I’ve talked about the amusing notion of victims and nemeses before.  Let’s look at some extreme cases.  Remember that a victim is someone you beat by a small margin (rather arbitrarily chosen by me to be less than or equal to ten seconds).  A nemesis is just the reverse: someone who beats you by such a small margin.

If this happened a lot between two particular skiers, one could perhaps suggest some sort of rivalry is taking place. 1 So how often could this happen between two skiers?

Well, quite a lot, it turns out.  Looking at every single race in my database, Pietro Piller Cottrer has beaten Vincent Vittoz by a margin of no more than 10 seconds a whopping 26 times.  Conversely, Vittoz has returned the favor 21 times.  On the women’s side, we’ve got an intra-Italian feud with Gabriella Paruzzi edging Sabina Valbusa a total of 21 times, while Valbusa edged out Paruzzi 14 times.

Limiting ourselves to more recent territory, the 2009-2010 season, we get the rather one sided rivalry of Northug vs. Teichmann, where Northug defeated Teichmann by no more than 10 seconds seven times in just one season.  And Teichmann?  Not once.  Poor guy.  There isn’t a similarly stand-out example for the women.  Instead, we’ve got two matchups where the score is 5-0.  We’ve got Arianna Follis getting the better of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen 5 times to nothing, and also Marianna Longa tormenting Karine Philippot by the same score.

What about the apparently oft hyped Northug/Hellner rivalry?  Well, in close races (and all seasons) it doesn’t appear to be much of a contest.  We’ve got 12 victories for Northug by less than 10 seconds and only 2 for Hellner.  Someone needs to work on their sprinting.

The equivalent rivalry for the women is clearly Marit vs. Justyna.  This actually lives up to its hype somewhat, with 8 narrow victories for Marit and 7 for Justyna.


  1. And let’s be honest.  Even if there isn’t one, it’s fun to drum them up.

Related posts:

  1. Did Petter Northug Have a Slight Edge On Marcus Hellner?
  2. Head-To-Head: Petter Northug vs. Marcus Hellner
  3. Victims & Nemeses
  4. Victims & Nemeses: Sweden Edition
  5. Week In Review: Friday August 20th

About Joran


3 Responses to “Rivalries”
  1. FedererFTW says:

    LOL. Hellner needs to work on his sprinting? Haha, that’s one of the funniest things I’ve heard all year. If you go back and look at Hellner’s results in sprint racing the last couple of years, and his mass start results, you’ll see that he is in the top echelon of skiers. You don’t win relays and pursuit races without a very good kick. His technique is second to none, much like the now retired Per Elofsson. The guy has shown last year that he can make classic sprint finals and win pursuit races. Sorry for the rant, but I think you need to give hellner a bit more credit than just ‘someone needs to work on their sprinting!’ Yes, I know you are comparing his results to that of Northugs in the head to head, but Northug isn’t the only skier, just the best skier over the last 200-500 meters.
    Btw, good job in the ridge run.

    • Joran says:

      Rants are perfectly acceptable, particularly when they are deserved. One of the dangers of blogging is you write things kind of fast and you can end up being a bit glib. So yeah, Hellner’s a pretty damn fast sprinter. All I meant by that line was the (probably prosaic) point that Northug’s still got a bit of an edge in terms of sprinting kick. But of course, that’s just compared to Northug, who might not even be human.

      Thanks about the ridge run…it was a good time!

      • FedererFTW says:

        No problem. I enjoy reading your blog. Different ways of analyzing races and results are always nice, and it keeps things in perspective, especially when one knows what one is talking about!

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