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Sprint Quarterfinal Choices

Of course Devon would spend a bunch of time talking numbers in this week’s podcast when I happen to have tons of stuff I should be doing besides making skiing graphs. Oh well. That’s what I get for outsourcing all my ideas on what to write about to other people.

Anyhoo, Devon spent some time talking about how rare it is for sprint podium finishers to have come from the later quarterfinals (i.e. the top finishers tend to come from quarterfinals 1 & 2). As you can see below, that is obviously true, although as he also alluded to this is a textbook correlation-causation gotcha.

The best skiers tend to qualify well, so they tend to have better quarterfinal choice options, so they will tend to pick the option that gives them the most rest between the semifinal and the final. One interesting thing, though, is how much more severe the pattern is for the men than the women.

A more sophisticated analysis would attempt to somehow control for skier ability in the above graph, although that gets complicated pretty quickly. Perhaps I’ll revisit that later when I have more time.

(And yes, people who follow the World Cup closely will know that the bar for 7th place finishers in a sprint final in the women’s panels is not a mistake. It would have been really funny if it had been Sophie joining him on this episode rather than Sadie.)