Tour de Ski Recap: Part 1

Now that the entire Tour is in the books, here’s how it played out, at least the big picture:

I have to say, good job to Fransesc Soulie (AND) and Callum Watson (AUS) for hanging in there, despite being way off the back.  Eight races in ten days is a tough feat, even for the folks at the back, so everyone who made it to Val di Fiemme deserves a pat on the back.

Kowalczyk was rarely seriously tested in this Tour.  The Italians pulled reasonably close to her after Stage 6, but the Pole rebounded in Stages 7 and 8.  Therese Johaug’s stunningly good final two stages, propelling her all the way into second place are readily apparent as well.  On the men’s side, Dario Cologna pulled away after Stage 4 and despite yielding some time to Petter Northug on the final climb held on for the win.  Northug’s big jump into second place after Stage 7 came largely on the shoulders of the 90 bonus seconds he racked up that day.

Finally, here’s a look at the top twelve skiers from this year’s Tour (who also participated in last year’s Tour) comparing their results from each year (click through for full versions):

Martin Jaks fell apart after Stage 4 last year and didn’t finish.  Quite a change, huh?  You can also see why I’m of the opinion that Alex Harvey actually had a better Tour, relative to last year, than Devon Kershaw did.  Of course, podium finishes don’t show up when I’m measuring things using “seconds back from the median skier”, and that should certainly count for something as well.  But strictly on a basis of time, relative to the field, Harvey saw a bigger improvement than Kershaw did.

Vincent Vittoz finally seemed to be regaining some form for the final few stages.  Tom Reichelt’s performance over Stage’s 5-8 are basically mirror images between the two years.  Last year he had a strong day and jumped up only to slide backwards for the remainder of the Tour.  This year was exactly the opposite as he steadily moved up after Stage 5.  Curdin Perl is another skier who last year faded over the final few stages but this year moved up.  Roland Clara was dramatically better this year, particularly over the second half of the Tour.

As for the women, the first thing that stands out is obviously Therese Johaug.  She wasn’t skiing terribly last year but dropped out after Stage 6 while essentially right in the middle of the field.  (I don’t recall why that was, illness perhaps?)  This year started off about the same, only she managed to hold her position for Stages 4-6 rather than slipping back.  Then of course she put in two stunningly good efforts to launch herself up to second.  It’s easy to be a cynic about doing well in Tour’s overall standings given the amount of attrition the event sees, but anyway you look at it, Johaug had two phenomenal days.

Marianna Longa probably would have liked to challenge Kowalczyk for the overall win, but she still had a very strong Tour, particularly over the second half.  At the other end of the spectrum is Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, who had a rather abysmal Tour.

Coming up in part two are the plots comparing 2010 to 2011 performances by nation, as well as alternate versions of these plots using seconds behind the winner, which happens to highlight a few things that are hard to see here.


Related posts:

  1. 2011 Tour de Ski Preview
  2. Tour de Ski Freestyle Sprint Recap
  3. Tour de Ski Rest Day 2 Recap
  4. Tour de Ski Rest Day Recap
  5. Tour de Ski: Comparison To 2010

About Joran


7 Responses to “Tour de Ski Recap: Part 1”
  1. WorldofXC says:

    Thanks again, Joran. I really enjoyed the plots where you compared this years TdS skier by skier. When seeing these, I think that it could be very nice to make these for the World Cup season as well, skier by skier? Maybe one should have some sort of Javascript-solution for it then, though. I’ve been planning to set up something like that for the XC predictions over at (as the statistics I link to at FIS are not good enough to grasp all the data you want fast), but if you set up something which can be linked to skier by skier, I’d be happy to use that instead of doing the work myself. Besides, I’m sure yours would be a lot better from a statistical point of view :-)

  2. inki says:

    Thank you, Joran! Very interesting data.
    But how do you explain contradiction between two facts: 1) Cologna’s line goes up during Stage 8 that means that he loses time with respect to median skier; 2) Cologna’s result on this Stage is 5 from 39 skiers, and only 7 skiers did not started?

    • Joran says:

      I might be reading too much into your comment, but it’s possible you’re confused (or I wasn’t clear enough) that what I’m graphing here is the time behind the median skier in the overall standings, not the median skier for each individual stage. So if you look at the overall standings after Stage 7 the “median skier” would be halfway between 20th/21st, so Cologna is ~7:45 up on the median skier. After Stage 8 the median skier would be between 18th/19th, so now Cologna is ~7:28 up on the median skier.

      To be sure, though, this highlights the fact that some of these changes are due to skiers dropping out which can shift who the median skier is.

      • inki says:

        Thank you for this explanation, Joran! It is pity, that the plot is not so intuitive: we look at it and think that Cologna is struggling on last stage because its line moves up but it is not the case in fact – the real reason here is that median skier position was moved from 20/21 to 18/19. Maybe, it is better to fix position of median skier by final overall standing (18/19 in our case) and use time of this 18/19 position for subtraction on each stage? I hope it will do the plot more intuitive, what do you think about it?

        • Joran says:

          Actually, I don’t think it would help much. First, I kind of disagree that the graph makes Cologna look all that bad. He started the last stage with a huge lead on Northug, and assuming he was given splits during the race it’s reasonable to think that he let up a bit at the end when it was clear that he’d win the overall. (I didn’t watch the stage, so I could be wrong.) That could easily allow mid-pack skiers to pull some time out of him, without Cologna really “struggling”. Second, the 20/21 skiers after Stage 7 were Djupvik/Moriggl, and the 18/19 skiers after Stage 8 were….Djupvik/Moriggl.

          So in this particular case I think Cologna really did lose time to the “median skiers”. It is true that in stages with more attrition (losing 8-10 skiers) we can see shifts that aren’t “real” but simply due to the median skier changing from a slower to a faster skier. But unfortunately there are no truly fixed benchmarks for comparison in XC skiing. If I compare my performance to another skier, the results will always depend to some degree not just on how fast I ski, but also on how fast they ski. So you have the same problem no matter what you compare stuff to.

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