Yesterday’s men’s 15km freestyle interval start race featured one of the most split fields we’ve seen in that event in a long time. The top three, Northug, Olsson and Gjerdalen had modest gaps between them, but then there was just over 30 seconds back to 4th place.
How big was this gap between the podium and 4th? It was the biggest in history (post-1992):
These are the gaps in median percent back between 3rd and 4th in every men’s 10/15km interval start WC, WSC, OWG or TdS race since 1992. I’ve separated the classic/freestyle races, as well as the WSC/OWG (Championships) and regular World Cups. Yesterday’s race was a bit of an outlier, as you can see.
However, it was only this past November that Johnsrud Sundby, Poltaranin and Hellner gapped the field in Sweden by around 20 seconds. Next is a classic 15km all the way back in 1996 (a regular World Cup). That was in February of 1996, in Russia, where Prokourorov, Smirnov and Daehlie (in that order) gapped the field by almost 31 seconds. That’s a larger raw interval, but as a classic race it was generally a lot slower, so the gap was smaller as a percentage of the total time.
Nice races from Ivan Babikov and Noah Hoffman:
Just the women’s race today, men tomorrow:
Just as with the previous seeding tables I’ve produced, here’s one for the upcoming WSC mass start. Again, this ignores issues of who might actually start the race (e.g. Astrid Jacobsen makes my list here) and some folks who may only have done a small number of races will be excluded.
NORTHUG Petter BJOERGEN Marit
BAUER Lukas KOWALCZYK Justyna
COLOGNA Dario JOHAUG Therese
ANGERER Tobias STEIRA Kristin Stoermer
VYLEGZHANIN Maxim ISHIDA Masako
OLSSON Johan WENG Heidi
SOEDERGREN Anders FESSEL Nicole
ROENNING Eldar KALLA Charlotte
RICKARDSSON Daniel HAAG Anna
ELIASSEN Petter KRISTOFFERSEN Marthe
CHERNOUSOV Ilia SAARINEN Aino-Kaisa
JOHNSRUD SUNDBY Martin JACOBSEN Astrid
KERSHAW Devon KYLLOENEN Anne
DI CENTA Giorgio ROPONEN Riitta-Liisa
LEGKOV Alexander IVANOVA Julia
GLAVATSKIKH Konstantin DE MARTIN TOPRANIN Virginia
HELLNER Marcus ZELLER Katrin
JAKS Martin AHERVO Laura
DOTZLER Hannes RANDALL Kikkan
TSCHARNKE Tim ROTCHEVA Olga
FILBRICH Jens BOEHLER Stefanie
HARVEY Alex LAHTEENMAKI Krista
GAILLARD Jean Marc MEDVEDEVA Polina
KROGH Finn Haagen IKSANOVA Alija
ERIKSSON Jens SARASOJA-LILJA Riikka
DYRHAUG Niklas STEPHEN Elizabeth
BESSMERTNYKH Alexander NOVIKOVA Valentina
RENNEMO Kristian JEAN Aurore
DOLIDOVICH Sergei AGREITER Debora
BABIKOV Ivan LINDBORG Sara
To give you a sense of the model’s actual relative predictions, here’s a simple dotplot with the output for the top 30 seeds. I’ve omitted the units on the x axis, since they are essentially meaningless.
So, what I mean by “ignore the units on the x axis” is simply to just qualitatively read the gaps between the skiers. So the model thinks that Northug and Bauer are somewhat more strongly favored that everyone else, and then things decay relatively evenly after that. On the other hand, the model doesn’t think that Bjoergen is a slam dunk, which I think is sort of questionable. Part of the issue here may be the simple paucity of data on long mass start classic races. It’s just not an event that’s done that frequently anymore. But generally, the model likes Marit, Kowalcayk and Johaug more than anyone else (and in that order), which means that the model is at least passing the most basic sanity check.
I suspect that Liz Stephen is being penalized somewhat for the difference between her skating and classic results, and Kikkan is being penalized somewhat for the difference between her results in shorter versus longer events. Kris Freeman and Noah Hoffman weren’t terribly close to the top 30 here, as the model put them in 40th and 41st respectively, just in front of Andrew Newell, actually, in 46th.