John Farra Explains Olympic Quota

Train WreckOctober 17, 200913

USSA Spokesman John Farra has issued a press release explaining the FIS Olympic quota allocation for the 2009 Vancouver games, which dictates how many athletes each participating country is allowed to bring. Farra explains why the US currently only has 7 spots, how this might change, and the process related to it.

From the release:

“This system essentially rewards highly for countries who have athletes with balanced FIS points profiles.  In other words, they regularly enter both distance and sprint races and have decent enough FIS point profiles to score in the top 500 in both disciplines.”

“I have been researching this issue for awhile now, and have identified athletes who can make significant improvement up the list by taking a strategic approach to the remaining races before the allocation list is created on Jan 18th, 2010.  The final re-allocation of spots will occur by Jan 28th, 2010.”

“I have reached out to all the coaches of these targeted athletes to encourage them to adjust the race strategy of the athletes when possible.”

“As I have mentioned, this particular system rewards people with a balanced FIS points profile.  So if you have not been entering sprints, do it. If you have not been entering distance races, do it.”

Click here for the USSA press release.

Click here for the FIS quota allocation (9-7-2009).

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  • mattxcr

    October 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I guess this idea of short and long distance racers fighting for the same spots in the Olympic games is great and we should push for the same system for the summer Olympic games. I can’t wait to see the slow marathon and 100 meter times. Wait this would be stupid and you would not find out who is the fastest man or Women in the world in the given distance.

    Maybe someone can show me the point to this system… and I am glad it is FIS Olympic people who are stupid and not USSA.

    Have a nice day.

  • Cloxxki

    October 17, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    That is, not even mentioning classic vs. skating.

    Really, it can’t be long before biathletes start systematically putting the hurt on XC’er in the XC races they pick. Berger and Bjoerndalen have given some samples of specialization.

    There is something to be said for being alround, though. Look at ice speed skating. 500-1500-5000-10000 make up a men’s championship, each distance weighs the same. The winners really are great endurance talents, with athletic muscles to mix it up with sprinters.

    I believe I’ve read that Newell has been working on his endurance already, primarily to become a better sprinter, and to deal with long/tough races. Who knows, he may be scoring more points in distance than in sprinting, as you don’t crash out of the former. (no disrespect Andrew)

    Anyway, the way the point system works, you’ll have to perform. To win the Olympics, you first have to quality. It helps to have some good team mates with you, could add a medal for you in relay even.

  • Mike Trecker

    October 18, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Now the FIS is rivaling the UCI for most screwed up international governing body. What is all this convoluted crap? Just organize some events and get out of the way. I’m sick of these overblown, bureaucratic organizations making themselves larger than the sport they govern.

  • Werd18

    October 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I heard rumors that they will require Usain Bolt to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon also.

  • triguy

    October 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    It would be interesting to know if this is part of the IOC’s decisions of recent years to limit the size of the Olympics to keep it from getting out of control (more so than what it is currently) If every country brought 15 skiers it would make the events huge and increase every level of supprt and logistics needed.

    All that being said, I can certainly see why this new system is flawed. They already have Nations Cup rankings and all sorts of world cup rankings. In other sports that have limited participation (triathlon) they have a quota based on world ranking of the athletes with the top 8 countries getting the max spots (3) and remaining countries get 2 an 1 spots as they go down the list to 50 athletes. Similar to the FIS quota the athletes that qualify the country for more quota spots are not selected for the team, so that creats some interesting controversy.

  • joeconn4

    October 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Triguy – The difference is that Tri in the Olympics is 1 race (for each gender) at 1 distance. If the Olympics ever adds an Ironman distance event or a sprint event I would expect the size of the teams for each country to expand accordingly.

    For Nordic Skiing, I don’t see why the size of the Olympic fields limits the number of skiers the country is allowed to have on their team so dramatically. Certainly some race formats (team sprint and pursuit come to mind) are not going to work well with larger field races, but in a lot of races you should be able to start 60-75+ at these venues. Certainly in any individual start race you have nearly unlimited capacity for starters. And lets face it, there are probably 20-25 countries, max, who support Winter Olympic sports to the degree that would justify racing a full team.

    I agree with those above who don’t get it. What am I missing?

