2014 Competition Working Group Meeting Wrap: Part 1 (Triple Crown Tour)

Posted: December 19, 2014 01:44 PM
Part 1 – The Triple Crown Tour
Boulder, Colo. (December 19, 2014)—Two weekends ago, Dec. 6-7, USA Ultimate hosted its annual gathering of headquarters staff, national volunteers, player-elected division council athlete representatives and delegates from the competition working group to discuss, plan and refine a variety of topics and future programs. 

The Winter Competition Working Group Meeting was held in Denver, Colo., and focused on several areas, including the Triple Crown Tour and USA Ultimate’s Beach, Youth and College divisions.

The meeting, which included 30 of the brightest, most well-respected and passionate stewards of ultimate in the United States, resulted in the implementation of several changes and improvements to existing programs as well as productive discussion and sharing of ideas related to the future of ultimate.

USA Ultimate would like to thank the following individuals for their participation in these meetings and recognize their ongoing commitment, vision and support:

Tyler Kinley – Club Working Group; Men’s Division Athlete Rep
Jack Marsh – Club Working Group; Men’s Division Athlete Rep
Michelle Ng – Club Working Group; Women’s Division Athlete Rep
Peri Kurshan – Club Working Group; Women’s Division Athlete Rep
An-Chi Tsou – Club Working Group; Mixed Division Athlete Rep
Steve Sullivan – Club Working Group; Mixed Division Athlete Rep
Adam Goff – Club Working Group; Men’s Division National Director
Remy Schor – Club Working Group; Women’s Division National Director
Dave Klink – Club Working Group; Mixed Division National Director
Alyssa Kelly – Youth Competition Working Group; West Regional Youth Director
Jinny Eun – Youth Competition Working Group; South Regional Youth Director
Josh Seamon – Youth Competition Working Group; Northeast Regional Youth Director
Fran Kelley – Youth Competition Working Group; Central Regional Youth Director
Claire Chastain – Youth Outreach Working Group; National Outreach Director
Heather Ann Brauer – Youth Outreach Working Group; National Girls Director
Zara Cadoux – Youth Outreach Working Group; Chair, Girls’ Ultimate Movement (GUM)
Amy Hudson – College Working Group; National Developmental Director
Beth Nakamura – College Working Group; National Women’s College Director
Jeff Kula – College Working Group; National Men’s College Director
Kevin Kula – College Working Group; National D-III College Director
Kimberly Beach – Beach Working Group; Atlantic Regional Beach Director
Sean McCall – Beach Working Group; Gulf Regional Beach Director
Becky LeDonne – Beach Working Group; Great Lakes Regional Beach Director
Rocky Beach – Beach Working Group; Pacific Regional Beach Director
Baker Pratt – Former USA Ultimate Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs (Youth)
Connor Maloney – Incoming USA Ultimate Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs (Youth)
Mike Lovinguth – USA Ultimate Manager of Education & Youth Programs
Ty Krajec – USA Ultimate Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs (College)
Ernest Toney – USA Ultimate Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs (Club)
Byron Hicks – USA Ultimate Manager of Events
David Raflo – USA Ultimate Manager of Events
Will Deaver – USA Ultimate Managing Director of Competition & Athlete Programs

Following these meetings, USA Ultimate is slated to issue a series of releases describing some of the decisions that were made and many of the ideas that were presented and shared by the group. The collaborative nature of these discussions and the decision-making process, as well as the valuable input and perspective provided by many members of the ultimate community, resulted in many exciting updates and ideas worthy of future discussion and consideration.

