Last season was quite unusual. Martin Fourcade and Tora Berger won the overall titles with record scores and record gaps to second place. How do the 2012–13 World Cup points compare to previous years and how has the point distribution developed since 2001–02?
Note: The World Cup points system was changed after 2007–08 (50, 46, 43, … → 60, 54, 48, …). Plus several minor changes in the number of dropped worst results.
The chart above shows how much of the possible World Cup points (last year: 1440p = 60p*24, 2 dropped scores) the season’s top 6 have won. Fourcade set a new record, claiming 1248 points (86.7 %), surpassing Raphael Poiree‘s previous mark, who had won 81.3 % of all possible points in 2003–04. Fourcade’s gap to second place was also unprecedented last year: 421 points, or 50.1 % more than Emil Hegle Svendsen.
Naturally, the 2008–09 season brought some big changes: with 10 more athletes awarded World Cup points, the share of points won by the men’s top 30 or top 40 decreased by roughly 10 % in one year. In general, the top athletes win slightly less points today than they did in 2001–02. The biggest differences in the share of won points occurred for the season’s top 10 (43.4 % → 32.3 %, -11.1 %) and top 20 (65.5 % →55.6 %, -9.9 %).
Tora Berger set a new record last season as well, winning 85.7 % of all points available. She beat Magdalena Neuner‘s record (84.4 %) from one year earlier. There are huge differences between the last two seasons though: 2011–12 was a hard fought battle between four (!) athletes who won at least 70 % of the max points, in 2012–13 second-placed Darya Domracheva only claimed 64 %.
The points for the top female athletes didn’t decline as much as for the men. In 2001–02 the top 10 won 44.4 % of all points, in 2012–13 it was 37.1 % (-7.3 %). The top women win a slightly bigger share of all World Cup points (3-5 %), indicating weaker competition from lower ranked athletes.
Generally, World Cup points are shared more broadly today compared to 12 years ago, which might point to more depth in World Cup fields. However, at least part of that is due to the changed points system. The 2012–13 season was extremely lopsided (for men and women alike); hopefully not the start of a trend but only a one-time anomaly.