Olympians on say the hockey team, where only one medal is available seems to skew these stats.
I would be more interested in something like medals per population as a whole.
Ok, this was brought on by my wife who has never watched more than one or two events of the Olympics before. I watched it most nights so she was forced to. She was really bothered by the fact that the US had so many more Olympians than most countries. She kept saying "Of course we have the most medals, we have the most Olympians". I started thinking and decided to run the numbers of number of Olympians versus medals won. I completely expected some country with one Olympian to win a medal and blow this metric up, but it didn't happen.
Edit: Normalized for Hockey. I Subtracted 22 for mens and 20 for womens and then added 1 for mens and 1 for womans.
Olympians on say the hockey team, where only one medal is available seems to skew these stats.
I would be more interested in something like medals per population as a whole.
Yeah, there are some events that skew it. 2 and 4 man bobsled do also. I'm not sure it would change much since most of the teams that won a lot of medals fielded teams. Might help a country like Belarus or Russia though.
In order to be statistically valid you would have to change all the teams to 1 (from hockey, curling, bobsled, relays (multiple sports), etc...) not just hockey.
e.g. USA = 216 Athletes
Bobsled 4 man x3 = -9
Bobsled 2 woman x3 = -3
Curling 5 man = -4
Curling 5 woman = -4
Figure Skating Pairs x2 = -2
Ice Dancing Pairs x3 = -3
Mens Hockey (23) = -22
Womens Hockey (21) = -20
Luge doubles x2 = -2
Total USA teams/athletes = 147
(all other teams relays were either a combo of individual participants in other sports or a combo of IP's plus one additional and therefore don't further subtract from the total)
Therefore USA - 37/147 = 25.2%
Further -- some countries sent athletes to complete in only one event. Others (USA included) sent athletes to compete in multiple events. To be truly accurate for wins/opportunity you would have to calculate medals/event participated in not just medals/athlete. This is mitigated partially by the team sports but once you make each team=1 the effect will be more pronounced.
In general though comparing teams who (after adjustment) sent 10-20 players/teams with teams who sent 100+ players is simply not going to result in a demonstratively statistically valid comparison.
LEMAN/STANZI 2012! Love it or leave it!
This is sort of well-intentioned, but there are a number of factors that play into this that make a simple average invalid. You haven't taken into consideration the fact that in most cases, these Olympians very often have to qualify to have their position. For instance, it is no coincidence that we had three ice dancing couples. We were allowed three couples based on past performance, not just because we felt like putting them out there. Many countries are only allowed one in that case.
Things that should probably also be taken into account:
Training location: Many athletes train in one another's countries. Ice Dancing Canadian gold medalists Virtue and Moir train in the U.S.! Likewise, many of our skiers go over to Europe to train. In this case, how do you really qualify who is from what country?
Funding: Our athletes tend to train privately, unlike a few other nations that fund their teams directly. Conversely, the United States has a higher GDP than most, allowing its athletes to (probably) more easily fund themselves.
Team Sports: Looking at it again, this is probably the hugest mistake you made. Your list includes every individual competitor (vancouver2010.com, I presume), which puts at a severe disadvantage countries that fielded ice hockey teams, or to a lesser extent curling teams, relay teams, bobsled teams, pairs skaters, etc. SIX of your top ten did not field a hockey team!
High profile, highly marketable sports, like say ice skating can get a lot of private funding. If you're doing, say, skeleton, you might want the same level of funding the Koreans give to short track.
The ONLY way the OP's post makes sense is if qualifying for the Olympics was based on filing out a form.
The Olympics are like the finals. You have to qualify to even get there. Some countries have more qualifiers (i.e., finalists) and, therfore, more medals.
Getting there should not be discounted.
... country size should be a variable to consider, as well. The ability to put 3 ice dancing couples in an olympic and a great curling team is also correlated with the size of that country.
For example, if Korea was a lot larger, you could assume they would grow to dominate all skating sports, starting with long track, then the dancing/figure skating events.
Good thoughts, though, and great conversation topic, in general.
Countries like the US and Canada have more olympians cause more qualified for the events, so they deserve to be there. It's not like a country can just sent 3 people to every event if they feel like it. Even if they could, theyd be wasting everyones time and money to send people who dont have enough skills to compete. Like for the snowboard cross, the US didnt send any women cause non could qualify. But I guess a point could be made that the bigger countries have more money for training more athletes. I'd like to see something that compares how much money each country spends to train their olympians per athlete.
