Pyeongchang 2018 Virtual Medal Table: Which countries will win which golds?
A year out from the start of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Gracenote Sports have published their first Virutal Medal Table.
Great Britain are predicted to get three medals: a silver for Lizzy Yarnold in the skeleton and a silver and a bronze for Elise Christie in the 1000m and 500m short track respectively.
How is the table worked out? We spoke to Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports....
How are the projections made?
We use results data in "world class events" starting with the 2014 Olympic Games and continuing with World Championships and World Cups or equivalent up to the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. These results are weighted for the strength of the competition so a World Championships weighs more than a World Cup event for example. They are also weighted for recency so an event which took place last week is more important than one from two or three years ago.
How accurate were the projections for Sochi and Rio (in terms of total medals and individual winners?)
Sport is an unpredictable business, which is why we spend so much of our lives watching it. However, in terms of total medals we would expect to get reasonably close to reality - so within a handful of medals and a very good relationship to the actual rank order. Having said that, we notice that countries over and underperform the data and this Is interesting in itself. In Sochi for example, Russia did a great deal better than the data had suggested they would. The Dutch team's utter dominance of speed skating was also a shock to all and was again a lot better than the data suggested.
At individual level, the margins are very tiny so illness, not being absolutely fit and other things can play a part which it is difficult to foresee. In addition, events like the men's downhill or many of the short track speedskating races are highly unpredictable and often throw up surprise winners. In Sochi, data did a little bit better in terms of predicting the actual medallists than the experts who also attempt this exercise without mathematics.
Which countries are set to over/underperform?
If a country over or underperforms its data, that is not something we can guess at this stage. If it is in terms of overperforming previous Winter Games then we are looking at Norway, France and Canada and, at the lower end of the medal table Australia. Russia should obviously win fewer medals than at Sochi 2014, the Netherlands surely cannot replicate what they did in Sochi but the number of medals we are currently forecasting for the Dutch is still way above their usual performance, Sochi aside. Otherwise Italy, who have declined in winter sports since winning 20 medals in Lillehammer in 1994 , are currently forecast a very low medal total but will surely improve and Poland's total looks like being disappointing in comparison to 2010 and 2014.
How much do you expect projections to change over the final year?
There is a World Championship in virtually every winter sport between now and the Games as well as a World Cup circuit in many prior to Pyeongchang 2018 opening. So, plenty can change. How much will remains to be seen. A year out from Sochi 2014, we forecast 29 medals for the USA and they won 28.