Winter Olympics: Who will win the most medals?
Germany, Canada, and the United States will battle for overall medal title in the Winter Olympics for the foreseeable future. Watch for China to move up the ladder using the same strategy it did in Beijing.
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• Not surprisingly the Canadian Press is even more bullish, predicting that Canada will finish first with 37 medals.Skip to next paragraph
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• Economist Daniel Johnson, whose economic and demographic data have predicted the medal table of the past five Olympic Games with greater than 90 percent accuracy, puts Canada first with 27 medals and the US second with 26.
• Olympic historian David Wallechinsky has Canada winning the goal medal tally (which is the standard that the International Olympic Committee uses) with 13, but overall finishing fourth – behind Germany, the US, and Russia – with 24 total medals.
Both USA Today and Wallechinsky expect the Chinese to move up dramatically, with seven gold medals and at least 15 total medals.
Wallechinsky does offer a cautionary word, though: the Winter Olympics are more volatile than the Summer Games. Many more things can go wrong in winter sports, from changing conditions on the ski slope to a multi-skater wipeout in short track speedskating, which can create unexpected winners.
Yet the new die seems cast. Both the US and Canada used their home Olympics as an opportunity to pump millions of dollars into winter sports, and the funding has paid off dramatically.
Between 1980 and 2002, the United States never finished higher than fifth in the medal table. Between 1932 and 1992, Canada never finished higher than ninth.
Here's the recipe for success
The recipe for success in these Games will be no different from what it was in Turin, when the US and Canada finished second and third in overall medals, with just one medal separating them: rake in the medals in new sports, and supplement that with improvement in the core European sports.
That can be seen in America's top winter athletes. Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler rule the snowboard superpipe. But Lindsey Vonn is the best alpine skier in the world and Todd Lodwick and Bill Demog could each win America's first-ever medal in Nordic combined – which combined ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
China’s rise mirrors its rise in Beijing. It is expected to dominate sports where it has some history. Chinese women could sweep every gold in short track, and they could also sweep the medals in freestyle aerials – where their strong tradition in gymnastics serves them well.