While we’re waiting for the cross-country season to get under way…
The alpine World Cup season kicked off this past weekend in Soelden, Austria with Giant Slalom events for both men and women. Here’s a race snapshot graph for the men’s race on Sunday:
American Ted Ligety won by a rather impressive margin. Apparently, that was the biggest (absolute) winning margin since the late 70’s. Obviously, I can’t look much further back than the early 90’s, but I can’t contradict that. Of course, if you look outside of GS, you can find some combined events with bigger margins, but that’s really apples and oranges.
The next closest winning margin I can find in recent history is Hermann Meier’s win over Albeto Tomba way back in 1998. If you want to expand things a bit further, there’s a women’s GS World Cup in Park City in 1997 with a larger winning margin.
After correcting a few typos in the the “official” results I thought we’d look again at the time histories for Dartmouth’s Moosilauke time trial. The following graph depicts every result (except for 2011, which I still can’t find anywhere).
The blue is the median for each individual running; this includes both summer and fall times. Despite some course changes over time, it’s interesting that you probably wouldn’t be able to spot exactly when they happened from the graphs. There’s just a bit too much noise in there.
The cross country men (i.e. men actual on the Dartmouth Ski Team) have, on average actually been getting slower, in an absolute sense. But definitely the strongest trend is in the alpine men. Course changes aside, it would be interesting to look up who was on the alpine men’s team at Dartmouth in the early 90’s.
As FasterSkier mentioned the other day, the Dartmouth Ski Team’s Moosilauke time trial is a pretty neat data set, since they’ve kept the data going back quite a ways. Interpretations are sometimes a challenge, since the course has changed from time to time when trail work is done. My sources tell me that in addition to the weather being horrendous this year the trail was slightly rerouted, possibly adding some distance to the course.
Given all this, the times were a bit slow (click for full version):
Those are only the fall term runnings, and 2011 is missing, since those times appear to be missing on the official historical results.
Well, ok, not ever. Just over the past 20 seasons or so.
There are all sorts of different ways we could measure this. First, some ground rules: I’m only going to look at actual World Cup races, no Olympics or World Championships. I’m also excluding Tour de Ski events because these are my rules, so I get to make them up. Seriously, though, I think Olympic and World Championship races should count differently (i.e. more), so later on I’ll redo this but in a weighted fashion.
I’m not going to just single out a skier’s top five races, either. If you’re going be considered for a “best season ever” prize, we’re not going to ignore a handful bad races! Also, you must to have done at least 5 races for your season to count. Read more
As promised from last time, here we have the detailed development plots for sprinting. First the men:
And the women: Read more
As promised from last time, I’m going to show you the un-aggregated data from Tuesday’s plots. This means we’re going to have some big graphs, bigger than I typically think is useful, but no matter.
I’ve plotted FIS points versus age for each of the male and female skiers with a podium result in a major international competition, and indicated the age at which each skier attained their first WC start, their first points and their first podium. If you only see two (or fewer) vertical lines, that means that some of those events happened at basically the same age. (Keep in mind that my age data is only at the resolution of a whole year.)
First the men’s distance podium skiers (these are big; click through for full versions): Read more
I happened to be thinking about visualizations of athlete development recently, and in the process cooked up the following graph:
What I’ve done here is to take the podium finishers in major international events for the past five seasons and recorded each person’s age when they received their first (individual) WC/OWG/WSC start, when they scored their first WC/OWG/WSC points (i.e. a top thirty at any of those events), and finally when they first landed on the podium.
The style of graph here is sort of a more informative type of boxplot. Boxplots really only show you five values, so there’s a lot of lost information. Here, each dot represents a single athlete, so we can get a sense of the entire distribution of ages for each event.
As expected, the women’s ages tend to be somewhat lower across the board; this could be development related, but I tend to ascribe it as much to differences in field depth or competitiveness. The basic story is roughly the same in each of the four panels: rarely do future podium skiers get their first “major” start after the age of 23, they finish in the top 30 after at most a year or two, and then finish in the top three maybe another 2-3 years later.
Of course, that’s what happens with the “average” skier, which doesn’t exist. We are all our own unique snowflake. So this is still masking a fair bit of variability (that I’ll delve into a bit more on Thursday). But the basic lesson I draw from this is that if there’s a threshold to be seen here, it’s at the age of 25. The best skiers seem to have established at least the potential for scoring World Cup points before the age of 25.