I haven’t posted very much regarding domestic racing here in the US or Canada. There are several reasons for this:
- Useful and meaningful performance measures are harder to come by. FIS points start getting somewhat wishy-washy when you start having to assume that the penalty system is accurately capturing the strength of the field. Not saying it’s terrible, but I’ve just been cautious about it, is all.
- Generally speaking, I have a lot less data on domestic racers. I only really capture events that are FIS sanctioned, and that omits a large number of races here in the US/CAN with fast skiers.
- I know (or are friends of friends) with a some of these folks, and it feels weird sometimes talking about them “analytically”.
Still, I ought to pause for a bit after US Nationals and post something. So here it goes. Distance FIS point trends for a selection of top US men and women (excluding US Ski Team members):
There’s no grand conspiracy regarding who I chose to graph here. I asked around for some suggestions about who might be interesting to look at, got a list of names too long to really tackle and narrowed it down based on who’s data seemed the most interesting to me.
A couple of observations:
- Lars Flora’s resurgence is fairly clear, but his graph also shows that he was trending slower for a solid 3-4 seasons. So it’s not exactly like Flora was super fast, had one or two bad years, and has since recovered. Also, he’s arguably skiing faster now than he was in 2003 or 2004.
- Most of the other guys here have shown results that more or less track their previous trajectories.
- Leif Zimmerman and Tad Elliott both have shown some excellent races and some not so good. In Elliott’s case this is almost entirely a technique differential; in Zimmerman’s case, I think he just had some rough races.
- I included Jesse Diggins mostly to show how little I can say about younger skiers for whom I have almost no data. I mean, she’s skiing super fast, but that’s not particularly newsworthy.
- Evelyn Dong and Kate Fitzgerald are both significantly faster than last season. However, we should keep in mind that it’s much, much easier for women to jump from 135 FIS points to 80-90 FIS points than it is for someone like Holly Brooks to move from ~60 FIS points down to even 35-40 FIS points. Obviously, that’s no knock on Dong or Fitzgerald, who’ve clearly made a jump this season.
- Holly Brooks has been skiing well, obviously, but to my eyes not dramatically faster than last year, relative to the domestic field.
- Caitlin Compton’s clearly had a bit of a rough start to the season with a few decent, but not great races, but also some pretty terrible ones as well.
I played with various ways of looking at domestic sprint racing, but eventually gave up. From a data analysis perspective it’s just a mess.
A more detailed look at these skiers results against each other to come in a subsequent post.