Accuracy of FIS Points In OPA Cups vs Scandinavian Cups

Some comments on a recent post got me curious about the FIS points awarded at OPA Cup races. Similarly to my commenters, I’d noticed that oftentimes the top skiers at an OPA Cup race would receive very low (i.e. good) points for that race, and that this often wouldn’t seem to match up well with how they actually ski against a real World Cup field.

Here’s what I’m interested in: are the FIS points of top skiers at OPA Cups a worse indicator of performance on the WC than the FIS points of top skiers in high-level Scandinavian races (i.e. Scandinavian Cups). I think we all would suspect that the answer is yes; but how big is the difference? Can we quantify it?

Let’s take all the skiers who finished in the top ten in an OPA Cup race over the past five season and compare their OPA Cup FIS points with their WC/WSC/OWG/TdS FIS points. In the process, we obviously going to filter out some folks who didn’t participate in both types of races. Normally I just make a pretty graph, but I was feeling fancy, so here are some estimates of the difference in FIS points obtained via some simple linear modeling:

EstimatedDifference StandardError
Men Distance 27.04 2.23
Men Sprint 16.73 3.10
Women Distance 43.24 2.95
Women Sprint 21.16 3.91

These values all indicate significantly higher FIS points against actual WC fields for these skiers. (Note: these models were fairly crude, but did attempt to account for the number of races of each type a skier did as well as general performance changes over time.) Note that generally speaking, OPA Cup FIS points are a worse predictor of WC FIS points in distance races; for the women, they are very bad, on average.

How about Scando races? Let’s do the exact same thing, but instead we’ll take the skiers who’ve finished in the top ten over the past five seasons in Scandinavian and even general FIS races held in Norway, Finland and Sweden. The estimates we get for this group of skiers are:

EstimatedDifference StandardError
Men Distance -6.03 2.25
Men Sprint -6.67 2.40
Women Distance 4.05 3.09
Women Sprint -0.88 3.57

Holy Cow. The negative values suggest that these skiers actually have a slight tendency to get better FIS points against a WC field. However, note that only the estimates for the men are “statistically significant”, and even those aren’t really that far from zero in a practical sense. (A difference of 5-6 FIS points, on average, is not very big given how variable people’s FIS points are to begin with.)

Still, these values are definitely strong evidence that a top result in an OPA Cup isn’t nearly as meaningful as a top result in a competitive FIS race held in Scandinavia. Not a big surprise, but fun to quantify.

Finally, I should point out that all the models I ran here “fit poorly” in some senses. By that I just mean that their R-squared values were fairly low (generally around 0.3 or so). Now, R-squared isn’t really a good indicator of model fit, but it’s safe to say that while the differences we just observed do exist on average, there is a lot of variation from athlete to athlete. The somewhat mythical ‘average’ OPA top ten skier will tend to do much worse on the WC circuit, but what you see in individual skiers will vary considerably.


Related posts:

  1. A New Sprint Points Method
  2. FIS Points Development Guide
  3. OPA Cup vs Scandinavian Cup: Quality
  4. Predicting FIS Points For World Cup Races
  5. Predicting World Cup FIS Points (con’t)

About Joran


5 Responses to “Accuracy of FIS Points In OPA Cups vs Scandinavian Cups”
  1. Alex says:

    Think this confirms what i thought. Could you read the data as “there is a 33 point gap between opa and scandinavia” (in mens distance). Im not 100% sure on how the numbers work but i take your world for it.

  2. Alex says:

    Think this confirms what i thought. Could you read the data as “there is a 33 point gap between opa and scandinavia”?? (in mens distance). Im not 100% sure on how the numbers work but i take your world for it.

    • Joran says:

      More or less, yes. It would be more accurate to say that there’s a 33 point gap between OPA and Scando Cup top ten skiers, since that’s who I used for the model. And as I note, there’s a ton of variability from skier to skier, so using this as a correction would be very ‘rough’.

  3. Big Fan says:

    I just looked up the calculation of penalty points given by the FIS for all Continental Cups. The assignment of penalty points appears to be identical for all of them. How does the OPA cicuit racers get better points if their penalty points are as severe as other Continental Cups? I’m obviously missing something. Thanks.

    • Alex says:

      a pure observation with no real numbers to back it up, is that in OPA countries they start racing for points at say 15 or 16. By racing the same group of guys every weekend they drive the points down (better), by the time the are last year junior or first year senior their points are insanely good for how good of a skier they are. Being a junior i only really look at junior races, but i think last year the points tarif for a junior OPA was at one race lower than the fixed points for world junior champs. Meaning at the world juniors the junior men effectively took a points knock. (they scored worse than they could have at opa).
      Meanwhile in scandinavia, they dont really race for points until they are 19, maybe 1 or 2 races a year bellow that age. When they do race for poins they dont look to get better points, they look for position. For example in a mass start race if they have secured a position they arent going to fight for every second to get better points. And in sprinting, the prologue has very little to say for who is the best sprinter in the final.
      As there are only a phew Scandinavians who go to europe to race opa or world juniors there are only a few with good points, when they come back to scandi cup there is such depth in the tallent that it is highly likely they finish out of the top 5. So arent included in the calculation and so the tarif is set my skiers with worse points.

      Im not even sure if i understand this myself, but hope it clarifies something for you.

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