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Friday, 21 February 2014


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AFAIK, everybody (including the olympic committee) ranks nations by gold medals; equal golds by silver; last by bronze.

On this site you can see how the medals are reported here in the Netherlands: most gold first, in case of a tie: most silver, etc.

(If it's a complete tie, I presume the favourite of the person making the list gets first spot ;-) )

Of course, I think a medals-per-capita for the population of the home country would be fairest. That would put Norway at the top by a landslide, and we wouldn't do too bad either. You big countries with with a large gene-pool to pick from would come dead last...

I noticed that too. At least in Europe they report medals sorted by Gold-Silver-Bronze.

Seems to confirm my prejudice that America values quantity over quality. ;-)

I'm all for your system.
With the latest results Canada just jumped way ahead of everybody!

Come to Canadian news. We weight the medals on a scale similar to what you're suggesting (I assume). www.cbc.ca or www.tsn.ca

I wasn't sure if that was just our way of saying we're ahead of the US, though. Everybody has their ways of interpreting the facts.

Here in Norway, we count the medals the proper way ;) So we believe we are on top.

It's a first for me to see a medal count like that. But if you count 3 for a gold, 2 for silver and 1 for bronze, the US still comes out on top (and I'm from the UK).

I don't think the ordering by number of medals is done by the Olympic Committee but by the news source that published the list.

In the Netherlands, I see things reported differently, more in line with your expectations. You can see that at http://og.vk.nl/j2ee_og/og/medaltable.html?publication=vk&maxrows=5

Most places in the world (and I'm sure in the U.S. as well if they were winning) report the standings by most gold-medals won, with the number of silver and bronze medals breaking ties. Take a look at the official results: http://www.sochi2014.com/en/medal-standings

Maybe there should be another tally for shoulda/coulda/woulda won gold, silver and bronze :)

We Canadians play nice, and follow the IOC count for medals:

PS: In your face, USA! Oh, and enjoy the battering you'll be getting a the hockey semi-finale ;)

Of course you are overlooking the heart break factor of fourth place.

C'mon man don't you know it's usa all the way rah, rah, rah.

As a skating parent I've found the scoring system to be both frustrating and remarkably consistent.

My younger daughter skates in the Pre-Juvenile division in which the judges simply rank the skaters, first through last but my older daughter is in the Intermediate division which uses IJS Olympic scoring (Olympic skaters, although as young as fifteen, are in the "Senior" division).

The points designated for each of the elements form the base score while the interpretive score is added to it to form the total. I think Kim Yu Na had the highest interpretive score by a good margin and I bet that Carolina Kostner and Gracie Gold also had higher interpretive scores than Adelina Sotnikova. To me Kim, Costner and Gold were all obviously more beautiful and elegant to watch than Sotnikova. But I think Sotnikova had so many more base points available to her that even a "workmanlike" interpretive score put her ahead. From what I've learned, it's all about fully rotating the jumps, landing cleanly, executing the elements on the correct edge of the blade and the degree of difficulty of the spins. Scott Hamilton even remarked that Sotnikova's one handed skate grabs and spin shapes were like none he had ever seen before. Skater's also get bonus points for adding elements in the second half of the program.

Honestly I had a feeling that Sotnikova was unbeatable when she landed her third or fourth triple jump cleanly during bonus time. So, the highest base score in the field, scoring all the points available, bonus points, no deductions and a workmanlike interpretation, in this case equaled gold. Like I said, frustrating but consistent.

By the way, if you're inclined, there is a quickly growing petition to make Synchronized team skating (where my kids compete) an Olympic sport in 2018:


They do all the things Olympic solo and pairs skaters do but synchronized with 20 other skaters. Unlike the team event this year, which had an air of giving out participation trophies, "Synchro" as it's called, is and has always been a true team figure skating sport around the world. #whynotsynchro2018

PS: It makes more sense to me to assign three points for a gold, two points for a silver and one point for bronze to reflect that first and third place are often separated by hundredths of a second or fractions of a point. This medal count system would put USA first, Russia second, Norway third, Canada fourth, Netherlands fifth.

