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Performance of Cadet Men’s and Women’s Saber at Designated Events in Europe 2011 -2016

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Conventional wisdom holds that the performance of Team USA in cadet men’s and women’s saber at Designated European Cadet competitions in the prestigious European Cadet Circuit has become increasingly competitive in recent years. With all the fanfare surrounding Team USA’s recent success in Europe over the past three years, (four gold, three silver and five bronze medals from eight men’s events and three gold, one silver and six bronze medals from seven women’s events), it is easy to understand why this hearsay evidence1 has taken root and has become a part of fencing folklore. It is also commonly thought that U.S. cadet fencers competing in Europe generally do better than their European counterparts but that the European junior fencers “catch up” and are on an equal footing with U.S. junior fencers.

Based on hearsay evidence that Team USA is much more competitive today in Europe than it was a few years ago, NFCR decided to review the Team’s performance over the past six years.  We examined the results of Designated European Cadet competitions selected by USFA’s Sports Performance Department and the National Saber Coaches. The designated international competitions are normally considered in the Group II calculations in the Cadet National Team Point Standings.

Cadet Men’s Saber

Team USA cadet men’s saber fencers have met with considerable success in Europe in the three most recent saber events with Daniel Solomon (Mission Fencing Center, NY) and Mitchell Saron (Bergen Fencing Club, NJ) each winning gold, Christopher Walker (Nellya Fencers, GA), winning silver and Mitchell Saron (Bergen Fencing Club, NJ) and Raymond Zhao (Nellya Fencers, GA) each winning a bronze medal. The location and size of the most recent 18 designated cadet men’s saber events in Europe are listed in the accompanying table. The events ranged in size from a minimum of 106 fencers in London, Great Britian (January 2011), to a maximum of 243 fencers in Eislinden, Germany (December 2015), with an average of about 164 fencers per event. Team USA has been represented on average by about 18 fencers per event.

Designated Cadet Men's Saber Events in Europe 2011-2016

DateLocationTeam USA MembersTotal Fencers
December 4, 2016Eislinden, Germany20213
September 24, 2016
Konin Poland20163
December 12, 2015
Eislinden, Germany20243
September 26, 2015
Godollo,Hungary20223
September 11, 2015
Konin Poland20117
December 13, 2014
Eislinden, Germany19214
October 4, 2014
Godollo,Hungary20202
September 19, 2014
Konin Poland20113
December 7, 2013
Goeppingen, Germany20196
October 5, 2013
Godollo,Hungary18202
September 20, 2013
Konin Poland20119
November 24, 2012
Moscow, Russia20119
October 6, 2012
Godollo,Hungary13179
September 21, 2012
Konin Poland20108
January 28, 2012
London, Great Britian15130
October 1, 2011
Godollo,Hungary15175
September 17, 2011
Konin Poland15123
January 29, 2011
London, Great Britian12106
Average18.2163.6
Source: European Fencing Confederation

The performance of Team USA by tableau category is illustrated in the following graph, although it is difficult to discern any trend within each of the tableau categories, apart from the Top 32 and Top 64 categories. On average, about 7% of Team USA finished on the podium, 14% finished in the Top 8, 28% finished in the Top 16, 48% in the Top 32, and about 78% made it through to the Top 64. Only on three occasions did the entire team make it into the Top 64.

To provide further insights on the underlying performance trend over the past six years in cadet men’s saber, we have provided a trend line through the data for each tableau category as illustrated in the graph below. The graph highlights a reasonably flat trend line for the Podium category illustrating a consistently competitive performance by the top members of Team USA’s cadet men’s saber team over the past six years.

A disappointing  sign is the downward sloping lines for the Top 8, Top 16, Top 32 and Top 64 tableau categories indicating a declining percentage of Team USA fencers finishing in the Top 8, Top 16, Top 32 and Top 64 tableau categories. In 2011, about 33% of Team USA finished in the Top 16; today it is about 23%. The trend lines for the Top 32 and Top 64 provide a similar story. In 2011, about 57% of Team USA fencers placed in the Top 32; today it is 38%.

In summary, Team USA cadet men’s saber team has become increasingly less competitive in the Top 16, Top 32 and Top 64 categories over the past six years. It has become marginally less competitive in the Top 8 category over the same period.

