Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USA v Canada - a quick look at WOC results


I spent a few minutes comparing recent (2005-2009) US and Canadian WOC results. I was inspired after reading this on Attackpoint:

USA closes the gap with Canada.... winning the Kjellstrom Cup at the NAOC.. and now in WOC qualifying heats... USA Women 6 Canada Women 3... USA Men 5 Canada Men 4.... Overall 11-7 in favor of the USA!!!

"Closes the gap"?

Over the years, I've used various measures of the US WOC performances and never really noticed a gap between the US and Canada. I decided to take a quick look at a very simple way of comparing the two nations. I counted the number of WOC finalists and compared the relay results. I looked at the period of 2005-2009 and found:

Canada has had 8 WOC finalists versus 7 for the US.

USA has 6 relay wins against Canada, while Canada has had 4.

Canada performed much better than the US in 2008. Canada had 4 final qualifiers while the US had none. But then in 2009, the US had 3 qualifiers and Canada had just one.

I don't see much of a performance gap between the two nations. At a quick glance, the biggest gap is at the very top end. Canada has a top ten placing through Sandy Hott's 2005 middle distance race in Japan. The best US result is a 29th place.

This year, the US has 4 final qualifiers compared to just one for Canada (unless I'm missing someone, I'm not actually looking at the results list).

As an aside, I'm not a big fan of using qualifying for the final as a performance measure. It is a bit rough. It treats finishing a few seconds out of qualifying the same as missing the final by ten minutes. To some extent, it diminishes the results of people who may have had good runs that didn't qualify them for the final. On the other hand, it is a quick and easy measure and "qualifying for the finals" seems to be a common goal of runners from Canada and the US.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


why go to woc if you just want to beat Canada?
People aren't going to WOC to beat Canada so much as people are evaluating the team's performance by comparing to Canada. It seems to be an approach that has traction even if it isn't a great way to measure performance.

Why doesn't Canada aim higher?
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