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I’ll start with a correction.  In our report on the Women’s 15km Mass Start in La Clusaz, we incorrectly reported the total number of Marit Bjoergen’s World Cup victories. The article has now been corrected.

A representative of the International Ski Federation (FIS) politely informed us that victories in stages of the Tour de Ski, World Cup Finals, and mini-tours do NOT count as World Cup victories.

This policy is confusing, and honestly seems foolish.  It is certainly not one of the critical issues facing elite cross-country skiing, but it is worth noting.

There is a podium ceremony following those races, there is prize money, FIS points are awarded, and World Cup points (albeit half the usual) distributed. The races are just as hard,and take just as much toll on the athletes.

This means that Ivan Babikov, who posted the top time in the Final Climb of the Tour de Ski in 2009, does not have a World Cup win.

And if win’s don’t count, does that mean all results are meaningless?  If I write an article on Devon Kershaw, and want to compare a recent race to his top World Cup finishes ever, should I ignore Tour de Ski results? How do I total Kershaw’s World Cup top-10′s?

Kershaw has two top-3 finishes in Tour de Ski events, but technically FIS does not count those as World Cup podium appearances.

I am sure there is a reason for this, but I can’t imagine a very good one.

This also explains the frustrating nature of the FIS database.  If you select an athlete and request World Cup results, individual races in the multi-day events do not display.  You need to select Tour de Ski, World Cup Finals, etc, individually to see these results.

A win should be a win whether or not it takes place in the Tour de Ski or the Davos World Cups.

4 Responses to “What Makes a Win?”

  1. Martin Hall Says:

    Right on Topher—for all your points made—be sure to get Kikkan to put this on her list of things to get the FIS straightened out on, as the Athlete’s Rep, at the FIS’s spring meetings. Sometimes I don’t understand how FIS comes up with their rationale.

  2. JoranElias Says:

    Glad I’m not alone on this one! Personally, I don’t think the article needed much correcting. I think it’s perfectly legit to report the “official” tally along with a short explanation of alternate tallies as well, which is what I feel like you did.

  3. Tim Kelley Says:

    Another big discrepancy of FIS World Cup data is its lack of data from the first years of the World Cup. If I am correct, the FIS made an administrative decision that the World Cup officially started in 1981. And that’s as far as their database goes back. But that date does not reflect reality. The first FIS World Cup race was in 1977 (and the women’s race was won by an American). For the rest of the 70’s skiers competed for the overall World Cup titles and skiers would get WC win and point accumulation bonuses as part of their contracts with equipment companies. So the cross country skiing World Cup was very much in existence prior to when the FIS says it “officially” started.

    But these 1977 to 1980 World Cup results were declared as non-existent when some FIS administrator decided to re-write xc ski racing history. Why was this done? I don’t know. But my guess would be that the data from these first years of the World Cup was not available digitally. Or the data was not available in a database format that the FIS could use. And likely the FIS decided that to “officially ignore” the first years of the World Cup would be easier than researching the data and loading it into their current database.

  4. JoranElias Says:

    Some more details on the timeline Tim describes can be found here:

    http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/insidefis/history/fishistory.html

    Although I don’t know for sure, I strongly suspect the absence of records pre-1992 on their website is entirely a logistical issue. I think entering all those records would be worthwhile, but I can say from first hand experience that it is a time consuming (and hence expensive) endeavor.

    Tim, I’m working on a project related to this issue. If you have access to old WC results (on paper) shoot me an email, I might be able to put them to good use.