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How to Win the Michigan Cup

Fri, Oct  6, 2006 - By Hugh Pritchard

The Michigan Cup is won by the team scoring the most points. Those points come from the sum of the scores of the 30 (38 from 2007) highest-scoring individuals, the team’s score from the relay races, and a few based on the number of members a team has (more members, more points). An individual’s score is the sum of the points from their best five races; the relays are a mystery to me so I will leave them to those who know better, but most of each team's points come from their individual members’ finishes in the races of the Michigan Cup.

For a team to score highly, it needs a lot of racers doing five races. How well these racers do is less important than doing five: a racer who finishes 40th in 5 races has the same score as one who wins four races. For example, our own Doug Cornell may not be as fast a skier as Milan Baic, but because he did five races whereas Milan did only four, Doug appears in the Cup rankings just above Milan, and contributed more points to his team’s score than Milan did – thanks Doug (and thanks to Milan for having other fish to fry). Conversely, a fanatic who does all the races still only counts the points from their best five.

 

 

Team Points

Finishes Counted

Number of members

Members who did 5 races

  2006 2005 2006 2005 2006 2005 2006 2005

SS

23,357

20,077

141

122

54

47

24

44%

14

CCSH

23,027

19,207

146

122

63

62

27

43%

15

NSR

21,732

19,578

130

116

44

37

21

48%

14

GRNST

19,394

18,222

116

107

32

36

16

50%

14

TNSC

17,362

15,235

106

93

35

40

11

31%

8

CCSS

15,506

15,035

95

91

38

31

6

16%

8

OHIO

4,440

4,196

30

28

11

13

1

9%

1

OE

2,767

2,813

17

16

5

7

3

60%

1

Table 1 – points,finishes, members

 

 

The table above shows the make-up of the teams’ scores and scorers. What it shows is that in 2005, when Team NordicSkiRacer.com won, we did not have a particularly big team (we were 4th biggest); however, even the teams that were much bigger than us did not have more people doing five races than we did. We had much the same number of racers with five results as the other teams, and therefore a team score that was pretty close to the Striders and the HQ (we moved ahead at the last hour by doing well at the relays – a result of careful planning aswell as good skiing and large turnout).

In 2006, we did not win, despite big improvements: in 2005, 14 NSR skiers did five races;in 2006 it was 21, and our top 30 racers accumulated over 2,000 points more than the previous year. However, the Striders and the Headquarters did even better, increasing to 24 and 27 respectively, with the HQ gaining nearly 4,000 points.

At the ‘sharp end’, NSR stands up very well. If the Cup rules counted only a team’s best 10 racers, rather than the best 30, we would have been on top last winter, as the table below shows:

 

2006 – best 10 only to score

1

NSR

9,509

2

GRNST

9,471

3

SS

9,235

4

CCSH

8,909

5

TNSC

8,790

6

CCSS

8,144

7

OHIO

4,348

8

OE

2,767

Table 2 – 10 to score

Clearly, the differences are in each team’s ‘tail’ – the racers who are not at the front. A ‘long tail’ such as the HQ’s (63 people raced for the HQ last winter) does not contribute directly to the team’s score (apart from the few capitation points), but in fact plenty of these 63 skiers, even outside the top 30, are nonetheless doing four or five races. NSR, in contrast, has comparatively few skiers outside the front end, and far fewer doing a lot of races.

Some more statistics from 2006:

  • The 30 highest-scoring NSR racers (i.e. those who counted towards the team’s total) scored an average of 167 points per race, with 130 finishes counting towards the team score.
  • In comparison, the Striders counted 141 race finishes, at an average of 166 points per finish; the Headquarters counted 146 finishes at an average of 158 points.
  • Before the relays, NSR was 1,625 points behind the leaders: if the 9 scoring team members who had done fewer than 5 races had another 11 finishes between them, we would have been in the lead.

So, what happened last year was that NSR racers were generally very slightly faster than the Striders or the HQ, but did not do as many races (of course, part of this difference is that, generally, the people who do fewer races tend to be slower than those who do more).

What difference will next year’s scoring make, with teams counting their 38 highest-scoring individuals? The next eight team members in the rankings from 2006 for each team would have had the following impact on 2006’s scores:

 

Additional points

Additional finishes counted

Additional racers with 5 finishes

SS

2,732

22

0

CCSH

4,011

36

6

NSR

2,054

16

0

GRNST

228

2

0

TNSC

632

5

0

CCSS

832

8

0

OHIO

0

0

0

OE

0

0

0

Table 3 – impact of the extra 8 racers

Interestingly, the HQ would have benefited much more than the Striders, enabling them to move up to first place – even their lower scorers are doing five races. NSR would have fallen further behind those two teams, but moved further ahead of the teams behind us. Obviously, the bigger teams gain more, and the smallest gain nothing at all, so team size is emphasized, and the standard of a team’s best racers becomes less important.

One of the Michigan Cup’s stated objectives is to encourage participation in ski racing. Clearly, the increase to counting 38 members encourages teams to work on their lower scorers (which generally means getting less frequent racers to do more races); whether it will encourage the smaller teams to grow remains to be seen, and the extent to which it discourages new teams from starting up is impossible to tell.