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WSSA Rankings 2013 Statistics

All 6 years skater organizations and enthusiasts conducted more and more WSS contests worldwide with steadily increasing number of participants. The growth didn't slow down even by occasional problems in major slalom countries. Let's check out if it continued in 2013. The contests count was changed to more natural way: by events themselves, not by classics and battles separately. This method will be applied to WSS 2008-2012 Statistics research and necessary recount is to be made soon.

Competitions

There are 84 events in the list which is 3 less than in 2012:

  • 11 «Δ» or "0c" (+1 from 2012)
  • 51 «Δ» or "1c" (-3)
  • 13 «ΔΔ» or "2c" (-2)
  •   7 «ΔΔΔ» or "3c" (+1)
  •   2 «ΔΔΔΔ» or "4c"

The number of major events almost got to its limit: 2/2 for "4 cones", 7/8 for "3 cones". 4 was in Europe and 3 in Asia. Senegal (Africa) is considered to belong to Asian region. Let's wait for one more African country to make a special count for African region. There are additionally Schengen zone and visa-free zone of Russia-Ukraine-Belarus on the chart.

Competitions 2013 in countries

Competitions 2013 in countries

  • 53 (+1) events, 63% (+3%) in Europe
  • 15 (-2) events, 18% (-1,5%) in Asia
  • 6 (-1) events, 7% (-0,5%) in North America
  • 10 (-1) events, 12% (-1%) in South America

It looks like the number of contests has reached its saturation point with accordance to the current slalom development level. Almost every weekend somewhere on the planet a WSS event takes place, 'cause there were 84 of them in 52 weeks. Sometimes 3-4 events in different places had the the same date. It doesn't seem there's a need for much more, since the number of ranked skaters didn't grow fast with almost the equal number of competitions in 2012 and 2013. Events distribution by regions remained almost the same.

The next diagram is dedicated to classic/battle stats of 2013. There were 115 slalom competitions in 84 events. Battles (red colors) prevail more and more over classic competitions (blue colors) pushing them slowly to high level events. North America had none of them this year. Even Asia, where classic was always in favor, organized more battles (12 vs 11). Only Europe keeps steady proportion of 1 to 3 between the two types of freestyle contests.

The number of events organizing countries remained 27. There were changes among "one event" countries: Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Ireland were replaced by Greece, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hungary. The countries on the diagram below are ranked by their "golden cones weight". It's counted as a golden cones sum of organized events. Value of a "grey cone" is 0.1 to make a difference in case of equal golden ones. The leader is still the same - France with 11.1 golden cones, the only country which had more than 10. The 2nd is Italy (9.2), 3rd - Cnina (9), 4th - Spain (8) and 5th - Russia with 7.2. White numbers at the bases of the columns are integer "g.c. weight".

Events 2013 by countries

This report is not a part of a larger research yet, thus some of long-term diagrams could be useful here to contemplate current tendencies of the slalom world.

Events 2013 by countries

Almost linear yearly growth of competitions number had reached its limit in 2013. Well, it had to happen sooner or later. If no drastic changes will occur we can expect stable events number with possible mild growth over years. Statistic data of 2014 will possibly confirm this assumption.

We had less classic competitions this year in total (38->34), but slightly more in Europe. As for battles, they keep to be preferred type of competition everywhere. And it's sad to see lessening number of classic performances in basic events ("0c" and "1c"). Even some of "2c" events had only battles.

Battles and classic 2013 in regions

Skaters

The number of skaters continued to increase in the Rankings. Though cherished 1000 for men and 500 for women were not gained, they became a little closer:

Discipline Dec'13 Dec'12 Out In Δ %
Style M 922 902 -508

+528

+20 +2,2%
Style W 482 407 -216 +292 +76 +18,7%
Speed M 843 826

-454

+471 +17 +2%
Speed W 418 392 -215 +241 +26 +6,6%

Number of riders in disciplines

Obviously Women Freestyle has the largest gain and other disciplines feel fine. The table also shows that every gain is based on fragile balance between huge inflows and outflows of skaters. That's true for all passed years and 2013 is no exception. It's interesting, are we close to saturation not only in the contests number but in the number of male skaters as well? It looks like female slalom still keeps steady growth. A total skaters number is very indicative but not the only mark we have. If more than 50% people in the Rankings are in yearly turnover, which part has an aim for success? Let's have a look at the chart of active skaters.

