I’ve talked about the amusing notion of victims and nemeses before. Let’s look at some extreme cases. Remember that a victim is someone you beat by a small margin (rather arbitrarily chosen by me to be less than or equal to ten seconds). A nemesis is just the reverse: someone who beats you by such a small margin.
If this happened a lot between two particular skiers, one could perhaps suggest some sort of rivalry is taking place. <1 So how often could this happen between two skiers?
Well, quite a lot, it turns out. Looking at every single race in my database, Pietro Piller Cottrer has beaten Vincent Vittoz by a margin of no more than 10 seconds a whopping 26 times. Conversely, Vittoz has returned the favor 21 times. On the women’s side, we’ve got an intra-Italian feud with Gabriella Paruzzi edging Sabina Valbusa a total of 21 times, while Valbusa edged out Paruzzi 14 times.
Limiting ourselves to more recent territory, the 2009-2010 season, we get the rather one sided rivalry of Northug vs. Teichmann, where Northug defeated Teichmann by no more than 10 seconds seven times in just one season. And Teichmann? Not once. Poor guy. There isn’t a similarly stand-out example for the women. Instead, we’ve got two matchups where the score is 5-0. We’ve got Arianna Follis getting the better of Aino-Kaisa Saarinen 5 times to nothing, and also Marianna Longa tormenting Karine Philippot by the same score.
What about the apparently oft hyped Northug/Hellner rivalry? Well, in close races (and all seasons) it doesn’t appear to be much of a contest. We’ve got 12 victories for Northug by less than 10 seconds and only 2 for Hellner. Someone needs to work on their sprinting.
The equivalent rivalry for the women is clearly Marit vs. Justyna. This actually lives up to its hype somewhat, with 8 narrow victories for Marit and 7 for Justyna.
- And let’s be honest. Even if there isn’t one, it’s fun to drum them up. <↩