The first installment of these releases focuses on the future of the Triple Crown Tour.  
The Triple Crown Tour (TCT) represents the highest level of competitive ultimate in the United States and was launched in 2013. After minor modifications based on athlete feedback were implemented in each of the TCT’s first two years, some more significant changes are on the horizon for 2015. 
During this month’s meeting of the Club Working Group in Denver, which included headquarters staff, national-level volunteers and two player-elected athlete representatives per division, some significant changes were discussed by the group and implemented by USA Ultimate.
"The December meeting was a great opportunity for the athlete reps – Jack and myself for the men’s division – to not only learn about what is coming for the next year, and years, for the sport, but also to provide input and feedback that helped to shape that direction," explained Sockeye’s Tyler Kinley, one of the player-elected delegates to the Club Division Working Group. "The process was very collaborative and sought to balance the goals of not only USA Ultimate and its players, but also the different divisions and levels of competition within those divisions."
"The meeting was very positive," echoed Nightlock’s Peri Kurshan, one of the two women’s division athlete representatives, along with Michelle Ng. "We were able to improve aspects of the TCT by shuffling the timing of events to better reflect when teams are ready to compete and expanding participation at some events to include more teams, as well as allowing current season results to have more of an impact. I’m especially excited about some of the additional opportunities we designed for Select Flight teams." 
Confirmed revisions to the Triple Crown Tour include:
U.S. Open Expansion
The U.S. Open will expand its field to include 12 teams per division (men’s, women’s, mixed) for a total of 36 teams. The top four Pro Flight teams in each division will still be required to attend with invitations issued to the next four Pro Flight teams, followed by Elite Flight teams and/or competitive teams local to the host city of the U.S. Open (depending upon international team participation). The goal remains to host four international teams from each division, resulting in the composition of a division being eight domestic teams and four international teams.
Pro Finale Expansion and Inclusion of Wildcard Teams 
The Pro Flight Finale will expand its field to include 10 teams per division (men’s, women’s, mixed), giving bid priority to the eight Pro Flight teams and the top two finishers from the Elite-Select Challenge.
Addition of New Select Flight Event
Targeted to be held one week before the Pro Flight Finale, a new event catering to Select Flight teams will join the TCT lineup. The Select Flight Invite includes 16 teams per division for a total of 48 teams. With the addition of the new event, Top-Select teams will now be required to attend either the Elite-Select Challenge or the Select Flight Invite. Twelve bids will be reserved for Select Flight teams, with automatic bids offered to any Top-Select team that does not attend the Elite-Select Challenge, followed by invites to Select Flight teams in order of their post-Nationals ranking. Four bids will also be reserved for Elite Flight teams (optional), offered in order of their 2014 Nationals finish. Other sanctioned events will continue to be targeted as Select Flight events in order to provide additional accessible and quality playing opportunities for Select Flight teams. 
2015 "Triple Crown"
The definition of winning the "Triple Crown" has changed. The Pro Flight Finale will now serve as the second leg of the Triple Crown, replacing the previous benchmark of finishing the regular season atop the rankings. Teams who win the U.S. Open, the Pro Flight Finale and the National Championships in any given season will win the Triple Crown.
2015 Triple Crown Tour Roster Guidelines
New roster guidelines will be put in place to help ensure consistency between the regular season and postseason rosters of top teams. Additional details will be available when the 2015 TCT Season Guidelines are released in February.
2015 Triple Crown Tour Calendar 
There was much discussion around the calendar, and as a result of the continued collaboration between athlete representatives and USA Ultimate, a recommendation was made to establish definitive dates for major TCT events prior to distributing requests for proposals to potential tournament directors, local organizing committees and convention and visitors bureaus and sports commissions. This has traditionally been standard operating procedures for events like the U.S. Open and National Championships; however, implementing a similar process for all major TCT events will help to maintain a consistent schedule over time and improve the ability for teams, athletes, event organizers and other stakeholders to plan ahead.
USA Ultimate is currently engaged in the final review of bids to host the 2015 National Championships with an announcement expected in early to mid-January. That date will help dictate the dates of other major events in the TCT. However, USA Ultimate can report the following at this time:
  • The U.S. Open will occur in its traditional Fourth of July spot, July 2-5, 2015.
  • The Elite-Select Challenge and the Pro-Elite Challenge have been re-ordered so that the Elite-Select Challenge occurs first (likely in mid-July), followed by the Pro-Elite Challenge (likely in early August). 
  • The newly introduced Select Flight Invite will occur the weekend before the Pro Flight Finale.
  • The end of the regular season and the timing of sectionals and regionals will depend on the date of the National Championships. 
  • USA Ultimate hopes to announce the dates and locations of the 2015 U.S. Open and 2015 National Championships, as well as target dates for the entire 2015 and 2016 TCT, in January 2015, which includes:
    • U.S. Open
    • Elite-Select Challenge
    • Pro-Elite Challenge
    • Select Flight Invite
    • Pro Flight Finale
    • Postseason (Sectionals)
    • Postseason (Regionals)
    • National Championships
  • In conjunction with the above announcement, USA Ultimate will open the bid window for 2015 TCT regular-season and postseason (sectionals and regionals) events, as well as the bid window for all 2016 events.
2015 Season Guidelines
The Club Division Working Group is continuing to discuss additional topics, including rankings, bid allocations, team naming and geography. Details will be released with the Triple Crown Tour Season Guidelines in February.
TCT generic

Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.