Race Snapshot: Lahti Freestyle Sprint

Men:

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Women:

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European Mid-Season Review

This will just be a short note with similar graphs as last time, only for a few of the major European nations.

Men’s Distance

Sweden continues to generally improve. Note that in terms of top thirty performances, Norway has steadily declined over the years, but not among the top ten or better level. So they’ve become somewhat less deep of a team, but they still manage to crank out top results. Indeed, if anything they’ve been improving. After a couple stronger seasons, the Russian men aren’t off to a great start so far this season. Read more

Good Young Finnish Women

A companion post to my previous entry looking at some of the Finnish men. I’m using a sort of cohort style plot. They compare each athlete’s FIS points (similar to, but not exactly, what FIS uses for their rankings) to those of athletes who have gone on to finish in the top ten in a WC, WSC or OWG event. There’s obviously a range of FIS points in that group, hence the varying shades of gray in the plot.

I just grabbed five (young-ish) Finnish women who had particularly good points last season, first looking at folks with good distance results( click through for full version):

No surprise to see Lahteenmaki there, and Kerttu Niskanen is another name I know fairly well. As for the sprinters: Read more

Some Top Young Finnish Men

I can’t keep up on the enormous number of good young skiers from every nation. I have a hard enough time with just those in my own backyard, the US and Canada. So it’s fun to look at some folks from other countries that I’m not so familiar with. For instance, here are some graphs looking at some good young male skiers from Finland. I’m using ‘cohort’ style graphs; they compare an athletes FIS points at a particular age to the range of FIS points achieved by skiers in the past that have gone on to achieve top ten results at WC, WSC or OWG races. (Remember, of course, that FIS points have plenty of limitations, and I calculate them slightly differently that FIS. For instance, I select people’s best results from a season, not from a calendar year.)

First, here are five young Finnish men who had strong distance results last season (click for full version):

Obviously, one wants to be at or below the shaded region, ideally. But those shaded regions don’t represent everyone who was ever successful, so it’s certainly possible to buck the trend and be a late bloomer. It just happens less frequently. Perttu Hyvarinen certainly seems promising. Sami Lahdemaki does as well, despite a slight uptick in his results last season.

To go along with this, here are five good young Finnish sprinters; again, FIS points for sprinting are only measuring qualification speed: Read more

Looking Back At The Finnish Men

The death this week of Mika Myllylä has got me thinking about the Finnish men of that era generally, which led to this graph:

I’ve graphed FIS points here to include results at all levels. I’d forgotten about Isometsä’s attempts at a comeback after his suspension, which as you can see didn’t go all that well. I don’t have many results for Immonen for much of the 90’s. I don’t know if that’s because he didn’t really get good until the mid-90’s, or if perhaps I’m just missing a bunch of the FIS races he happened to do. Either way, he must have been racing in Finland, since he was over 30 by the time of the 2001 WSCs.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s tempting to look at the dramatic jumps in performance, particularly in Isometsä, Kirvesniemi and Repo between 1999-2001 and say it should have been obvious, but these things are tough to suss out from just performance trends. Still, that was some resurgence by Kirvesniemi, no?

Career Retrospective: Pirjo Muranen

Finnish sprinter Pirjo Muranen is one of several skiers hanging up their skis for good this year. I’ll be devoting a post to each of them over the next few Fridays, but first the Finnish sprinter.

Muranen was certainly a successful skier, though not an overpowering one. She has an individual Gold and Bronze from the World Championships in 2001 and 2009, but all of her other Olympic and World Championship medals are from relays. A solid distance skier, her best result was 4th in a 10km mass start in 2009, but she has numerous top tens. Additionally, Muranen has participated in the Tour de Ski three times improving from 22nd, to 15th, to 12th in the overall standings.

Let’s start with her WC, WSC and OWG distance results:

Recall that I’m using standardized percent back the median skier here, and in general values below 0 are good, values below -1 are excellent and values below -2 are unbelievable.

Muranen’s extraordinary race from this season was her 6th place in the waxing plagued 10km classic at World Championships. Other than that, her best races tended to be around -1 to -1.5. Obviously, Muranen experienced some difficulties leading up to the 2006 season. I haven’t followed her closely, so I’m not sure what caused this, but she sure rebounded back from 2007 forward.

Here’s the same graph broken down by technique: Read more

Nation Trends: ITA, FIN, GER

Now for the sprinting versions of the graphs from my previous post. First up the men:

These graphs stretch back into the prehistory of sprinting, so keep that min mind. The Italian men kind of came out of the barn dominating sprinting (or whatever you want to call the “sprinting” events that existed back in the early 00’s) but haven’t kept that up at all. They’ve seen some flickers of life recently, though.

The graphs for the Finnish and German men are less interesting, with the only major change being Germany’s modest decline around 2003-2004.

Now for the women:

I’m not sure what the spike in 2003-2004 was for the Italian women. I’ll have to go back and check, but most likely it’s just one woman who had an unusually good year that year. The German women have seen a slow, general decline. The Finnish ladies have this big surge in the early 00’s and then crash in 2005-2006, rebound and then slowly declining again (although the top 30’s have remained mostly constant).

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