US Domestic Racing Update 1

I haven’t posted very much regarding domestic racing here in the US or Canada.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Useful and meaningful performance measures are harder to come by.  FIS points start getting somewhat wishy-washy when you start having to assume that the penalty system is accurately capturing the strength of the field.  Not saying it’s terrible, but I’ve just been cautious about it, is all.
  • Generally speaking, I have a lot less data on domestic racers.  I only really capture events that are FIS sanctioned, and that omits a large number of races here in the US/CAN with fast skiers.
  • I know (or are friends of friends) with a some of these folks, and it feels weird sometimes talking about them “analytically”.

Still, I ought to pause for a bit after US Nationals and post something.  So here it goes.  Distance FIS point trends for a selection of top US men and women (excluding US Ski Team members):

There’s no grand conspiracy regarding who I chose to graph here.  I asked around for some suggestions about who might be interesting to look at, got a list of names too long to really tackle and narrowed it down based on who’s data seemed the most interesting to me.

A couple of observations:

  • Lars Flora’s resurgence is fairly clear, but his graph also shows that he was trending slower for a solid 3-4 seasons.  So it’s not exactly like Flora was super fast, had one or two bad years, and has since recovered.  Also, he’s arguably skiing faster now than he was in 2003 or 2004.
  • Most of the other guys here have shown results that more or less track their previous trajectories.
  • Leif Zimmerman and Tad Elliott both have shown some excellent races and some not so good.  In Elliott’s case this is almost entirely a technique differential; in Zimmerman’s case, I think he just had some rough races.
  • I included Jesse Diggins mostly to show how little I can say about younger skiers for whom I have almost no data.  I mean, she’s skiing super fast, but that’s not particularly newsworthy.
  • Evelyn Dong and Kate Fitzgerald are both significantly faster than last season.  However, we should keep in mind that it’s much, much easier for women to jump from 135 FIS points to 80-90 FIS points than it is for someone like Holly Brooks to move from ~60 FIS points down to even 35-40 FIS points.  Obviously, that’s no knock on Dong or Fitzgerald, who’ve clearly made a jump this season.
  • Holly Brooks has been skiing well, obviously, but to my eyes not dramatically faster than last year, relative to the domestic field.
  • Caitlin Compton’s clearly had a bit of a rough start to the season with a few decent, but not great races, but also some pretty terrible ones as well.

I played with various ways of looking at domestic sprint racing, but eventually gave up.  From a data analysis perspective it’s just a mess.

A more detailed look at these skiers results against each other to come in a subsequent post.

Related posts:

  1. A Look At Skier Speeds
  2. Assessing The Weekend’s Racing
  3. Dopers – Update
  4. Triathlon Racing Strategy
  5. USST Preview: Liz Stephen & Morgan Arritola

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Comments

3 Responses to “US Domestic Racing Update 1”
  1. xcskier22 says:

    Zimmermann, one could say, was literally faster back when he was a junior. As a second year OJ, last junior year, he was taking some serious names. He still has the best US result ever at World Juniors, with a 5th place in the sprint in 2003, beating Newell, among others. He also had the second fastest time in the skate portion of the 4×10 relay that year. The following year was when he started to struggle. While he was certainly a top 3 material in domestic races, he was struggling internationally, and really hasn’t had a ‘great’ international result since 2003, perhaps the Finnish races earlier this year changed that, although it was only one or two of them. He was also sick/injured a lot of the time he was with the USSA, so the blame can’t be put squarely at them, but they have been known to mess people up in terms of overtraining and just not knowing the importance of rest and periodization. I won’t get into the details, but that is a big part of it. He also had mononucleosis in 2006/2007, but came back in 08 and 09 with several national titles. He is also one of the few to win at JN’s one year and the SN’s the very next year. A great talent, but for one reason or another, too inconsistent and easily prone to sickness or injury.
    As far as the other skiers are concerned, Elliott is a guy to watch out for, and it’s not just because he is younger. He’s got great potential and could be a threat for top 30 WC results in the not too distant future. Only time will tell with him. Flora hasn’t really delivered in international races, and we still need to see it to believe it. Southam is very solid both domestically and internationally, I am surprised he wasn’t picked for Oslo. Kuzzy might be a hit or miss, while the other two guys just haven’t had the international experience and might be too up and down as well.
    I am very interested to see how Hoffman and Elliott do at Oslo. Those courses should really suit them.

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