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Determining the Kona 2017 Pro Field With the New Slot System

This post has a closer look at how qualifying for Kona would have turned out if the new Kona Pro Qualifying System had been in place. Of course athletes would have adapted to the new system, probably choosing different races, but going through a few examples gives a good indication of how the new system will work and how it might change the Kona field and racing during the season.


Slot Assignment Examples

Ironman New Zealand

As discussed in my previous post on the Gender Distribution for Kona, New Zealand is a likely candidate for a race with an extra two slots. First, let’s determine how the slots get assigned to the male and female fields:

  • Number of Starters: 17 female, 23 male
  • Base slot calculation: 1.7 female, 2.3 male (calculated as fraction of starters times total number of slots)
  • First round of slots: 1 female, 2 male (based on the integer part of the base slots)
  • Remainder: 0.7 female, 0.3 male (fractional part of the base slots)
  • As the female remainder is larger than the male, the remaining slot is assigned to the females.

We end up two slots for both the males and the females.

Here are the top finishers in New Zealand and who would have received the qualifying slots:

  • Male Winner: Braden Curry
  • Male Second: Cameron Brown
  • Female Winner: Jocelyn McCauley (already qualified by winning IM Mallorca earlier, slot rolling down)
  • Female Second: Laura Siddall
  • Female Third: Meredith Kessler (already qualified by winning IM Arizona earlier, slot rolling down)
  • Female Fourth: Annabel Luxford

Ironman Germany

As a regional Championship, Germany receives two base slots for each gender plus another two floating slots. The floating slots would be determined as follows:

  • Number of Starters: 18 female, 50 male
  • Base slot calculation: 1.6 female, 4.4 male (calculated as fraction of starters times total number of slots)
  • First round of slots: 2 female, 4 male (based on the integer part of the base slots and the number of base slots)
  • No more slots to assign

As for all of the Regionals in 2017, the females would have only been racing for their two base slots while the males would have four slots, two base slots plus both the floating slots.

Here’s the resulting slot assignment:

  • Male Winner: Sebastian Kienle (Automatic Qualifier as previous Kona winner, slot rolling down)
  • Male Second: Andi Boecherer
  • Male Third: Patrik Nilsson (already qualified as winner of IM Barcelona, slot rolling down)
  • Male Fourth: James Cunnama
  • Male Fifth: Ivan Tutukin
  • Male Sixth: Patrick Lange (AQ as third in previous Kona race, slot rolling down)
  • Male Seventh: Marko Albert
  • Female Winner: Sarah Crowley (already qualified as winner of IM Cairns, slot rolling down)
  • Female Second: Lucy Charles (already qualified as winner of IM Lanzarote, slot rolling down)
  • Female Third: Alexandra Tondeur
  • Female Fourth: Liz Lyles (already qualified as winner of IM Wisconsin, slot rolling down)
  • Female Fifth: Michaela Herlbauer (already qualified as second at IM Texas, slot rolling down)
  • Female Sixth: Sonja Tajsich (already qualified as second at IM Brasil, slot rolling down)
  • Female Seventh: Dimity-Lee Duke

As you can see, there are a number of athletes who raced in Frankfurt as they still needed the points to qualify under the existing KPR system. If the new system had been in place, they might have decided not to race but instead to focus on their Kona prep.

Qualified Under the Slot System

Here are a couple of athletes that would have received a Kona slot under the new system but didn’t qualify under the points-based system. I’ve tried to group them into categories to show commonalities:

  • IM Winners but not enough additional good results to get a KPR slot
    Catherine Faux (winner IM Vichy), Darbi Roberts (winner IM Wales), Danielle Mack (winner IM Taiwan), Eva Wutti (winner IM Austria), Daniela Saemmler (winner IM Hamburg), Fredrik Croneborg (winner IM Malaysia), Jeff Symonds (Second at IM Chattanooga, but winner Marino Vanhoenacker likely declining his slot)
  • Getting a relatively “high” rolldown slot
    Jordan Monnink (third at IM Mont Tremblant), Victor Del Corral (fifth at IM France), Kelly Williamson (fourth at IM Boulder)

Not Qualified Under the Slot System

Of course there are also athletes that were good at collecting points for the KPR but wouldn’t have qualified with the new slot system:

  • Podium results, but no wins
    Jesse Thomas (third IM Lanzarote, second in two 70.3s) Lauren Brandon (second IM Cozumel, sixth IM Texas), Markus Fachbach (second IM Mallorca, third IM Hamburg), Cameron Wurf (tons of races, including a second at IM Sweden), Mareen Hufe (second places at IM Malaysia and IM Western Australia)
  • Good Kona, but no wins during the season
    Boris Stein (secured his slot with a sixth at IM South Africa after a seventh in Kona), Ivan Rana (after a ninth in Kona a fifteenth place in Austria and a few 70.3 points were good enough), Anja Beranek (got her slot after her fourth place in Kona with an eighth place at IM Germany), Asa Lundstroem (was safe for Kona after a fourth place at IM Western Australia and an eighth place in Hawaii), Camilla Pedersen (after an eleventh in Kona and a third at IM Cozumel a few 70.3 points were enough for her slot)
  • Many 70.3 points, but no IM wins
    Ruedi Wild (he scored almost 3.000 points just by racing 70.3s)

Additional Observations

There are a few more things I noticed when I simulated the 2017 qualifying season:

  • Much earlier decisions for declines
    With the KPR declines only happened after the qualifying periods (end of July and end of August). With the slot-based system the decision whether to accept or decline a slot has to be made the day after the race. For example, IM Chattanooga winner Marino Vanhoenacker would have needed to decide in September 2016 instead of August 2017.
  • No provisions for “late rolldown” if racing in Kona is not possible
    Meredith Kessler won IM Arizona in November 2016, she declined her slot in July 2017 as she got pregnant in February. (Baby boy “MAK” has been born by now.) Another example is Will Clarke who suffered a shoulder injury in August. Both were not able to race in Kona and declined their slots who then rolled down to the next athletes. Under the new system, once a slot has been accepted (which Meredith would have in November and Will in April), the slots wouldn’t have rolled down when they were forced to decline.
    (This will also impact the size of the Pro field in the 70.3 Championships. Even though there are about 85 slots for each gender, the number of actual starters is likely to be much lower.)
  • Late season racing still allows for Kona even if not initially planned
    When Daniela Sammler planned her season, she focused on IM Hamburg in August, even if that meant she wouldn’t be able to race Kona (to have a chance to qualify she would have needed more points before Hamburg). Under the new system, her win in Hamburg meant that she could have raced Kona instead of ending her season at IM Barcelona.
  • Much less racing needed for a slot
    Especially the women had to do a lot of racing to secure the points required for a Kona slot. Laura Siddall needed to race IM Australia (which she won) even after her third place at IM Malaysia and second place at IM New Zealand to get the required points. Rachel Joyce (coming back from her pregnancy) won IM Boulder (which would have secured her slot under the new system) but then had to also race IM Canada and IM Mont Tremblant, likely ruining her chances to have a good race in Kona. Another example is Eva Wutti: Her win at IM Austria (also coming back from a pregnancy break) would have secured a slot, but with the KPR system even a second place IM Hamburg wasn’t enough for a KPR Kona slot.

I’m also working on another post summarizing the changes that the new system is likely to bring, likely to be published over the Christmas days.

(Photo: Ruedi Wild on the bike in Kona. Credit: Jay Prasuhn)

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