Breaking Down the Sochi Olympic Results

Posted on 07. Mar, 2014 by in Opinion

With the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games having finished on February 23rd, now is a good opportunity to analyse some of the results and highlights from the games.

Medal Count

While something like the final medal count should be a simple matter, it seems the USA has once again managed to complicate matters. Taking a look at the official IOC standing, those published by a variety of countries, and what was published by the USA, you notice that everyone except the USA is using the same version of the results. Now it just so happens that that version that the USA is using moves them from fourth place (behind Canada) into second, coincidence? I think not.

This difference is because most of the world is using a medal-preference ranking system. This means that countries are ranked by their number of gold medals first, then by silver if there is a tie, and then by bronze if there is still a tie. This system takes into account that medals of different colour do not carry the value (Gold is more valuable than Silver, which is more valuable than Bronze).

The USA on the other hand is using a total medal-count ranking system where countries are ranked by the total number of medals they have. This system is flawed because it makes the incorrect assertion that all medals are worth the same, which they are not. The only reason the USA is choosing to use this method is because it gives them the appearance of a better result.

The third possible option for scoring (and the one which I think is the most accurate) is the High-point scoring system. This system assigns each medal score (Gold is 3 points, Silver 2, and Bronze1) which are then tallied up for the countries total. Countries are then ranked acording to the number of points they have. This system is similar to the Medal Preference system in that it takes into account that some medals are worth more than others. Where the Medal Preference system relies on winning medals of a certain type for ranking the High-point scoring system is not tied to winning medals of any specific denomination.

High-point Scoring Medal Preference Scoring Total Medal Count
NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total NOC Gold Silver Bronze NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
RUS 13 11 9 70 RUS 13 11 9 RUS 13 11 9 33
CAN 10 10 5 55 NOR 11 5 10 USA 9 7 12 28
NOR 11 5 10 53 CAN 10 10 5 NOR 11 5 10 26
USA 9 7 12 53 USA 9 7 12 CAN 10 10 5 25
NED 8 7 9 47 NED 8 7 9 NED 8 7 9 24
GER 8 6 5 41 GER 8 6 5 GER 8 6 5 19
AUT 4 8 5 33 SUI 6 3 2 AUT 4 8 5 17
FRA 4 4 7 27 BLR 5 0 1 FRA 4 4 7 15
SUI 6 3 2 26 AUT 4 8 5 SWE 2 7 6 15
SWE 2 7 6 26 FRA 4 4 7 SUI 6 3 2 11
CHN 3 4 2 19 POL 4 1 1 CHN 3 4 2 9
KOR 3 3 2 17 CHN 3 4 2 KOR 3 3 2 8
BLR 5 0 1 16 KOR 3 3 2 CZE 2 4 2 8
CZE 2 4 2 16 SWE 2 7 6 SLO 2 2 4 8
POL 4 1 1 15 CZE 2 4 2 JPN 1 4 3 8
SLO 2 2 4 14 SLO 2 2 4 ITA 0 2 6 8
JPN 1 4 3 14 JPN 1 4 3 BLR 5 0 1 6
FIN 1 3 1 10 FIN 1 3 1 POL 4 1 1 6
ITA 0 2 6 10 GBR 1 1 2 FIN 1 3 1 5
GBR 1 1 2 7 UKR 1 0 1 GBR 1 1 2 4
LAT 0 2 2 6 SVK 1 0 0 LAT 0 2 2 4
AUS 0 2 1 5 ITA 0 2 6 AUS 0 2 1 3
UKR 1 0 1 4 LAT 0 2 2 UKR 1 0 1 2
SVK 1 0 0 3 AUS 0 2 1 SVK 1 0 0 1
CRO 0 1 0 2 CRO 0 1 0 CRO 0 1 0 1
KAZ 0 0 1 1 KAZ 0 0 1 KAZ 0 0 1 1
Total 99 97 99 590 Total 99 97 99 Total 99 97 99 295

Comparison

High-point Scoring   Medal Preference Scoring Total Medal Count
NOC Change   NOC   NOC Change
RUS 0   RUS   RUS 0
CAN +1   NOR   USA +2
NOR -1   CAN   NOR -1
USA 0   USA   CAN -1
NED 0   NED   NED 0
GER 0   GER   GER 0
AUT +2   SUI   AUT +2
FRA +2   BLR   FRA +2
SUI -2   AUT   SWE +5
SWE +4   FRA   SUI -3
CHN +1   POL   CHN +1
KOR +1   CHN   KOR +1
BLR -5   KOR   CZE +2
CZE +1   SWE   SLO +2
POL -4   CZE   JPN +2
SLO 0   SLO   ITA +6
JPN 0   JPN   BLR -9
FIN 0   FIN   POL -7
ITA +3   GBR   FIN -1
GBR -1   UKR   GBR -1
LAT +2   SVK   LAT +2
AUS +2   ITA   AUS +2
UKR -3   LAT   UKR -3
SVK -3   AUS   SVK -3
CRO 0   CRO   CRO 0
KAZ 0   KAZ   KAZ 0

The above chart looks at a comparison of the different scoring systems and how countries ranking are affected when compared to the Medal Preference System. In the Total medal count system it can be seen that counties that won more lower valued medals were rewarded while countries which only a few high value medals dropped significantly. The biggest gain here was made by Sweden, who moved up five places due to their disproportionate number of Silver and Bronze medals. The biggest loss to Belarus who drops nine places because of the diminished value of their five Gold medals (out of a total of six medals). In the High-point scoring system favours countries that were strong across all three medal levels. There was no great jump in ranking with this system this Italy only gaining 3 places. Belarus again lost out, due to their disproportionate number of gold medals, and fell five places.

