This first batch of races for 2013-2014 are in from Muonio, Finland. As always, it’s difficult to read much into a single race, particularly early season races like these. You never quite know who’s still in the midst of a big training block and how seriously people are approaching them.
Still, I thought it was interesting that Russian Petr Sedov won the last race of the weekend, the 15km freestyle. He’s still fairly young, and after a promising introduction to the World Cup he kind of slipped back a little last year, I think:
He had a handful of strong races last year, but was much less consistent in general. If we look at this Muonio 15km race in particular, we can get a better sense of the quality of his race by comparing how he did to each of the top 30 skiers at the Muonio race to how Sedov has fairly against those specific people in the past:
Values greater than zero are better for Sedov in this graph. The blue dots are the differences in percent back between Sedov and the other skiers at Muonio (he won, so they are all above zero). The shaded region with the red trend line summarizes how he’s fairly against this specific group of skiers in the past.
As you can see, he generally dominated them, and then last season struggled considerably, losing to this group almost as much as he beat them. If this is a sign of things to come, we could see more of the Petr Sedov from two years ago, or perhaps an improved version.
First some quick seeds calculated for Oslo’s freestyle mass start races:
NORTHUG Petter BJOERGEN Marit
OLSSON Johan KOWALCZYK Justyna
GJERDALEN Tord Asle JOHAUG Therese
BAUER Lukas STEIRA Kristin Stoermer
VYLEGZHANIN Maxim SKOFTERUD Vibeke W
COLOGNA Dario KALLA Charlotte
RICKARDSSON Daniel HAAG Anna
ANGERER Tobias FESSEL Nicole
SOEDERGREN Anders ZELLER Katrin
ROETHE Sjur ROPONEN Riitta-Liisa
REICHELT Tom SHEVCHENKO Valentina
CHERNOUSOV Ilia LAHTEENMAKI Krista
BABIKOV Ivan RANDALL Kikkan
DI CENTA Giorgio STEPHEN Elizabeth
HARVEY Alex TCHEKALEVA Yulia
HELLNER Marcus SAARINEN Aino-Kaisa
ELIASSEN Petter NOVIKOVA Valentina
DOLIDOVICH Sergei DOTSENKO Anastasia
MORIGGL Thomas SARASOJA-LILJA Riikka
JOHNSRUD SUNDBY Martin JOHANSSON NORGREN Britta
NOUSIAINEN Ville JEZERSEK Barbara
CLARA Roland BROOKS Holly
GLAVATSKIKH Konstantin NYVLTOVA Eva
TSCHARNKE Tim LINDBORG Sara
DUVILLARD Robin KOLOMINA Elena
SIMILAE Tero HERMANN Denise
BAJCICAK Martin ORGUE Laura
YOSHIDA Keishin KOBAYASHI Yuki
REHEMAA Aivar MACIUSZEK Paulina
FISCHER Remo ANTSYBOR Maryna
Finally, a commenter on my last post asked about how often Kikkan and Marit had actually met in a sprint final. The answer is that it has happened (in major events) nine times, and Kikkan has won 3 of them, include the most recent race in Finland. The other two were World Cups, both freestyle, in 2011 and 2008. The other six times Marit has won.
You’ll recall that recently this rivalry has been fairly one sided, no matter how much Justyna’s fans want to believe otherwise. The previous two season simply saw Marit winning far more of their head to head match-ups. At the start of the season, things looked even worse for the Justyna camp, as she struggled quite a bit in the early races.
But Justyna may have simply been using those as training for the Tour, as she fared much better last week against Marit. Let’s take a look at how their complete history stand as of now:
So these are just the distance races, measured in difference in percent back. Values above zero mean Marit won and vice versa. Marit had the better of this match-up for two straight seasons, with the occasional lapse. This season, you can see the early group of really poor races for Justyna, and then during the Tour things were more tilted towards Justyna, though the margins weren’t terribly large, for the most part.
As for sprinting:
Marit is still ahead on this score, though we’ve only had a handful of sprint races thus far.
So my question is: will Justyna, having clearly peaked for the Tour, slide back again to being mostly beaten by Marit? Or will she be able to sustain this level of fitness through the rest of the season?
