February 19, 2006


I told you so.

I told you so.

(Of course, just when I start feeling like I know a lot about sports, I go and enter the sportsFilter Olympic hockey pool. I would do a statistical analysis of my chances of winning the pool, but I think I can guess the answer.)

My good mood about the Swedish hockey victory, and Shani Davis' win in the 1,000 m, was almost ruined by the events of Day 8. Canadian teams were upset in men's hockey (by Switzerland), upset in men's curling (by Italy), and upset in women's curling (by Japan). Then I remembered that the Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries. That made me feel quite a lot better.

Some people do forget, though. In fact, most media outlets publish some kind of a medal table that ranks how different nations are performing at the Olympics. Last week, citius altius fortius pointed out that it is standard practice, in North America, to rank the countries by their total number of medals; whereas in Europe, the table is normally ordered by the number of gold medals won.

Figure 1

Canadian medal prediction, 2006

Figure 1 — Updated probability distribution for Canada's 2006 winter Olympic medal total (click to enlarge). Prediction is based on the probability assessment here, updated as events are decided.

In 2006, the two different methods are causing a sort of odd situation. Medal tables in the US are showing Norway in the lead (16 medals), followed by Germany (15 medals) and the US (13 medals). Russia also has 13 medals, and then comes Canada with 11.

Meanwhile, in Europe, they're showing the US in first place (7 golds), followed by Germany and Russia (6 golds), Austria (4 golds), Korea, France, and Estonia with three golds each. Norway is currently eighth, and Canada ninth, with two gold medals each.

So by the American scoring system, the USA is in third place; but by the European system, the Americans are winning.

Speaking of medal totals, the COC had a mid-Olympics review today and they still think that Canadian athletes and teams can win 25 medals and finish third in (the American version of) the medal table. I still think that's unlikely, although at the end of Day 8 I would put the chances of 25 or more medals at 18%, which is higher than when the Olympic started. I've also got a new format for the medal prediction that nobody cares about, which you can see in the inset.

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