Yesterday I wrote about Real Biathlon’s anaylsis of shooting performance over the past 12 years. There is also an analysis of ski speed over the past 12 years on the website, in this post.
Like shooting performances, the analysis of ski speeds suggests that biathletes are getting better (faster). According to the data, the men are now 6.5% faster and the women are 2.8% faster than they were 12 years ago.
I use the word “suggests” because I am not as confident of the conclusions that can be drawn from the data. When you analyze shooting you are looking at results, either a hit or a miss. So we can conclude that the shooting results have improved without a doubt. The cause of this improvement is uncertain, and is the subject of an interesting debate.
However when it comes to skiing, there are many factors that impact ski times, including weather conditions, snow conditions, the courses, and how close the races are. I am not sure how accurate a comparison of ski speeds over the course of a year can be. I would expect that ski speeds would have increased over the past 12 years, and I agree that improved technology is probably an important factor in any increase. However I think there are a few too many variable factors that have a big impact on ski speed for the results of this analysis to be relied upon. The difficulty in comparing ski speed is acknowledged in the post, and in any event it still is interesting to see.