Monday, March 1, 2010

Which Country Won The Vancouver Olympics

Just as with the Beijing Olympics, the Vancouver Olympics ended with different countries claiming the most medals over all and the most gold medals. In these games the United States won more medals than any other country ever has in a winter games, and Canada won more gold medals than any other country ever had in a winter games. Germany manages to wedge themselves in the middle winning more gold then the United States but fewer medals over all and the opposite with respect to Canada. Just as with the last Beijing games, determining an over all winner will require some calculating.

First, the official medal count:

United States
Gold - 9
Silver - 15
Bronze - 13
Total - 37

Gold - 10
Silver - 13
Bronze - 7
Total - 30

Gold - 14
Silver - 7
Bronze - 5
Total - 26

The first two metrics require no extra calculation, just a reading of the totals. The United States win the metric of most medals over all, and Canada wins the metric of most gold medals. Canada and the United States take third in the metrics that the other won with Germany coming in second for both.

Now if we assume a gold is worth three, silver two, and a bronze one:
United States - (9x3) + (15x2) + (13x1) -> 27+30+13 = 70
Germany - (10x3) + (13x2) + (7x1) -> 30 + 26 + 7 = 63
Canada - (14x3) + (7x2) + (5x1) -> 42 + 14 + 5 = 61
The United States wins, Germany takes second, and Canada is a close third.

Now if we assume a gold is worth Five, silver three, and a bronze one:
United States - (9x5) + (15x3) + (13x1) -> 45 + 45 + 13 = 103
Germany - (10x5) + (13x3) + (7x1) -> 50 + 39 + 7 = 96
Canada - (14x5) + (7x3) + (5x1) -> 70 + 21 + 5 = 96
The United States wins with Canada and Germany tied for second.

The United States wins three of the metrics and comes in third for one of them. Canada wins one, ties for second in one, and comes in third for two. Germany does not win any instead coming in second for all four. Now for some additional calculations to figure out the winners of the average of the metrics.

Assuming first is worth three, second is worth two, and third is worth one:
United States - (3x3) + (0x2) + (1x1) -> 9 + 0 + 1 = 10
Germany - (0x3) + (4x2) + (0x1) -> 0 + 8 + 0 = 8
Canada - (1x3) + (1x2) + (2x1) -> 3 + 2 + 2 = 8

Assuming first is worth five, second is worth three, and third is worth one:
United States - (3x5) + (0x3) + (1x1) -> 15 + 0 + 1 = 16
Germany - (0x5) + (4x3) + (0x1) -> 0 + 12 + 0 = 12
Canada - (1x5) + (1x3) + (2x1) -> 5 + 3 + 2 = 11

Calculating the value of the outcome of the metrics, the United States takes first, Germany takes second, and Canada comes in at about the closest possible third. As always, it is up to you to decide which metric you use, or if you want to use the metric average. The only thing I would say is that your metric should be consistent, not switching based on which your country did best in. Last time around, China won in my preferred metric (gold 5, silver 3, bronze 1). This time around, the United States has won.

Feel free to comment with your alternative metrics or which you think is the best measure.

Update: Instapundit link!


  1. I'm a Proud American, but Canada's showing with 1/10th the population of the U.S. was outstanding. Hat's off to them.

  2. That "1/10th the population" narrative is misleading.

    If we go by that, then US should be allowed to enter 10 times more athletes in the Olympics than Canada.

  3. When I ran track in high school (early 70's) the events were scored 5 - 3 - 1 which seemed fair to me.

  4. @Anonymous - Using population percentage as a metric means that India or China would not be able win overall unless they take every medal. It also means that if some tiny nation managed to win just once they could be the overall winner.

    A resource based calculation (money spent per medal) would be interesting, but I do not have those numbers.

  5. I think we should just agree that all silver medalists are losers because finishing first is always the objective. um yes, I'm Canadian.

  6. What would the count be for each medal awarded an athlete? For instance, four man bobsled = four medals.

  7. Winner of gold is the ultimate goal and the only acheivement that should count. Olympics is to determine the best athlete/team of an event.

    Silver and Bronze medals just acknowledge that they came close. They don't count as winners.

  8. "That "1/10th the population" narrative is misleading."

    Even assuming all things equal (money/training facilities), I don't think it's that hard to understand that Canada making a showing like they did with less population then California is a pretty impressive feat.

