BREAKING NEWS: Zone4 to time the Olympics!

April 1st 2020

Breaking news for the Canmore local timing company. After a of negotiations, the Olympic committee made the decision to contract the Zone4 crew to time all the events of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. “This is wonderful news for the team. I cannot wait to be in Tokyo and show the World the best timing solution that the Olympics will have ever seen in its history!” says founder and owner Dan Roycroft.

Zone4 crew just after their arrival at the Olympic site. Tools in hand they are already starting to get everything ready on site. They are even helping to finish building the stadium!

The Zone4 has already begun their work in Japan. A part of the team landed a few weeks ago and brought their tools to help finish building the stadiums. “In these challenging times in the World, it’s the least we can do” says the team.

Zone4 crew on an evening walk in the busy streets of Tokyo. “Much different than Canmore” software engineer Linden says.
The Zone4 team on a walk to a famous temple on one of their “very rare” off days. Used to the snow of Canmore, they are always dressed ready for the weather to come in.

The team is happy to escape Canmore which is still in full winter conditions at the moment.

The Zone4 team also wants to wish a happy “April Fools” to everyone and wants to make sure everyone keeps on smiling!

Have a wonderful day!

Zone4 Team

Dear Zone4 Family, 

From all the members of the Zone4 Team, we wanted to connect in these challenging times. We continue to be guided by the advice of our public health officials and, like each of you, we are making decisions each day with the health of our employees and our community in mind.

We understand that this  is a difficult time for event organizers in Canada and most places in the World. Things are changing quickly so it is important to stay well informed. Each province is issuing its own rules in terms of social gatherings, here are the ones for Alberta. Now is a good time to check your own province/state websites for updates.  We need to work together to flatten the curve, so we can all get back to enjoying the sports that bring us together. From all accounts this Covid-19 crisis is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so we need to pace ourselves accordingly. 

Short term solutions

If your event was going to happen soon, there is a good chance that you had to cancel or postpone. 

Refunds: Depending on your merchant account, you may or not be able to refund your participants directly on their credit cards. If you are not sure on how to refund, send us an email at support@zone4.ca or call us at 1-888-444-0199.

Give people credits for next year: You can cancel the event and give a free entry to everyone who has already registered for next year’s edition. 

Long term solutions

Put your registration on hold: If your event is happening in a long enough future. You can put your registration on hold so you don’t accept any new registrants. You can do this under the “publish” section of your registration by changing the close date to today. You can then change the dates again in the future to reopen the registration. 

Be creative: The government doesn’t allow gatherings of more than 50 people at the moment. Be creative and find ways to have people complete the event individually so that they don’t get in contact with people.

Go virtual: If you are able to get your participants to complete the challenge on their own, you can have them complete the event virtually. 

Zone4 is here for you

Zone4 will always be passionate about  helping organizations to be more efficient with both registration and race timing. In these challenging times, Zone4 is thinking outside the box and coming up with ways to still offer people a safe way to practice the sports they love. We are taking this time to rest and recharge after a very busy winter, work on development, and create online training tools that can be used by clubs and aspiring Zone4 timers in the future.

If you have any questions or concerns  about your event, or if you just want to brainstorm some ideas or solutions, we would love to hear from you. You can email us at support@zone4.ca or call the office at 1-888-444-0199. 

Stay positive out there!

Take Care,

Zone4 Team

Zone4 is heading to Bermuda!

Zone4 timing is hitting the world stage with their GoChip technology this spring in Bermuda. 

‘We are super excited that we’re timing big events like this. Timing the World Triathlon in Bermuda as well as Triathlon World Championship in Edmonton in August shows how Zone4’s systems are trusted at the elite level,’ says Zone4 founder, Dan Roycroft.  

Zone4 will be sending a small team of timing experts from their head office in Canmore, Alberta to Bermuda in April. To get into the swing of things they decided to go for a x-country ski in their Bermuda shorts!

