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Crawl Across the Ocean: Vancouver 2010: Results Summary

Submitted by on Tuesday, 2 March 2010No Comment

I discussed my approach to measuring Olympic success back in this post but here’s a quick summary, before I post the results updated for Vancouver.

1) 4 points are awarded for a gold medal, 3 points for a silver, 2 for a bronze. This reflects the higher value placed on gold and silver, as well as the drop off from 3rd to 4th, with many athletes who finish 4th in one Olympics, continuing on for 4 more years for the chance to get a medal, but I’ve never heard of an athlete who got bronze going for 4 more years to try and get silver.

2) In each sport, I compute the percentage of total points available for that sport that each country has achieved rather than adding up the number of medals. for example, if the Americans were to get one gold, one silver and one bronze in Nordic Combined, then they would have 9 points out of a total 27 (27 because there are 3 Nordic Combined Events, and each event has 9 total points available) for 33% of the total freestyle skiing points. This controls for increases in the number of events within a given sport over time. It’s a judgment call, but would it really seem right to count biathlon (with 10 events and 30 medals) for 5x the value of hockey (2 events, 6 medals)?

3) Each country’s total score is expressed as a percentage of total points available (which is 100% for each sport). This corrects for inflation over time due to steady increases in the number of sports competed.

So here’s the total for Vancouver (medal count in brackets – total – gold/silver/bronze):

1. Canada 15.5% (26 – 14/7/5)
2. U.S.A. 15.2% (37 – 9/15/13)
3. Germany 13.4% (30 – 10/13/7)
4. Austria 7.4% (16 – 4/6/6)
5. Norway 6.4% (23 – 9/8/6)
6. China 4.5% (11 – 5/2/4)
7. Russia 4.5% (15 – 3/5/7)
8. Switzerland 4.4% (9 – 6/0/3)
9. South Korea 4.1% (14 – 6/6/2)
10. Sweden 3.4% (11 – 5/2/4)
11. France 3.3% (11 – 2/3/6)
12. Poland 2.2% (6 – 1/3/2)
13. Finland 2.1% (5 – 0/1/4)
14. Latvia 1.9% (2 – 0/2/0)
15. Netherlands 1.8% (8 – 4/1/3)

This is the first time that Canada has ever topped the medal table by this methodology. Canada comes out ahead despite having 11 fewer medals than the U.S. because the Canadian medals were shinier (more gold, less silver and bronze) and because they came in sports with fewer events (e.g. hockey, curling) vs. those with more events (e.g. Alpine Skiing). the Austrians were likely disappointed by their lack of success in Alpine Skiing, but off the slopes they did quite well. the most extreme example of how the methodology penalizes countries that only excel at one sport is the Netherlands, which won 8 medals to the Latvians 2, but won almost all of them in long track speed skating and ranks lower as a result.

To put Canada’s performance at Vancouver into historical context, here are a couple of charts (click to enlarge). the first compares Canada’s percentage score with that of Norway, Austria, the U.S.A., Germany (adding the West and East scores for the years of two German teams) and Russia (using U.S.S.R. or Unified Team scores for the relevant years).

The second chart is Canada’s performance on it’s own, you can see that despite only winning two more medals than in 2006, Canada scored much higher in Vancouver.

1267545620 Crawl Across the Ocean: Vancouver 2010: Results Summary

1267545620 Crawl Across the Ocean: Vancouver 2010: Results Summary

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