Timing Sprint Heats

Timing sprint heats requires a good knowledge of sprint race logistics and timing gear. Also on sprint days communication with various volunteers is extremely important. This is a summary of using Zone4 Timing software for sprint heat timing. Other important documentation is.

Timing Sprint heats requires using a different race file then the qualifier. You do not need to wait for the qualifier to be done in order to begin setting up your sprint heats.

Creating a Race File for Sprint Heats

First select Time a New Race, then Cross-Country Skiing.

Fill in the relevant information and select Sprint Heats as the race format. Then select Import Racers.

Then  Select the “Race to import” from. This should be the race file that was previously built for the qualifier. Then select Create this Race.

Creating Heats

Once the race has been created navigate to the Heats page. 

Once on the Heats page you will need to select the results set from the qualifying race to use for building your heats. Then select Import Qualifying Result. 

Ordering Groups

Once heat groups have been created you will want to use the drag handles to re-order them depending on when they will be racing with the first ones to start at the top.

Selecting Heat Format

Next you will need to select the heat format to use. This involves selecting both a “Category” and a “Format”. This can be selected on a group by group basis, but most often the same format will be used throughout a day of racing. 

What type of heats you choose will depend on the type of race you’re timing and needs to be determined with the race organizers and TD ahead of time. Here is a link to a rundown of the different types of heat categories and formats. 

One important distinction to make is the difference between timed and untimed heats. Most non tier1 events will have untimed heats since this makes it much easier from a organizational point of view. 

Once you have selected the type of heat that you want to use a list of heats will automatically populate on the heats page. The “Select Heat Format” window will close automatically once this is done.  

Select the heat format for each “Racer Group” before moving onto “Importing” racers.

Importing Racers 

If you’re preparing your race file ahead of time and no qualifiers have finished yet, skip to ordering heats. Importing racers and assign numbers can be done later.

Importing racers is done on a group by group basis. Be sure to only import racers from groups who have completed their qualifier. Once Import is selected it may take a few minutes for the import to complete. 

Assigning Bib Numbers 

Next you will need to assign bib numbers. This step is only necessary if racers will be given new bibs after the qualifier as is most often the case. If racers are keeping their bibs form the qualifier then you can skip this step since their bibs will have already been imported with the racers.

First select the “first #” in each group. The numbers you choose will depend on what you have available. In general it is best to start the numbering for each group with 1 as is shown below.

Once this is done select Assign #’s. You will get a warning that racers already have numbers. Unless you’re keeping the same bibs from the qualifier select Assign Numbers.

Repeat this step for all groups that have been imported.

Ordering Heats

Heats will have been ordered based on the order that “Racer Groups” were ordered in however often groups will be interleaved. This means that all the quarterfinal for both groups will be raced first before moving onto their semi-finals and then finals. This makes it easier to run sprint heats in a timely manner and ensure that rules regarding rest between heats are met.  For more information as well as recommendations and a summary of the rules regarding heat scheduling here.

If heats are being interleaved use the drag handles to re-order them into their correct order. An example of two groups correctly interleaved is below with drag handles highlighted. 

Assigning Start Times 

Next you will need to assign start times for each heat by assigning them in the “Start Time” column.

It is recommended to leave at least 3:00 between heats, though more time might need to be given between semi-finals and finals in order to meet the 10min required between heats. For an example of heat scheduling click here.


Once start times have been assigned navigate to the Courses page.

Here you will need to select the type of course and “Course Groups” that you’re using for your heats. In almost every case this will be “Multi-Lap Race” and “Use Start Groups as Course Groups” as is shown below. Once this is done select Continue.

Assigning Timing Devices 

What you select for timing devices will depend on the level of race you’re doing and whether the heats are timed or untimed.

Untimed Heats 

For untimed heats there is no need to assign timing devices however assigning an android phone to the start might still be helpful so that you know when groups are on course. This is especially true when you do not have a good view of the race start.

Getting the finish order correct in untimed heats is the most important. What you choose to use to ensure the correct finish order is given will depend on what is available however here are a few options.

  • Spotters: These are volunteers who are assigned to looking at the finish order as racers cross the line and relaying that info to the timing hut. Generally at least two spotters should be used.
  • Video Camera set up at the finish: When a photofinish camera is unavailable setting up a camera at the finish can be a good alternative. This should be used in conjunction with spotters to determine close finishes since playing back video id time consuming.
  • Photofinish Camera: When available a photofinish camera hooked up to a computer in the timing hut is the ideal solution.  

Timed Heats 

All tier 1 (FIS sanctioned) races must have times heats. Timing devices for tier 1 events are regulated by FIS. For these events you would use:


  • Start Horn hooked up to a summit.
  • Android Phone or second Summit as backup. These could be used as primary for non FIS races.


  • Photofinish camera as primary timing devices. 
  • Timing chips, photocell or spotters as backup. A combination of several can also be used.
  • A mix of timing chips and spotters could be used for non FIS events.

Once timing devices have been assigned (if they are being assigned) select the Results page of Zone4 timing.


Select Group by Start Order.

For Sprint races you will need to create and publish at least two different Result Groups. One will be heat brackets and the other will be final finish order. During the race only “Heat Brackets” needs to published however the finish order should be published shortly after the race is over. 

Result sets will display final finish order by default. To switch them to display brackets select the “Advancement Brackets” option under “Heats Display” in the “Configure” window of a results set as is shown below.

Be sure to re-name result groups so that it is obvious to racers what each one will display.


Once results have been configured navigate to the Timing page of Zone4 and select  Show Heats button as is shown below.

The heats window will be where you will spend most of your time while heats are progressing. Here you can assign the finish order of heats if the heats are not being timed. You can also manually assign finish times if the method you’re using doesn’t assign them automatically.

Assigning Finish Order for Untimed Heats 

If you’re heats are untimed you may want to assign racers finish orders manually. To to this first go to the Settings , turn on Enable Experimental Settings and check the Un-timed Heats box as is shown below.

Once this is done navigate back to the Heats Window in the  Timing page.  You will now be able to rank racers manually in the heats window. Rank them by bib number with the top ranked skier at the top. This is shown below. 

Updated on 2018-10-25

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles