Best/worst, Sochi medal projections vs. reality: Feb. 22

Unless Alexander Zubkov crashes on his home track and Norway sweeps the 50k cross-country race on Sunday, Russia will be the first host country to finish atop the medal count since … Norway, in 1994.

If you prefer following gold medal counts to overall medal counts, you’re no fun, and possibly a little pedantic. But the last host country to have the most gold medals was Canada, last time.

A few bits of medal trivia:

– 26 countries have won medals in Sochi, tying the number from last time. In fact, they’re the same 26.

– The projections had 25 countries winning medals. Slovakia and Croatia weren’t projected for medals but came through in biathlon (Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina, gold) and Alpine skiing (Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, silver). Liechtenstein did not get its projected medal, thanks to Tina Weirather’s ill-timed training crash.

– Russia and the Netherlands are locked in a battle for most improved. Russia won 15 medals in 2010, only three gold, but have 29 in 2014 with another one likely tomorrow. The Netherlands jumped from eight medals in 2010 to 24 this year.


Original projections: Norway 39, USA 35, Canada 30, Russia 26, Germany 23, Austria 22, South Korea 15, Netherlands 14, France 12, Switzerland 11, Sweden 10, Japan 7, Italy 7, China 6, Czech Republic 6

The current count: Russia 29, USA 27, Norway 26, Canada 24, Netherlands 24, Germany 19, Austria 17, France 15, Sweden 14, Switzerland 11, China 9, South Korea and several others 8.

If the three remaining projections were to come true (and they can’t, because we know Russia won’t medal in hockey), we’d end up with: Russia 33, USA 28, Norway 27, Canada 25, Netherlands 24, Germany 20, Austria 17, France 15, Sweden 15, Switzerland 11, China 9, South Korea 8, Czech Republic 8, Japan 8, Italy 8. (Also, Slovenia 8, from an original projection of 5.)

We know Finland will take hockey bronze for its fifth medal, and Sweden and Canada will each take a hockey medal. We’re halfway through the four-man bobsled, and it’s very close between Russia, Latvia, Germany and the USA. There’s an outside chance of a second medal for Germany or Russia, or possibly one medal for Britain or Switzerland. The original projection was Russia, Germany, USA. If I had to predict it now, I’d say Russia, Latvia, USA.

The cross-country picks were Norway, Russia, Russia. Based on form, I’d say Norway, Finland, Russia.

So tomorrow’s projected medal count: Russia 2, Finland 2, Norway 1, Sweden 1, Canada 1, Latvia 1, USA 1.

So the final guess for the final medal count is: Russia 31, USA 28, Norway 27, Canada 25, Netherlands 24, Germany 19, Austria 17, France 15, Sweden 15, etc.


Germany (+2 today, -3 overall): Rallying late in the Games with success in biathlon and snowboarding today. In position to finish at -3 if the bobsled team comes through. (Or get back to even by sweeping the 50k cross-country.)

Russia (+1 today, +7 overall): Vic Wild did it again, the biathlon men picked up their projected relay gold, and the speedskating women added one more.

Austria (+1 today, -5 overall): Projected for a big haul of four medals from seven events today, and they did even better with five.


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Most audacious goal: Mikaela Shiffrin says she’s going for five golds in 2018, one better than Janica Kostelic’s record. She’ll need to pick up the speed events in a hurry.

Worst bobsled finish: A Canadian sled wound up upside-down.

Worst teammate: See, the Dutch speedskaters aren’t perfect.

Worst political display:

Worst illness timing:

Biggest sign that this is all ending:

Published by

Beau Dure

The guy who wrote a bunch of soccer books and now runs a Gen X-themed podcast while substitute teaching and continuing to write freelance stuff.

7 thoughts on “Best/worst, Sochi medal projections vs. reality: Feb. 22”

  1. It’s fine to go by total medals, but you have to use a weighted system like the 4-2-1 model. Saying a bronze medal is equal to a gold medal is simply incorrect.

  2. “If you prefer following gold medal counts to overall medal counts, you’re no fun, and possibly a little pedantic. But the last host country to have the most gold medals was Canada, last time” – this is how the rest of world looks at the standings and is how the IOC does it. So, like the metric system, the US is oddball.

  3. The official Olympic websites always rank according to most golds. I guess that makes them no fun and a little bit pedantic!