Number of active skaters

The number of successful and therefore active skaters is determined by a 500 points threshold for Freestyle and 400 points for Speed. This mark is described in the research of WSSA Rankings 2007-2012. Starting from 2013 resulting points in Freestyle are a sum of 5 best points and 4 best points in other disciplines. Because of that the threshold had to be raised up to 500. This mark roughly shows that numbers of dedicated skaters didn't change much. It's a good and promising thing that interest to slalom among women grows year by year. Behind steep up and down line of Men Freestyle and rather smooth Men Speed we don't see any steady growth. Well, it's likely there are 10-15% of active skaters in the Rankings which is not few at all. Slightly over 300 people in the world take participating in WSS events seriously.

Slalom Disciplines

Men Freestyle Slalom 2013

Due to a strong presence in top-100 Russia didn't fall below 3rd place in the first half of the year. The former leader of Russian ranking Viktor Meleshkevich went down and from March to September there were no Russians at the top. In the 2nd half of the year young Timchenko brothers, Alexander and Sergey, started their ascent to the upper Ranking lines and entered top-10 in October. 2 rising heroes, total 20 (!) skaters in top-100 and good total number (61->63) defined the leading position of Russia since August. France's level was steady despite leaps of its skaters number. Romain Lebois kept the 1st line for himself the whole year. He was accompanied in top-10 by Claris Alexandre and veteran Igor Cheremetieff who left it in August. As a result France (72->82) had 1st place at the start and then 2nd after Russia. Chinese level went up only at the end of the year - from 3rd it stepped up on 2nd, pushing France to 3rd. The reason for that was gathering of 5 Chinese riders in top-20. They didn't leave without attention top-10 where in April Ye Hao Qin joined Guo Fang, then Zhang Hao came in August and replaced Guo Fang there. After incredible skaters numbers in the previous years China have to compete for its level with other leading countries having high but reasonable number of skates at the year's end (108->70). There are less and less Koreans in the Ranking (18->9), but some of them are still among the best: Lee Choong Goon and Yu Jin Seong didn't go below 7th line usually staying in top-5. Legendary Kim Sung Jin switched his carrier from sport to prestigious circus and left top-10 in May then disappeared from the Ranking in November. Thus Korea sunk from 4th to 7th place. German ranking was based on its sole hero, Martin Sloboda, for a long time. Martin, it seems, also got tired of skating, left top-10 in July and is about leave the Ranking. Because of that Germany risks to get out of top slalom countries list. It still hangs on 9-10th places with 25 skaters, but only 4 in the top-100. Michał Sulinowski is a Polish top skater which spent on the 2nd line most of the year. Poland sutuation is definitely better than German one: an active hero, more people (34->32), their level higher. All that gave Poland 7th place among other countries. Jon Larrucea got back into the top-10 and with increasing number of his fellows (33->69) lifted Spain from 8th to 5th place. Italy had no hero representatives this year, but its usual good presence in top-100 (14) and good total number (38->53) helped to finish on the 4th place. Thailand (59->22) suffered from great outflow of skaters at the end of the year and dropped from the middle to the bottom in December. Argentina went smooth (60->53) and exchanged its 10th place for 9th with Germany.

Women Freestyle Slalom 2013

Russian sportswomen did a good job here! The constant leader Daria Kuznetsova stays proudly at the 1st line for 18 months already (from July 2012). She's not far from absolute record of Chloé Seyres which was #1 for 25 months. Polina Semyonova as some other famous old time slalomers finished her skating, left top-10 in May and the Ranking in November. As her finest replacement young and talented Olga Semenikhina entered the paramount in April. Slalom in Russia gets younger both among men and women, and that's a good sign for any sport. On country level rivalry for the 1st place is between Russia and Italy, whose special treat is common with guys - no heroes but strong presence in top-100 (12->20). Generally we can see here a good tendency in numbers: Russia 38->48, Italy 29->53, Poland 21->26, France 49->74 (!). Though it didn't help France to get up from the 5th place. Only Zoé Granjon held on in top-10 and most of her numerous comrades were far below in the Ranking. Polish line is very close to French one and defined by Klaudia Hartmanis in top-5 and Angelika Prucnal in the 2nd five. Three Czapla sisters supported them in top-30. What about China? Traditionally a couple of very skilled girls, Su Fei Qian and Meng Yun, plus two more closing to the top, Feng Hwi and Guan Yu Xiang. Total number of Chinese athletes dropped from 28 to 22. There are too few of them especially comparing with past years. All that let China fight with France for the 4th place. Ukraine has a lone 6th place line. Boiko Maryna wasn't alone in top-10, Ksenia Komarchuk joined her there in July. Several Maryna's young pupils helped to carry the level of Ukraine high. Thailand stayed on 7th place all year, but lost 2/3 of its slalom girls (31->9). Taiwan had 8th place but fell close to zero (9->4). Argentina balanced on the verge of the top-10 countries chart (22->16). Spain tripled number of its sportswomen (10->31), and raised at the year's end from 10th to 7th position. Germany's out of the picture because its former top skater Anya Ziertmann went deeply down to 50th line.

Men Speed Slalom

The situation here is pretty much the same as in 2012 with one correction - Russian level went up steeply. Yes, domination of France is still unquestioned with a huge number of speed slalomers (124->151) and out of anyone's reach with many heroes at the top: Boris Rozbroj, Yohan Ford, well-known Romain Lebois and Alexandre Claris (a half of the year #2). The first two of them were pushed out from the top soon, but that didn't affect French leadership. Italy, always famous with its speed slalomers, kept steady number (44->43) and level. Nai Oleari Simone stayed on the 1st line for 17 months already. He has to hold there 8 months more to beat Ford's record of 2 full years #1. Simone was helped by Savio Brivio and Tiziano Ferrari, but strong competition on the top shifted them out. Nevertheless the Italian presence in top-100 was the strongest at first then matched with France and Russia. Russia (44->51) started the year quite ordinary but then went up since July, passed China and Italy up to the 2nd place! Andrey Shitov came back into the top-10 along with Alexey Tsokolov. There were 9 Russians in top-40! China continued to lose its numbers greatly (109->64), but maintained very even level and stepped down on the 4th place after Russia. A constant resident of the top Guo Fang was joined by Lan Wan Heng in May. Together they could fit in even in top-5, but that helped to get nor Russia, neither Italy. Poland kept 5th place with good presence in top-100. Polish freestyle hero Michał Sulinowski approached the top closely (11th) but couldn't enter it yet. Korea, Germany, Thailand, Taiwan and Argentina went were going down together, exchanging places from 6th to 10th on the way. Only Germany increased number of skaters, others lost many. In April a mysterious Brazilian guy De Araujo Diego got into the top-10, since Brazil had almost nobody in this discipline (3->6). By the way, Taiwan had its own hero at the beginning of the year, Yang Hsin Chiao.