  9. What about a valuation for the percentage of population normally involved in each sport naturally. Curling has almost no exposure in the US, but is a national pastime in Canadia-land. I'm sure there are interesting statistics there.

  10. I think Canada had some favorable judging in some events....but we all know that there's no bias in Olympic judging...

  11. Every country sends it's top elite athletes, and it's unlikely that sending 2000 more who are less accomplished would result in many more medals. I think a better consideration is what percent of the US population lives in a part of the country where winter sports are easily developed and supported. In many important ways these were home games for both countries, and both countries had many outstanding moments.

  12. I don't like the 3/2/1 metric or the 5/3/1 metric, because the percent step up for both these metrics is higher from bronze to silver than from silver to gold. (In the 3/2/1 metric, silver is worth fully 2 times bronze, but gold is worth only 1.5 time silver. Similarly, in the 5/3/1 metric, silver is worth fully 3 times bronze, but gold is worth only 1.67 times silver.)

    I prefer a 4/2/1 metric, in which silver is worth 2 times bronze and gold is worth two times silver. Seems fairer.

  13. The only medal that matters is Gold; Silver and Bronze are awarded just to make those who lost by a small measure, but still lost mind you, feel as if there was an achievement on their part. The goal of adult competition is to win. Canada won the most Gold medals, therefore Canada won the overall competition.

  14. Why do we even hand out silver and bronze. Losers are losers... Canada won!

  15. How many points are subtracted for the awful jokes in the closing ceremonies? They should have had Mike Holmes come out and act he was fixing the Olympic torch that malfunctioned in the opening ceremonies. That would have been worth an extra point in the standings to me.

  16. % of population and money spent and other factors don't mean anything with regards to who are the Olympic champions.

    All that matters are the winners.

    When people say Canada has punched above their weight, it is just to make them feel even better. However, that shouldn't be a consideration at all because in the end, only the winners get the benefits. I couldn't care less in the US hockey team won gold or bronze. Their joy and accomplishment doesn't put money into my pocket.

  17. westerncanadian3/02/2010 1:13 AM

    What's wrong with using the raw data? Just list the number of gold, silver and bronze medals that each country gets and let people interpret those data any way they want to.

    Otherwise it gets goofy. "Say Barney, let's use base 3 numbers and assign 3 (base 3) to a gold, 2 (base 3) to silver and 1 (base 3) to bronze. In base 10 that would be 27 to a gold, 9 to a silver and 3 to a bronze." Pfffff!

    Let it rest at the number of golds, silvers and bronzes. Then go get a beer and watch a replay of that final hockey game again.

  18. It is a fact that medal count does confer to a sense of power to a country, so the competition for medals is not inconsequential, even though the sense may be misleading in the short run. Look at Soviet Russia, they conveyed power through the Olympics for a time, and yes, militarily they were powerful. And awful. But autocratic powers eventually come up short because their systems are top down rather than bottom up, and over time they can't generate the wealth compared to the free countries.

    Ideally, the word 'win' in terms of medal count shouldn't be used in my opinion. The overall medal count assigns some relative value of the quality of it's top athletes, but relative is the right word. In summer games for example, isn't it ridiculous to put the same value on a gold medal in the 100m dash as the hammer throw?

  19. Also, when one athlete wins 3 medals, for example, does that really equate to 3 different athletes winning for another country in three different disciplines where there are not mulitple medals? Not to me. For each sex, there's one medal for hockey and half-pipe, but five for alpine skiing, who knows how many for cross-country skiing events. The total medals 'won' contest concept is flawed for a whole bunch of reasons.

  20. Surely no matter what metric is used, Canada should lose points for a total trainwreck of a Games?

  21. In other news today:

    The IOC announced that, in response to public pressure, the event of Curling will be removed from the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochin. However, in fairness, the IOC will also remove all events using skis, skates or sleds. The 2014 games will consist exclusively of Pocket Billiards, Ping-Pong and Beer-opoly.

  22. "Trainwreck of a Games"? You weren't there, were you, Anonymous? This morning I spoke with a friend who was there with her young daughter, and she said it was all fun all the time, even standing in line to get into the Hudson's Bay Store to buy mittens-- happy helpful people and good spirits at every turn. Nice try, oh bitter one -- what colour is the sky on your planet?


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