I would pay a premium price to have Olympic coverage that DID NOT include figure skating and ice dancing. The same holds true for gymnastics and rythmic dance for summer Olympics.

This is disgusting.

Skated cleanly? I can skate cleanly. No jumps. No rotations. But very confidently skate from point A to point B. Sotnikova's program was way more difficult, and she did difficult elements with ease, except one (small/terrible/negligible/whatever) mistake. She had drive. Her performance was a tour de force.

But that doesn't matter. The judges judged. They gave Sotnikova gold.

In *any* competition there may be differing opinions. Did the judge counted out russian's goal in US-Russia hockey match unfairly? Did Norwegian guy crossed into his opponents track? Did X do Y?

What made me feel really good yesterday was the Italian girl, who took the bronze in skating, coming to Sotnikova and hugging and kissing her, with all her heart. That's the way it should be. Shame on you!

it's a little known fact that figure skating judges are also in charge of determining medal standings.

It's very common to count total number of medals for country rankings. To keep with the Olympics ideals; medal is a medal... participation is the important part.

Olympics? Oh, yeah. I followed the US/Russia hockey overtime on my phone while out shopping with my wife at some store, somewhere. And I accidently caught the last minute of the US/Canada women's hockey while counting the number of episodes of Law & Order (all three versions) playing at the same time on my cable system.

I used to like the Olympics.

Canada just beat the USA in the men's hockey semi-final Friday Februrary 21/2014. A long with the win in ladies curling this could well be a Gold victory winter Olympics for Canada.

When I was in Junior High during the height of the so-called Cold War, we were told in civics that you could never believe anything the Russian's said. The example was a medal ceremony in which they came in third and America came in second. Supposedly the Russians claimed third, but described America as having come in next to last. Damn Ruskies!

I would like to know the Netherland's secret. With a population of next to nothing, they have produced many soccer players that starred in places like Barcelona and Milan, and are right up there in the olympics as well.

Not that I care but the medal table should be corrected for population AND area of landmass covered in snow.

[So if the Jamaican bobsled team managed to get a bronze, they would lead all nations. Sounds fair! [g] --Mike]

I’m not a big fan of figure skating as an athletic event because of the subjective nature of it. The scandals in the past mar the event, and in I read somewhere that one judge was involved in a judging scandal (and guilty) back in late 80’s or early 90’s so you have to ask how in the world should she every judge again?

But because of the scandals the judging has been changed a lot. I think the last olympics there were complaints the gold medal winner didn’t land a quad in the mens competition. So under the current system the skaters can earn points based on performing certain things, and this event came down to 1 extra triple (7 total) landed by the winner which gave her 5 additional points.

Still seems there are issues with the current system, i thought This article from ESPN was pretty informative. http://tinyurl.com/oa5bqt3

I had no clue they received points from just attempting a jump even if they fall - it appears obvious while maybe the new rules are an improvement, something is still wrong.

I did watch the two skate last night, and personally since this is supposed to be an athletic competition I had no problem with the slightly less artistic performance but overall superior athletic performance of the winner. (and of course those are just my opinions of the performances, which is the root of the problem, objective results from subjective judging)

The IOC always counts Golds then Silver then Bronze as the official position, and the US media seems to count the total number of medals. Certainly during the London Olympics that seemed to be the case. So to everyone outside of the USA China was in 1st place, but all the US media had the USA in 1st place.

It struck me as rather odd at the time, and now it's happening again. Have they always counted it that way or does it depend on which method puts the USA at the top?

Clayton: "I would like to know the Netherland's secret."

They have a massive network of sports clubs for sports of all sorts (e.g. they even have lots of cricket clubs!). All sorts of people participate. It's been this way since the end of the 19th century when a lot of these clubs were formed.


Approximately 4.5 million of the 16 million people in the Netherlands are registered to one of the 35,000 sports clubs in the country. About two thirds of the population older than 15 years participates in sports weekly

These are true clubs in the sense of a social collections of people who meet up for sport rather than the "football companies" that many "football clubs" have mutated into.

