A quick sport-by-sport discussion of the 2014 medal projections, linking out to all the gory details:
Alpine skiing (picks | posts): Feb. 5 medal projection (gold): Austria 9 (2), Switzerland 3, Slovenia 3 (2), Norway 3 (2), USA 3 (2), France 2 (1), Germany 2 (1), Sweden 2 (1), Canada 1, Italy 1, Liechtenstein 1
(Jan. 1 medal projection (gold): Austria 8 (1), USA 6 (3), Slovenia 4 (3), Italy 3, Norway 2 (2), Croatia 2 (1), Germany 2, Switzerland 1, France 1, Sweden 1)
Changes from Jan. 14: Italy -1, Slovenia -1, Sweden +1, Switzerland +1
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Slovenia’s Tina Maze are multimedal threats. The USA can’t match Austria’s depth but has a handful of medal contenders. Ted Ligety (men’s giant slalom) and Mikaela Shiffrin (women’s slalom) are the best in their events, and you never know what Bode Miller or Julia Mancuso might do.
2010: The USA won eight medals — three from Miller, two from Vonn, two from Mancuso, and a stunner from Andrew Weibrecht, who has never finished higher than 10th in World Cup races. Norway won four — one of each color from Svindal. Germany won three golds, two from Vonn rival/friend Maria Riesch. Austria won only four medals, none in men’s events. And three different Swiss skiers medaled.
Changes from Jan. 1: Czech Republic +2, Germany -1, Ukraine -1. Changes from Jan. 14: Germany -1, Norway +1
If you’re looking for a place to Germany to move up in the medal count, this is it. Germany picked up 11 medals in this sport in 2006, then dropped to five in Whistler. The new generation hasn’t picked up yet, so they’re projected to get four here and two in Infostrada’s picks. Russia could pick up a few more as well. Norway’s projection is high but reasonable — they have multiple medal threats in men’s events and enough depth in women’s events to be a relay favorite. The USA has an outside shot at a medal through Tim Burke.
Changes from Jan. 1: Germany -1, USA +1. Changes from Jan. 14: Canada -1, Russia +1
Early in the World Cup season, the USA is threatening to make a mockery of the current picks. Steven Holcomb is winning everything, and the women look strong as well. We’ll adjust if they continue that form on European ice. For now, the medal table looks similar to the 2010 table, where Germany and Canada won three each (one gold each), the USA won two (one gold), and Russia won one.
Cross-country skiing (picks | posts): Jan. 14 medal projection (gold): Norway 18 (5), Russia 6 (1), Sweden 5 (2), Poland 2 (1), Finland 2, Kazakhstan 1 (1), Switzerland 1 (1), USA 1 (1) – no change from Jan. 1
Is it overboard to pick Norway to double its medal count from 2010? Maybe, but there’s little doubt the traditional power is unusually strong this time around, with other contenders alongside likely multimedalists Petter Northug and Marit Bjoergen. Might be a little more worried about Germany dropping from five medals to none, but a lot of their top athletes retired. Russia is projected to improve on its four medals from last time. The U.S. hopeful is 2013 World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall.
Funny to have the same three medalists, albeit in different order, on the men’s and women’s side. But Britain and Sweden have a couple of skips on top of their games, and Canada has such depth than any curler selected for the team is a contender. The U.S. women have a ton of experience and could be a dark horse.
We have a new event here — the “team” competition. The USA’s depth makes it a medal contender in that one, and the ice dance competition is between the USA and Canada. Seems strange to have North American skaters projected to do so well in Russia, but the host country will get its share as well. No country won more than two medals in 2010, when seven countries split the honors. China is the country left out of the projection here, but they’ll contend in pairs.
Changes from Jan. 1: Austria +1. Slovenia -1. Changes from Jan. 14: Canada +1 and -1, so it’s a wash.
Four new events here — men’s and women’s slopestyle and halfpipe. The USA doesn’t dominate these events but should easily improve from the four medals picked up in 2010. Canada also should add quite a bit to its tally of three. The North Americans are best in moguls, China and Australia dominate aerials, a couple of Europeans will stop North American sweeps in the new events, and skicross is a mixed bag.
Canada exulted over its two golds in its national sport on home ice last time. The other medals were also the same in men’s and women’s hockey: USA silver, Finland bronze. Those three countries should once again be on the podium in women’s hockey, but the men’s tournament is far less predictable. And who wants to play Russia in Russia?
Changes from Jan. 1: Germany -1, Italy +1
They’ve added a relay. That’s one more medal for Germany, projected here to have the best possible performance: men’s sweep, women’s sweep, 1-2 in doubles, gold in the relay. Some bettors call that “chalk.” Germany should easily match the five medals from 2010, and don’t bet against the other three unless World Cup results turn interesting.
Changes from Jan. 1: Austria -1, Norway +1
The leaders in the 2010 medal count? The USA, with four. But the golden generation has turned into golden oldies, with no results to suggest anything other than a puncher’s chance of medaling this time around. The team event is the USA’s best bet, but keeping up with the big guns on the anchor leg won’t be easy.
Changes from Jan. 1: China -1, Italy +1
South Korea is projected to pick up one medal from its Vancouver tally, as is Canada. China should match the four it won in 2010. What’s different? The USA is down from six to one. Apolo Anton Ohno and Katherine Reutter retired, the women’s relay didn’t even qualify for Sochi, and the various scandals have taken a toll.
Changes from Jan. 1: Britain +1, Germany -2, Latvia +1
Oddly enough, the Jan. 1 medal projection was almost exactly the same as the 2010 tally, with the USA replacing Canada with one gold medal. And that’s easy to explain: Noelle Pikus-Pace is in great form, and Canada doesn’t have home ice this time.
Changes in Jan. 1:France -1, Norway, -1, Russia +1, Switzerland +1
At last, women can jump in the Olympics, which explains how Japan and the USA got into the projections. Aside from that, it’s all the usual suspects, depending on whether Simon Ammann (Switzerland) can extend his 4-for-4 in North American Olympics over to Sochi.
Snowboarding (picks | posts): Feb. 5 medal projection (gold): USA 7 (3), Austria 6 (1), Canada 5 (2), Australia 2 (1), Italy 2 (1), Switzerland 2, Germany 1 (1), Russia 1 (1), Czech Republic 1, France 1, Japan 1, Norway 1,
Changes from Jan. 14: Norway -1, Canada +1.
Look at all those countries in the medal projection. Should be quite a party. The four new events should help the USA and Canada pick up another medal or two, but it’ll also help Austria and some of the other European countries that like the parallel events.
Changes from Jan. 14: Germany -1, Netherlands +1
Making the Dutch team might be as hard as winning a medal. The older skaters are still in great form, and the younger skaters are also contenders. The projection nearly doubles the seven they won in 2010, but double digits seem reasonable. The U.S. team is in terrific shape — Shani Davis should still win a couple, and Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe could take one or two each. South Korea is projected to match its five from last time, but Canada has slipped.