Local competitor and instructor Alan Tay posted some great videos of the USDAA Nationals Grand Prix Finals here. There are individial runs of the top 5 finishers of all height groups as well as Dartfish overlays of the 1-2 finishers and 2-3 finishers. It's funny, while I was watching the live feed of the finals I was thinking it would be great to see overlays of the runs. The course map can be seen here. I was particularly interested in the second half of the course from the #12 tunnel to the end because that was the area with the different handling choices.
Strummer's instructor, Rob, from last winter's classes was in the Grand Prix Finals and he's convinced that you need running contacts to place but I don't know. The only place where I saw a dog overtake another dog on the dogwalk was in the 22" class, 1st and 2nd place overlay run and it looked to me like both dogs had stopped contacts that were quick released. I could be wrong though, if anyone knows those dogs (Juice/Rider) you can set the record straight. Looked like all the other 1-2 placing dogs had running contacts so it's hard to compare and I suppose maybe that says it all right there but I don't know, could be coincidence. They certainly help if you have a weak spot somewhere else on the course but do they win the class or place you in the top 5? I don't know. If I had a fast dog with nice, fast, safe reliable 2 on/2 off contacts I wouldn't retrain a running contact, even if I was gunning for a spot on the podium at Nationals. But if I had a new puppy-I don't know, I'd probably shoot for the running but mostly because I think they're way more fun. My prediction is that we're going to see more running contacts, at least at USDAA Nationals where speed in the finals is so important.
If anybody else has some thoughts from watching the videos please feel free to post. And huge thanks to Alan for putting these runs together. It must have taken a lot of work.
I'll have a report on my DOCNA trial later once I get my video put together.