Another factor I suspect was the lack of professional sports in the country through most of the 20th century. For example, professional soccer only arrived in 1954 even though football association (KNVB) started in 1889 and Netherlands joined FIFA in 1904.


Canada is on top. Wins in women AND men's hockey! No judges. An art of different kind.

So, 48 medals for canoeing, what's wrong with that? Makes sense to me. :)

As long as Canada wins hockey golds (in addition to curling golds) that's all that matters.

" I'm with Efren Reyes, who thinks pool should be in the Olympics just so the Philippines can get a gold medal!"

I thought Michael Phelps won in pool.


I hate to disagree with you but ranking countries as winning goes against the Olympic charter: The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries. News outlets are therefore allowed to print the rankings in any order they like, with only their credibility at stake.

Thanks for the great daily reading.

For Canadians, hockey is the big thing. In my neck of the woods, the only thing that really matters is that we (Canada) beat the USA in hockey, both men and women. Everything else is irrelevant. The men's medal round on Sunday doesn't even matter now. I was at work today (and yesterday for the women's gold medal) when the game was on. The company came to a stand-still. We nearly crashed our internet connection because everyone was streaming the game. Hey, it's only because we love you like brothers. Sibling rivalry is always passionately contested.

I am not sure that Kim Yu-na SHOULD have won, but I am sure that the Adelina score seemed very inflated. My main issue is with comparing the Russian against Mao Asada from Japan on the free-style event. Asada landed one more jump than Adelina and also managed to to land the hardest jump of the event -- Asada bested Adelina in difficulty and even quantity of jumps -- yet Asada score a 142 while Adelina gets a near record breaking 149. That does not compute.

Add to this the fact that one judge from ukraine has already been caught putting the fix in, and the other judge is the wife of the russian skating federation president -- sure does seems fishy to me.

A double add to that: 2 judges scored Yuna much lower than the rest of the judges --- those same two judges scored Adelina much higher than the rest of the judges.

Figure skater looks very dodgy indeed!

Q. "What's with this "medal count"?"

A. "USA! USA!"

The logic of counting gold, then silver, and then bronze is unassailable.

Just to refresh our memories, competitors don't "win" medals. They win events. Those who do are awarded a medal made of gold. Those who lose but are first amongst the losers are given a medal made of silver. 2nd runners-up are given a round bronze object.

So, in comparing the relative performance of nations at the Olympics and other such events, we first measure which country's athletes have won the most events, which we do by counting gold medals awarded to athletes from that country. This is the only thing that matters.

Examining silver medals and so on is merely a way to establish finer gradations.

If there is a tie between two or more nations in the number of events won, we look at the relative number of top losers, i.e. silver medalists. And if that number also leads to a tie we look at bronzes. If these too are tied, we could go on and examine fourth place finishes and so on. But we do not. We stop comparing after we have compared bronzes.

Seen in this light, simply totaling the number of round objects awarded to the athletes from each country is bunkum (to use a word favored by my elderly relative, educated in the 1930s.)

I was going to suggest a formula for calculating the value of the medal counts based on the prices of gold, silver and bronze, which would heavily weigh in favor of gold medal winners. Then I found an article stating that while bronze medals are made of bronze (and therefore worth little melted down), gold and silver medals are both at least 92.5% silver witih gold medals being gilded with at least 6g of gold. So basically, gold & silver medals are worth about the same (melted down) with bronze a distant third. So, there you go, an alternate system ranked primarily by total number of gold & silver with ties broken by golds (versus silver) or bronzes.

