WTC points system

Trev here.

I’ve got an idea that I think could be so much better for WTC points rankings.  Maybe I’m missing a reason why this won’t work, but at the moment it seems like it would be a viable option for ranking professional long course athletes.

We should look to the FIS – Federation International de Ski.  Particularly the downhill skiing points ranking system.  In that system you can rank every single ski racer IN THE WORLD and they don’t even have to compete against each other all the time.

How do they do it? —Keep in mind ZERO points is the best in the world.  I took this from WikiAnswers:

FIS points are calculated based on 2 things. The first part is based on how far off the leader a competitor is (the winner gets 0 points for this part), in Giant Slalom approximately 7 points are added for every second off the leader one is, this number is slightly different in each event (Downhill, Slalom, Super GS). The second part is an average of the current points of the top 5 competitors in the top 10. This is called the “penalty” and it is added to the “race points” mentioned in the first time. However there is no “penalty” in world cup races so the winner of a world cup event gets 0 points (less points is better). On the official FIS list a competitors points are their top 2 points finishes averaged out.

This would absolutely work for Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events.  Heck, it would even work for any triathlon in the world.  You’d have to change the FIS’s number of points we assess for ‘time behind the leader’.  Perhaps we do 1 point for every 3 minutes you are behind the winner.  6 minutes behind is 2 points.

To start the 2012 season, we use the current 2011 rankings to base who the best in the world are.  Here’s an attempt at an example for two races this past season (IM Texas and IM Lake Placid – women’s races).  I’ll use current WTC KPR to assess current points.  So, if Carolyn Steffen had been at one of these races, she’d have 0 points coming in.  My wife, Heather, currently ranked 15th, would have 14 points, and so on down the entire current KPR list.

Results at IM Lake Placid:

    1   40 FPRO   Heather Wurtele          9:19:03 - 14 points (on current KPR)
    2   52 FPRO   Tine Deckers             9:34:41 - 17 points (on current KPR)
    3   42 FPRO   Tyler Stewart            9:38:09 - 4 points (on current KPR)
    4   48 FPRO   Jackie Arendt            9:56:21
    5   47 FPRO   Jacqui Gordon            10:07:22
    6   51 FPRO   Suzanne Zelazo           10:21:08
    7   45 FPRO   Amber Ferreira           10:30:39
    8   53 FPRO   Miranda Alldritt         10:46:46
    9   50 FPRO   Marie Danais             10:48:26

Heather, Tine, and Tyler are best ranked on the KPR so I didn’t need to find the other gals’ rankings.  (14+17+4) = 35 points which you / 3 (to get avg) = 11.6 is the penalty for this race. – lets just say 12 for this example to make it easier.

Heather won, so she gets 12 points(everyone who finishes gets these points).  No time penalty assessed because of the win.  Averaged with her current 14 points (from the KPR list – or another result from the year) she would then end up with 13 points on the rankings.

Tine was second so she gets 12 points + (time points of 14 minutes).  Calculating time points for Tine = 14 divided by 3 = 4.6.  (Remember 1 point for every 3 minutes back). So, Tine comes out of this race with 16.6 points.  Then you average that with her existing 17 points from the KPR (or 2nd best result of the year).  Keep in mind you take the TWO BEST races of the year to make the final number.  I’m just using 1 race and the current KPR.

Tyler was third – 12 points (Race penalty that everyone gets) + 6.3 (Time gap points) = 18.3 points.  Average that with her other ‘result’ of 4 points and she’d come out that race with 11.1 points on the KPR.

Now to Ironman Texas.

    1   49 FPRO   Catriona Morrison        8:57:51 - 12 points
    2   47 FPRO   Kelly Williamson         9:07:54 - 8 points
    3   48 FPRO   Sofie Goos               9:12:53
    4   51 FPRO   Tyler Stewart            9:13:13 - 4 points
    5   58 FPRO   Tine Deckers             9:19:27
    6   53 FPRO   Kim Loeffler             9:20:04
    7   60 FPRO   Desiree Ficker           9:24:09
    8   63 FPRO   Jacqui Gordon            9:27:20
    9   52 FPRO   Joanna Lawn              9:32:19
   10   64 FPRO   Lauren Harrison          9:46:22
   11   62 FPRO   Michaela Giger           9:58:43
.... there are others, just cut it off

So, start by calculating the race penalty based off of the 3 best ranked athletes: (12 + 8 + 4) / 3 = 8 points.

Catriona Morrison wins so she gets an even 8 points on the day.  Average with her other race (KPR in this case) points of 12 and she drops a couple points in the rankings to 10 points.  A good thing.

Kelly Williamson: 8 points (Race Penalty) + 3.3 (Time penalty (10min / 3)) = 11.3 points on the day.  Averaged with her current 8 points and she’d come out with 9.65.

Sofie Goos: 8 ( Race Penalty)  + 5 (time penalty) = 13 points for the day.  She had 19 points coming in to the race, average the two and now she has 16 points.

Tyler: 8 + 5.3 = 12.3 points on the day.  Averaged with her 4 points and she comes out with 8.15 points.


The FIS takes the points system down to 3 decimal places I think.  They really do include every single FIS athlete in the world – even amateurs.