Zone4’s roots are in X-country skiing, but they’re now timing Enduro Mountain Bike races, Alpine Skiing, Running Races and Triathlons. 

‘We’re experiencing amazing growth in the company and doing events like the World Triathlon in Bermuda is inline with our strategy to take our GoChip and Software to races around the world,’ says Dan. 

X-country ski season in full swing

Things are humming around Zone4 these days. Hundreds of new GoChips have been built to meet the demand for x-country ski races and loppets happening across Canada and the US.

In the fall we created a tutorial series to help clubs brush up on their Zone4 timing skills. We go over testing timing points at home and in the field, setting up timing loops in the snow, testing your chip batteries, trouble shooting and more.

Get ahead of the game and check out this tutorial series hosted by Zone4 timing experts before your next event!

‘Behind the Scene’ with Zone 4 timing at the NorAm Super Tour

‘Cross Country Skiing, in particular Sprint Heats, are by far the most challenging races to time. You have to be perfect and have results published within moments of each heat, so the right athletes can get advanced on to the semis and finals. That puts such a high bar on the performance of the equipment, the timing team, and all the procedures around the event,’ says Dan Roycroft, founder of Zone4. ‘It’s great seeing coaches tracking our live results on their phones, gathering data on where athletes are gaining and losing time in each heat’.

Zone4 race timers take you behind the scene at this years NorAm Super Tour x-country ski race at the Canmore Nordic Centre. 700 atheletes, sprint heats, race set up and live timing are featured in this video.

Biathlon season has begun!

Zone 4 was timing the Biathlon Canada, Biathlon Selection Trials earlier this month at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  Over the three day event, athletes had to contend with a wide range of temperatures, snow and variable winds.

Matt Strum (part-time Zone 4 staff) skied fast and shot clean during his final race and made the IBU Cup tour in December. Now he has a chance at a World Cup spot after Christmas.  You can chip in and help Matt realize his dream here. Go Matt!


Enthusiastic volunteers were on course working out their systems for the rest of the season. Zone 4 staff got to see our timing system in action allowing athletes, coaches, and fans to check live results during the event! Remember when you had to check the paper results at the end of the race? Learn more about our timing system for Biathlon here.

Click on this fun video to catch some of the early ski season excitement in the Zone 4 hometown of Canmore, AB. 

Searching for events by location

There’s a lot of stuff on Zone4 lately! And with ski season about to start, there’s going to be even more soon. This means you have to scroll a bit sometimes to find what you’re looking for on our homepage.

To make things easier, we’ve enabled location filtering on Zone4.ca: just click the little place marker in the search bar to only display events within 200km of your location.

We use your IP address to detect your location, so the location we detect for you might be off by a bit depending on the location your internet provider reports, but for most people it should be roughly accurate.

I’m an event organizer. How do I set the location of my event?

We use the “City” field from your settings to determine the location. If your event isn’t showing in the search results for the correct area, find the City field in your race, registration, event, or organization settings and make sure it is set to the correct city.

A Refresh of our Start List Building Tools

As we’ve expanded into new sports and met new customers, we’ve found new requirements and learned new patterns that our tools need to support. So today we’re updating the start list tools with a few new features, a bit more intelligence, and a new layout with a bit more space for the new features to live in.

Start Time Order

This feature is the main motivator of today’s changes. Up until now, in an individual start race the racer numbers and start times needed to be assigned in the same order. Racer #1 started first, racer #2 started second, and so on. This doesn’t work for races where the top ranked racer gets to wear #1 but the start list needs to be ordered slowest to fastest.

You’ll now see a Sort By option under the Assign Racer Numbers section, and another Sort By option under the Assign Start Times section. By default, start times are assigned in order of ascending racer number – the existing behaviour that you’re used to if you’ve built a start list in Zone4 previously. However, if that behaviour doesn’t work for your race format, you can now change the sort to any other racer field.

