I’m not going to spend much time on this topic, since obviously it wasn’t a great day for the North Americans, but we can at least put a few of the results in some sort of context using my new-fangled graph, starting with some of the men:
I’m sticking with the folks who’ve done more races, here, just to keep things brief. As I mentioned before, I’m plotting the standardized percent back from the median skier, with Saturday’s classic race highlighted with the blue circle. The blue line marks the median trend (by season) over time, except for seasons with fewer than two distance races. In Harvey’s case, I don’t think that race was all that bad, just not spectacular. Kershaw definitely was a bit below where he normally is, though.
Here’s the corresponding graph for (a few of) the women:
Actually, Crawford and Gaiazova’s races weren’t too bad, compared to how they’ve done in the past.
After reviewing yesterday’s sprint race in Drammen, Norway it’s time to get caught up on the distance racing action from the day before. And lucky for you I’m going to use some new graphs that I’ve been working on for a while. They’re similar to the biathlon graphs I introduced last week, with a few modifications and improvements.
Let’s start with the top four men:
This should be fairly self-explanatory, I hope. But here are some technical details if you’re into that kind of thing:
- I’ve gradually become convinced that percent back from the median skier is often a better metric than percent back from the winner (which is what FIS points are based on). Additionally, I’ve standardized these values to account for systematic differences between interval start races, mass start races, etc. Hence, the y-axis literally represents standard deviations away from the mean, using percent back from the median skier as a base measure.
- The race in question (i.e. Saturday’s race) is highlighted with a blue circle. The blue line tracks the median by season, but only for seasons with at least three races.
- Since I’ve standardized the performance measure, I had a little fun with labeling performances that are within one, two, etc. standard deviations from the mean. So one SD better than the mean is ‘Good’, between 1-2 SDs better than the mean is ‘Elite’ and more than 2 SDs better than the mean I’ve playfully named ‘Inhuman’.
- Take these ‘Good’, ‘Elite’ and ‘Inhuman’ labels with a grain of salt and a sense of humor. Even after standardizing the results, there’s still a fair bit of variation from race to race. So a result in the ‘Inhuman’ zone will typically be good enough for the win, but not always. Other times, a race can be won with a performance that is merely ‘Elite’. Generally speaking, ‘Inhuman’ performances are likely to put you in a position to win, ‘Elite’ performances will tend to put you on or near the podium and ‘Good’ performances are likely to put you in the World Cup points (i.e. top thirty). But these are just general rules of thumb.
Anyway, back to Saturday’s race. Daniel Rickardsson outclassed the field by a healthy margin, putting himself well into the ‘Elite’ performance range. As you can see, this represents one of the best races of the season for him or even for his whole career, and if you’re from Sweden you’ve got to like the way his performances are trending.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby also had a strong race, which stands out in part because of the heat that the Norwegian men have taken lately. Despite the complaints, it seems to me that Johnsrud Sundby has actually had a very strong season in distance events this year. Dario Cologna has been probably the strongest overall distance skier this season, but Saturday’s race, while just edging into the ‘Elite’ zone was probably just average for him. He’ll be expecting better over the next week at World Champs. Northug also had a strong race for him this season, despite being outclassed by Rickardsson.
Now let’s look at the top four women: Read more
I’ve got the sprint heat times in hand again, thanks to Jan at WorldOfXC.com, so let’s look at how things played out. Starting with the men:
I’ve omitted a handful of times from this graph that were unusually slow, which typically happens due to a crash, broken pole or some other mishap.
As usual with the men, we saw the field skiing fairly hard in qualification and then backing off a bit and being a slightly more tactical in the subsequent heats. Northug put in relatively fast times in both the quarters and semis, in addition to having one of the top qualifying times. After some very fast qualifying times, Jönsson and Jylhae both lucked into a rather slow quarterfinal heat. One of the big stories of the day was of course Alex Harvey’s second place finish. His day was interesting for how consistently he skied through all four rounds.
A quick look at the semifinals shows that they were pretty well mixed, so there wasn’t much of advantage on that score on this particular day. Read more
I’d say someone has this freestyle sprinting thing dialed in pretty well, wouldn’t you? And what a race from Alex Harvey, much better sprint race for him. I have the heat times again, so an analysis of those will be in the works for tomorrow…