DFL

Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Qualifying Rules: Alpine Skiing

Last of a series looking at just how hard it is to get to the Olympics; see previous posts on biathlon and cross country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined, speed skating, short track, snowboarding, figure skating, freestyle skiing, curling and hockey, and bobsled, luge and skeleton.

Alpine skiing has an "ideal number" of 270 rather than a hard quota; there is, however, a quota of 22 athletes per country (14 men or 14 women, maximum, and no more than four per event). Athletes in the first 500 places in the FIS league table can qualify (subject to the country quotas, I suppose), and in the downhill, combined and Super G events, they can't have more than 120 points (as of November 2005).

There's also a basic quota of one male and one female athlete -- basic quotas are the provisions that allow countries who might not otherwise qualify to send athletes. This is why you see athletes from unexpected countries in alpine skiing events; cross-country skiing also has a basic quota. However, like cross-country skiing, you do have to be competitive in the literal sense: no more than 120 points in the downhill-ish events, no more than 140 points in the slalom-ish events.

Whatever the hell the points mean; clearly, more is worse.

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Late Results for Saturday, February 25

Alpine Skiing: The men's slalom ran today, and it was brutal: a total of 41 DNFs, as well as four DNSes and five disqualifications. In other words, more athletes were unable to complete the race (50) than put in a result (47). Amidst the carnage, in 47th place was Japanese skier Yasuhiro Ikuta, 26, whose time of 2:23.28 was more than 40 seconds off the pace. But at least he finished -- although I get the impression that alpine skiing is one of those events where it's not necessarily considered better to DFL than DNF.

Bobsled: In the men's four-man bobsled, the Brazilians came last. Yes, while Jamaica may not have qualified a team, Brazil did -- presumably through continental qualification (see previous entry for bobsled qualifying rules). Anyway, the boys from Brazil are Ricardo Raschini, 38, Marcio Silva, 25, Claudinei Quireno, 35, and Edson Bindilatti, 26; their time after three runs was 2:58.94, or 5.32 seconds off the pace at that point. Teams below 20th place didn't get a fourth run. There was one DNS.

Short Track: Three finals today, so three attempts at divining the last-place finisher in an event where time matters less than place, and there's heats.

Anthony Lobello (USA)
Evita Krievāne (Latvia)
In the men's 500-metre and women's 1,000-metre events, I'm awarding the DFL to the person who puts in the slowest non-advancing time in the heats (on the basis that if you have an even slower time but advance, usually it's because someone else was disqualified, meaning they interfered, and because you invariably put in a better result in a later race).

So, in the men's 500-metre heats on Wednesday, 21-year-old Anthony Lobello of the USA had the slowest non-advancing time: 1:13.722. Most other competitors had races in the 42-44 second range, so a fall is likely here. In the women's 1,000-metre heats, also on Wednesday, Latvian skater Evita Krievāne had the slowest non-advancing time: 1:39.986. Her time, on the other hand, was only a few seconds off the pace.

The men's 5,000-metre relay, on the other hand, was easy to figure out: the German team of Thomas Bauer, 21, Andre Hartwig, 22, Arian Nachbar, 29, and Sebastian Praus, 25, finished last (er, second) in the B final.

Katarzyna Wójcicka (Poland)Speed Skating: One event left -- the women's 5,000-metre, in which Katarzyna Wójcicka, 25, skating for Poland, finished 16th. Her time was 7:28.09, about 29 seconds off the pace. It's worth mentioning that this is Wójcicka's fourth event: she finished 10th in the 3,000-metre, eighth in the 1,000-metre and 11th in the 1,500-metre races. Don't for a moment think that last-place finishers are always in the back of the field; 'tain't always so.

Standings to date: With only one event still to report its last-place finisher -- the men's 50-km cross-country ski race -- we're almost there. Japan inches into second place, with as many last-place finishes as Romania but more than three times the athletes. Poland and Latvia move up the top 10, from eighth and ninth to sixth and seventh, respectively. Brazil, Germany and the USA add their second last-place finishes and move into the top 20.

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Early Results for Saturday, February 25

Kyoji Suga (Japan)Biathlon: The results for this morning's biathlon events are already in, so I'll report them now before the deluge of later events. In the men's 15-km mass start, 36-year-old Kyoji Suga of Japan finished 30th, 4:41.6 behind the gold medallist's time of 47:20. In the women's 12.5-km mass start, Polish skier Krystyna Pałka, 22, was also 30th, finishing 5:55 behind the gold medallist, whose time was 40:36.5.

Standings to date: Japan and Poland add another to their results; Japan moves into fourth place and Poland into eighth.

Later today: men's slalom, four-man bobsled, women's 5,000-metre speed skating, and in short track, the men's 500, women's 1,000 and men's 5,000-metre relay.

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Austrians Pee Cleanly

The urine tests on the Austrian biathletes and cross-country skiers conducted during the police raid on their residence last weekend came back negative, but the investigation continues. (Blood tests were not conducted at the time because they would have affected the outcome of their races, but they have been done since.)

See previous entries: Results for Sunday, February 19; Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Austrian Edition; Austrian Doping Scandal Update.

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