  • chadsalmela

    October 18, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    FIS has a history of being hard to follow, but the explanation that John is getting from FIS, boiled down, is that they are trying to limit the number of “participants.”. Biathlon uses a nations cup point system that is equally rich-get-richer, as seems to be the motive here with FIS. The difference with the IBU is it is pretty much straight international performance in WC/WM that determines starts at WM and OWG. If FIS is looking at nationwide depth of FIS points to determine OWG participation (which is how I am understanding this from this article), that seems pretty nonsensical. If, on the other hand, we in the U.S. Ski community feel we deserve 9 starters because we’ve had that many in the past, and that is the basis of chagrin, I believe that argument may not hold much water either. I believe the FIS and IOC are trying to fill OWG fields with the best athletes in the world. Whether this quota system does that is debatable, but so is 9 U.S. Starters–no offense to ANYONE trying to make the U.S. Olympic team. I just think we have to all start seeing that the first time an athlete steps on an international stage is less and less likely to be at the Olympics in the future.

  • Cloxxki

    October 19, 2009 at 1:37 am

    “And lets face it, there are probably 20-25 countries, max, who support Winter Olympic sports to the degree that would justify racing a full team.”
    Is that not contasting Olympic ideals, one tenth of all countries participating? Should such sports even be Olympic then, if it’s just a bunch of selected snowheads competing? My country is but half a day’s drive from the Alps, but can’t even assemble a 4-man (or 4-lady) relay team of any level, XC nor Biathlon. Mixed…perhaps! 🙂

    There is something else. Perhaps the US are sending whomever they are allowed to by FIS/IOC. In many other countries, budget IS a factor. As is national pride. Even if you’re a solid world cup performer, unless you are in the position to challenge for a medal, national OC will not enlist you for the OWG. Countries that send the one guy who can ski for 5km without crashing (too often), obviously are there for the “Olympic spirit” which other countries lack.
    A friend of mine was Danish national Pro Cyclo-Cross champ. Guess if the Danish union wanted him to compete the World Champs? It took years of lobbying (BY the UCI) to get them to enlist their champs. “Danish racers go for medals, not to fill packs”. In that spirit, you do get only 3 countries at the start, more select than a world cup.

  • chadsalmela

    October 19, 2009 at 7:18 am

    De Coubertin’s ideals of amateurism today seem truly great, but evidence of De Coubertin’s motives for amateurism are pretty conclusively to keep the “riff raff” (read: poor people, non-gentlemen, who clearly would not have the free
    time to train for and win Olympic glory out from under the aristocracy) out of the games. Read up on Jim Thorpe.

    Thankfully, modern context and amateurism in the face of pro sports (though the Olympic games are not truly tests between amateurs) makes the Olympic Games compelling, and what they try to achieve for the world, though clearly flawed, is perhaps the best thong going in sport worldwide. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be so incensed about the FIS’s attempt to keep more amateurs out of the Games. My point? De Coubertin’s Olympics died somewhere in the middle 20th century, but his stated ideals still capture our imagination, even though they really aren’t followed. When the Olympics fail to capture our sense of faster, higher, stronger…and PURER… they are done as the world’s greatest sporting event.

  • T.Eastman

    October 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

    What do the underwriters want?

  • Cloxxki

    October 19, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yeah, taking par tin Olympics now means quitting studies and jobs, and go for it 4 years on end. In poorness for XC’er, in wealth for some other sports.
    When is the last time a race was held between athletes that do have have a 40hour-per-week job? I bet many of the XC talents reigning the sport now, have never been in the position of making such hours, or having to provide for their own living 100%. I mean : no family or company sponsorships, no free roof over their heads, arranged for means, transport to and from training locations, etc.
    Really, today’s young medal hopefuls, at tleast the ones I’m aware of, are quite pampered, in the great scheme of life. Not saying they’re lazy, just pampered.

  • triguy

    October 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Joeconn4, my point with mentioning Triathlon was that other sports have managed the same requirements of coming up with quota systems that make more sense. Certainly different for 1 race vs 6 races, but no argument from me about the strange nature of the FIS quota system.

    What FIS is doing is obviously trying to keep a limit on participation and the overall size of the games, likely at the direction of the IOC. They have a separate quota system for the number of starters per race (not sure what it is for the OWG’s, likely different than the standard WC quota syste). Every additional skier contributes to the overall size of the games, bigger athlete village, more food service, more staff support for each country, bigger waxing areas (already at 150+ trailers for Nordic alone)

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