Career Retrospective: Vincent Vittoz

God this guy’s been around forever, it seems. His WC results stretch back continuously to the mid-90’s. During Vittoz’s international career I’ve,

  • graduated from high school
  • graduated from college
  • got a job
  • married the Statistical Wife
  • entered and finished graduate school, and then got a job
  • lived in 4 different states during this time
  • I’ve changed residence 7 times (post-college)

Christ. I mean, Piller Cottrer (and maybe a few others I’m forgetting) has been active for a bit longer, but still. Sadly, one of Vittoz’s claims to fame is being a solid contender for Best Skier Never To Win An Olympic Medal.

Vittoz rarely did sprints, and when he did he didn’t do them very well, so we’ll just focus on distance skiing. There, he racked up 24 podiums, including 1 WSC victory (thank God!) and a TdS stage win. But in all that he never put one together at the Olympics. (He also won the WC overall title back in 2005, I believe.) The only people I’ve been able to find with even remotely similar numbers (# of seasons + # of podiums) without an individual distance Olympic medal are, well, how about I list a few: Read more

Career Retrospective: Arianna Follis

Several talented sprinters are retiring this year, among them Arianna Follis. While she’s known as a sprinter, her results indicate that she wasn’t a terribly slow distance skier either, particularly later in her career:

This suggests that it’s been the previous four seasons where her distance racing has really been fairly strong, and in fact she seems to be ending her career with perhaps her strongest distance racing season yet. The 2010 race that stands out here is a handicap stage from the Tour de Ski in which Follis, Majdic and Kowalczyk gapped Saarinen in 4th, who herself was over 1.5 minutes ahead of 5th. The handicap start stage races can produce some unusual race tactics, for sure. In fact, her only two distance wins came in handicap start stages, the other in this year’s World Cup Finale.

Her distance results translated into a total of 10 podiums, spread across the Tour, WC and one WSC Bronze. All of these came in freestyle or pursuit races, so the following graph is only partially surprising: Read more

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

Career Retrospective: Kati Wilhelm

German biathlete Kati Wilhelm (sporting some delightful red hair, I might add) is the last (finally!) in my list of retiring athletes to cover.  That Wikipedia link tells me that she was actually dubbed “Little Red Riding Hood” by the German press due to both her hair and a red hat she wore for all races.

Wilhelm is an exceptionally accomplished biathlete: I found 69 podium finishes in major events (World Cup, Olympics or World Championships), which included 4 individual Olympic medals and 5 more from World Championships.  And of course that’s on top of numerous medal winning German relay teams.

Let’s take a look at her results:

Read more

Career Retrospective: Vincent Defrasne

Vincent Defrasne is a French biathlete who retired this year (only one more of these after this one, I promise!).  I can find nine podium finishes throughout his career, including a gold at the Turin Olympics (12.5km pursuit) and a bronze at the 2007 World Biathlon Championships.  In addition to these individual accomplishments, he’s been a part of numerous medal winning French relay teams.

Read more

Career Retrospective: Sandrine Bailly

Next up among biathlon retirements is French star Sandrine Bailly.  She has numerous Biathlon World Cup victories to her name and has been an integral part of the French biathlon relay team.

One notable victory links her to another retiring skier, Martina Beck.  These women actually shared the gold medal at the 2003 Biathlon World Championships, which according to wikipedia, was a first for the sport of biathlon.

Let’s take a look at all of her results: Read more

Career Retrospective: Simone Hauswald

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I enjoy writing posts about skiing is that I learn stuff about my sport.  Writing up a career retrospective post for German biathlete Simone Hauswald was one of those experiences.

Simone Hauswald has competed internationally since 2000-2001, although she only did a handful of World Cups until the 2002-2003 season.  In that time she’s been a good, but not dominant skier.  She’s had 18 trips to the podium in individual races (and quite a few more on strong German relay teams) over her career in World Cup, OWG or WBC races.

The cool thing that I learned about Hauswald, though, was that she really went out with a bang this season: Read more

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