A few more U23 historical performance plots, this time two European nations that happen to have some noticeable trends. First, Finland:
The women have seen a drop off in distance results post-Lahteenmaki, but the men’s have declined steadily for quite some time now. The other nation we’re going to look at is Sweden:
I mostly noticed the men’s distance results again, but the men’s sprint results have tailed off somewhat as well.
I was recapping WJC results last week by comparing them to each nation’s historical performance. Let’s do the same thing this week, but with U23s. Starting with the Americans:
The trend isn’t spectacular, but each group managed at least one or two decent results (compared to previous years). As for the Canadians:
The men’s distance panel is a tad unfair, since the Canadian men really did have one year of an usually strong group of Alex Harvey, Len Valja, Frederic Touchette and Brent McMurtry.
With a couple of races at WJC/U23s under our belts, let’s check in with how some nations are doing compared to previous years.
Some obvious trends include Finland:
Their junior women have continued to do worse in the distance events, but have improved in the sprint. For the Russians, it’s largely been more of the same, which is a good thing (for them): Read more
Several women have pretty dramatically improved their distance skiing this season, and I’m particularly excited that some of them are Finns. This isn’t an exhaustive list, just the ones that I’ve noticed so far:
Kylloenen is an interesting case, since she’s clearly made a jump, but her results have still been noticeably variable, perhaps even more so than last season. Niskanen has also made a jump, though it isn’t quite as dramatic looking. Sometimes those smaller, steady improvements from year to year are easier to sustain though. Emma Wiken hasn’t just made a significant jump, but she’s also clearly getting more starts this year, which probably helps.
And of course, there’s Liz Stephen, who actually only had a so-so season last year (at least, on average) but clearly has rebounded.
You can read a short description of these graphs here.
The men’s race:
And the women’s race:
World Junior Championships are just around the corner, so for some perspective, let’s take a look at how various nations have done at this even historically. I’m not going to provide much commentary, just show each nation’s history.
First up the US:
Not ideal trends, I think, across the board. But junior championships can be fickle, particularly with kids (relatively) unused to travel to Europe. As for Canada:
Some definite improvement for the women’s distance event, to be sure.
Now let’s look at some of the more traditionally strong nations, starting with Norway: Read more
Most of the thunder from the US Ski Team these days comes from the women’s side, but I thought it worth pointing out that Andrew Newell is quietly on track for one of his best sprinting seasons ever:
Granted, the season is only about half over, and I really, really don’t want to jinx him, but things are looking good here. Of course, Newell has historically struggled to advance past the semis and when he has he frequently has ended up towards the back of the final heat. As you can see in this graph, and this year isn’t much different. But if he continues on this track in terms of consistency, that would still be a major improvement I think.
Consider that over the past four seasons the most often Newell has qualified for the semifinals is ~58% back in 2009-2010. So far this season he’s 4 for 5. Five races is a small sample, obviously, but it also is roughly half the major sprint races Newell will likely do for the season. If he continues on this pace, he’ll qualify for the semis ~80% of the time.