Women Speed Slalom 2013

Despite twofold number superiority France (77->86) gave up its leadership to Italy (47->46). Highlighted in 2012 the same French girls visited the paramount during this year: Maeliss Conan, Clémence Guicheteau, Tiffany Derisbourg and Zoé Granjon. They started with three of them in top-10 then two and only Zoé finished the year there with a newcomer, her sister Lily. Italian girls kept their ranking high by success on several major contests. After a year on the 1st line Cristina Rotunno returned the title of Ranking leader to her friend Barbara Bossi. Barbara Codazzi went down in July but to that moment Chiara Lualdi had returned into top-10. Some of these girls skate slalom for more than 10 years, by the way! The 3rd place came to Russia in October. Kristina Lysenko stood among the best skaters most of the year plus gain in number (29->49) and here we go up. Poland (22->25) drew a border between leading countries and others. Klaudia Hartmanis and Ewelina Czapla didn't leave the top the whole year. Angelika Prucnal helped them occasionally. China (58->22), Taiwan (13->11) and Ukraine (14->18) went close to each other. Russia belonged to their "pack" the first half of the year. Episodic Taiwan heroes - Wang Tzu-Chien and Liang Hsuan Min. Ksenia Komarchuk (UKR) was also a hero for 3 months. The rest of the countries - Thailand, Argentina, South Korea - simply took vacant places on those charts. Women speed slalom in them can hardly be called developed.

Summary

The year 2013 turned out to be slightly different than years before, though it's not too obvious. The yearly growth of events number finally stopped. Women disciplines had good gain of participants, but for men this process slowed down. Usual huge turnover of skaters in the Rankings (more than 50% in a year) always gives great leaps of numbers, and we should see through it. Slalom needs much "fuel" to burn as it is. About a thousand of new skaters came to replace a thousand left this year.

Slalom felt very well in Europe this year - more events, more participants than in 2012. Other regions showed some regress but not alarming so far. Maybe it's just a flux, we should see better when 2014 will be over. Number of Chinese skaters dropped to "normal", comparable with other countries. We still remember when there were over 200 of them in the Rankings. Only France can boast by its numbers now. The list of countries where slalom is most developed is the same: France, China, Russia, Italy. South Korea minus KSJ still possesses few top slalomers but total number of Koreans in Rankings is below a dozen. Germany minus Martin Sloboda is off the scope. Several well trained athletes hold Poland on good level. It needs just more people, top and common, to be counted as a powerful slalom state. Almost every participating in WSS Asian country suffered from the outflow of skaters. Of course, there may be plenty of them outside the WSSA Rankings, but entering slalom competitions is a very important and even necessary part for a skater to hone his or her own skills and therefore develop slalom sport in general. And since there's no other World Rankings as WSSA, we can assume it as close to objective data source as possible.

Here's a good news from Asia: slalom started to develop in Iran, namely in Tehran Enghelab Skating Academy. It sent a team to a number of WSS competitions and we saw some amazing results such as Motavasel Farbod, competing with Nai Oleari in speed slalom almost with equal speed. Generally speaking, the number of active and successful slalom skaters didn't grow much in passing years as shown before. And it's always a great to see new talents coming to slalom, hoping for them to stay longer than just one season.

Well, it looks like slalom system in the world has come already or very close to a limit of resources: skaters, skating schools, organization capacity, funding, PR level (slalom is not well known to common public). All of them interdepend, boosting or hindering each other. For example, intensive work with kids has already brought to Russia serious wins in slalom, which attract more kids and adults, more fame (and improve of PR), more experience for slalom instructors and so on. A small step by a small step we try to make slalom closer to major sports. That's a very long way to go for all of us, even for France or China where slalom is currently very popular and most developed. If we are to go further we have to push our numerous limits. It's hard to say for sure judging by one year but it seems slalom development is going to be smoother from now on, with stable or slow raising parameters. Let's keep this optimistic look for the coming year 2014, which will bring us new changes in freestyle slalom rules and, maybe, in the Rankings too.

2013 highlighted new heroes of slalom, who entered Ranking's top tens for the first time:

Women Freestyle: Semenikhina Olga (RUS),Guan Yu Xiang (CHN)
Men Freestyle: Timchenko Sergey (RUS), Timchenko Alexander (RUS), Guslandi Lorenzo (ITA)
Women Speed: Granjon Lily (FRA), Meng Yun (CHN), Liang Hsuan Min (TPE)
Men Speed: Tsokolov Alexey (RUS), Rozbroj Boris (FRA), De Araujo Diego (BRA)

XLSX-file with data of 2013: Rankings themselves, charts of presence, competition lists and more statistics in charts and numbers.

Dmitry Milyokhin, 13.02.2014.

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