Düsseldorf Sprint Recap

It was a pretty decent day for North America on Saturday with Kikkan Randall’s 2nd place, some solid performances by Chandra Crawford and Dasha Gaiazova (8th and 27th) and a mostly average race for Andrew Newell (13th).

Many thanks to Jan at WorldofXC.com for providing me with some data that I don’t usually have access to, namely the split times for all skiers in each round taken from the live timing site at FIS.  This will allow us to look a little more closely at how each skier did as they progressed through the heats.

First up the women:

This should be fairly self-explanatory.  Each line is a single skier; if the line stops before the Final round, they didn’t advance.  The y axis is the skier’s percent back relative to the best time of the day across all rounds.  That way we can compare times both within and between rounds.  Also, I’ve obviously highlighted the top six skiers.

The lines shooting up very high are likely either skiers who crashed or were dropped and packed it in for the rest of the heat.

One thing that stands out to me is that how Arianna Follis managed to get such a slow heat in the quarters and then another fairly relaxed heat in the semis as well.  Keep in mind that while the differences in percent back here may seem large, the race itself was very short, so the time differences between a “fast” and “slow” heat might be only 5-10 seconds.  It’s been a while since I’ve skied as hard as I can for 3 minutes, so I don’t have a good sense anymore of what sort of difference that amount of time makes in one’s perceived effort.

In any case, Kikkan Randall skied very, very consistent heats.  A great sign, I think, from a fitness perspective.  A lot of the “luck” that crops up in sprinting comes from how the pace of your particular heats play out.  That’s something that’s at least partly out of any single skier’s control, although the ability to get in front and dictate the pace is probably pretty crucial as well.

One wonders whether the blistering times set down by both Fabjan and Falk in the qualification round hurt them later on (similar to Jan’s theory on Petukhov).

On to the men:

Evidently, quite a few more crashes in the quarters with the men.  (I didn’t watch the races.)  Or more skiers getting dropped and letting up?  In any case, their presence compresses the rest of the graph, so let’s zoom in a bit:

Interesting pattern here of slowish quarters, faster semis and then a slower final.  I’d would have guessed that finals would tend to be somewhat slower, since they’re going to be more tactical and athletes may be more cautious.  It would be interesting to see if that’s the case over a large set of races, although I’m sure it’s highly dependent on course length and design.

Petukhov certainly managed to lay down some fast times straight through the semis.  Even though the final’s pace was a bit slower, he may have sunk too much energy early on.  Again, sometimes that’s something you can control, sometimes not.

Modin clearly cracked a bit in the final relative to the times he’d been putting in the whole day.  Still, from what I’ve read, and looking at these times, I’m venture a guess that tactics trumped fitness to some extent in the men’s final.  If you watched the races, and I’m completely wrong, feel free to let me know!


Related posts:

  1. A New Sprint Points Method
  2. Assessing The Weekend’s Races: Sprint
  3. How Well Prepared Are World Cup Rookies? (Part 2b: Sprint)
  4. Kuusamo WC Recap
  5. Trends In US Skiing Performance: Sprint

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5 Responses to “Düsseldorf Sprint Recap”
  1. WorldofXC says:

    Thanks for taking the analysis another step compared to what I had done – you sure know how to massage the data:)

  2. Cliff says:

    Interesting as always. Modin was getting tired already in the end of the semifinal but managed to hold his race together and advance as lucky loser. In the final it was obvious that he didn’t have the strength to fight for the top positions and even though the race was slow he had nothing to respond with when the final attack was made by Scola and Jönsson.

    It’s also interesting to see that all six times in the first semifinal for the men were better than the best time in the second. Last year I think we had a tendency that the skiers from the first semifinal had a better chance in the final due to longer rest, but the fact that Jönsson had a slower semi probably helped him here. I also think that they have extended the pause between the semifinals and the finals to give the men a little more rest.

    It would be very interesting to see if the skiers from the first semifinal actually has a benefit in the final. Someone from FIS (I think it was Ulvang) denied this, but I think it was the case many times during last season (in the Olympic Games for example). This is mainly on the men’s side, because the women have a longer rest anyway before their final.


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  2. […] to StatisticalSkier who did some nice analysis of the data sent over for the Kuusamo sprint and the Düsseldorf sprint […]

  3. […] races on Sunday.  Very different developments of heat times in this race compared to the last two sprint races.  Let’s check out the women […]

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