Cutting The Track
At East Coast Extravaganza, just about everyone was stunned by how many penalties were dished out for cutting track, everyone knew we'd be playing under WFTDA 3.0, but everyone there had very limited experience with it in practice.
To help understand it, I'm going to go through it one piece at a time... I do not speak for the WFTDA, the rules committee, or even ARG. I speak for myself. That being said I have carefully studied a lot of conversations from all sources to make sure this information is as accurate and in line with the great hive mind that is the WFTDA Referee community as possible.
When blocked out-of-bounds, an opponent must reenter the track without bettering her position relative to other skaters. The skater may not return in-bounds in front of the skater who blocked her out-of-bounds.
Oooh here we go. Without bettering her position relative to other skaters. Relative to other skaters doesn't just mean the skaters from the other teams, your team mates are skaters too! The next problem here is that the track is oval shaped. Think about the track and those handy 10 feet markers - they're pie shaped like this \_/. This means that while you're skating around on the inside track boundary you're obviously skating a lot less distance than someone on the outside boundary. It means the skaters right next to AND the width of the track away are still part of the pack that you must maintain 'relative position' too. If you put a skate over (just one skate fully over the boundary will do) at the inside and your team mate is busy positionally blocking an opponent out there you only have to move say 1 foot whilst out of bounds, to their 2.04* (or 2.10 feet if you're on the fatter part of the track exiting a corner) feet to be "bettering your position."
This is another one that has upset many a skater. You can be trying your hardest to not come back onto the track, and just pop one skate or finger or ear - and you've come back on and cut the track. This portion of the rules is meant to be read very literally. Refs are now well aware that we will probably be having more 'visits' from skaters in the middle. We used to be encouraged for skaters to take a knee to avoid sliding back on the track via momentum, but honestly this just made the middle a dangerous place to be. If you do come in the middle, you're much better off doing a loopty loop - for want of a better term - than sliding. An upright still moving skater in the middle is much easier for us poor Zebras to deal with than a sliding one.
SAFETY THIRD! Obviously Derby is a dangerous sport, and if you wanted to be completely safe, you'd take up ping pong, but that doesn't mean we should try jumping over people to avoid cutting track boundaries...
This portion of the rules was developed and used extensively in 2007 as a tournament clarification and appeared in the DoM's some leagues used to use. Again what needs to be kept in mind here is the term 'in front'. I like to imagine this in terms of one of those radar sweeps you see in cheap Sci-Fi movies or old War Navy movies. You know that green line that gracefully arcs around with a fade behind it? Imagine that line is following you around and is drawn from the midpoint of that and of the track. If that line (further out on the track than you) passes someone while you're out of bounds, *bam* there is your minor and out of the corner of your eye you might see a Zebra making the arms crossed in front of their chest hand signal and yelling your name/number. If there is another person with them out there... then you've bumped into 22.214.171.124 and will get a major, more activity from said Zebra following by a loud blast from a whistle and the famous single finger pointing, major penalty hand signal.
The point of reference has changed here, instead of cutting around 'skaters' you're specifically cutting around an opposing blocker. This includes the pivot, which is now considered a blocker as noted in section 3.2. Cutting here is obviously intended to stop a jammer trying to escape a tough blocker so they can make a lap and head for more scoring chances. What it has a side effect of doing is making a block to the inside a very strategic move. If you're moving fast anyway, and someone catches you with a good hit to the inside at the entrance to a corner, you're likely to have your momentum carry you past that blocker in front of you and then back onto the track since that is the tangent you'll be on. Then you're back to that Loopty Loop we mentioned earlier.
Another example a bit more complicated now. Blocker B3 legally blocks you to the inside of the track - she uses her shoulder to the back of your upper arm, a legal block in all regards, but when she hit you, her hips were behind yours. You are pushed out of bounds by this and your momentum, now increased by the block shoots you across in front of B2 out of bounds and re-entering the track. Should you get a minor or a major? She's not the foremost opposing blocker...right?
Unfortunately for you dear JA, you bettered your position relative to B3 who blocked you and B2 who you re-entered in front of, therefore you would get a major penalty.
Here is where we were just a few short months ago.... The red is the only rule pertaining to cut track in 2.1.1. Funny how far things have come isn't it? If you're a rules nerd and fancy comparing the two sets go to: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcb95pg2_11cr3872hk
You can complain to me via email if you'd like: