How’d We Do? USA/CAN Season Review 3
This week it’s the sprinter’s turn in the limelight, starting with the men. As you might imagine, there are quite a few more cheery topics when talking about North American sprinters. As before we’ll begin with a simple plot showing the number of results per race over time:
The American men have seen a steady decline in top thirty sprint performances, mostly due to the recent struggles of Torin Koos. For about three seasons, the US men had two skiers regularly qualifying for the heats, but Koos’s results have dropped off, leaving only Andrew Newell as the top performer. Simi Hamilton, while surely talented, hasn’t yet made up the difference created by Koos’s absence. Hamilton only did five major sprint races this season and qualified twice, but was well back of 30th the other three times. It has sounded from the news reports like he has struggled a bit with injury and illness this season, so perhaps he can show that he can be a regular in the heats next year if he stays healthy.
Outside of Newell, the US men have seemed inconsistent. Of the top thirty performances from someone other than Newell since 2002, 27 belong to Koos, and another 11 to Chris Cook and Garrot Kuzzy. All three either didn’t ski particularly well, or in Kuzzy’s case didn’t ski well enough to get a real chance at any big starts. As for Newell himself, his results were actually fairly similar to what he’s done over the past 3-4 years:
The Canadian men had some seriously exciting results this year. Every category, from top thirty’s to victories, went up for them this year. What’s interesting to me is to compare the sprint results from their three main contributors:
Kershaw is a really curious sprinter. He’s been quite consistent in his inconsistency, for six seasons now his results each season run the gamut of advancing to the finals, to reaching the heats but not advancing, to not really coming close to qualifying at all. Also interesting is that if you remove his two phenomenal results during the Tour de Ski, his sprint results this season would have been a bit disappointing. Contrast that with the younger Alex Harvey, who didn’t manage a win, but was a considerably more consistent sprinter.