Canadian National Ski TeamOlympicsRacingUS Ski TeamAdditional Quota Analysis – US and Canada to Gain Spots

Avatar Topher SabotJanuary 19, 20108
Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) is on the Olympic Team, but how many of his teammates go will have reprecussions for the US and Canada (Photo: Nordic Focus)
Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) is on the Olympic Team, but how many of his teammates go will have repercussions for the US and Canada (Photo: Nordic Focus)

Now that FIS has announced the quotas for the 2010 Olympics, focus has shifted to the potential for additional spots due to reallocation.

The US currently has 8 spots and Canada 11.  The maximum that any country can have is 20 – currently Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Italy are at the maximum.  Germany is not far behind with 18.  But if these countries (or any other for that matter) choose not to take their full quota, those spots are reallocated to other nations.  There is a reallocation “waiting list” based on the same criteria as the original quota numbers

The US is currently second on that list and is virtually guaranteed an additional spot.

What happens from there is less clear.  The US also is 27th, 38th and 45th on the list.  Canada is 12th, 15th, 18th, 26th, 30th, 32nd, 36th, and 46th.  The list goes 50 deep.

So the big question is how many spots will go unused and reenter the pool for reallocation.

Based on information released by National Federations, team size in 2006, FIS points, and substantial guesswork, I have projected team sizes and thus the number of spots that will be reallocated.

But before I get into my analysis and conclusions, I want to be clear – I have no inside information.  I have made a  huge number of assumptions as to what other countries will do when picking teams.  It is possible that I am way off.  While predicting teams and quotas can be fun for those of us watching from the sidelines, this is an extremely stressful time for the athletes waiting to hear if they will go to the Olympics.  The danger of this article is that it could falsely raise hopes of athletes, families, friends, and supporters.  I caution that everyone take this piece with more than a grain of salt.

Good News for US and Canada

I will provide details of my analysis below, but my conclusions are favorable.  I predict that the US will definitely end up with 2 additional spots.  A third is within reach, and if all my assumptions are correct, a 4th spot would likely be added.

Canada has a good chance of hitting the Cross-Country Canada mandated team size of 16 athletes, and could have extra quota to spare – which would return to the pool.

The Setup

FIS has published the quotas and reallocation list.  I created a list of the 30 countries with at least 3 spots.  FIS allows any country to start one male and one female in specific races even if those athletes do not meet the minimum requirements of 100 distance points or 120 sprint points.

I made the assumption that any country with two or less spots would make use of them.  Some countries only have one spot because they have only one FIS registered athlete.  Countries with at least three spots would be in position to return one to the pool.

I then looked up the number of race starts that each country had in the 2006 Olympics.  I was unable to find actual rosters.  The US, for example, brought 17 to Torino, but only 16 raced.  Thus number would still provide some guidance.

Next I looked at the reallocation list and added a column on my spreadsheet for number of spots in the top-38.  Why 38?  It is very unlikely that we would see 50 spots returned, and Canada has number 38.

The 3’s

The first thing I did was look at countries that had a quota number of 3 – including Greece, Great Britain, Bulgaria, to name just a few.  I then checked to see if they had more than two athletes who met the minimum standards mentioned above. A number did not.

This immediately resulted in 5 returned spots.  Because of the rule allowing at least one of each gender to participate, I again assumed that each of these nations would take two people.

Only two of the nine nations with 3 quota spots are on the reallocation list – China and Spain.  Given China had 16 skiers race in 2006 and Spain 5, I made the call that both countries would gladly use the extra quota.

Mid Range

I then moved on to the mid range countries – those with 4 to 10 spots.  This included a whole range – from Lithuania to the Czech Republic.

These countries are generally have stronger ski programs.  9 of the 11 in this range raced more skiers in 2006 than their current quota.  I therefore allocated full quotas for each.  The two exceptions were Lithuania and Poland.

Lithuania has a quota of four and race two in 2006.  There are enough athletes to meet the minimum points criteria, so I went with the full four.

Poland on the other hand, has 7 spots available, and raced 3 in 2006.  A lot can change in 4 years, but Poland still has only nine athletes that meet the points criteria.    So far the Polish Ski Federation has named three skiers to the team.  I made the guess they would name only one more.

So in the mid range I have only Poland returning spots from the original quota.

As with the 3’s I then moved to the reallocation list.  The mid range countries appear on the list 15 times in the top-38 (this includes the US) and I predicted that all of these 15 would be claimed with two exceptions.  Obviously if Poland doesn’t even take their full original quota, they would automatically pass on the reallocation spot they are in line for.

The other exception was Slovenia.  I find it unlikely, based on World Cup and FIS results, as well as the fact they only started five in Torino, that Slovenia will bring more than 7.  Another factor is that the team has one medal hopeful in Petra Majdic and several contenders in Vesna Fabjan and Katja Visnar.  With a traditionally small support staff, it is easy to imagine keeping the team small so service personnel can focus on these top athletes.

