U23 Recap: Finland & Sweden

A few more U23 historical performance plots, this time two European nations that happen to have some noticeable trends. First, Finland:

Fin

The women have seen a drop off in distance results post-Lahteenmaki, but the men’s have declined steadily for quite some time now. The other nation we’re going to look at is Sweden:

Swe

I mostly noticed the men’s distance results again, but the men’s sprint results have tailed off somewhat as well.

U23 Recap: North America

I was recapping  WJC results last week by comparing them to each nation’s historical performance. Let’s do the same thing this week, but with U23s. Starting with the Americans:

Usa

The trend isn’t spectacular, but each group managed at least one or two decent results (compared to previous years). As for the Canadians:

Can

The men’s distance panel is a tad unfair, since the Canadian men really did have one year of an usually strong group of Alex Harvey, Len Valja, Frederic Touchette and Brent McMurtry.

New FIS Point Criteria for WJC Qualification

As often happens, FasterSkier gifted me with a handy topic for a few posts to kill time with over the summer by publishing a summary of USSA’s new criteria for automatic qualification for WJCs/U23s.

For WJCs, the FIS point cutoff has been lowered to 50 for both men and women (it used to be higher for women than for men) and it can come from any FIS sanctioned race between Nov 1st and Dec 31st.

Generally, I’m skeptical of the wisdom of allowing people to automatically pre-qualify based on a single race (albeit a good one). But I’ll come back to that issue in a subsequent post. For the moment, I was curious where US juniors might be able to find races with penalties under 50 during that time of year (excluding WC races, of course). So here’s a summary of all such races that fit that bill for recent seasons:

This is showing the number of FIS races in each country within those dates with a penalty less than 50. (Of course, this doesn’t reflect how many skiers in that race broke 50 points, just that someone did.) I wasn’t expecting there to be such a big disparity between the distance and sprint races, to be honest. Part of me is wondering if this rule change will favor juniors who make the effort to get over to Europe during the fall in the hopes of popping a great race. Now that I write that, it occurs to me that encouraging juniors to “go to Europe for their points” might be part of the intent here, but that’s just speculation.

WJC & U23 Updates – North Americans

I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment, so not much commentary on these. They are just the updated versions of the graphs I showed on Wednesday, giving some historical context for the results at WJC & U23’s for the US and Canada.

WJC – USA

WJC – CAN Read more

WJC/U23 Assessment: Finland, Germany and Sweden

Ok, this will be my last post on WJC/U23s, I promise! As we did before with the US and Canada, and then Norway and Russia, these graphs are simply displaying each WJC or U23 result for each nation (in finishing place, not FIS points) with the median tracked in red. As usual, I’ll keep my commentary to a minimum, except to remind you to be aware of situations where there isn’t much data (e.g. U23 sprinting events).

Here I notice the general improvement by the men’s distance racers over the last two seasons and that the women’s sprint results have recently included one quite fast skier and then several others who aren’t quite so fast. Read more

WJC/U23 Assessment: Norway and Russia

Continuing on in the vein of my post yesterday recapping the WJC and U23 results for the last several years for the US and Canada, this post will do the same for Norway and Russia. As before, I’m plotting the finishing rank, or place, of each skier and then tracking the median result in red. So “how far behind the leader” information is being lost here, but I feel like a lot of the discussion that happens surrounding WJC/U23 results tends to revolve around what place people finished.

Not surprisingly, pretty darn good, at least to my jaded American eyes. Some picky Norwegians may note that while the median men’s distance performance remained roughly the same as last year, they saw fewer top fives. As I noted before the competitions started, the Norwegian junior women have been doing very well in the distance events, with occasional results outside the top 15 or 20, but only occasionally. Interestingly, both the junior men and women from Norway had a bit of an off year (for them) in sprinting in 2007-2008. Read more

WJC/U23 Assessment USA and CAN

This week is going to be pretty heavy on the WJC/U23 graphs, I suppose, as we wait for the World Cup racing to start up again.

One of the things that has struck me while writing this blog is how much importance and meaning is placed on WJC/U23s compared with how little data they provide in a given year. What I mean is that if we think of a ski race as a measurement of performance, WJCs provides only 2-4 “measurements” for each athlete. That doesn’t add up to a ton of data, given how variable skiers can be, even when they are racing well. That said, they are what they are: a World Championships, so assessments are inevitable. Let’s see what we can see.

Each below graph summarizes the performance of either the USA or CAN in either WJCs or U23s over the past six seasons. I feel like the quality of the WJC (and to a lesser degree the U23) fields are at least reasonably stable over this time period, so I’m only going to look at finishing rank. They show each individual result along with the median result for each year in red. We’ll get our feet wet with the WJC graph for the US:

This should give you a good sense for how, with so little data within each year, that simple summaries like the median don’t always reflect everything we’d like them to about the data. The two clearest trends here are in men’s distance and women’s sprint, with some steady drop-offs in the median over the past three seasons. The US women did have some strong sprint results this year compared to the recent past; they just also had some bad ones as well. Read more

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