Lindsay Jacobellis was in the women's snowboard cross but she wiped in the semi-finals.
My problem with this article - and thanks for putting in the leg work - is that it basically reiterates what everyone kind of realized - a couple of smaller countries focus on a few sports (nordic skiing, speed-skating) and dominate those, while most of the bigger/"winter-centric" countries send competitors in virtually all the sports and scoop up the bulk of the medals.
I'd like to see a breakdown of these medals by general "sport" like skating, skiing, etc.
...which dominates everything because America is incredibly awesome.
... and has an incredible talent pool to select from.
...and incredibly hot chicks like Vonn, Mancuso and Belbin.
again amen and hallelujah...
Canada had the most Golds in the Winter Olympics. The USA did not have the most Gold medals in the Winter Olympics, but we had the most medals overall.
China had the most Golds in the Summer Olympics. The USA did not have the most Gold medals in the Summer Olympics, but we had the most medals overall.
Where was Canada in the Summer Olympics? Where was China in the WInter Olympics?
The USA is in the World Cup finals.
The USA makes the World Championship finals in a zillion sports, from Basketball to Figure Skating.
We're good at everything across the board. We don't load up on just a few niche sports.
the Gold medal podium. That was Canada.
Just a little nit to pick.. team USA reported 24 players on their roster in at least one game out of 25 non-alternates selected. I think teams could max out at 25, based on what I've seen so far?
USA had the most medals. That's good enough for me.
amen and hallelujah...
Two cross country skiers (biathalon, Nordic combined, whatever...they were skiing across the finish line on a flat surface) finished at the exact same time to the hundredth of a second or whatever they measure it by, thus the two silvers. Yeah, I watched a lot of Olympics.
Yet, the Koreans probably still would have had only 14 medals if they had entered 175 olympians in the games. I think if there were as many snowboarding events as short track or cross-country events, USA would probably have 15 more golds. What you should do is break down the medals by sport and I'm sure that you'll find that no country wins as many medals in as diverse of a group of sports as the US (and maybe germany).
Actually, Let's see: (total medals)
USA Ger Can Nor Kor
Alpine Skiing 8 3 0 4 0
Short Track 6 0 5 0 8
Snowboarding 5 0 3 0 0
Nordic Combined 4 1 0 0 0
Speed Skating 4 4 5 1 5
Freestyle Skiing 4 0 3 2 0
Figure Skating 2 1 2 0 1
Bobsled 2 3 3 0 0
Hockey 2 0 2 0 0
Biathlon 0 5 0 5 0
Cross-Country 0 5 0 9 0
Curling 0 0 2 1 0
Luge 0 5 0 0 0
Skeleton 0 2 1 0 0
Ski Jumping 0 1 0 1 0
If you are going to normalize for hockey, you should normalize for curling as well.
USA! USA! USA!
I've always wanted to see 3 pts for gold, 2 pts for silver, 1 pt for bronze. Then see who 'wins' ...
USA = (9x3)+(15x2)+(13x1) = 70
Germany = 63
Canada = 61
were was Jamaica during all of this?
Ricky Stanzi does not endorse this diary entry.
I find it hilarious that even though the Koreans (I was born in Seoul) performed surprisingly well in short track speed skating, they still missed out on 3-4 more medals due to Lee Ho-suk's crashes. That Lee, such a clumsy Ho.
You might say he... suks?*
Another interesting stat would be how many athletes, regardless of country of origin, play or train, in the US. This would be very interesting in the summer olympics, where a very high percentage of runners, representing a myriad of countries, attend various American universities.
such as 4-man bobsled (and 2-man), 2-man luge, relay and pursuit races in speed skating, pairs figure skating. i'm sure there are others, but thats all i got right now
United States 9
South Korea 6
The US is the only country that thinks third place is awesome. For example:
I would imagine Canada would like to have the most total medals too since they created an entire program to do so.
"Place first in the total medal count at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games"
I mean they also wanted to be top 3 in the gold medal so they accomplished that, but I don't think you can say only the Americans care about winning the total medal count.
I don't know about Canada but I've lived in England, Germany, Italy and South Korea and they usually just rank by golds with total medals as a tie breaker.
