Q: Where do you get your data?
A: All results are from publicly available data at sites like www.fis-ski.com.
Q: How complete/accurate is your data?
A: It’s hard to have a data set of this size and complexity that is 100% complete and accurate. As of this writing, the database contains all WC, OWG, WSC, Continental Cup, Scandinavian Cup, OPA Cups back to the 1991-1992 season, to the best of my knowledge. It also contains most, but not all, National Championship, Marathon Cup and general FIS races. Adding more races to the database will be a continuing project.
Q: How much time did it take you to compile these data?
A: Quite a bit, even with substantial automation. Feel free to tease me about having nothing better to do.
Q: Will I need a degree in statistics to understand this site?
A: Nope! Well…probably not. I will surely delve into some rather complicated statistics from time to time, because that sort of stuff is fun for me, but mostly this site will focus on analyzing data visually. So all you really need is the ability to appreciate cool graphs.
Q: What the heck are FIS points?
A: I’m assuming you’re not a skier. FIS points (and USSA points, etc.) are an attempt to measure skiing performance across different races in a fair way. They are based upon one’s percent back from the winning time with some adjustments based upon the type of race (sprint, interval start, pursuit, etc.). They are supposed to represent how far behind (as a percentage of the winning time) you are from the best skiers in the world. FIS defines “the best skiers in the world” to be those winning World Cup, Olympic and World Championship races. Their main benefit is that they attempt to account for the strength of your competition at any given race. For instance, finishing 10th and 2 minutes out in a race with slow skiers is very different than finishing 10th and 30 seconds out in a race with very fast skiers. Simply reporting “10th place” doesn’t reflect this difference, whereas FIS points do. That said, FIS points (indeed, any single measure of skiing performance) are not perfect. But they do an adequate job in most cases, and they are the de facto standard. At various points, I’ll probably investigate various weaknesses of point systems and possible alternatives. If you really want a more technical discussion, you can look at the entire rule book here.
Q: How seriously should I take your analyses/graphs?
A: That depends. A lot of the stuff on this site will mostly be crunching data for the fun of it and is meant to be quite lighthearted. Sometimes, I will try to answer a “serious question”, to the extent that the data allow me. The difference ought to be clear from context.
A: I love cross country skiing. I love playing with data. That’s about it.
Q: I know of a mistake in some results on the FIS website. Should I let you know?
A: Sure! However, I have caught and corrected many errors on my own, so I may already know about it. There are many I haven’t been able to resolve, however. The most important type of error to notify me of is when a race’s technique, length or type (mass start, interval, pursuit with a break, pursuit without a break, etc.) is incorrectly or ambiguously recorded on the FIS website. The second most important are year of birth or nation of origin errors. I will periodically write a post describing a particular “mystery race” and ask readers for help in tracking down the correct information.
Q: Your athlete rankings are totally bogus!
A: No fair, that’s not a question! My rankings are meant to be something fun for xc skiing fans to debate. If you think they’re wrong and want to argue about it, then they’ve served their purpose.
Q: Your analyses are seriously flawed!
A: Hey, that’s not a question either! If you think I’ve overlooked something when attempting to do something “serious” feel free to let me know in the comments. I can’t guarantee that I’ll agree with you, though, or that I’ll have the time to incorporate your suggestions, even if I agree with you. If this makes you really angry, well, I’d stop and think why you’re getting angry about some random guy doing statistical analyses on cross country skiing data. Chill out.
Q: Help! I don’t know much about international cross-country ski racing, so I”m having a hard time following some of your posts.
A: Great, more non-question questions. Seriously, though, sorry about that. I may at times assume a certain level of familiarity with cross country skiing and it’s lingo. I’ll try to remember to at least briefly explain things as I go, but you do have the entire internet at your disposal. This is a decent start.