For an example of how this can be useful, some cycling races issue number plates that racers keep for a whole season, but want to run a time trial with racers starting in order of series points. After importing both the racer numbers and points, the start list can now support that ordering.

A bit of reorganization

The “assign seperately for each group” button hides in a menu now

If you’ve clicked on that “Assign Separately for Each Group” button before, you may have been confused when you had to scroll back up to the table at the top of the page to access the options it exposes.

With this change, when you switch between the group-by-group interface or the whole race interface, it will switch in-place so you don’t have to scroll back up to the top to access it.

This change also gives us a bit more room to work with – we have space here now to show a sort order option in the Assign Racer Numbers section, and another sort order in the Assign Start Times section.

Depending on which race format you select, you might be taken directly to either the simplified race ui or the group-by-group interface. You can always switch between them with the toggle in the options menu:

Auto-fill for less typing

We’ve brought the convenience of the whole-race interface over to the group-by-group interface. As you enter the first racer number, or the first start time, for the first group you’ll see a first racer number or start time auto-populate for all the subsequent start groups. You can type overtop of this greyed out placeholder value if you don’t like it, or you can leave it in place if it works for your race.

The Publish Button is now Always Available

At the bottom of the start list builder, you’ll see two buttons: Publish & Print, and View Start List. Previously, the Publish button was only available on the View Start List page, but to help out anybody who couldn’t figure out how to publish their start list, the button is now available on the configuration screen too.

We still recommend clicking “View Start List” first and having a good look through it before actually clicking on that publish button though – once you’ve published the start list, it’s a really bad idea to make changes to it.

A note on terminology

Coming from skiing, we’re used to the term “Bib Number” for the number assigned to a racer. However, in cycling the racers have a “plate number” and in triathlon it’s a “body number”. We’ve been gradually updating the terminology we use in our software and our help documents to always use the sport-neutral “racer number” instead of any sport-specific language to avoid any confusion.

Also coming from skiing, we’ve been using “seeding” as the terminology for the order that racer numbers are assigned in. This terminology is foreign to many new racer directors, and with this change we’re moving to the more understandable “Order By” label when choosing how racer numbers are assigned.

You might still see a few references to “bibs” and “seeding”, but they’ll be going away in time.

Downhill South East- Snowshoe Mountain WV

Last weekend was a really fun one! I got the chance to go down at the Final weekend of the Downhill South East Series. The finals were happening at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. It is a very remote location for the East coast but somewhere that all the mountain biking and especially downhill fans will know about. It will host its first ever Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup this coming September.

After a few hours of driving, I finally made it in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia !

The night before the event, I had the chance to watch Neko and a few of his friends sending hard on a big jump that they built for the World Cup track. It was at sunset and you will see from the images, it was breath taking! 

Neko Mulally and his friends showing no fear when hitting one real big jump at sunset at SnowShoe Mountain

More pictures of the sunset session can be found here

Founder of the Downhill South East series and USA DH World cup member, Neko Mulally, invited Zone4 to come down and show them how easy it is with our system to set up timing splits down the mountain on the DH course. This is huge for DH events because riders loves to know where they gained or lost times on the way down. With the current system that the downhill events are using in most of the venues, it is currently really complicated and almost impossible to offer split times. There was a lot of excitement within the riders and the organization to have Zone4 on site!

Riders at the top getting ready to start their race!

The day before the events, we walked the race track and decided on the location of the 2 splits. Each of them were easy and fast to set up. The setting up is simple, it is just a wire loop that is put either under the dirt or covered up with mats like you will see on the next picture bellow. Then, our activators (the split timing device) runs wireless and on batteries. They are about the size of your hand so they are easy to bring in a backpack.

On top of being able to set up 2 splits down the hill, we were able to have a TV at the bottom of the course to show live splits as the racers were coming down. This created a huge excitement for the crowd and the racers who could watch live, just like World Cup style, the ranking of the racer coming down the hill. 

