The new foil mask featuring a portion of the bib as valid target area will not be used during the 2009-2010 season for domestic US Fencing events.
The motion to include the foil bib as target and match the current international fencing ruling from the FIE would have had the new foil mask a requirement for national events as early as October and put off the requirement for local events for a year.
The motion was withdrawn without a vote or debate on the matter. No additional discussion as to when the USFA might adopt this rule change was held.
Prior to the BoD meeting, the Fencing Officials Commission (FOC) submitted a recommendation against instituting the new rule. This recommendation was reported as “Updated Foil Mask Regulation” on the US Fencing official web site as early as September 9th. The wording of the title indicated that the USFA was leaning towards the FOC recommendation, but did so with the motion still on the agenda for the September 19-20 meetings of the BoD.
In their recommendation, the FOC position was:
As of the beginning of last season, the FIE has begun requiring foil fencers to wear a special mask with several inches of lame material sewn to the lower edge, thus making the valid target extend up to the prominences of the clavicles, as required by the FIE rules (Seniors – 2008-09; Juniors 2009-10).
The new FIE approved mask cannot currently be retrofitted or repaired, and will be fairly expensive. Further, there is no indication that these masks will not be subject to grounding of the mesh to the valid target, causing valid lights on the non-conductive bib and mesh.
Within the USFA there also appears to be concern with the safety issue of focusing our athlete’s attention on the relatively sensitive neck and throat area.
The High Performance Director has not seen a change in offensive or defensive coaching methodology because of the additional target area.
After evaluating this mask in international competition last season, the Rules Committee of the FOC has determined that there has been minimal impact on fencing bouts with the addition of this extended target. In entire World Cup competitions, very few points were scored on this area.
Given the expense that would be required of our already taxed athletes (and their families), the relatively limited impact on scoring, and no change in the fencers’ tactics, it is the recommendation of the FOC that the USFA not adopt the FIE rule requiring lame material on the foil bib.
International events do require the use of the masks that include foil bib as target.
- USFA Events: Standard masks. Masks w/Lame Bib are NOT required
- International Designated Cadet Events: Mask w/Lame Bib REQUIRED
- Junior or Senior World Cup Events: Mask w/Lame Bib REQUIRED
- Sr. Grand Prix Events: Mask w/Lame Bib REQUIRED. Also Visor mask required from table of 32 on.
- World Championships: Mask w/Lame Bib REQUIRED. Also Visor mask required from table of 32 on.
- Veteran World Championships: Electric Bibs and Visor masks for Foil are NOT REQUIRED