How Often Do Ties Occur?

With the modern chip timing tools used today ties should be fairly rare. They do still happen, though:

This shows the number of ties per race of each type for WC, OWG, WSC and TDS races for men and women. As we might have expected, there are considerably fewer ties in mass start style races. Amusingly, this is almost certainly entirely psychological. In a mass start or pursuit race you can see the person who’s going to finish with nearly the same time right there next to you! In an interval start race it’s harder to motivate to sprint the last 10 meters when there’s no one around. It shouldn’t be harder, but it is.

Don’t read too much in the Pursuit Break line. That format is really only used in stage races these days, and even then it’s quite rare. The seemingly big jump in 2001-2002 is not terribly ‘significant’, since that format was only ever used ~2 times a season for each gender. With such a small denominator, a small change in the number of ties can make the rate seem to jump a lot.

What’s more interesting to me is the apparent increase in the rate of ties in interval start races. The trend is more noticeable among the women, but the fact that the rates for both men and women have jumped up somewhat may be significant. I can’t think of a good ‘story’ to explain why this may be, though. It could always just be noise, of course, but it’s interesting to ponder…


Related posts:

  1. A Look At Skier Speeds
  2. An Overview Of WC Split Times
  3. Canadian World Cup Splits
  4. Lahti Pursuit Recap
  5. Trends In Race Times

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5 Responses to “How Often Do Ties Occur?”
  1. Sailguy says:

    I think I can explain some of these trends. The difference is in how times are taken, not how people ski.

    The race time is started when the wand moves (interval) or the gun fires (mass/sprint). The race time stops when the toe of the first boot crosses the line. The timing chips are used for the television feed and as backup times, but are not used to determine results directly. There is one chip on each ankle, and you never really know if both are working, so relying on the chip could result in timing the second ankle instead. In interval races, you never know when the ties are coming, so the finish line camera is rarely used to improve the accuracy of the finish time. This means an interval race time is made by combining finish line judge ‘plunges’ (visual toe), the line beam signal (front edge of shin), and the chip time (ankle).

    In mass starts, you always know which finishes are close and the finish line camera is used to make the call. If the camera is working well, a 3mm advantage is clearly visible. I can only recall one occasion where a finish couldn’t be distinguished by the camera (Sara Renner and ?Claudia Kuenzel? in December 2005), and that semi final tie put five people in the final. As people finish at around 7m/s, a 3mm difference is 3/7000th of a second.

    In interval start races, times are now recorded to tenths of a second. Up to around Torino, interval times were recorded to hundreds of seconds. I can’t remember exactly when the switch was made, but it was around 2006/2007. This should cause a bump in tie results. Timing interval starts to hundreds of a second was a bit optimistic anyway, more precision than accuracy in engineering terms.

    I love the website, always something new to learn.

    • Joran says:

      Wow, that explanation makes a lot of sense, thanks! I love having such awesome commenters…

      I agree completely with the silliness of timing the interval start races to the hundredth, that always seemed pretty weird to me.

    • Steve says:

      The switch in reporting Interval start races from hundredths to tenths of seconds was about 30 years ago. Recall that Wassberg edged Mieto in the Lake Placid Olympic 15k by .01, prompting a return to more sensible timing.

      I think that timing to hundredths only existed for a few years anyway. (Around the time of switching away from wood skis.) Technology allowed it, so it happened. Then the unintended consequences came to light.

      • Sailguy says:

        I can’t find anything written to back either my memory or Steve’s. I do vaguely remember the Wassberg thing, but don’t remember it as being significant enough to stop FIS from repeating mistakes.

        Maybe Statistical Skier can find some evidence for timing changes :-)

        • Joran says:

          Sailguy + Steve –

          Sprint qualifiers are often timed to the hundredths (according to my records) but I have zero distance races (of any level) timed to that precision since 1992. I have seen various WC or OWG results timed to that level between the late 70’s up to as late as March of 1984. It seemed the most common in the late 70’s and early 80’s, which fits with the Wassberg/Mieto story we’ve all heard. But past 1980, some results I’ve seen are timed to the 10th and some are timed to the 100th. It may have been dependent on the local timing crew/company for a while.

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