Slovenia has 3 spots on the reallocation list.  I originally had them taking two of those for a team size of 7, but after some additional research believe that Slovenia will only bring 5.  This means 3 spots return to the reallocation pool.

So 3 quota spots go back in the pool, and two reallocation slots are passed on.

Wanting More

The next group is small – made up of just three countries – Canada, Estonia and Switzerland.  These countries have 11 or 12 spots but would likely take more.

Estonia is on the reallocation list 4 times in the top 38.  Again, being conservative, I predict that Estonia will use 3 of those slots if they come up.

Canada has an impressive 8 reallocation slots, but has a maximum team size of 16 – therefore they cannot make use of more than 5.

Switzerland is a tough one.  A strong team, they brought only 12 to Torino.  This year they have an initial quota of 12 and another 4 slots on the reallocation list.  I’m going with a total team of 14 athletes.

The Big Guns

Charlotte Kalla (SWE) - One of 16 Swedes to go to Vancuover (Photo: Nordic Focus)
Charlotte Kalla (SWE) - One of 16 Swedes to go to Vancuover (Photo: Nordic Focus)

The last group consists of countries with high quotas likely to return spots to the pool.  Ultimately they hold the fate of US and Canadian bubble athletes in their hands.

France has a quota of 16 and the first spot on the reallocation list.  11 French skiers raced in ’06.  The French team is very strong right now – especially the men.  I could not find any information on the current composition of the team, but 11 spots have already been assigned.  I find it unlikely that France will take more than 14.  THis means 2 quota spots back into the pot, and 2 reallocation slots passed on.

Next is Germany with a quota of 18.  Obviously very strong with numerous medal hopefuls, Germany will bring a large team.  They brought 13 to Torino, and I’m guessing 15 this year.  In addition to the 3 quota spots returned, Germany also has two spots on the reallocation list.

The last five countries all have the max quota of 20.  Italy and Russia had the biggest teams in ’06 with 17 and 18 respectively.  But it was a home Olympics for Italy. I predicted 17 for them, and it could be less.

Russia has already named 16 to the squad, and Federation officials have said they do not feel obligated to fill the quota.  I’m going with 18 for the Russians.

Finally we have Finland, Sweden and Norway.  Langd.se reportst that Sweden will bring 15-16 athletes.  I went with 16.

Finland and Norway are still both in the qualification process.  Finland brought 13 to Torino, and will be focusing on their medal hopefuls.  I say 15 here.

Norway is tough.  A commenter on this site claims that Norway will bring a full 20.  I find that unlikely given the number of race starts available.  The Norwegians have named 11 and will pick the rest following this week’s Norwegian National Championships.

When you factor in that Petter Northug could race all events, and Marit Bjorgen may be close behind, that eliminates potential start spots.  The men’s sprint team is full, or close depending on Northug.

I say 17, but this is one place where I could be off on the low side.

How it Plays Out

I predict 30 quota spots will be returned to the pool.  An additional 12 reallocation slots will be skipped.  I crossed out the skipped reallocation slots on the list.  This moves the 38th spot up to 25th.  If my assumptions are correct, this means 3 more Olympic spots for the US and the full team of 16 for Canada.

In an absolutely worst case scenario, where all teams took their maximum, the US would still gain one more spot, but Canada would not.  But this scenario is highly unlikely.

Certain:
US +1

Very Likely:
US +1
CAN +2

Likely:
US + 1
CAN +3

Still Looks Good:
US +2
CAN +5 (hits maximum CCC team size)

Not far Behind:
US +3

Longshot:
US +4

Conclusion

Ultimately, we won’t know until the 28th when spots are reallocated.  The above exercise includes significant guesswork and many assumptions.  I could be wrong in any number of areas.  But hopefully I am correct and both Canada and the US will end up with multiple additional spots.

Data

2010 Quota 2010 Assigned 06 Olympic Starters Est. 2010 Total Est. Reallocation Reallocation slots in top-38 Est. Spots Used Est. Spots Passed Est. Total Team
AUS

