World Ranking (foot orienteering) 2014

Analysing & Testing Data For Changes To IOF World Ranking Scheme

In January 2013 the IOF Council instituted a review into the World Ranking Scheme for foot orienteering. This was 12 months after Council endorsed a recommendation from the Foot Commission to remove the weightings that had been applied to World Ranking (WR) scores from 2006 for World Orienteering Championships (WOC) and World Cup.

There were a number of reasons for this review amongst which was, in hindsight, that our most prestigious event, the World Championships, was being devalued with respect to its role in the ranking scheme. In addition, the 2012-2018 Strategic Directions and 2012-2014 Activity Plan adopted by member federations at the 2012 General Assembly made specific reference to the World Championships as a central vehicle in the promotion and development of our sport. Council wanted to see the World Ranking Scheme take on more relevance to the wider public in using WOC as a central plank of our sports promotion and development.

The remit for the review process was that: 

1. Every participant who completed course according the rules on a World Ranking Event (WRE) should get WR points.

  1. Act as a way of developing the sport throughout the World.
  2. Encourage runners to compete at World Ranking Events in their own Federation and in other Federations.

2. Distribution of WR points is related to the value of the event.

  1. Recognise quality orienteering and award points appropriately.
  2. Award higher points to those who do well at the IOF’s Highest Level events

3. WRL should serve as a promotion and selection tool

  1. WRL as a selection tool for starting order at WOC Long and Middle distance event.
  2. Separate World Ranking List for Sprint and Middle/Long.
  3. WRL should be seen as fair and should be accepted worldwide.

IOF Vice President, Mike Dowling, who was the project leader for the review process, says; “It is important that the IOF shares the reasoning of its decision making process and the data it analysed in reaching its decision to change the World Ranking Scheme. More so now that we are in the process of seeking a new operator for the official IOF World Ranking Scheme”. VIP programmers (6prog) has decided not to continue as the operator of the scheme on 1 January 2014.

An analysis of the ranking scores from 2012 in the initial stages of the review processes showed that in the women’s class the 2012 World Championships produced the 14th, 15th and 16th rank order scores. In the men’s class they produced the 1st , 5th and 32nd rank order scores. In addition, there were 8 women’s World Ranking Events through the year in Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong and Slovenia that resulted in no scores for any participants which is at odds with one our sport’s key values; “Success by women and men is equally recognised.” The data also showed that, especially in the men’s scores, high status IOF events had quite variable positions in the ranking list

A full list of 2012 scores is shown here: 2012 WRE Winning Score Analysis

During the review process some scenarios with different scoring models were tested to analyse the validity of proposals, one of which very closely mirrored Council’s decision, save for the exclusion of Junior World Championships events in the ranking data. It also provided an opportunity to examine how different ranking lists would look for separating sprint and middle/long. The data showed that there was very little difference to the top 20 ranked runners with either unweighted or weighted data, particularly in middle/long rankings. The major difference was that in an unweighted list only 6 of the men and 8 of the women counted a World Championships Final score among their 4 best for ranking even though almost all them had competed and achieved high levels of success in WOC Finals. Whereas with a weighted ranking list all 20 of the men and 18 of the women counted a WOC Final score. As was to be expected there was some decline in the ranking position of those orienteers who had not taken part in WOC or World Cup but it was not dramatic.

From a media/promotion perspective, the revised IOF World Ranking Scheme will provide an opportunity for our best orienteers to aspire to the perfect ranking score of 5900 points (2 WOC Gold medals + 2 World Cup wins) in a ranking period. That honour will sit with Simone Niggli for both the new Sprint list and the revised Middle/Long list according to the testing data. 

A list of top 100 ranked runners for sprint and middle/long from the data testing as at Oct 14 2013 can be found here:

Comparing The Top 100 Ranked Female Middle-Long Orienteers At 14 Oct 2013
Comparing The Top 100 Ranked Female Sprint Orienteers At 14 Oct 2013
Comparing The Top 100 Ranked Male Middle-Long Orienteers At 14 Oct 2013
Comparing The Top 100 Ranked Male Sprint Orienteers At 14 Oct 2013

Mike Dowling goes on to say; “The analysis of data shows the Council decision achieves the remit aims. We now have our major events, WOC and World Cup, making more of a contribution to an orienteer’s World Ranking score. We provide a means by which our Regional Championships make more of a contribution to an orienteer’s World Ranking score. We have a wonderful promotional opportunity with the possibility of our athletes achieving the perfect ranking score. We ensure gender equity by having all World Ranking Events regardless of where they are held in our family now contributing to the World Ranking Scheme”.

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