Carnivals moving in right direction

NEWLY-INSTALLED carnivals promoter John Craven called this year's series "a step in the right direction", but he was also the first to admit: "There's still a long way to go."

Craven was right on both counts.

By his own admission, turning around the public perception of the carnivals may be his biggest task because while the quality of performers could not be questioned, the quantity of spectators certainly could.

The series needed to do something, and many of the Craven-led initiatives helped, but whether it has a long-term future remains as hotly debated as the result of the men's Latrobe wheel.

Condensing the programs into compact, three-hour blitzes was more crowd-friendly, as was the excellent and urgently-needed results website, while the introduced criterium series was an outstanding success.

But the carnivals program still needs addressing, officialdom retains an uncanny habit of shooting itself in the foot with a starting pistol and if more people don't start coming through the gates, it's a serious concern how much longer they will continue.

However, the fact that positives largely outweighed negatives suggests Craven's assertion of a step in the right direction was spot on.

Saucy SASI

A YEAR after Glenn O'Shea and Annette Edmondson totally dominated the series, their South Australian teammates got in on the act.

Leading the way was Edmondson's younger brother, Alex, who would have won the Latrobe trifecta of AJ Clarke, A-grade scratch and wheelrace had the latter not been overturned following Franco Marvulli's protest.

Edmondson duly added the first A-grade scratch at Devonport and helped teammate Jack Bobridge win the Launceston Wheel

George Tansley won the Devonport crit and led him an SA clean sweep in the second A-grade scratch, Danielle McKinnirey and Alexandra Manly overcame competitors and commentators alike to dominate the Launceston Wheel and, not to be forgotten, O'Shea won the motor pace and keirin races at the Silverdome, the latter an all-South Australian field.

Jokingly referred to as "the South Australian mafia" by the Tasmanians because "they come down here and take all our money", the team is a credit to South Australian Sports Institute head coach Tim Decker and his assistant Jason Niblett who combined his coaching responsibilities with some nifty form in the cricket ball throwing competition.

Criterium crackers

BEFORE the series began, no less an authority than Genesys team owner Andrew Christie-Johnston suggested that it could become Tasmania's own Bay Crits.

Everything that followed suggests he may be right.

Tasmanians' opportunities to watch the likes of Matt Goss, the Sulzberger brothers, Will Clarke, Nathan Earle and a host of equally qualified mainlanders are largely limited to either the Stan Siejka classic or the television remote control, so anything that increases the in-person quota is warmly welcome.

Relocating the Launceston Classic into the carnivals program to make the crit series four races wouldn't do any harm.

Nor did the likeable Will Clarke delivering a popular home-state win in the star-studded Latrobe opener.

Birtwhistle brilliance

IT speaks volumes for the success of the Tasmania versus Kenya mile challenge at Launceston Carnival that the loudest cheer at what is ostensibly a cycling carnival went to a running event.

This was largely due to the sensational final lap of home- town winner Jake Birtwhistle who then backed up by also claiming the following morning's Bridport triathlon.

Website wonder

THE biggest single improvement to this year's carnival series went by the name of

An instantly-updated website of race fields and results may sound like common sense, but it took a long time coming.

Stewart successes

WHAT would the Tasmanian carnivals be without dynasties and the latest came courtesy of two Devonport teenagers.

Five years after her brother Brandon became the youngest rider to win the Latrobe Wheel, 17-year-old Macey Stewart completed a family double.

With third-generation riders like Ben Grenda and Zack Gilmore also competing in front of their world-beating fathers, this Tasmanian tradition looks secure.

Devonport diversity

WHEN a photographer says "I've done the pole-vaulting, cricket ball throwing, woodchopping and beep test, now I just need the athletics and cycling" it's a compliment to Devonport Carnival organisers.

However, the extravagance of a two-day carnival appears to be wearing thin and there is nothing stopping the program being condensed into one day.

The nature of the unnecessary repetition was best demonstrated by the day-one A-grade scratch being won by Shannon McCurley followed by Amy Cure, Georgia Baker, Macey Stewart and Josie Talbot and the day-two race finishing McCurley, Cure, Baker, Stewart and Talbot.

Official oversights

FAILING to notice a second place rider at the Latrobe Criterium seemed a blunder of monumental proportions, until the Launceston women's wheel race trumped it.

If the riders can successfully count down the laps, so should the commentator who failed to realise the race had already been won when he kept calling an extra lap.

Podium finishers Danielle McKinnirey, Alexandra Manly and Lauren Perry all knew the truth and handled the gaffe a lot better than the officials.

If carnivals organisers want crowds to return they have got to show them respect and presenting a podium missing the second place rider then adding an extra lap to a final thereby declaring the wrong winner is as irritating to the spectators as it is embarrassing to the performers.

Name errors

FOR the second year running, reigning Latrobe Wheel champion Glenn O'Shea arrived to find his name spelt wrongly on the front of the program.

It might not sound much, but fellow headline acts Marvulli, Edmondson and criterium series winner Christian Grasmann received similar treatment while almost every mention of the visiting Malaysian riders or Kenyan runners was as just that, "the Malaysian riders".

When athletes have come so far to compete, the least they could hope for is some non-generic recognition.

Appeal exposed

LATROBE officials did everything by the book in their handling of the finish to the men's wheel and by general consensus they reached the correct result.

However, the entire process was conducted far too publicly.

After Alex Edmondson appealed Franco Marvulli's protest, a lengthy debate which should have been held behind closed doors was conducted right next to where the assembled media were eagerly listening in.

Crowd concern

REVIEWING the series, Craven also said: "Those who are here have seen some wonderful entertainment and enjoyed it."

Spot on again.

The challenge remains to get more there in the first place.


Discuss "Carnivals moving in right direction "

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.