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Let’s Count To Five, Shall We?

I’m a stats guy.  I love numbers and data and graphs.  I will happily admit that this tends to make me, shall we say, particular about all things quantitative.  Some people may call it being anal; I prefer to think of it as being correct.

Which is why I need to take a moment to shake my fist angrily at the sky over the fact that cross country ski racing currently employs a sprint racing format that uses five quarterfinal heats.  Five.

Anyone remotely familiar with the English language ought to concede that if your tournament format has quarterfinals, there really ought to be four of them.  Now, I understand the difficulties here.  Thirty skiers advance to the elimination round heats.  Thirty is not evenly divisible by four.  So our options are limited to five heats of six skiers or six heats of five skiers. [1. Anyone suggesting 10 heats of 3 or 3 heats of 10 have clearly never participated in or organized a sprint race.]

The Latin and Greek prefix options are, to be honest, not encouraging.  Pentafinals has a distinct NAMBLA air to it, that I think we can all agree is distasteful.  Sexafinals sounds considerably more enjoyable and entertaining for skiers and spectators alike, but is also probably not appropriate.

That leaves Hexafinals and Quintafinals.  Hexafinals isn’t too bad, but some may complain that it conjures images of witches, or voodoo, or some such nonsense.  Quintafinals just sounds like your sprint race has been sponsored by a sub-par motel chain.

Personally, I’d probably be ok with hexafinals, but then there would need to be six of them and I doubt FIS is going to switch up the format just to satisfy my numerical and linguistic preferences.

Or we could just call them Elimination Rounds 1, 2 and 3.

But they aren’t quarterfinals, goddammit!  There are five of them.

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