And I can't help but appreciate the view of our neighbors up north - that all that matters is hockey :) Congratulations on the wins to date and good luck in the mens final ! Dillan, we love you guys, too, as you can see here:

Personally I prefer the bragging rights of winning something rather than twice runner-up, so golds are most important to me :-)

As pointed out by Ryan, judging ice skating is a combination of technical and artistic judgments. The technical items, such as how well a jump or spin is performed has largely objective measures, such as whether the jump/spin is fully finished, or if a hand touches the ice, etc. The artisticjudgment is largely subjective. The ISU issued a statement yesterday which may help clarify how judging is done:
"...The officiating judges were selected by random drawing from a pool of 13 potential judges. All judges in an event represent different ISU member federations. The Ladies’ free skating panel included judges from Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. To avoid exaggerated markings the highest and the lowest scores entered by the judges are excluded to produce the final score. The technical panel determines the elements of each performed program. The judges add a mark, grading the quality of the skater’s execution of the elements so identified. The technical marks and the artistic presentation marks are added together to produce the final score of the skater. "
Sports which include subjective judgment always are ripe for controversy. Gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics are the poster children for this in the summer Olympics. While it is possible to quantify subjective judgments, it isn't possible to make it truly objective. There is even a special form of mathematics, called 'fuzzy math' developed to deal specifically with variability (e.g. how good is 'very good', and is it more or less good than 'quite good' and if so by how much?). But no matter how we quantify it, subjective is subjective.

@ Clayton: "I would like to know the Netherland's secret"

1. All but one of the Dutch medals were won in just one discipline: speed skating.

2: Saying there's a lot of water in The Netherlands is a bit of an understatement. So, historically, skating has always been a popular winter activity. And in case of a lousy winter, like this years’, there are now, I believe, 16 ice rings where you can train from early october to late march.

3. Success breeds success. With all these champions, speed skating has become a very popular television-sport. This generates millions & millions of euros from sponsors. The best skaters are full time professionals, with a huge (also highly professional) support staff.

4. Dutch success in Sochi was, at least in part, the result of the under-performing competition. Where were the Norwegians? The Canadians? The Americans? Questions, questions…

Yet another lesson in being careful what you wish for. We all wanted judging that was more objective and more verifiable, and we got it. Many of us are now wishing that the judging was more subjective. While the technical math seems irrefutable, one may still reasonably question the closeness of the artistic scores (at least based on apparent consensus--I didn't watch), and their importance.

But maybe a bigger story than Kim and Sotnikova is the glimpse into a potential future for figure skating--one dominated by "workmanlike" points-harvesting with only token regard for expression and grace. Meanwhile the pressure to regain what was lost will continue. Eventually, the sport will give up and divide the discipline into events that more clearly emphasize the technical or the artistic.

Far fetched? Not so long ago, figure skating was mostly about drawing shapes on the ice.

John, "canoeing" does not include rowing. And just how many running events are there?

Ah, the New York Times reported we skate on canals from village to village. Well yes on the 4 or 5 days we have icecover (this winter it was a balmy 10 degrees most of the time). The thing is we have a lot of TV coverage on speed skating an so Dutch sponsors (sort of) line up to fund the different commercial speed skating teams. Which means excellent conditions for well pampered athletes. And since the Dutch fund all the skating events over the world (look at a World Cup event and see the decals on the boarding), it leaves not much room for other companies to step in. That creates an unhealthy money driven atmosphere that skews the whole sport up to a point that is has become rediculous.

It's about the same with icehockey and the USA, look how they dominate the sport oops.....damned Fins (5.5 million of them around which is about one goal for every million Fins which leaves the US of A about 300 goals short of a relative victory and about 5 short of a real draw :)).

Greets, Ed.

P.S. the Norwegians are only about 5 million strong and look at there Medal table.......16.8 million Dutch should be ashamed (and what to say about 300 million Americans). Yeps I love statistics

If you are counting number of medals instead of winners pr. event (Golds), why not include the historic winnings?

For the winter olympics this is 329 for Norway, 281 for USA, and 218 for Austria.

For the summer olympics it's quite different with 2400 for USA, 1010 for the Soviet Union, and 780 for Great Britain.

Re your comment about 'home advantage': as a Brit born and bred, I feel duty bound to point out that we did rather well in Beijing, too. :)

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