Nice start for Lowell Bailey, Jean Phillippe Leguellec and Jay Hakkinen….Go North America!
A decidedly mixed weekend for the North Americans, something we’re used to by now I suppose. I suppose that Kikkan Randall and Alex Harvey were the main bright spots, as well as Len Valjas’s excellent sprint race.
Let’s start with some of the American women:
Kikkan really has started quite strong in distance races. Many Americans noticed the strong races that Holly Brooks had as well, and as you can see they are clearly a step in the right direction for her. Liz Stephen also had some strong races, but I’d caution that they don’t (yet) suggest a significant improvement over last year. Certainly, even just consistently skiing this well would be excellent progress as well.
I’ve talked a fair bit about how if Kikkan Randall is going to be competitive in the WC sprint overall she’s going to need to improve her classic skiing. I wasn’t just making that up either: Read more
Doogiski over at NordicXplained asked how Pentsinen’s 4.3 second win in qualification on Friday stacks up historically. Quite impressively, it turns out.
That’s the second largest qualifying round winning margin for the men’s field in WC, OWG or WSC races. The only larger one was almost 10 years ago, with a 4.7 second victory by Björn Lind in a freestyle sprint in Germany in December of 2001. So we’re reaching back to the very beginning years of sprinting here.
Ola Vigen Hattestad came close to this once last season, winning qualification by 3.86 seconds.
A winning margin greater than 4 seconds in qualifying has happened more often with the women: six times. And it’s basically a who’s who of dominant female skiers over the past decade: Skari, Neumannova, Bjørgen (twice), Kowalczyk and Majdic. Skari’s is particularly absurd. She won qualifying in a WC sprint in Italy way back in the day (December 2001 again) by 8.4 seconds! It was classic, so maybe waxing was an issue, or maybe Skari was just that fast. Interestingly, the woman she beat that day be 8.4 seconds was Petra Majdic.
More generally, the typical winning margin in qualification is just under a second for the men and about 1.5 seconds for the women. Read more
I can’t remember if FIS even calls these pursuits or handicap starts or whatever anymore. They keep changing the names of things…and they seem pretty confused themselves, as they once again posted the mini-tour stage results for the men in place of just today’s results (but not for the women).
As per usual, with these pursuit style races in stage races, the “stage” results can yield some unusual results, as many top skiers are not racing for the stage win, but their overrall position.
FIS has decided to make my life more difficult than usual, by not posting the actual results (as of this writing), but only the cumulative tour standings. (And no, putting the real results in a PDF doesn’t count. PDFs are the file format of Satan.) So it took me a while to work around that. Hopefully they get their act together. As a side note, I’m not sure, but I think their FIS point calculations are plagued by rounding errors. I don’t usually calculate them myself, but in this case I had to.
I’ve been saying that in order for Kikkan Randall to have a shot at winning the WC sprint overall title, she’ll have to dramatically improve her classic sprinting. Looks like she may have done just that…
A reader asked on Twitter the other day if I’d recalculate the tallies for Kris Freeman’s top ten, top three, etc. results if we went back and removed a certain Estonian skier from prior results sheets.
I’m going to preface this with some standard caveats about how I can’t know for sure when Andrus Veerpalu was clean or not clean. He certainly failed a drug test recently, and the way public opinion works with doping is that basically all his results are now suspect. I’m agnostic on that question, but since this was a fairly interesting data exercise, I thought I indulge the haters out there.
But I’m going to take it one step further and tally the missed opportunities for all skiers, not just Freeman, if we remove Veerpalu. We’ll start with the least important consequences and work our way up.
There were 78 different skiers who would have moved up into the World Cup points (from 31st to 30th) if you removed Veerpalu. There wasn’t really one skier who bore the brunt of this; the most it happened to any one skier was 3 times. North Americans in this group include Kris Freeman, Carl Swenson, George Grey, and Dan Roycroft, all once.
Next, removing Veerpalu will move some skiers up from 11th to 10th. This was also fairly evenly spread out among 43 different skiers, including Carl Swenson again.
More dramatically, removing Veerpalu from the results will bump 13 different skiers up from 4th to 3rd. Here is where we finally include Freeman’s famous WSC “medal”. Also notable is that Mathias Fredricksson would gain three more podium finishes in WC races due to this change.
Finally, the big kahuna, and I was a little shocked at the results. There were five skiers who would gain a victory out of this transaction. Two Olympic gold medals and two WSC gold medals. When Veerpalu’s ten wins get apportioned out, one skier gets five of them: Frode Estil. And it kind of makes sense, since he was another classic ultra-specialist.
I didn’t bother removing any of the Finns or Russians (although a lot of the Russians who’ve been caught haven’t been nearly as accomplished). Perhaps I’ll tackle that in a follow up. Read more