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US World Cup Progress

I got an email the other day asking if I thought that the US had been improving in international races lately. There are obviously lots of ways to measure the progress of a national ski program, but the only one I really can comment on is simply race results. So these are the US major international race results (WC, OWG, WSC and TdS) over the past decade or so. I’ve removed pursuit (i.e. handicap) start distance races, as they tend not to be very representative of how athletes perform in any other circumstance.

The women’s sprint and distance results have obviously improved, as they transitioned from one skier doing consistently well (Kikkan) to a handful of skiers doing well. The men’s sprint results have declined slightly, most likely correlated with Andrew Newell getting older and then retiring. The men’s distance results have been pretty consistently in the 25th-75th range with very occasional top 10-15 results, basically always in mass start events.

So the short answer isn’t much different from what you might say without all the number crunching: the women have improved quite a bit, while the men’s results have been either treading water or getting slightly worse, in the aggregate.