It might be an American-centric point of view, but do you think that might be because most of those countries kept getting dominated by the US and the Soviet Union (and now China) in the day in the total medal count?
# of Golds is the only way that most countries could even keep within sight of the US/USSR/China.
As an alternate point of view, each country uses the determination that makes itself look the best.
3rd place might not be awesome, but its a hell of a lot better than finishing 20th. Silver and Bronze != Gold, but its better than nothing.
All things considered, I would not mind being 3rd best in the world at an Olympic event.
This is a long standing difference between various counties. But,three points
1) if silver and bronze dont "count" why give them out at all
2) the official vancover 2010 web site score board ranked teams by total count
3) and most important, who really cares? I found the constant reference to the medal count annoying. It was two weeks of good competition in unique sports the majority of which I'll watch again in exactly four years. Just enjoy it. Sure cheer for the USA (or whatever your country may happend to be), but enjoy the other stories too. Excuse me for being glad that the Canadian whose mom died beat an American for bronze, etc.
The US is the only country that thinks third place is awesome.
Right. Every other country in the world would be devastated to finish third in gold medals. Especially, you know, those countries that never medal.
First, great thought-provoking post. I don't love the number of Olympians metric though, because I think it makes some false assumptions.
It is not that you hurl a huge pile of athletes at an event and each gives you an equal roll of the dice chance at winning a medal. There are two things that determine the number of Olympians: (1) how many superior athletes you have, and (2) how many athletes you are willing to send that have little or no chance of winning a medal. I highly doubt that some country had a medal-caliber athlete sitting home because the country couldn't afford the plane ticket. Budgetary cuts may have been made, but not for any real contenders. The same athletes from the same countries probably would have ended up with their medals even if you made major adjustments to the hundreds of lower tier athletes that individual countries elected to send or not send.
Take Italy. Italy clearly feels that sending any Olympic-caliber athlete is worth it. I say good for them. They are killed in your calculation for sending so many, however. By dividing by totals you reward countries that only picked certain sports, or only sent their medal contenders. But it is not that these teams would have won more medals if they gave every sport their best attempt. I love India for sending a luger. He was not going to medal. But he was awesome. I don't know why I am irrationally afraid that your rankings are going to impact state policy on the Olympics, but...I guess that's why I don't like ranking this way.
Actually, the biggest factor is simply whether or not your athletes qualify for the Olympics. We qualified athletes in almost every sport, which is why we sent so many to the Games. If India could have qualified athletes in more sports, they'd have sent them. If you could just choose to send anyone you wanted, you can bet Jamaica's bobsled team would have been there - they missed the Games because they didn't qualify this time.
I doubt budgetary concerns come up in this. This is the Olympics. There's national glory to be had. Countries will come up with the money.
the short skating contest.
S Korea would load up the sport with people so they always had more than one competing and then trying to block the others so one of their teammates could win.
Seems more like a team sport to me.
It does make Ohno look more impressive since he was always odd man out.
Imagine if you could do that? Each speedying guy had an enforcer. Ohno would have some thug on skates tyring to block out all the other speedy guys. It would be like roller derby on ice!
Yes, I'm kidding. Sort of.
I don't have the time to do it now, but I think it would be interesting to normalize by each country's population. I've seen it done for the summer games, but not for Vancouver yet.
You can't really normalize by population either, since so many people are actually citizens of other countries or even have dual citizenship. That applies especially in the United States or in the EU, I would think. You would have to go with the amount of eligible population rather than the census-style population.
Then why bother to award them? If gold is what really matters, then let's cut the podium down to one and just award a gold medal. Otherwise, if they're going to continue to award three medals, then let's not try to devalue the total medal count.
What might REALLY be interesting would be to go through the final standings for all events and see what nation had the best average finish over all events.
i had this discussion with my wife last night after Canada beat us for the hockey gold (bummer). i want the US of A to be the best in everything. i realize it wont happen. however, seeing where the US finished in the medal count (breaking the All time winter game medal count) was awesome. then to see where the US ranked in overall event finish average would be really cool! great thought sir!
Is a country with 10 Golds 4 Silvers 3 Bronzes really having a better Olympics than a country with 8 Golds 12 Silvers 15 Bronzes? Of course not, even though country A has more Golds.