A rider just starting their descent!

Overall, it was a really fun and an exciting race! Since it was a demo, we timed 50 competitors and offered live timing for them. Results can be found here. Expect to see the Downhill South East events using Zone4 in their next year’s events!

See a really cool article about the event here !

More info on the Zone4 chip timing system can be found on our website at www.zone4.ca

A Busy Winter At The Ski Resorts

About a year ago, I was sitting in front of my desk at the Zone4 office and Canmore when my phone rang, I could see it was a call coming from the province of British Columbia. I answered the phone and started a wonderful conversation with someone who had a dream to help her sport to become more accessible to everyone and to do so, she needed a timing solution that would allow her easy and the most accurate timing possible. The person on the phone was legend and Olympic Gold medalist Nancy Greene!

This was the beginning on the most wonderful project I have been part of to date with Zone4. Together with Nancy, against some of the older Alpine skiing thoughts that Alpine skiing can only be timed with photocells, we started making a plan to improve our timing software to make it excellent for Alpine skiing.

On the image below you can see Olympian legends Nancy Greene Raine and Kathy Kreiner

img_2324

After many discussions on the phone and development from our programmers, we had an Alpine Timing Software ready to use. With stars in her eyes, Nancy Greene’s really believe in our system and her vision that chip timing is the future for the sport. Sun Peaks Resort then went ahead and purchased our GoChip timing system. With local volunteers and resorts staff, the team at Sun Peaks took no time to become professional Zone4 Timers and got their Friday Race Series going!

Friday Race Series wrote on their Facebook: ” The new “chip-based” timing system by Zone 4 (Zone4.ca) out of Canmore has proven to be a winner. To date, a timing system for cross country skiing, road races, bike races and other similar sports, the Sun Peaks initiative has proven the potential for Recreational Alpine Ski Racing…As the first application for this system in Alpine in Canada, we can certainly say that we are impressed. Thanks to Nancy Greene-Raine for initiating this innovation at Sun Peaks and just as importantly, congratulations to the FRS Team for making it work (Jim Alix in particular). Other recreational racing programs…take note… this system rocks!”

Full post here

They also used the system for other events such as cross country skiing and their Snowboard Banked Slalom:

They are also planning on using the system in the summer for biking events, enduros, running and more.

Thank you sun Peaks for having seen an opportunity with us and to have believed in our product!

The Sun Peaks Wave

Many people went to Sun Peaks this winter and were able to see our timing system in action. It is the case for Big White Ski Resort, they also just did purchase of our system after trying it out this winter at their Telus Kelowna Cup event. They have just successfully timed their Ken Mitchel Memorial Cup event this weekend and we are looking for many more events to come in both winter and summer! Thank you Big White !

The photo below is from the Ken Mitchel Memorial Cup on the Big White Ski Resort Facebook here.

sunpeaks snowboard

4th Annual Baked Salmon

The 4th Annual Baked Salmon also used our timing system for their event. First, they used our registration platform and they sold out 200 spots in less than 9 minutes! That is an event that is unbelievably popular!

Then, they accepted up to 300 participants and with our GoChip system, they were able to give everyone 1 run and half the racers a 2nd run (If you were taking a second run, your first run was automatically not counting for awards).

Thank you Mt. Seymour and Baked Salmon for the great event!

Watch the Mt. Seymour Baked Salmon video below:

 Marc-Andrew Memorial Banked Slalom: Presented by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Darkside

This year was the second annual Banked Slalom at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and we were really excited to part of the event and we are looking forward to many more !

Last year was our first time ever timing a Banked Slalom with them and now it is becoming one of our main sport! Thank you to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for our partnership!

Here is the video from this years edition!

It has been a great winter at the Ski Resorts and we are looking forward to many more to come! Thank you for the great winter and we are ready to kick off the summer season soon!

Enjoy your events!

Zone4 Team.