Given the comments on my last post, I thought I’d verify things by altering the second graph to display the race type:
Now the difference is very clear. I’ve combined the mass start and pursuit races into just one category (Mass). So clearly for the men the story here is different race tactics in mass start events.
I’m still curious, though, at why in the 90′s the men’s races saw a high degree of consistency in the margin between 1st and 2nd in interval start races, while the women saw less. Specifically, what we’re seeing here is that in the 90′s the gap between the 1st and 2nd woman in an interval start race was much more likely to be close than it was in a men’s interval start race.
That, I suppose, would more plausibly be related to the particulars of the fields at that time, or as one of my commenters pointed out the presence of Björn Daehlie (and Smirnov) whereas the women’s side didn’t have anyone quite so dominant. My recollection was that some of the Russian women were pretty darn dominant at that time, but maybe not as much as I’d remembered.