But likewise, a country with 1 Gold 12 Silvers 15 Bronzes is not having a better Olympics than a country with 10 Golds 4 Silvers 3 Bronzes, even though country A has more total medals.
If you really care which country "won" the Olympics (and you know you do), you need a weighted count: Bronze=1, Silver=2, Gold=3.
By this weighted count, the USA "won" the Olympics with a score of 70. Germany is second with a score of 63. Canada is third with a score of 61, even though it had the most Golds.
Consistency DOES count.
I am not sure the number of medals/athlete sent is a valid handicapping metric. Most of the warmer weather countries only send athletes when they have athletes willing to compete in a certain sport. Other countries only send athletes in sports where they have a solid programs and a chance to win. If there was a requirement that in order to enter you had to compete in a minumum number of events and field a minimum number of athletes, this might be a meaningful metric.
There are two other numbers that might have some meaning as a method of handicapping medal performance:
Medals/population of the sending country: This guages the effectiveness of the country in garnering medals relative to the population base from which they have to draw athletes. Generally you would expect that more population = more potentially athletically gifted people. A country with more people will have more athletes and can thus pick only the very best athletes. Its like recruiting in Florida or Texas for UF or UT.
Norway -- 4.8 million -- 23 medals -- 1 medal per 208,000 people
Austria -- 8.3 million -- 16 medals -- 1 medal per 518,000 people
Slovenia -- 2.05 million -- 3 medals -- 1 medal per 683,333 people
Sweden -- 9.2 million -- 11 medals -- 1 medal per 835,000 people
Switzerland -- 7.7 million -- 9 medals -- 1 medal per 855,000 people
Finland -- 5.5 million -- 5 medals -- 1 medal per 1,080,000 people
Canada -- 31.6 million -- 26 medals -- 1 medal per 1,215,000 people
Netherlands -- 15.9 million -- 8 medals -- 1 medal per 1,990,000 people
Germany -- 81.8 million -- 30 medals -- 1 medal per 2,935,000 people
South Korea -- 49.5 million -- 15 medals -- 1 medal per 3,535,000 people
France -- 65.4 million -- 11 medals -- 1 per 5,945,000 people
USA -- 309 million -- 37 medals -- 1 medal per 8,350,000 people
Russia -- 142 million -- 15 medals -- 1 medal per 9,460,000 people
China -- 1.321 billion -- 11 medals -- 1 medal per 120,000,000 people
You get the idea. I think this includes all the top countries using this handicaping metric, plus the USA and China. Looking at it this way, the achievement of Norway and Austria all the more remarkable. Given the population base from which to draw potential athletes, the American performance is uninspiring given the talent pool they have to draw from. This is one of the prime reasons the rest of the world shrugs when the USA sits atop the medal count: they should given their population. Even Germany's dominance is not unexpected. It begs the question of how you determine the threshold for labeling a country a "dominant winter sports" country. Is it one medal per every three million as per Germany? One per every two, as per the Netherlands? Or one per every million as per Finland or Switzerland? The Canadian "Own the Podium" [from my home country] program looks ok when you look at it this way. I would like to see the numbers get to the level of say a Switzerland 1 per 900,000-1,000,000 persons, or roughly 31-35 medals total, but 26 medals is very respectable.
Medals/dollars spent: This would include public and private money. The idea here is that the more dollars spent on developing athletes, training facilities and athletic equipment would result in more medals (think of the impact of swim suits on aquatic sports or the value of having your own speed skating facility).
Per capita medals is interesting, but ultimately disadvantages the biggest countries, because there's a limit to how many athletes a country can send. The U.S. may have nearly 10 times the population of Canada, but we sent almost exactly the same number of athletes. It's not like we could have sent 2,000 athletes to Canada's 200. We had competitors in just about every sport (there was one women's event we missed out on), so we pretty much reached the limit of athletes we could possibly send. (BTW, as the host country, Canada automatically qualified for all team competitions. The automatic-qualification rule is a big reason why host countries almost always perform better than usual.)
Medals/dollars spent might be a bit misleading, given that a huge number of athletes (especially in the Summer Olympics) train in the United States, on our dime.
Excellent response. But the ability to send 2,000 athletes is not the point. If you could potentially send 2,000+ olympic calibre athletes and from that list select the best 200-250 athletes, we would expect that the quality of those athletes to be better than 200 athletes drawn from a population pool one tenth the size.