The Path of World Rankings
Our earlier post on the Shift in World Rankings for Team USA’s Members at the 2017 Senior World Fencing Championships, Leipzig, Germany, prompted a number of readers to request that we provide the entire path in World Rankings, rather than the last 24-months, by which athletes made Team USA for this year’s World Championships.
Providing a two-year window was useful for top rated fencers, they said, but showing a longer term pathway of World Rankings would be very helpful for fencers starting out on their senior international tournament journey. Clearly, a fencer’s rankings improve with time. Our analysis determines that in aggregate, across genders and weapons, World Rankings for the 24 Team USA members improved 10 places for every additional year of international senior tournament experience.
All of the rankings are derived from the International Fencing Federation’s (FIE) website and apart from the 2017 ranking, are end-of-year rankings. A fencer may have become the world’s No 1 fencer in a particular weapon during the year, but unless they remain the No 1 at the end of the season, they will not appear as the No 1 in the FIE rankings.
The 24 team members share 229 years of international senior tournament experience or 9.5 years on average. The experience ranges from two years, in the case of Cooper Schumacher (Men’s Epee) to 16 years in the case of Mariel Zagunis (Women’s Saber). Twenty-one (21) or 87% of the 24 have 5 years or more international experience and 14 or 58% of the 24 have 10 years or more. The average current ranking is about 24 with a range of 2 (Lee Kiefer – Women’s Foil and Alexander Massialas – Men’s Foil) to 76 (Cooper Schumacher – Men’s Epee).
The average journey of World Rankings follows a downward sloping curvilinear path as illustrated in the following graphs. All apart from Men’s epee reveals that 2 to 3 members establish consistently and improving rankings after an initial introductory period of 2 to 3 years.
The graph for men’s foil reveals that after an introductory year or so, team members quickly established World Rankings in the Top 16. The order of consistency (lowest volatility) for the team over the past five years is Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt, Race Imboden and Miles Chamley-Watson.
The downward sloping curvilinear path is again observed for women’s foil. The order of consistency for the team over the past five years is Lee Kiefer, Nicole Ross, Margaret Lu and Sabrina Massialas.
The downward sloping curvilinear path is again observed for three of the men’s saber team. The order of consistency for the team is Daryl Homer, Jeff Spear, Eli Dershwitz and Geoffrey Loss.
The order of consistency for the women’s saber team is Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mariel Zagunis, Dagmara Wozniak and Monica Aksamit.
The path of World Rankings for men’s epee can best be described as “choppy”. Jason Pryor has the most consistent performance over the past five years.
The downward sloping curvilinear pathway returns! The order of consistency for women’s epee is Katharine Holmes, Courtney Hurley, Kelly Hurley and Anna Van Brummen.