I think this system of points would work.  Of course you’d have to assess some penalties for NOT racing as well.  As an example, if Tyler Stewart had 4 points and she wanted to keep the 4 points, she can’t just stay away from all the races.

As in the FIS points system – WTC could designate a couple races around the world to have a race penalty of ZERO, or ONE, or THREE.  Regardless of who’s there.  That way the winner would end up with whatever the penalty is even if the calculation of the race penalty equalled something higher.

Perhaps your current points could be based on your best two results over the last two years for Ironman events, averaged with your best 4 results from 70.3 events from the last two years.

KONA would obviously have 0 points no matter what.  Maybe they assess 2 or 3 points to their championship races.  Meaning, winner of Kona would have 0 points.  Winner of a championship race would get a scoring of 2 points.  Then average those numbers against their 2nd best result.  If you won Kona and a championship race, you’d have 1 point on the ranking system.  If you won Kona two years in a row…then you’d have 0 points.

We’d also have to include 70.3 races in there.  Going back to the FIS example, 70.3 events would have a different set of criteria for the ‘Time Penalty’ assessment.  Instead of 3 points for every minute, maybe it’s 6 points for every minute.

What this system would also do is keep the rankings more even over numerous years.  Prime example is Chrissie Wellington right now.  Ranked 29th on the KPR.  Really???  That’s only because she missed out on Kona 2010.  With the FIS style of points ranking she wouldn’t have taken such a massive hit to her standing.

Please feel free to comment and tell me why or why this wouldn’t work.  It’s bloody confusing if you’ve never seen it in action.  It really is a great way to reward people who do well at races that have high caliber athletes in attendance.  It’s not a random “oh, we should give less points to this race” type thing.  It decides itself based on who’s AT the race.


~ by trevorandheather on August 19, 2011.

7 Responses to “WTC points system”

  1. I think you should be president of the whole world – and after I’ve had another cup of coffee I’m going to read this for the seventh time and weigh in.

  2. I think this system would create a pretty accurate list of where the athletes realistically stand – but the WTC would probably fight it as it doesn’t address one of their prime goals – and that is to encourage the athletes to race more.

  3. Yeah, this is true. But even in that system, I think people would still try and race more to better their points.

    Someone on facebook also pointed out the prize $$$ problem. I think WTC could just put the money wherever they want, if everyone went the big money races it would end up being a prestigious race with a low point penalty. Both are good things for that type of race. For the races with less prize money it probably wouldn’t draw a hugely competitive field and therefore have a high penalty. All good.

  4. Another interesting way of “rating” .. I think the main difference between your system and the KPR is if you want to build a “world ranking” (measuring the overall strength of an athlete) or a “one year points for qualifying”. Chrissie is the best example: Of course she’s the best female athlete, but she hasn’t done too much in WTC races. And of course WTC wants to emphasize their races in qualifying for their championship race.

    I’ve developed another way of rating of the “world ranking” type – check out my website at I like my system a bit better than yours 😉 because:
    – my rating is an IM finishing time (rather than an abstract number)
    – your system mainly depends on the strength of the field
    – my rating also takes the course into account (e.g. a 7:55 in Roth may be equal to a 8:20 in Hawaii) – this allows you to compare times between different races and also to compare different courses.

    If you’ve got some time, check it out – I love getting feedback!


  5. Hey Thorsten,
    That’s interesting for sure. Good idea. The only problem I see with using time as a rating is that it doesn’t really factor in what happened during the race. Perhaps the top 3 guys just played cat and mouse amongst each other for most of the day and didn’t really put down their best possible time. Or if the winner has a big gap, he/she may shut it down and keep the last couple miles easy. It seems like they would get penalized for that.

    I guess the problem for either system is getting WTC to adopt something new. Again. It would be even better if they would include all the other series races around the world as well. But, I’m sure they won’t go that far.

  6. Trev,

    thanks for your feedback. I don’t think that “shutting down” or “playing cat and mouse” is going to have a major influence on someone’s rating. How much of a time difference is that going to have – maybe five minutes? Sure someone will get penalized a bit for it, but as long as it doesn’t happen in every race (which I don’t think it does) … Think of Crowie in CdA – I think he had to push right till the end in order to secure his win against Maik Twelsiek.

    As for WTC and the KPR, I don’t think there have to be massive changes (as long as you work from the assumption that they use it as an instrument to get athletes to race their races). I think the winner of an IM should get an automatic qualifier (or very close to it), but other than that I think that the KPR worked pretty good as a selection system.

    But I’ll wait with my final verdict till after Kona is over, the requirement to qualify may have some influence on how the race unfolds.

    Good luck to Heather in Kona!


  7. I really like the idea of toning down Kona a bit. Newer athletes or ones wanting to even get into Kona are having to have a hell of a year. There is one thing that kinda sucks about any points is that a WIN is not weighted properly. Currently winning Florida is worse then 5th or 6th at Arizona which is just not right. Getting top 20 in Kona is golden.
    To me the best thing about the points is that it makes people race it out harder for the lower positions and the “higher ups” have to race a tad more. Yeah, that might make Kona records tougher but seeing an athlete a little more often is worth it. The time frame on the points is also a little tough at the same time. I HATE cold water and love the heat so it would be tough.
    Some carryover for athletes that dont make Kona one year might me good for injuries for something as well. Its just that the races take such a toll it makes it tough.

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