Cadet Women’s Saber

The location and size of designated cadet women’s saber events in Europe are provided in the accompanying table. The events ranged in size from a minimum of 44 fencers in Modling, Austria, (January 2013), to a maximum of 220 fencers in Eislinden, Germany (December 2015), with an average of about 139 fencers per event. Team USA has been represented on average by almost 16 fencers per event.

Designated Cadet Women's Saber Events in Europe 2011-2016

DateLocationTeam USA MembersTotal Fencers
December 3, 2016Eislinden, Germany18209
September 25, 2016
Konin Poland20139
December 13, 2015
Eislinden, Germany19220
September 27, 2015
Godollo,Hungary20194
September 11, 2015
Konin Poland20116
December 13, 2014
Eislinden, Germany20200
September 20, 2014
Konin Poland19108
December 8, 2013
Goeppingen, Germany15162
October 6, 2013
Godollo,Hungary15164
September 21, 2013
Konin Poland1998
February 10, 2013
Modling, Austria1144
October 7, 2012
Godollo,Hungary10147
September 22, 2012
Konin Poland16103
January 29, 2012
London, Great Britian1594
October 2, 2011
Godollo,Hungary13142
September 18, 2011
Konin Poland15128
January 30, 2011
London, Great Britian1288
Average16.3138.6
Source: European Fencing Confederation On average, about 6% of Team USA finished on the podium, 15% finished in the Top 8, 29% finished in the Top 16, 55% in the Top 32, and about 83% made it through to the Top 64. Team USA cadet women’s saber fencers are becoming marginally more competitive at the Podium, Top 8 and Top 16 level but less competitive in Europe in the Top 32 and Top 64 as clearly illustrated by the accompanying bar graph.

On average, about 6% of Team USA finished on the podium, 15% finished in the Top 8, 29% finished in the Top 16, 55% in the Top 32, and about 83% made it through to the Top 64. Team USA cadet women’s saber fencers are becoming marginally more competitive at the Podium, Top 8 and Top 16 level but less competitive in Europe in the Top 32 and Top 64 as clearly illustrated by the accompanying bar graph.

These trends are clearly demonstrated in the downward sloping trend lines for the Top 32 and Top 64 tableau categories. The Podium, Top 8 and Top 16 trend lines show that Team USA has become marginally more competitive in the upper tableau categories. In 2011, about 5% of Team USA finished in on the Podium; today it is about 7%. The Top 8 and Top 16 trend lines are similar in slope indicating an increasing percentage of Team USA fencers finishing in these tableau categories.

In summary, Team USA cadet women’s saber fencers have become more competitive in the Podium, Top 8, and Top 16 categories and less competitive in the Top Top 32 and Top 64 categories over the past six years.

So it seems that only part of the story is true!  We look forward to your comments!

1Hearsay evidence is the evidence of those who relate, not what they know themselves, but what they have heard from others.

2 Responses to "Performance of Cadet Men’s and Women’s Saber at Designated Events in Europe 2011 -2016"
  1. Michael says:

    I wonder whether the CMS analysis would br improved by: 1. Adjusting the CMS analysis for the fact that in 2011, they consistently sent 15 fencers and since 2012 they consistently send 20 and 2. Recognizing that 2011 was a very strong year, comparing instead a 2016-2015 average to a 2011-2012 average?

  2. Ross says:

    Michael, thank you for your reply. We recognize that we are analyzing the performance of Team U.S.A compared to the entire entrant pool in a European cadet tournament in percentage terms, not absolute terms, mitigating the concern about the number of entrants from the U.S. We have taken a longitudinal approach (18 events for men, 17 for women) to overcome the tournament-by-tournament variations in the quality of Team U.S.A versus its European counterparts.

    If we average the performance of 2011 and 2012 tournaments for men and compare this with the average of 2015 and 2016 tournaments, our earlier conclusions hold: the saber men’s cadet team has become marginally more competitive at the Podium level (8.4% vs 9%), remained constant at the Top 8 level (15.1% vs 15%) and less competitive in the Top 16 (30.3% vs 27%), Top 64 (52.9% vs 44%) and Top 64 (84.3% vs 73%).

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