  4. Funny, John!

    I’ve actually got an amusing story about this sort of thing from my days buried in results programming at USA TODAY. (Yes, I did a lot more than just writing!) I saw a comment during one Olympics accusing us of being biased because we were ranking by total medals (favoring the U.S.) but had gone by gold medals in the past. I remember thinking, “No, that’s impossible — the specs for the last Olympics also went by total medals.” I checked the existing page for the past Olympics and … it had re-sorted! To this day, I don’t know why it happened. And I had gone through the code in excruciating detail, though I was never supposed to be a programmer.

    It’s kind of funny that Americans tend to (but don’t always) use total medals. We’re supposed to be the ones who view “silver medal” as “first loser,” while the rest of the world is supposed to be happy with any medal. And yet much of the rest of the world (not all, in my experience) uses gold.

    But a lot of sites, including the Sochi site, make the table sortable, anyway. So we can pick.

    I have a personal preference for total medals because I think it shows the depth of a team. It also makes a good jumping-off point — “oh, this country won 10 medals? Hmmm, let me see which medals they won.”

    But if you’re really assigning an overall winner to the Olympics, then I’d agree with the 4-2-1. Even better — OlympStats is compiling an old-school points table giving points on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Russia’s first in that, too, followed by the USA. Norway and Canada are well back, with Canada still harboring hope of taking third IF Norway doesn’t do well in cross-country. Take a look:

  5. The real medal count (gold or total) should be the actual number of medals placed around athletes’ necks. All this adulation of the Netherlands is ridiculous, they dominate ONE sport and are praised for 24 medals. Hockey is much more popular than speedskating, 23 USA athletes and 23 Canadian athletes each received a well deserved medal (gold for Canada, silver for USA) in Women’s hockey, and it is counted as ONE?? At long last we have a team figure skating event, every member gets a deserved medal, and it counts as ONE?? Figure Skating is far more popular world wide than Speedskating, last time I checked the US ice dance pair (gold) and the Canadian ice dance pair(silver) each received a medal….yet a PAIR of medals counts as ONE??
    I love your site Sports Myriad and I ask you to present a true Medal Count of the number of athletes who achieved medals. If the US Men’s Hockey team had medalled, the US and Canada would have about 80 athletes each with medals. As it stands, if Canada wins Men’s hockey gold, Canada will have about 70 athletes with Gold medals ( 46 hockey players, 10 curlers, several figure skaters, 2 bobsledders etc., if Holcomb comes through, USA bobsledders will have 10 medals etc.) Bottom line is that far more Canadian and USA athletes are going home with Olympic medals than any other country, including Russia (both Russian hockey teams failed to medal missing out on 23 medals each)

  6. Canada used to go by total medals, too, until we won the most golds in Vancouver. Now it’s by golds. But then there was an issue in London when we only won 1 gold. I think counting a silver or bronze equal to a gold is problematic, but any way you count medals is problematic. The Dutch did great in speed skating, but does being good in one sport that offers multiple medals really make them a winter sport powerhouse? Canada dominated curling (and possibly hockey), and some would argue you have to do much more to even get a shot at gold in those sports, yet only 4 total medals are possible in those events for one country. You can have a strong freestyle team, but you can’t have as many contenders in each event as you can in speed skating. Add to that the fact that there is little overlap between the different events, so again if one country does well there it indicates much more of a domination than a few speed skaters or biathletes or cross country skiers winning multiple medals in a few events that are much more similar.

    I’m not trying to criticize the Dutch or any particular sport at all. I’m just pointing out flaws in thinking “most medals = best sports country”. The best example is Phelps vs Bolt. If Bolt was given the opportunity to win 8 medals in sprint, sprinting backwards, sprint with arms doing slightly different things, and then different distances and multiple relays, I think we’d all agree he’d be up there in the total medal count with Phelps. It doesn’t take anything away from Phelps, but it puts things in perspective for those who don’t get as many opportunities to pump up their medal count. And I think we can apply this to countries in general.

    It’s difficult to get it all into an easy to understand medal table. But if you’re really interested in sports and the Olympics specifically, like I know many here are, it’s much more useful to look at how many different sports and events each country medaled in, and how many competitors from each country were allowed to compete in those events.

    I know this might all sound like sour grapes from a Canadian, but I swear it’s not. I don’t really care who wins the medal count (not completely anyway…). I’m more concerned with countries now trying to find niche sports in which to dominate instead of developing strong sport programs across the board. Even in Canada, there is talk about concentrating more in the nordic sports since that’s where 30% of the medals are earned, which I totally support in theory, but not at the cost of cutting sports that Canadians actually enjoy.

    And thus ends my treatise on the subject.

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