Image Credits: Athlete’s Eye
We’re in the third year of the Open-Quarterfinal-Semifinal-Games season structure. This year does have a few nuances that are different, but the general path is the same. The question we’re after today is, is there any pattern that’s emerged so far about how well Semifinal winners can be expected to do at the Games?
2021 Semifinal Winners
Keep in mind that in 2021 some of the Semifinals took place online, and online qualifiers in general don’t do as good of a job of filtering the field when it comes to specific skills, not necessarily just things that can be tested in a workout, as live competitions do.
|Lowlands*||Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson||4th|
|West Coast||Cole Sager||14th|
|Cape Town||Jason Smith||26th|
A triage of sorts when it comes to the predictive success of male Semifinal winners in 2021. Four finishes in the top 6 is excellent. Three finishers in the teens is pretty good. And the bottom three finishers here maybe not as good as you’d hope for, granted the winner of Asia didn’t even show up that year.
|MACC||Tia Clair Toomey||1st|
|Cape Town||Michelle Basnett||32nd|
|West Coast||Bethany Shadburne||DNS|
A pretty brutal season for the women, three of the ten semifinal winners didn’t even start the competition (one drug failure, one didn’t make the trip- she’s also serving a drug suspension now, and the other due to Covid), add in the withdraw from Saunders and that’s nearly half of them that didn’t even have a chance.
Of the remaining six it was similar to the men: 2 very good, two above average, two near the bottom.
But that’s only one data set.
2022 Semifinal Winners
All Semifinals took place in person this year, and a lot more of the winners ended up competing at the Games. So overall, this should be considered a more valuable set of data for us to draw from.
|Far East||Roman Khrennikov||2nd|
|Copa Sur||Gui Malheiros||10th|
|Strength in Depth||Willy Georges||17th|
|Cape Town||Kealan Henry||DNF|
The best possible scenario, or a perfect correlate, would be to have the ten Semifinal winners finish first through tenth at the Games. Six of the ten finished 11th or better, two more were still within the top 17, with one finish below that (note that Jay Crouch barely beat Ricky Garard at the Semis, and if Garard were in this list that would make it even more impressive). And then one withdrew due to injury.
|Strength in Depth||Jacqueline Dahlstrom||15th|
|Far East||Seungyeon Choi||26th|
|Copa Sur||Victoria Campos||33rd|
|Cape Town||Michelle Merand||39th|
This looks very good. Six of the top ten. Another finish of 15th. And three finishes outside the top 25 from the three Semifinals who get the least Games representation.
Combined that’s 12 of 20 finishers between men and women who were 11th or better. Now, if we take only the North American and European winners those numbers look even better:
- 4 out of 6 men 11th or better, all of them in the top 17
- 5 out of 6 women in the top 9, all of them in the top 15
Knowing that, let’s take a look at the Semifinal winners this year.
2023 Semifinal Winners
Image Credit: Carlos Bown
|Competition||Male Winner||Female Winner|
|NA East||Jeff Adler||Emma Cary|
|NA West||Pat Vellner||Alex Gazan|
|Europe||Lazar Dukic||Gabriela Migala|
|Copa Sur||Kaique Cerveny||Victoria Campos|
|Torian||Jay Crouch||Ellie Turner|
|Cape Town||Jason Smith||Michelle Basnett|
|Far East||Arthur Semenov||Seher Kaya|
The safe bets are that the winners of the North American and European Semifinals should be at worst in the top 15 at the Games this year, and more likely than not, within the top-ten.
As for the winners from the other four Semifinals, they haven’t shown the same consistency, and the expectation therefore should not be as high.
Knowing that the number of North American and European Semifinals have been reduced from a total of six to a total of three, the second place finishers from each of those should also be in line for an impressive finish at the Games this year:
|Competition||Male Runner Up||Female Runner Up|
|NA East||Jayson Hopper||Danielle Brandon|
|NA West||Brent Fikowski||Katrin Davidsdottir|
|Europe||Henrik Haapalainen||Annie Thorisdottir|
If a similar pattern can be expected from last season, we can project 4 or 5 of the top 6 (top 2 at each) finishers in North America and Europe to be in the top ten on both the men’s and women’s side. For some of those athletes that’s expected (Vellner, Adler, Brandon, Thorisdottir etc), for others it would be a nice step forward from last year’s (or two years ago) finishes: (Cary, Gazan, Fikowski, Haapalainen).