Disclaimer: This is a layman's explanation of essentially what are complex rules. This is merely a simple explanation. For the actual rules, please visit the IBU website
Here's a typical report of results from an IBU Cup race.
Let's have a look at the IBU Cup 4 results in Slovakia on the weekend. There were 2 registrants but AUS results were published just for Women as Damon (M) did not start.
"Women: Jill Colebourn: 77th (1+0) +3:41.6 with her best ever result of 178.15 q points"
This means, in the Sprint event on 6 January, Jill
was placed 77th out of 93 participants (sometimes you'll see this as 77/93). This is not generally a metric that is used for performance analysis.
(1+0) means she had 1 penalty in prone and 0 penalties in Standing
+3:41.6 means she was 3 minutes 41.6 seconds behind the winner. The measure here is the FIRST placed athlete. Take care not to confuse with the old metric when a comparison was made against the top 3 athletes. We have found internationally competitive athletes' performances are constantly improving and these days, the differences of performances between the top 3 are negligible. It is this metric that the IBU uses to determine the resultant athlete points. This is the most important metric.
178.15 q points. This is the IBU points system in use since the 2014-15 season. The fewer the points the better. The highest ranked athlete would have 0 points. The measure methodology was changed at the IBU Congress of 2014 so that no matter which race an athlete competes at, the points system equalises the playing field. In prior years some athletes would "shop around" for less popular events were they could secure an easier qualification.
the Benchmark IBU points simply explained:
250 points or less - qualification to compete at the next trimester. There are 3 trimesters in a competition season; Trimester 1 goes from the last weekend in November to Christmas, Trimester 2 goes from January to mid February and Trimester 3 finishes at the end of March. Athletes must attain a result of 250 points or less at least once in the trimester before they can move on to compete in the next trimester.
180 points or less - the qualification required is an average of 3 results at 180 or less. This is the athlete's personal qualification required before they are considered for participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics(WOG). But that's just the first qualification.
150 points or less - This is the aim for those wanting to compete at the highest level of the sport and that's at World Cup.
There are also Nation Points and there's a difference between IBU Nation points and World Cup Nation Points. These are complex calculations and not simple to explain other than to note - these Points are important to accrue as Nation Points and the athlete's Personal Points BOTH determine if the athlete can then proceed to compete at World Cup, World Championships or at the Olympics. For example, only the top 22 Nations have guaranteed starts at 2018 WOG.
AUS is not amongst the top 22 Nations. Accordingly, despite our top male with current 136 points, he doesn't have an automatic start at World Cup nor at the 2018 Olympics. The IBU "rewards" nations and athletes where there are a lot of competitors at IBU events. The more athletes competing, the more the Nation Points. The beneficiary of Nation points are our top athletes, as these secure for them guaranteed starts at World Cup, World Championships and the Winter Olympic Games.
AUS is not in a unique situation; there are numbers of other nations such as UK, Belgium, Croatia who have internationally competitive athletes yet do not have large enough numbers to accrue Nation Points.
What does this mean for the 2018 Winter Olympics? See the IBU qualification system published by the IBU.
For qualification to the 2018 Olympics the sole pathway for our Shadow Olympic Team is via rule D.4. where just 5 places may be allotted to the very best athletes whose nations are not amongst the top 22.
There is no wild card, there is no reallocation of unused nation places
There are just 5 coveted places to be allocated to athletes with the highest rank (lowest points). (athletes whose nations are outside the top 22)
The AOC and our Australian Federation as a result, funded intensive training and resourced qualification competitions so that our 3 Shadow Team members would have the very best opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.