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Whether She Has 46 Or 52 WC Wins, Marit Bjørgen Is Very Fast

So I guess I need to post something again about how many WC “victories” Marit Bjørgen has, ground that we’ve covered in considerable depth before. The occasion for revisiting this topic is FIS’s press release trumpeting the fact that Bjørgen has officially reached 46 WC victories, matching the great Björn Dæhlie. As we discussed in my previous post, this relies on some creative counting. Or rather, some creative un-counting.

Quite frankly, FIS can count things however they like. I just don’t understand their logic. The rule apparently is that winning a stage in the Tour de Ski, or any other World Cup-affiliated stage race, does not count as a World Cup victory. However, winning the overall stage race standings, does count as a World Cup victory. For the life of me, I can’t understand why it’s necessary to make that distinction, but whatever. If you include her individual stage wins, Bjørgen has 52 World Cup wins over her career.

Where FIS and I do agree is that Marit Bjørgen may be the best female XC ski racer ever, and while comparing men and women might not make much sense, you could probably make an argument that she’s one of the best XC skiers ever including the men. This past season was easily her best ever for distance results:

The blue line is tracking her median performance for each season. She had a grand total of four distance races that were only ~1-2 standard deviations better than average, and several of those were stage race handicap starts where she most likely was racing for the overall win not the stage win. But everything else was solidly in the super-human territory, and consistently there as well. The law of averages would suggest that Bjørgen won’t repeat this type of dominance next season, but you never know.

While she isn’t quite as dominant in sprinting, she’s still an unbelievably good sprinter:

Yeah, so the worst she’s done over the past two seasons in a sprint race is 10th. Over her entire career, she’s made the semifinals ~75% of the time and has advanced to the finals ~60% of the time.

Sure, I think she has 52 WC wins, and FIS thinks she has only 46. Tomayto, tomahto. She’s one of the best ever.


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