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Gadflies & Punching Bags

Since it’s Friday, here’s something kind of silly…

Last week, I introduced the concept of victims and nemeses, for distance races.  A nemesis is a skier who has beaten you on multiple occasions by a small margin (fewer than ten seconds).  Victims are just the reverse: people you have beaten on multiple occasions by fewer than ten seconds.  A narrow victory (or defeat) counts double in more important races: Olympics and World Championships.

The score I calculated to represent this concept indicates the degree to which someone is a nemesis or victim relative to a particular skier.  We can take this a step further and look at which skiers have the highest nemesis (or victim) scores across all athletes.  Let’s call these people Gadflies and Punching Bags.  Gadflies are skiers who are nemeses to lots of other skiers: they’ve racked up a ton of narrow victories over other athletes, particularly in big races.  Punching Bags are the reverse: they’ve accumulated a ton of defeats by narrow margins to other skiers.

Remember that in calculating Gadflies and Punching Bags skiers of all levels are treated equally.  So the “winner” in each category may be a top World Cup skier, or they may be a fairly slow World Cup skiers.  It may be fun to redo this analysis, weighting by skier speed, but I’ll save that for another time.

And of course, there’s no particular reason someone can’t be both a gadfly and a punching bag.

Here are the lists of the top five Gadflies and Punching Bags for the 2009-2010 international racing season.  Only athletes with at least five starts are eligible.

Is this silly?  Maybe.  But it sure is entertaining…check below the fold for the tables.

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