The final countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympics is on. With the PyeongChang Games opening ceremony only 30 days away, Gracenote Sports presents its latest Virtual Medal Table (VMT) predictions on the expected top five performing countries, possible impact of the recent ruling on Russia and rising star athletes to watch. With this update, we are also highlighting host nation South Korea’s projected performance and how Japan is coming into form as the Games approach.
This report updates the Medal Table last published on November 1, 2017.
- Germany retains its number one position on the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table ahead of Norway. If Germany manages to win the most overall medals in PyeongChang as projected, it will be the country’s first appearance atop the table since the 2006 Games.
- Norway is only three medals behind Germany in second place on the table. Canada, the U.S.A. and France round out the top-five countries based on total medals. No other nation outside of these five is projected to win more than 20 medals.
- Russia has been removed from this Virtual Medal Table because of the recent ruling, but confirmed entries under the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” designation will be included in our final medal forecast just before the Games begin on February 9.
- Fifteen athletes have ascended into the virtual gold medal position since November 1 as strong performances in the final events leading into 2018 Games influence Gracenote’s forecasts.
- Host nation South Korea will depend heavily on its short track skaters to deliver on the country’s home advantage in PyeongChang and maximize its medal haul.
- Japan, host nation of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games, is seeing its Winter athletes come into form at just the right time. Japan is now on target for its best Winter Games performance, two years before hosting the next Summer Games.
On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russia’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) from the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang. The IOC also announced that it will allow some of Russia’s athletes to compete under a neutral flag provided they can show that they are not associated with the doping program for which Russia’s NOC has been banned. Since it is currently unclear which athletes will be allowed to take part under the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) banner, we have removed all 19 of the projected OAR medalists from this version of the Virtual Medal Table. The athletes who are allowed to compete will be included in our final Virtual Medal Table release just before the Games begin.
The current forecast of 19 medals (4 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze) for the Olympic Athletes from Russia NOC would be enough to place them in 6th place on our latest VMT projection. The countries on our Virtual Medal Table which benefit from Russia’s absence are Germany, whose projected medal total increases by five (+5), Norway (+4), Canada (+2), France (+2), Italy (+2) and Finland, Great Britain, Japan and the Netherlands (all +1). The Netherlands (+2), Canada (+1) and Japan (+1) have inherited the virtual gold medals from the Russian absentees in this month’s table.
The Top Five Medal Winning Countries
Note that the below ranking is based on total medal counts by country. For a view of predictions ordered by gold medals per country, please refer to the graphics at the end of this article.
- Germany is still set to top the PyeongChang 2018 medal table by winning a combined 40 medals (14 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze), the most of all competing countries. Based on the data today, these Winter Games should be the Germans’ most successful since 2002 when they took home a record 36 total medals. Germany’s strongest sport at the upcoming Winter Games is likely to be biathlon in which they are projected to win 10 medals, one shy of the Olympic record of 11 set by Germany at the 2006 Games. Since the November 1, Gracenote Virtual Medal Table release, Germany has increased its projected medal count by five.
Leading gold medal contenders for Germany: Laura Dahlmeier (Biathlon), Francesco Friedrich (Bobsleigh), Johannes Lochner (Bobsleigh), Felix Loch (Luge), Natalie Geisenberger (Luge), Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (Luge), Eric Frenzel (Nordic Combined), Johannes Rydzeck (Nordic Combined), Jacqueline Lölling (Skeleton).
- Norway is currently placed second on the virtual medal table and should win a combined 37 medals (14 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze). The PyeongChang Games are projected to be Norway’s best performance to-date by a wide margin as the country has never eclipsed the 26 total medals won at both the 1994 and 2014 Winter Games. Norway is forecast to take home 19 medals in cross country skiing alone, six more than the current Olympic record of 13 set by the Soviet Union at the 1988 Games. Additionally, if Norway wins three snowboard medals as projected, it will be the best performance in the sport by any country. Since November 1, Norway is up five medals according to the Virtual Medal Table.
Leading gold medal contenders for Norway: Kjetil Jansrud (Alpine Skiing), Johannes Bø (Biathlon), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Cross Country Skiing), Marit Bjørgen (Cross Country Skiing), Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (Cross Country Skiing), Maiken Caspersen Falla (Cross Country Skiing), Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (Cross Country Skiing), Maren Lundby (Ski Jumping).
- Canada is predicted to take third place in PyeongChang by winning a combined 33 medals (7 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze). Canada, like the United States, is expected to win medals in 10 different sports out of 15 overall at the 2018 Games. This would equal the Olympic record set by the U.S. in 2002 and equaled by Canada in 2006, Germany in 2010 and Russia in 2014. Since November 1, Canada is up two medals.
Leading gold medal contenders for Canada: Kallie Humphries (Bobsleigh), Kaetlyn Osmond (Figure Skating), Mikael Kingsbury (Freestyle Skiing), Maxence Parrot (Snowboard) plus the men’s and women’s curling teams and the men’s ice hockey team.