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

3

NZE

3

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

2

GBR

3

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

2

GRE

3

0

2

2

1

0

0

0

2

ROU

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

3

BUL

3

0

1

2

1

0

0

0

2

SPA

3

0

5

3

0

1

1

0

4

CHN

3

0

16

3

0

1

1

0

4

TUR

3

0

3

2

1

0

0

0

2

LTU

4

1

2

4

0

0

0

0

4

UKR

4

0

12

4

0

4

4

0

8

AUT

5

2

5

5

0

0

0

0

5

SVK

5

1

6

5

0

0

0

0

5

SLO

5

1

5

5

0

3

0

3

5

BLR

6

3

7

6

0

0

0

0

6

POL

7

3

3

4

3

1

0

1

4

JPN

8

5

10

8

0

0

0

0

8

USA

8

4

16

8

0

3

3

0

11

CZE

9

5

11

9

0

2

2

0

11

KAZ

10

7

16

10

0

1

1

0

11

EST

11

8

12

11

0

4

3

1

14

CAN

11

6

12

11

0

8

5

3

16

SUI

12

7

9

12

0

4

2

2

14

FRA

16

11

11

14

2

2

0

2

14

GER

18

12

13

15

3

2

0

2

15

ITA

20

13

17

17

3

0

0

0

17

NOR

20

13

15

17

3

0

0

0

17

RUS

20

13

18

18

2

0

0

0

18

SWE

20

13

14

16

4

0

0

0

16

FIN

20

14

13

15

5

0

0

0

15

TOTAL

30

14

Reallocation List

Rank

Nation

New Rank

1 FRA
2 USA 1
3 FRA
4 UKR 2
5 UKR 3
6 EST 4
7 UKR 5
8 CZE 6
9 SPA 7
10 SUI 8
11 FRA
12 CAN 9
13 CZE 10
14 SLO
15 CAN 11
16 EST 12
17 SUI 13
18 CAN 14
19 SUI
20 UKR 15
21 EST 16
22 FRA 17
23 KAZ 18
24 SLO
25 CHN 19
26 CAN 20
27 USA 21
28 GER
29 SLO
30 CAN 22
31 SUI
32 CAN
33 GER
34 POL
35 CAN
36 CAN
37 EST
38 USA 23
39 EST
40 CHN 24
41 BLR 25
42 BLR 26
43 KAZ 27
44 BLR
45 USA 28
46 CAN
47 CZE 29
48 EST 30
49 KAZ 31
50 CZE 32

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Avatar

Topher Sabot

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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8 comments

  • Avatar
    marshall

    January 19, 2010 at 11:54 am

    well done, Topher! was thinking about working on the same thing on the car ride home from the methow yesterday but figured i’d be puking from car sickness before i could come up with anything meaningful

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    January 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Well if nothing else, if I saved you from vomiting, it has been worthwhile 🙂

  • Avatar
    Cloxxki

    January 19, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Wow, that’s excellent guesswork, and it offers good background info to readers at the same time.

    Realistically, what would the US do with 2 or 4 additional spots?
    Assign them all to likely medal candidates the quota failed to accomodate for?
    Or take some reserves along for the relays which can fill up races that are not scheduled to be entered, basically fly the home colors and build on the future?

    Are costs not a concern anymore, crisis forgotten?

  • Avatar
    triguy

    January 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Excellent work Topher. I put together similar numbers last night so the folks up in the North could have an idea as well. My estimate put things a little more conservative at 25th on the re-allocation list getting a spot or 3-Can and 1-USA (same as your ‘likely’) Of course once you get around 30th on that list things could move quickly (like Canada not taking a 16th jumps all the way to USA at 38 based on your list).

    To answer Cloxxki, USA and CAN are looking to fill the additional quota positions with skiers to gain experience and fill niche roles on the team. We don’t have as many all-round skiers yet in NA so people tend to be good in skate or classic and long or short plus the sprinters. As well as attempting to fill the relay teams with the best possible skiers, or act as alternates in case someone is sick by the time the relay comes around. I know in Canada the public sentiment is to fill the full 4 starters per race since it is a home games.

  • Avatar
    imnxcguy

    January 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Hey Topher,
    Nice work on all the figuring. But I have to say, I will relay the same comment people give to ALL the time when I do s&%t like this: “Get a Life, Okay?”
    Mark

  • Avatar
    Mike Trecker

    January 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t know about Canada, but for the U.S. I know the relays are not a concern, not now, probably not 4 years from now. There would need to be substantial evidence that the U.S. could compete for a top 5 place in the relays for the staff to promote the importance of this event. The thinking behind this is simple; It is much more realistic that an individual can pop a great race than it is that 4 will all go great on the same day. I have spoken to numerous athletes and coaches competing and directing at this level over the last 15 years and the train of thought is nearly unanimous.

    Although we did have a great men’s relay in Salt Lake, it’s not in the cards right now. Any additional quota spots will be geared towards an individual’s chances at this Olympics with secondary thought about potential for 2014. There is also a chance that the U.S. would not fill their own quota if given another 4 spots total.

  • Avatar
    Cory Salmela

    January 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    It seems like 8 spots are appropriate for the US. The more athletes you add, the more distraction for the team and staff. For the best US results lets hope for a smaller team.

  • Avatar
    mandlim

    January 20, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Just to reiterate, amazing work. I love it. I also concur with Mike Trecker regarding the relay. Cory’s sentiment about a smaller team makes sense. However, with a few very worthy skiers waiting in the wings for the reallocation, my bias is that a little distraction does not outweigh providing the opportunity of a lifetime.

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