I haven’t done one of these in a while, so just for fun…
This time let’s compare two great female skiers from the 90’s (and early 00’s), Norwegian Bente Skari and Italian Stefania Belmondo. Unlike with Daehlie and Alsgaard, things are little more balanced for these two:
Continuing on in our over-analysis of the recent New Zealand FIS races, we turn to the sprints. It’s much harder to do anything sensible with these races (even given that I’ve over-analyzing things!) since the fields are so small even the difference in placing between specific skiers is potentially misleading. However, just for fun let’s focus like last time on a younger sprinter, Len Valjas:
Again, this is the difference in finishing place between Valjas and a selection of folks from the New Zealand sprint race. Positive values mean Valjas won and vice versa. Note that he finished a lot closer to some of these Russians that he normally does, but again, that may be a function of the small field. It’s hard to do much analysis on these sorts of races without the heat times.
My only other note is that Kris Freeman slightly underplayed how good his sprint FIS points were from this race. Here’s a graph of all the sprint qualification results I have for him with the New Zealand race in red:
Definitely good sprint FIS points for him, but it’s more like the 5-6th best all time. Of course, a lot of those are from a long time ago in potentially very different sprint race formats, distances and courses.
Hey, the first international ski races of the 2011-2012 season took place recently in New Zealand! They are officially FIS sanctioned races, but my impression is that they have a bit more of a training camp time trial feel to them. The Americans, Canadians, some Russians, and then an assortment of Japanese, Korean, and locals (Australia + New Zealand) are spending time down at the Snow Farm. The fields are small, no one is in top form and probably everyone is treating them as training rather than a ‘serious’ competition.
But heck, let’s (over) analyze them anyway, just for fun. These will be very short, narrowly focused posts on these races. The men did a mass start 15k classic race (no Russians). I suppose it’s interesting that Newell finished second, which is nominally pretty good for him in a distance race, but of course it’s hard to read much of anything into that. I’m generally more interested in the younger skiers. Take Noah Hoffman, for instance:
This graph shows how Hoffman has fared against these specific skiers (a subset of the folks in the New Zealand race) over time. The New Zealand race is in red. That appears right in line with how he fared against Freeman last season, so that’s a good sign. In general, he’s been faring better against Newell over time, but this particular race was a bit against that trend. Given that Hoffman was about as far behind Freeman as he normally is, I’d guess that’s evidence for this being a strong race for Newell rather than a weak one for Hoffman.
The corresponding women’s 10k classic mass start was interesting for data nerds like myself. It consisted of Justyna Kowalczyk and only 5 others (it’s possible other folks raced who don’t have valid FIS licenses, so they won’t show up on the official results) from Japan, Korea and New Zealand. Obviously, this made for a somewhat uneven field. Kowalczyk won by around 4 minutes.
This immediately gets someone like me wondering how that margin of victory stacks up historically. In this case, second place finisher Sumiko Ishigaki was ~13% back. That’s the third largest percent back by a second place finisher that I could find in a FIS sanctioned women’s race (out of 2691 total). That means that I found two races with larger margins between first and second place!
One of them is impressive, but plausible, being another instance of a tiny field. The other, the largest, is so outlandish that I spent a while trying to decide if it wasn’t in fact an error of some sort. I’ve mostly decided that it must be a mistake and the winning time was really 34:32 not 24:32. Perhaps a reader will fill me in on the details…
I haven’t done one of these in a while, but with Mika Myllylae in the news recently I thought this might be fun…
This head-to-head matchup might not be the first you’d think of to look at, but you end up with an interesting graph nonetheless. As always, I grabbed the 54 races where Myllylae (FIN) and Alsgaard (NOR) raced against each other directly in WC, OWG or WSC races. Since these guys are both largely pre-sprinting era skiers, we’ll only look at distance races.
Then we simply plot the difference in FIS points between the skiers:
Remember that since lower FIS points are better, positive values represent a win for Alsgaard and negative values represent a win for Myllylae. Each skier had their strengths, eh? Alsgaard, true to form, kicked Myllylae’s arse in skating during the first half of the 90’s and Myllylae correspondingly kicked Alsgard’s butt in classic races.
But then they each significantly improved their weak techniques (since it doesn’t make much sense that they would both get worse at they better techniques) until they reached some level of parity by the end of the decade. The actual reversal of the trend lines here is somewhat misleading, most likely an artifact of the small number of races in 2000 and 2001.
Just a simple picture of two somewhat one sided skiers becoming considerably less one sided.