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Bolshunov’s Decimation of the Field

Alexander Bolshunov won the 2022 Olympic 30k skiathlon the other day with a rather eye-popping margin. This sort of thing always causes people to start asking questions about You Know What. I’m not interested or qualified to weigh in on that, but anything unusual is always interesting from a data perspective, and this is no exception.

I posted a couple of graphs on Twitter showing how extreme the field separation was in this race compared to either just skiathlons or all skiathlons and other long mass start races as shown below:

Someone asked if I could do the same thing but include all events, even shorter races and interval starts. I think the reason I restricted myself to skiathlons and mass starts initially is pretty self explanatory, but just for fun let’s look at all race types. I’m still going to exclude pursuit starts because, well, frankly at this point I hardly even consider them real races (🔥). And this includes all major international events stretching back to the late 70’s. The ones that I have, at least. My data from the 70’s and 80’s is incomplete; I probably only have around 60-70% of the races from that era. Anyway, here you go:

This one is a bit too busy to annotate cleanly on the graph, so here’s a list of the 30 most extreme cases for easier browsing. Be sure to sort on the percent difference from 10th place column first.


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