2018 medal projections: 31 today

NBC’s Nick Zaccardi has taken care of something I had planned to do, rounding up this winter’s World Championship results into a medal projection.

His numbers:

34 Germany
28 USA
27 Norway
26 Canada
22 France

Compare this to the most recent Virtual Medal Table from Gracenote, which compiles all results:

34 Germany
34 Norway
31 USA
29 Canada (only 5 gold)
23 Russia

I haven’t done a full-fledged projection (and I might not), but I’ll take a quick pass through the World Championship results and assign a plus or minus to Nick’s count:

ALPINE SKIING

Medals won: 3

  • Mikaela Shiffrin: gold, slalom
  • Shiffrin: silver, giant slalom
  • Lindsey Vonn: bronze, downhill

Shiffrin won Sochi slalom gold at age 18. Now she’s the overall World Cup champion, dominating in slalom and running quite well in giant slalom. If Vonn’s healthy, she can do it again. The U.S. men can surprise, but if you’re crunching numbers, no one’s near the podium.

Reasonable projection: 3

BIATHLON

Medals won: 2

  • Lowell Bailey: gold, 20k individual
  • Susan Dunklee: silver, 12.5k mass start

Breakthrough! At long last, Bailey and Dunklee put it all together and took major hardware. There’s no reason they can’t do it again, but unless you’re Laura Dahlmeier or Martin Fourcade, biathlon success can be fickle.

Reasonable projection: 1 (-1)

BOBSLED/SKELETON

Medals won: 2

  • Elana Meyers Taylor / Kehri Jones: gold, women’s bobsled
  • Jamie Greubel Poser / Aja Evans: bronze, women’s bobsled

North American women are dominant these days — Canada’s Kaillie Humphries took the middle spot on the podium. The ever-reliable Steven Holcomb was in the World Cup overall top three in both two-man and four-man. The skeleton crew isn’t doing quite as well but still picked up a couple of World Cup podiums.

Reasonable projection: 3 (+1)

CURLING

Medals won: 0 so far; mixed doubles is ongoing

John Shuster made the World Championship bronze-medal game for the second straight year but couldn’t follow through on his breakthrough medal from last year. Nina Roth finished fifth, and breaking that top four will be tough. The wild card: mixed doubles. Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson took bronze last year, and Becca and Matt Hamilton have gone unbeaten in round-robin play. The Round of 16 and quarterfinals take place today.

Reasonable projection: 1 (+1)

FIGURE SKATING

Medals won: 2

  • Maia Shibutani / Alex Shibutani, bronze, ice dancing
  • Team, bronze (in World Team Trophy)

We can read the World Championship disappointment two ways. Maybe it means the USA just isn’t able to deliver. Or maybe it means phenoms Karen Chen (fourth) and Nathan Chen (sixth) now have the experience they need to blast through the competition next year. Also, two ice dancing medals are a good possibility.

Reasonable projection: 3 (+1)

FREESTYLE SKIING

Medals won: 6 (not including non-Olympic dual moguls)

  • Jonathon Lillis, gold, men’s aerials
  • Ashley Caldwell, gold, women’s aerials
  • Aaron Blunck, gold, men’s halfpipe
  • McRae Williams, gold, men’s slopestyle
  • Gus Kenworthy, silver, men’s slopestyle
  • Devin Logan, bronze, women’s halfpipe

Yeah, the USA is still pretty good in the X Games sports, and they’ve come roaring back in aerials. Two aerials golds and two men’s slopestyle medals may be tough to repeat, but the U.S. team has legitimate challengers across the board.

Reasonable projection: 6

ICE HOCKEY

Medals won: 1 (so far; men yet to play)

  • U.S. women, gold

They settled their labor dispute and won a world title. As always, we’re expecting a USA-Canada final. The men’s competition is completely up in the air — with NHL players apparently not getting time off to go, we might be back to the era of U.S. amateurs playing European pros.

Reasonable projection: 1

LUGE

Medals won: 2 (not including non-Olympic sprint events)

  • Erin Hamlin, silver, women’s
  • Team, silver

In Hamlin we trust. And we should point out the World Championships weren’t in North America this year, so don’t chalk this up to home-ice advantage. Tucker West has a shot in the men’s event and strengthens the team for the relay.

Reasonable projection: 2

NORDIC EVENTS (cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined)

Medals won: 3

  • Jessie Diggins, silver, sprint
  • Kikkan Randall, bronze, sprint
  • Diggins / Sadie Bjornsen, bronze, team sprint

Randall came roaring back after maternity leave. Diggins is now a true all-event threat, placing sixth in the World Cup. Still, sprints can be messy, and repeating the 2-3 from Worlds is far from guaranteed.

Reasonable projection: 2 (-1)

SNOWBOARDING

Medals won: 3 (not including several non-Olympic events)

  • Lindsey Jacobellis, gold, women’s snowboard cross
  • Chris Corning, silver, big air
  • Corning, bronze, slopestyle

No halfpipe medals? What in the name of Shaun White is going on here? That won’t happen next year.

Reasonable projection: 5 (+2)

SPEEDSKATING (long-track)

Medals won (World Single Distance): 4

  • Heather Bergsma, gold, women’s 1,000 meters
  • Bergsma, gold, women’s 1,500 meters
  • Bergsma, bronze, women’s mass start
  • Joey Mantia, gold, men’s mass start

It’s easy to lose faith after the flameout in Sochi, but Bergsma was overwhelming on the World Cup circuit (6-for-6 at 1,000 meters, 3-for-5 at 1,500). Brittany Bowe is working her way back. Mantia and Shani Davis had a few podiums as well.

Reasonable projection: 4

SPEEDSKATING (short-track)

Medals won: 0

John-Henry Krueger and J.R. Celski each had one World Cup bronze, and the men’s relay reached the podium once in six tries.

Reasonable projection: 0

TOTAL PROJECTION: 31.

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