Spain And Laura Orgue

I love the annual series FasterSkier does profiling each nation that scored nation’s cup points in the days before the World Cup begins. Usually by the time they reach Norway and Russia, I’m actually less interested, but the first week or so is a fun ride through nations with tiny, little known programs.

First up was Spain, featuring Laura Orgue. The correctly note that she’s basically the only real prospect they have, and thankfully she’s not terribly old (~25). What can happen a lot with these tiny ski programs (or even medium sized ones, really, like the US) is they latch onto a decent skier and basically ride them into their 40’s. However, looking at Orgue’s last few seasons, I’m a little concerned:

No one’s pretending that Orgue has been anything other than a middle of the pack type of distance skier, but I’m worried that her results have plateaued a bit, perhaps even tailing off last season. In my experience looking at skier’s results, after the early rapid improvement, they often hit a plateau. But each year they spend stuck at that level decreases the chances that they’ll start improving again. The clock is ticking, so to speak.

As for the men, the FasterSkier profile if anything underplays the comical contrast of with and without Johann Mühlegg: Read more

Mystery Skier: Revealed

As at least one reader correctly guessed, the skier I was referring to in my previous post was Johann Mühlegg. Probably the biggest hint there was the implication that I was talking about a skier who continued racing after ~1998-1999 and reached the podium after that time. Or in his case perhaps we should say “podium”.

That little tidbit caught my eye mainly because it highlights the fact that Mühlegg wasn’t a terribly slow skier for much of the 90’s and I would guess that for much of this time he wasn’t doping. The change in his performance level was, shall we say, sudden.

Behind Mühlegg there were 7 skiers with a string of 5 seasons with at least one top ten distance result, but no podiums. They were (in no particular order) Mathias Fredriksson, Kris Freeman, Magnus Ingesson, Petra Majdic, Kristin Meurer Stemland, Valentino Shevchenko and Alois Stadlober. Quite a range of careers there. Fredricksson is an interesting contrast to Mühlegg as someone who skied for much of the 90’s and did put together some strong seasons, but his eventual improvement wasn’t nearly as sudden as Mühlegg’s.

As a follow-up, there are two skiers I’ve found with similar streaks in sprinting, having gone 6 seasons (a long time, given how long sprinting’s been around) with a top ten at least once per season but no podiums. One’s male and one is female. I’ll leave the answer in the comments by the end of the week.