Rad” … etc … etc … etc.

    How many of those kids have started riding because of the contest ?
    How many of those kids bought a flatland bike they saw at the contest rather than a dyno at the local bike shop ?
    How many street riders took a trick or two they saw and started to incorporate flatland ?

    At my very first contest just about one year ago to the week, Dayton last year …

    A kid asked me,
    “How do I learn cool tricks?”
    I told him about “Ground Rules” and some of the tricks to try.
    I was at the DK warehouse. I told him about the same bike I was on. A DK opsis complete. That he could get it from this very company or at flatlandfuel.com , a sponsor of that event. He was so stoked on flatland !

    Did he or any of the other spectators actually make a purchase from a flatland company ? Who am I to say …

    But from my experience in only 1 year, I have seen flatland, flatland riders, and flatland companies and products advertised thanks to these contests.

    *side note – Im glad to say Alex is now a friend of mine as well as the rest of the Pralex crew and countless other riders that encourage me to shred, thanks to contests.


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