Expert statistician Mark Shilton dishes up the final figures of the year from Hafjell!
Big thanks to Mark for his amazing number crunching work this year!
Words and charts: Mark Shilton
It only seems like yesterday that I sat down and started writing my first Look At The Stats! way back in March and now the season is over. Hafjell was a fitting finale with a great course, another debut winner in Steve Smith, a bunch of new faces joining the regulars of Minnaar, the Athertons Gee and Rachel and Ragot and up the leaderboard although Aaron Gwin was missing after picking up an injury in practice.
A race of firsts with Steve Smith’s first win and George Brannigan’s debut podium. Brannigan very nearly took the win, only 0.4 seconds back whilst no one else could get within 2 seconds of Smith. Minnaar and Atherton consolidated their 2nd and 3rd overall with 3rd and 4th on the day. Gee must be wondering what he has to do to win a World Cup. It has been 17 World Cup and World Championship races since his last win at Windham in 2010 but amazingly he has been on the podium 14 times!
George Brannigan must be kicking himself for a poor top section in this race. Steve Smith laid the foundations for the win with the fastest Sector 1 but Brannigan only managed 12th fastest over 1.6 seconds back. As we’ll see, he very nearly clawed that time back but in a World Cup that is an age at the first split.
Fresh from going top 5 in the woods at Leogang Bryn Atkinson had a fast start only 0.3 seconds back and 20 year old American Eliiot Jackson also got off to a flier with 6th fastest but he had problems further down to end up 30th.
This was where Brannigan started to claw back the time he lost in Sector 1 pulling back 0.4 seconds on Smith. Mitch Delfs also put in a quick Sector 2 but only went 43rd and 76th in Sectors 1 and 3 to end up 47th overall. There were a few other riders who made up time in the rocks in Sector 2. Sam Hill was 4th fastest, Brendan Fairclough 7th and Josh Bryceland 8th which helped them to 7th, 10th and 8th respectively overall.
Into the final Sector and Brannigan ate further into Steve Smith’s advantage, going over 0.8 seconds faster than Smith. This looks even more impressive when you consider the gap from Smith to Mick Hannah in 20th place was only 2.5 seconds. Ultimately though, Brannigan left himself with too much to do after giving away over 1.6 seconds in the first sector. Greg Minnaar managed to cement his second place overall with a final sector time that was 0.7 seconds faster than Gee Atherton.
Steve Smith’s consistency across all three sectors told in a race where so many riders seemed to have at least one bad section. Brannigan lost out in Sector 1, Minnaar and Atherton were consistent but hovering around 5th to 7th in most Sectors apart from Minnaars 3rd in Sector 3. Nick Beer started quickly but faded to 9th and 11th in Sectors 2 and 3. Cameron Cole lost out in Sector 2 with only 16th fastest whilst Mick Hannah, Neko Mullaly and Bryn Atkinson all started fast but couldn’t put together a full run at that pace.
So this is it, the final chance to Look At The Stats! for the 2012 World Cup season with the Women’s race from Hafjell. What a finale it was! Unlike the Men the overall Women’s race went right to the wire but Rachel Atherton held off Emmeline Ragot to take the win and the overall despite missing Round 1 in Pietermaritzburg. Ragot would have been desperate to beat Atherton and take the overall but where was it won and lost?
Overall Ragot and Atherton were streets ahead of the rest of the field in Hafjell. While only 2.2 seconds separated the top two, Morgane Charre was nearly 9 seconds back in 3rd place. Charre and Casey Brown proved their World Champs performances were no fluke however, with 3rd and 4th place respectively. Tahnee Seagrave got her first ever top 10 at a World Cup in 9th place and sealed the Junior overall in the process.
Ragot certainly wasn’t going down without a fight as she took a slender lead in Sector 1. The only woman anywhere near this pair was Manon Carpenter who was within a second of Ragot here after qualifying 2nd. Unfortunately she crashed out in Sector 2, ruining her chances of a happy end to a mixed season marred by injury. Charre and Brown were already 3.5-4 seconds back by this point.
Times were a lot tighter in Sector 2 but crucially Atherton managed to wipe out her deficit with the fastest time – 1.2 seconds faster than Ragot. Charre and Brown were leading the chase about 2.5 seconds back. By this point Brown had a 0.8 second advantage over Charre in the battle for 3rd place. Tahnee Seagrave was having a great race at this point placing 6th in both Sector 1 and 2.
In Sector 3 Atherton underlined her dominance since returning from injury, putting another 1.2 seconds into Ragot to take the win by 2.2 seconds and the overall by 140 points. Casey Brown missed out on 3rd spot in Sector 3, losing nearly 2.7 seconds to Morgane Charre meaning Charre crossed the line 1.8 seconds up. Tahnee Seagrave also slide down the rankings in Sector 3, only managing 18th fastest on the Sector and dropping to 9th overall but still registering her best ever World Cup result.
On the heatmap we can see the consistency and speed of Ragot and Atherton – monopolising the top 2 positions throughout. Brown and Charre shared out the 3rd and 4th places but Jacquleine Harmony might wonder what happened in Sector 1 with only 12th fastest. Anita Molick and Anita Ager-Wick lost out in Sector 2 with 16th and 15th respectively whilst Seagrave’s Sector 3 stands out as the reason she dropped down to 9th overall after a good first two-thirds of the race.
In the end, the Men’s and Women’s winners managed to do take the title whilst missing a race each. In that respect it looks like a dull series but in both the Men and Women there have been some stand out performances by younger riders such as Charre, Brown, Carpenter and Seagrave in the Women and wins for Smith and MacDonald in the Men. All of this points to a bright future for the sport and the potential for some great racing in 2013. I’m excited already!
So for 2012, that’s all folks! It’s been great fun getting stuck into this and thanks all you readers and Dirt Magazine for humouring my geeky musings. With any luck I’ll be back next year with some even more shiny charts and graphs for you to geek out with. Bye for now!