Trends In Race Times: Biathlon

I haven’t posted anything looking at biathlon for a while, so…

Since biathlon has had much more consistent race formats over the years and since we don’t need to split up the data by technique, we should be able to get a clearer picture of any trends on the gun-happy side of things.

The graph below is too small to see.  You’ll have to click through for the full version, which ought to be fairly self-explanatory.

These are the top 10 times in each major race.  We can clearly see that race times have been falling.  In fact, if you look closely you’ll see that times have dropped quite a lot in some cases.

Some other things we can note: the mass start races, true to form, seem a bit slow for the distance, particularly for the women.  It’s so strange that people find it so hard (psychologically) to press the pace in a mass start race…

You can’t really see it in the sprint races, but the rest display a leveling of the time trends followed by an second dip.  The individual races seemed to plateau a bit between 1998-2003 while the mass start races appear to exhibit a similar trend between 2003-2007.  It could just be a fluke, I suppose.  In any case, I can’t think of any explanation for it at all.

A Few End Of The Year Numbers

Just to follow up on a few tweets over the weekend…

Skiers from 10 different nations had podium results in men’s events, and only women from 7 different nations did the same.

The nations with the most podiums are in stark contrast. For both the men and women, you of course have Norway in the lead. They had 9 different men reach the podium 32 times, and 7 different women reach the podium 67 (!) times.

Behind Norway you have Switzerland (tied with Russia) each with 20 men’s podiums. But “the Swiss men’s team” is actually just Dario Cologna, one guy. Similarly, the second most women’s podiums went to Poland, i.e. Justyna Kowalczyk.

Interestingly, the numbers for biathlon are a bit different. There, 8 different nations had podium winners in men’s events, and 11 different nations for the women. Amazingly, none of the women’s teams had more than 2 different women with podium results. For the men, the Russians had 6, while the Germans and Norwegians each had 3. (Granted, I think the biathlon schedule has fewer starts in it, though I could be wrong.)

The season isn’t quite over, but across every FIS race I collected so far this season, Justyna Kowalczyk is leading with the most number of starts (including stage races) with 42. Of the ten with the most starts, 8 are women. The two men are Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey. (Obviously, this is a silly statistic, because there are tons of races that are not FIS sanctioned. But we’re allowed to be silly every now and then.)

The largest FIS penalty this season was 211.20. (The largest I have recorded is 246.40). The largest FIS points earned this season was 2643.82.

Race Snapshot: IBU World Cup Mass Start

Race Snapshot: IBU WC Women’s Pursuit

Race Snapshot: IBU WC Sprint

Race Snapshot: WBC Mass Start

World Biathlon Champs: USA/CAN Histories

Since I’ve been neglecting biathlon a bit lately, I figured I owed everyone a biathlon post, particularly given the shocking 5th place finish the other day by Susan Dunklee.

So here is some historical data on how the US and Canada have performed at WBCs over the years. First, measured by finishing place:

The blue line tracks the median, so it’s sort of a measure of overall team performance. Also interesting is to look at how the best and worst results have trended over the years. For instance, for the US women, you see their median remaining mostly flat overall, with some modest improvements lately. But their best result generally got worse through the late 90’s, and then has improved dramatically (with some notable exceptions in the middle there).

To go along with that, we have a historical look at overall, team shooting performance at WBCs over the years:

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