Thursday, September 12, 2013

Snowboarders Top Trumps & Proof that a snowboarder is the greatest athlete of all time


We came across this pack of Top Trumps Snowboarders the other day and figured it would be worth a look. Little did we know that this unassuming pack of cards would provide the irrefutable truth that someone among us is the greatest sportsman ever...

Before I started writing this I assumed Top Trumps was the sort of addictive school yard game that had invaded every corner of the globe, but apparently they didn't so they might need a bit of explanation.

I've no idea what the fuck is going on here, but I know I want the buy them all.

Top Trumps were massive in the UK in the 70s and 80s, but similar games exist in other countries around Europe. In Germany they're called Top Ass.

Although it's probably not quite as exciting as you were anticipating.

This advert from the back of the Top Trumps Snowboarders pack is probably more what you were hoping for.
I'm pretty sure that 'keep trumping your mates' is a euphemism.

Here's what the cards look like and how the game is played. Each snowboarder is rated on six abilities. If it's your go, you select the first card in your pack. If you pick up the Craig Kelly card you call out one of the stats of your choice and if your snowboarder has a better rating than the other guy's you win his card. Whoever wins the card gets to pick the next stat and you keep going until one of you has won all the cards.

The snowboarders pack was a one-off edition that must have been released at some point in 2001. Assuming that the stats are scientifically calculated, it gives us the opportunity to go back in time and take a look at who were the best snowboarders twelve years ago...

Biggest Air - David Vincent (98)
Biggest Air: Here's Dave popping off a mogul run and clearing a chairlift.

Smallest Air - Leslie McKenna (65)

Greatest Speed - Shaun Palmer, John Olofsson & Brian Savard (48)
Greatest Speed: Easy, it's Speed. Speed 2 was shit.

Slowest Speed - David Vincent (18)

Most Style - Romain De Marchi (192)

Least Style - Brian Savard (130)

Least Style: His name is Brian

Best Freestyle - Steve Bailey (144)
Best Freestyle: That must be a record for the amount of snow he managed to cram on a snowboard. That's style my friends.

Worst Freestyle - Victoria Jealouse (50)

Best Freeride - Terje Haakonsen, Johan Olofsson & Brain Savard (19)
Best Freeride: Terje really should also have been a shoe-in to lead freestyle rating; in this pack even the spelling of his name was freestyle.

Worst Freeride - Leslie McKenna (8)

Most Extreme - Axel Pauporte (10)
Most Extreme: Axel Pauporte is the most extreme thing to come out of Belgium since the Wehrmacht blew through the place in 1940.

Least Extreme - Danny Wheeler & Leslie McKenna (2)

So Who's The Best?

People have been arguing about who's the greatest sports person of all time since the second person tried sport. One of the reasons the argument has been ticking along all that time is that its really difficult to compare how good people were at different sports; how do you compare Formula 1 racing with ice dancing? The best method anyone has found to resolve this quandary is to measure how good a sports person is against their peers and compare that difference (the standard deviation) against people from other sports. The person they discovered was the greatest sports person of all time was a guy in a floppy green hat.
Any idea who that is?

It's Don Bradman, an Australian cricketer who played top level cricket between 1927 and 1949 and is pretty unanimously agreed to be the greatest cricketer of all time (although a lot of people would argue with that). Cricket is a sport (a bit like baseball) where there's a long history of recording statistics and the game has remained fairly stable for a very long time. Cricket batsmen (like Don here) are most usually measured on their batting average - how many runs they scored on average each time they went out to bat. Don Bradman had an international average of 99.94. To give that some context, the next three best batsmen in history have averages of 60.97, 60.83 and 60.73. Donald Bradman was measurably almost twice as good as the next best batsmen and he's 4.4 standard deviations away from his peers.

Using that as a measurement here's how he compares to a number of other sportsmen who dominated their sport.

It's not perfect, but it's as close as anyone has found to bring some sort of conclusion to this endless argument. Now we can turn this method to snowboarding and we can use the Top Trumps stats to see who the best snowboarder is and how they compare to other sports.

Worst snowboarder - Leslie McKenna 
Leslie McKenna was the worst snowboarder in an impressive three out of the six categories; Air, Freeride and Extreme. With those poor results it's no surprise that with a standard deviation of -1.82, she was by far the worst snowboarder in the pack. Whoever edited these Top Trumps really had it in for Leslie.
Leslie McKenna is the current Team Manager/Coach for the European Roxy Snow Team. She is not a fan of Top Trumps.

Best Snowboader - Terje Haakonsen?

"The greatest snowboarder of all time." It says it right there on the card, but he was only joint best in one category (Freeride) and when you run the numbers with a standard deviation of 1.81 he was only the second best snowboarder overall.

Best All-Round Snowboader - Johan Olofssen
With two category wins (Speed and Freeride) and strong performance across the board Johan Olofsson was the best overall snowboarder with a standard deviation of 1.92.

Greatest Sportsman of All Time - Steve Bailey 
What do you mean you haven't heard of him? He was the British Air Champion...

When it comes to freestyle snowboarding Steve Bailey has no equal. With a score of 144 he completely dominated this category. Steve Bailey is almost twice as good as the next best freestyle snowboarder (Terje Haakonsen) who only got a rating of 78. If you consider freestyle snowboarding to be it's own sport and do the math that leaves the little ginger wizard with an almighty standard deviation of 4.84, comfortably beating the Aussie bloke in the jaunty hat. Steve Bailey wasn't just a good snowboarder in 2001, he is also the greatest athlete the world has ever seen.

The world's greatest sportsman can currently be found selling snowboards to punters in the Chester branch of Ellis Brigham.

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