Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

US winning percentage at WOC 2003


I calculated the U.S. orienteering winning percentage against ten of the "peer nations" I picked. For each race, I compared the U.S. orienteer's result to the other nation. If the U.S. finished ahead, the U.S. got a point. Otherwise the other nation got a point. In finals, it worked a bit differently. If the U.S. qualified and another nation didn't, I gave the U.S. a point. If two U.S. orienteers had qualified and none from another nation qualified, I'd give the U.S. two points.

I used the wins and losses to calculate a winning percentage (like in baseball):

US Winning Percentages

For each nation I list the number of US wins and losses and the winning percent.

Ireland (11/3) 0.786
Portugal (7/4) 0.636
Canada (11/8) 0.579
Japan (9/8) 0.529
Belgium (8/10) 0.444
New Zealand (6/15) 0.286
Bulgaria (4/15) 0.211
Slovakia (4/16) 0.200
Poland (1/19) 0.050
France (1/23) 0.042

To make sense of the table, look at Ireland. What it shows is that there were 14 chances for a U.S. orienteer to compete against an Irish orienteer. In those 14 chances, the U.S. won 11 of them (78.6 percent of the time).

The number of chances differ among nations. For example, the U.S. only competed against Portugal 11 times. That's because Portugal didn't have a men's or women's relay team and didn't have a runner in each of the qualifying races.

Notes, thoughts, conclusions?

Well, it looks like Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and France are too good to be considered by a lot of people as "peer nations." I could make an argument for keeping them, but I wouldn't convince many people.

I should do the same scoring for the same nations in 2001. It'd be interesting to compare. I would expect that the U.S. did a lot better in 2003 because in 2001, the best U.S. men didn't go to the WOC.

I like the head-to-head scoring as a way to think about competition goals. If a team bought into it as a goal, it'd be important for everyone on the team to do their best. Even if you were having a bad run, it'd be worth pushing and fighting to the end because you never know when someone from one of the peer nations would have an even worse run. And a point by the fourth person on the U.S. team is worth the same as a point by the best person on the U.S. team.

I did some of the same scoring a few days ago and got some different results. I don't expect it'd make any substantial differences (the U.S. wouldn't be better than France, for example), but I should double check the data.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM


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