The Red Group consists of the top 30 distance and sprint racers in the world. It is based on World Cup points from the previous four World Cup periods. The Red Group rankings are extremely important, in that the race organizer must pay the travel and living costs (accommodation, food, etc) for every athlete in the Red Group. Expenses must also be covered for a maximum of one coach per nation and sex, if there are three or more athletes per sex in the Red Group List for that nation. Obviously, this can amount to significant savings for National programs.
The Red Group is not used for seeding purposes. The current World Cup ranking list, updated after every World Cup event, is used to seed the top 30 competitors in every event. This is somewhat confusing as this group is often referred to as the “Red Group” during race commentary. Technically this group should be referred to as the “Seeded Group.”
The new Red Group list includes races from February 10th 2008 through last weekend’s races in Otepaa. There is a separate Red Group for distance and sprint. A new Red Group list is compiled at the end of every World Cup period. There are four periods every winter.
North American Athletes in the Red Group
8. Andy Newell USA
24. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
Torin Koos is the next closest North American in 64th with 35 points. Nikolay Chebotko (KAZ) is 30th with 90 points.
Norway has 11 of the men’s sprint Red Group spots, including 7 of the top 10. Andy Newell is the only non-Scandinavian in the top 10.
Italy is the next best nation with 5 in the top 30. Sweden only has two athletes in the Red Group, but both are ranked in the top 10.
16. Chandra Crawford (CAN)
Kikkan Randall (USA) just missed the Red Group and is ranked 33rd with 89 points, 12 points out of 30th. 12 points is the equivalent of a 19th place finish. Kikkan has been a member of the Red Group for about a year, based mainly on her victory in Rybinsk last season. Given how World Cup points are allocated (100 for 1st, 80 for 2nd, down to 1 for 30th), a single top performance can be enough to hold a skier solidly in the Red Group, until that result comes off the books. With several freestyle sprints in the next period, and her improving classic sprinting, Randall has a good shot at regaining Red Group status.
Sara Renner (CAN) is 47th with 39 points. Crawford, Canada’s top sprinter, has been out all season with an injury and has not raced.
Finland is top top team with 5 athletes in the Red Group. Sweden and Norway both have 4.
17. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
28. Ivan Babikov (CAN)
Kris Freeman is the first US skier on the list in 49th place with 69 points, 71 points out of 30th. Both Norway and Germany have 5 skiers in the distance Red Group.
22. Sara Renner (CAN)
Shayla Swanson (CAN) is the next North American on the list in 58th with 14 points. Kikkan Randall is the top American in 70th with 8 points. Norway is the top team with 5 athletes in the Red Group. Several teams qualified 4.
Complete Red Group Lists from FIS in PDF form