WSC Pursuit Recap: North Americans

Ok, now we can talk about how the North Americans fared this weekend. Once again with the very large graphs, starting with the women:

Not a ton of racing experience at this level in this group, obviously. It’s tempting to focus on the fact that Stephen, Brooks and Diggins were all in the top thirty, and to be sure that’s better than a lot of alternatives. But we should keep in mind that the field at WSCs is actually a bit weaker than a typical WC field, since Norway, Russia, Sweden, etc. are all limited to only 4 skiers per race. These nations have deep benches and a typical WC race will feature at least an additional 8-10 strong Europeans, more depending on where the race is and the composition of the Nation’s Group skiers.

So strictly looking at the standardized percent back from the median, I’m inclined to call this a decent, but not outstanding race for Stephen. In the cases of Brooks and Diggins, we have almost nothing to compare these races to. In Diggins’ case, literally nothing. But in my experience, races in the positive zone (above zero) are fairly unlikely to place a woman in the top thirty in a regular WC race. (Not impossible, but not likely.)

On the other hand, we could note that the bulk of the results by Stephen and Arritola (both US Ski Team members) have fallen between 0-1. So it’s notable to see both Brooks and Diggins show up and lay down performances right in that zone as well.

And man, what a bummer of a season is Morgan Arritola having? I really feel bad for her; with one exception, she hasn’t really had a whole lot to be excited about so far this season. I don’t know what to say except that I really hope she turns things around, and soon.

A lot more data to look at with the men:

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WSC Pursuit Recap Addendum

Just to follow up from my previous post, here’s a look at a few other women who had particularly good or bad days on Saturday:

I suspected that Nicole Fessel would have some strong races this week and this was certainly a good one. There were just too many people who skied faster. After a blistering start to the season, Krista Lahteenmaki really struggled on Saturday with what is easily her worst race of the season. Similarly, Arianna Follis had a pretty terrible day. On the other hand, Saarinen actually had a fairly decent race compared to the rest of her season; unfortunately her injuries this year have made this season a bit below what she expects.

I suspect that Bjørgen will continue to streamroll through these races, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of notable performances taking place behind her!

Race Snapshot: WSC Women’s 10k Classic

It sounds like Kowalczyk actually made it interesting this time around, although I have to say that while Bjørgen is impressive, this might actually get boring after a while. Or maybe Bjør-ing?

Anyway, it’s nice to see Lahteenmaki get a strong result in at World Championships after having so many good races this season. And how about four Norwegian and four Finnish women in the top ten? I’m off to look up some historical stats on that one…

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WSC Pursuit Recap

After some wild racing this weekend, let’s take a step back and look at some of the top and notable performances again more closely. Starting with the women, here’s a graph showing the top six finishers in Saturday’s 15km pursuit (click through for full version):

People keep pestering me about making my graphs bigger; so these will be bigger than usual. If you’re unfamiliar with this style of chart you can check here for a more detailed introduction. Saturday’s result is circled in blue and the blue line marks each athlete’s median performance over time. The values plotted are percent back from the median skier, adjusted for race format differences (mass start, interval, etc) and placed on a common scale, so that -1 corresponds to 1 standard deviation better than the mean percent back from the median.

Bjørgen, Kowalczyk and Johaug easily outpaced the field, placing their races firmly in the “Inhuman” zone. While Bjørgen obviously has mostly owned the region more than 2.5 standard deviations better than than the mean all season long, Kowalczyk and Johaug have had performances that strong this season, just not nearly as many. By this measure, Saturday’s race was actually Bjørgen’s best of the season and hence of her career. Johaug also turned in a race that was solidly her best of the season.

Both Kalla and Longa had what were for them fairly strong performances, but they just weren’t enough on that day to reach the podium. Maria Rydqvist has had quite the heartwarming story this season and capped everything off with a performance that was miles better than anything she’d managed before. A huge achievement, but that also means it’s less likely to be repeated. (One can always hope, though!)

Here’s the same graph but for the top men: Read more

Race Snapshot: WSC Men’s Pursuit

Wow, what a crazy race! If the mass start events trend toward this kind of stuff, with lots of attacking, I think that’ll only be a good thing for the sport. As it was, the all that action may have turned the results a bit inside out from what people were expecting. I’ll have a more detailed look at the results (along with the women’s pursuit) tomorrow.

Even with all the attacking, lots of skiers ended up very close to the front, yielding them very low FIS points. Also, quite a few folks (15) were lapped and pulled from the race.

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Race Snapshot: WSC Women’s Pursuit

Once again we have some potentially misleading FIS points, as Bjørgen, Kowalczyk and Johaug skied away from the field a bit. I’ll have a closer look at the results that adjust for this on Monday. It was mostly the usual suspects at the top, but what a race for Maria Rydqvist, though!

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Week In Review: Friday Feb 25th

With World Championships finally underway in Oslo, things are getting busy again. Here’s what’s been cooking this past week:

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