A Few End Of The Year Numbers

Just to follow up on a few tweets over the weekend…

Skiers from 10 different nations had podium results in men’s events, and only women from 7 different nations did the same.

The nations with the most podiums are in stark contrast. For both the men and women, you of course have Norway in the lead. They had 9 different men reach the podium 32 times, and 7 different women reach the podium 67 (!) times.

Behind Norway you have Switzerland (tied with Russia) each with 20 men’s podiums. But “the Swiss men’s team” is actually just Dario Cologna, one guy. Similarly, the second most women’s podiums went to Poland, i.e. Justyna Kowalczyk.

Interestingly, the numbers for biathlon are a bit different. There, 8 different nations had podium winners in men’s events, and 11 different nations for the women. Amazingly, none of the women’s teams had more than 2 different women with podium results. For the men, the Russians had 6, while the Germans and Norwegians each had 3. (Granted, I think the biathlon schedule has fewer starts in it, though I could be wrong.)

The season isn’t quite over, but across every FIS race I collected so far this season, Justyna Kowalczyk is leading with the most number of starts (including stage races) with 42. Of the ten with the most starts, 8 are women. The two men are Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey. (Obviously, this is a silly statistic, because there are tons of races that are not FIS sanctioned. But we’re allowed to be silly every now and then.)

The largest FIS penalty this season was 211.20. (The largest I have recorded is 246.40). The largest FIS points earned this season was 2643.82.

Race Snapshot: Düsseldorf Sprints

Nice job, Kikkan!

Full versions below the fold.

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Best Young Sprint Skiers: 2009-2010

This is the sprinting version of my earlier post looking at some of the best young distance skiers on the World Cup circuit last season.  The methodology here is basically the same.  I’ve set an age cutoff of 24, I’m only considering skiers who did at least four major international (i.e. WC, OWG, TDS) sprint races last season and only those sprint races are included (so no sprint races from OPA Cups, Scandinavian Cups, etc.).

The major difference between this and the post looking at distance skiers is that using FIS points isn’t so useful anymore.  Since we’re looking just at major competitions, I think just the rank (1st, 2nd, etc.) in each race should be sufficient to a good picture.

The graphs are below the fold…

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Trends In Race Times

Conventional wisdom holds (so I’m told) that World Cup skiers go faster these days for a variety of reasons: improved grooming technology, improved equipment/waxing, larger athlete pool, better training/diet (on average) etc.  It would be neat if this trend showed up in results data.  Namely, have the top times for races of a set distance been falling over time?

As you can probably guess already, this is not so easy to establish.  Along with the factors I listed above that will generally push race times downward, we have the fact that race courses are being designed to account for this, presumably to make them more challenging.  The combination of all this might mean that we see no net change in times at all.  Or do we? Read more

Biathlon and Cross Country Volatility Trends

A commenter asked about whether I could take the data from this post and look at trends over time.  The answer, of course, if yes!

The statistic of interest here is median absolute deviation (MAD), which is a measure of variability.  In this case, we’re calculating a MAD value for each skier and each season on their percent back results.  So each skier get a MAD value for each season they compete in that measures how variable their results were.

In my previous post, I just compared the distributions of these values for XC and biathlon skiers, showing of course that biathletes’ results are considerably more variable.  My commenter wanted to know if these values have changed much over time.

What I actually did is to plot some quantiles of each distribution over time, and extended the time frame back to 1992 or so.  What this means is that each line represents the trend for a particular quantile over time.  For instance, the middle line for both XC and biathlon represents the median, or 50% quantile.  The quantiles plotted are 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 90% (10% is the bottom line, 90% is the top line).

Graph below the fold:

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Is Biathlon More Volatile Than Cross Country?


That whole shooting bit.  Tricky, isn’t it?

So maybe a bit more discussion would be good.  This graph shows the distributions of the median absolute deviations (MADs) by athlete and season, for those athletes who competed in at least five major competitions in that season.

Biathletes, due to wild swings in shooting performance, are much more likely to have results that bounce around from good to bad.

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Measuring Competitiveness Using Churn

In one of the articles I wrote for FasterSkier.com, someone asked a question in the comments that I thought was interesting, so I dashed off a quick answer.  Sadly, as is common when I do something quickly, I made a mistake.  So I need to correct the record.

Commenter triguy mentioned that it would be interesting to look at the number of different skiers who land on the podium during each season.  I hacked out something really quick in SQL and slapped it up in a comment.  I had meant to return to that idea and look at turnover among top 10 finishers, top 30, etc.

When I did, I discovered a small error in the numbers I posted in that comment.  The general trend is roughly the same, but the ratios should all be shifted slightly.  So, my bad.  But now I get to elaborate on that idea with actual graphs! Read more