Best Value

While winning the most medals is the ultimate goal, most countries are not in a position to dominate the podium in every event due to the size of their team. This is where a statistic like the number of athletes per medals a country wins is a good indicator of how efficient a countries Olympic contingent was.

The list of which countries performed the most efficiently depending on which medal scoring system you prescribe to. What is constant though is that The Netherlands, Belarus, and Norway all did amazingly well considering the size of their contingent. The worst performing three countries on the list were also consistent (though in a different order) between Austria, Slovakia, and Kazakhstan. Of the countries that did not medal in Sochi Romania and Estonia both left with no medals having brought 24 athletes each.

High-point Scoring Total Medal Count
NOC Total Athletes Per Point NOC Total Athletes Per Point
NED 47 41 0.9 NED 24 41 1.7
BLR 16 24 1.5 BLR 6 24 4.0
NOR 53 134 2.5 NOR 26 134 5.2
RUS 70 232 3.3 FRA 15 105 7.0
CHN 19 66 3.5 RUS 33 232 7.0
GER 41 153 3.7 SWE 15 106 7.1
FRA 27 105 3.9 CHN 9 66 7.3
POL 15 59 3.9 AUT 17 130 7.6
AUT 33 130 3.9 GER 19 153 8.1
CAN 55 221 4.0 USA 28 230 8.2
SWE 26 106 4.1 SLO 8 66 8.2
KOR 17 71 4.2 CAN 25 221 8.8
USA 53 230 4.3 KOR 8 71 8.9
SLO 14 66 4.7 POL 6 59 9.8
CZE 16 85 5.3 CZE 8 85 10.6
CRO 2 11 5.5 CRO 1 11 11.0
SUI 26 168 6.5 GBR 4 56 14.0
GBR 7 56 8.0 JPN 8 113 14.1
JPN 14 113 8.1 ITA 8 113 14.1
LAT 6 58 9.7 LAT 4 58 14.5
FIN 10 103 10.3 SUI 11 168 15.3
UKR 4 43 10.8 FIN 5 103 20.6
ITA 10 113 11.3 UKR 2 43 21.5
SVK 3 62 20.7 AUS 3 130 43.3
AUS 5 130 26.0 KAZ 1 52 52.0
KAZ 1 52 52.0 SVK 1 62 62.0
Total 590 Total 295

Highlights

Along with the raw numbers there are many interesting aspects about the Sochi 2014 Olympics. This was the largest Winter Olympics ever with 98 events across 15 winter sport disciplines, 12 more than in Vancouver 2010. These were also the most expensive Olympics ever at $51 billion USD, $7 billion more than the $44 billion it cost for the Beijing games in 2008. This works out to $520 million per event, $374 million more than the $146 million per event that was spent in Beijing.

There were also many records for countries and athletes in Sochi. The Netherlands became the new Winter Olympic Single-sport medal record holder with an astounding 23 of their 24 medals coming from speed-skating. This number is even more imprssive when you consider that all the other countries combined only picked up 13 medals in speed-skating. This beat Austria’s previous single-sport record of 14 medals in Alpine Skiing in 2006.

There were six new World Records and 10 new Olympic Records set at the Sochi games, with eight coming from speed-skating.

After leading the medal count in the first few days of the games Germany dropped back to finish in 6th place overall, their worst result since their reunification. Their success early on is attributed to their dominance of the Luge events, where they won all four available Gold medals.

Belarus, which had previously only ever won one Gold medal, and never placed higher than 15 in the overall standing, finished the Sochi games with five Gold medals and a Bronze. Three of those Gold’s came from one athlete, making her a more decorated athlete than her country was coming into the games.

The Norwegians cleaned house in the cross-country skiing and biathlon events winning eight Gold, three Silver, and six Bronze medals. As a consequence of these results Norway now has the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who won his 13th medal in Sochi, and the most decorated female Winter Olympian, Marit Bjoergen, with her sixth Olympic Gold.

 Canada

Canada finished second overall at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics with 10 Gold, 10 Silver, and 10 Bronze, a performance only bested by their results on Vancouver 2010. With so many amazing performances by Canadian athletes (and some heart-breaking let-down) Canadians have a lot to be proud of. That being said, for most Canadians winning at Men’s Hockey (winning Women’s Hockey is almost a given) is the indication of a successful Olympics. Having successfully defended the Gold (and earned bragging rights with the Americans for another four years), the time is upon us to prepare to do it again.

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