Career Retrospective: Vincent Vittoz
God this guy’s been around forever, it seems. His WC results stretch back continuously to the mid-90’s. During Vittoz’s international career I’ve,
- graduated from high school
- graduated from college
- got a job
- married the Statistical Wife
- entered and finished graduate school, and then got a job
- lived in 4 different states during this time
- I’ve changed residence 7 times (post-college)
Christ. I mean, Piller Cottrer (and maybe a few others I’m forgetting) has been active for a bit longer, but still. Sadly, one of Vittoz’s claims to fame is being a solid contender for Best Skier Never To Win An Olympic Medal.
Vittoz rarely did sprints, and when he did he didn’t do them very well, so we’ll just focus on distance skiing. There, he racked up 24 podiums, including 1 WSC victory (thank God!) and a TdS stage win. But in all that he never put one together at the Olympics. (He also won the WC overall title back in 2005, I believe.) The only people I’ve been able to find with even remotely similar numbers (# of seasons + # of podiums) without an individual distance Olympic medal are, well, how about I list a few:
|STEIRA Kristin Stoermer||10||21|
These are all folks with no individual distance Olympic medals (and obviously, I’m only drawing on athletes post-1992). Virpi Kuitunen was more of a sprinter, but she had plenty of good WC distance races without any luck at the Olympics. And several of these folks have Olympic medals in other disciplines, either sprinting or relays. Savialova and Shevchenko probably come close, but I think Vittoz may take the win, at least among this particular group of nominees. Poor guy!
For a closer look at his distance results:
This is the hopefully now familiar standardized percent back from the median skier. Vittoz’s best seasons around 2006 saw him performing at a bit better than 1 standard deviation better than average. Like nearly every other athlete who sticks around this long, his performance has been declining slightly for several years now from that peak. The 2006 Olympics were likely his best shot at an individual medal, but the 15k race, a distance he excelled at (15 of his 24 podiums were from that distance), was classic that year, and Vittoz was more of a skater:
So his only shot at that Olympics was the 50k mass start, and while he skied well that day (9th) he was actually beaten by his teammate Emmanuel Jonnier (also retiring!), who himself missed the podium by less than a second!