Pre-Olympic Performance

The Sochi Olympics are naturally going to be the focus this season, and all the attention during Olympics is on winning medals. So naturally, much of the conversation of the next six months or so is going revolve around “Who’s going to win a medal at Sochi?”

Well, from one perspective, the answer is pretty simple: people who’ve been on the podium in the 1-1.5 seasons leading up to the Olympics. I’ll show you what I mean.

Let’s take all individual event podium finishers in each OWG/WSC back to 2002. That’s 3 Olympics and 3 World Championships. Next, we grab each of these people’s results in major international events during the preceding season and half or so. So for example, Alex Harvey earned a sprint medal at the 2013 WSC, so we’d pull all his sprint results for 2012-2013 prior to WSC, as well as everything from 2011-2012. Repeat for each podium finisher.

The graph below shows each podium winning skier’s best and median result in the 1.5 years leading up to an OWG/WSC podium:

pre_pod

 

The red line marks 3rd place.

So you can see just how rare it is for someone to land on the podium in a WSC/OWG without at least one podium finish in a WC or better event during the preceding year or so. And even for the folks who win a medal at a WSC/OWG event without a preceding podium finish, they are still managing to land in the top 10 in all but one instance.

Even more telling to me are the median results of the preceding 1.5 seasons. For women’s distance podium finishers at the WSC/OWG, their typical race over the previous 1.5 seasons is almost always a top ten finish.

Now, who actually were some of the exceptions in the graph above?

For brevity, only looking at the sprinting side, we had Alexander Panzhinskiy in 2010 and Peter Schlickenrieder (remember him?) in 2002, who’s best preceding sprint result was 5th. Roddy Darragon in 2006 and Alex Harvey in 2013, who’s recent best was 4th. Then we had the unusual year 2005, which had Sara Renner, Emelie Oehrstig, Lina Andersson and Vassili Rotchev who’s previous bests were 7th, 4th, 8th and 6th. Lina Andersson hadn’t even made the finals in the previous year and a half.

So who’s going to win medals in Sochi? Almost entirely the usual suspects. And maybe 1-3 folks who haven’t recently finished on the podium, but who have been regulars in the top ten.

Related posts:

  1. Canadian Men’s Olympic Performance
  2. Development Questions
  3. Is Kikkan the Gold Medal Favorite?
  4. Pre-Tour Status Update
  5. The Unusual Sprinting Success Of People With ‘LL’ In Their Name

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