Why are competitive riders grouped the way there are?

Competitors in mountainboard comps are almost always grouped by age, and some times by gender. But why? Just because you’re the same gender and a similar age as another ride, why should you be competing against them? Neither age nor gender have any causal relationship with mountainboarding ability. So why are all the women put in one group and all the men over thirty in another group?

If we think back to the beginning of mountainboard competitions, when there weren’t very many riders, and the range of ability was much closer (I assume), it might have made sense to split the women from the men, and the younger riders from the older riders. And although the splits between the groups have moved over time, the historic idea of how riders should be divided has persisted.

At Round 2 of the UK Series 13 we rolled out a new boarderx qualification system that took a step away from the old way of classifying riders and grouped them by ability. We started with a list of riders, used their previous results to sort the list best to worse, and then split the list into groups of twelve. Each group then had three races so riders could earn points before being sorted back into their categories. The riders seemed to like it.

It’s always nice when the riders like the changes we make, but that isn’t why we did it. We came up with this system to make the qualifying races more interesting for those riders that otherwise would have had three pretty much identical qualifying races. We wanted the system to be safe first and foremost, which is why we don’t include the Groms (under 12’s), and we wanted it to help riders improve their racing ability, which makes them safer and reduces injuries.

It’s a step towards moving away from the arbitrary classification of riders. I wonder where we’ll go next.