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
|Date||Location||Team USA Members||Total Fencers|
|December 4, 2016||Eislinden, Germany||20||213|
|September 24, 2016||Konin Poland||20||163|
|December 12, 2015||Eislinden, Germany||20||243|
|September 26, 2015||Godollo,Hungary||20||223|
|September 11, 2015||Konin Poland||20||117|
|December 13, 2014||Eislinden, Germany||19||214|
|October 4, 2014||Godollo,Hungary||20||202|
|September 19, 2014||Konin Poland||20||113|
|December 7, 2013||Goeppingen, Germany||20||196|
|October 5, 2013||Godollo,Hungary||18||202|
|September 20, 2013||Konin Poland||20||119|
|November 24, 2012||Moscow, Russia||20||119|
|October 6, 2012||Godollo,Hungary||13||179|
|September 21, 2012||Konin Poland||20||108|
|January 28, 2012||London, Great Britian||15||130|
|October 1, 2011||Godollo,Hungary||15||175|
|September 17, 2011||Konin Poland||15||123|
|January 29, 2011||London, Great Britian||12||106|
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
|Date||Location||Team USA Members||Total Fencers|
|December 3, 2016||Eislinden, Germany||18||209|
|September 25, 2016||Konin Poland||20||139|
|December 13, 2015||Eislinden, Germany||19||220|
|September 27, 2015||Godollo,Hungary||20||194|
|September 11, 2015||Konin Poland||20||116|
|December 13, 2014||Eislinden, Germany||20||200|
|September 20, 2014||Konin Poland||19||108|
|December 8, 2013||Goeppingen, Germany||15||162|
|October 6, 2013||Godollo,Hungary||15||164|
|September 21, 2013||Konin Poland||19||98|
|February 10, 2013||Modling, Austria||11||44|
|October 7, 2012||Godollo,Hungary||10||147|
|September 22, 2012||Konin Poland||16||103|
|January 29, 2012||London, Great Britian||15||94|
|October 2, 2011||Godollo,Hungary||13||142|
|September 18, 2011||Konin Poland||15||128|
|January 30, 2011||London, Great Britian||12||88|
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.