- U.S.A. is forecast to finish fourth with a combined 29 medals (10 gold, 10 silver and 9 bronze). Team U.S.A. has won at least 25 total medals since hosting the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. In PyeongChang, the Americans are set to win medals in 10 different sports out of 15 according to the Virtual Medal Table. The country’s best performances should be spread across alpine skiing (Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn & Ted Ligety have the best chances), freestyle skiing, snowboarding (via Jamie Anderson and Julia Marino) and speed skating (Heather Bergsma). The U.S. could also win its first Olympic medal in biathlon with Lowell Bailey currently projected to win silver in the 20km individual event. Since November 1, the Team U.S.A. medal count is unchanged.
Leading gold medal contenders for the U.S.A.: Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing), Ashley Caldwell (Freestyle Skiing), Aaron Blunck (Freestyle Skiing), McRae Williams (Freestyle Skiing), Jamie Anderson (Snowboard), Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard), Heather Bergsma (Speed Skating) plus the women’s ice hockey team.
- France is projected to round out the top-five in terms of overall medals in February. The French team should win a record 24 medals (9 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze) overall. This would smash their best-ever Winter Olympic total of 15 medals won at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. France is heavily reliant on biathletes Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin Habert to reach the medal podium as they are responsible for eight medals in the latest Virtual Medal Table forecast. France’s record Olympic medal haul in biathlon is six won in 2010. Since November 1, France is up three medals on the Virtual Medal Table.
Leading gold medal contenders for France: Martin Fourcade (Biathlon), Maurice Manificat (Cross Country Skiing), Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (Figure Skating), Marie Martinod (Freestyle Skiing), Tess Ledeux (Freestyle Skiing), Pierre Vaultier (Snowboard).
Since World Cup events leading into the Winter Games are taking place weekly, the gold medalists forecast by the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table change regularly. There have been a total of 15 changes of projected gold medalists since November 1. Below are a selection of athletes to pay attention to:
Tina Weirather (Liechtenstein), Alpine Skiing
Victory in the Lake Louise World Cup super G followed by third place in St. Moritz has moved Tina Weirather up to the gold medal position in the women’s super G event, ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut. If Weirather wins in PyeongChang, she will be the second person to win Olympic gold for Liechtenstein. The first was her mother, Hanni Wenzel, who won the downhill and giant slalom at the Lake Placid Winter Games in 1980.
Mikaela Shriffrin (U.S.A.), Alpine Skiing
Mikaela Shiffrin has dominated alpine skiing’s slalom event, winning 21 of her last 26 World Cup races and was therefore already a virtual gold medal winner in PyeongChang. She has also risen to virtual gold in the giant slalom after winning this season’s World Cup races in Courchevel and Kranjska Gora.
Kaillie Humphries (Canada), Bobsleigh
In one of the potentially great battles at the Winter Games, Kaillie Humphries has taken over the virtual gold from American driver Elana Meyers Taylor in the women’s bobsleigh. Based on our most recent projections, Meyers Taylor has dropped to the silver medal position previously occupied by Humphries after the Canadian finished ahead of the American in all three World Cup events in November.
Johannes Lochner (Germany), Bobsleigh
Johannes Lochner has overtaken Francesco Friedrich and Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis in the four-man bobsleigh and has moved from virtual bronze to gold. Lochner’s rise is based on big wins at two of the four World Cup events this season. Friedrich is now forecast silver and Melbardis has dropped out of the top three altogether.
Charlotte Kalla (Sweden), Cross Country Skiing
Victory in the 10km freestyle at the Toblach World Cup has put Charlotte Kalla into the virtual gold for cross country skiing ahead of Norwegians Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Marit Bjørgen. Norwegian and Swedish competitors now occupy the top five positions on the Virtual Medal Table for this event.
Maurice Manificat (France), Cross Country Skiing
By winning the 15km freestyle World Cup race in Davos, Manificat has moved ahead of Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby in the Virtual Medal Table projection for the event at the PyeongChang Winter Games.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (Norway), Cross Country Skiing
After winning the sprint event at the Lillehammer World Cup event in December, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo has moved into the virtual gold medal position ahead of compatriot Petter Northug. The Norwegians are expected to dominate the men’s sprint in PyeongChang.
Marie Martinod (France), Freestyle Skiing
Marie Martinod won the Copper Mountain halfpipe competition in December and put her ahead of world champion Ayana Onozuka of Japan on the Virtual Medal Table projection.
Natalie Geisenberger (Germany), Luge
Natalie Geisenberger, who was forecast to win silver in the women’s singles luge, has swapped places with Germany’s Tatjana Hüfner. Geisenberger won three of the first four World Cup races of 2017/2018 season while Hüfner was victorious in only one.
Kamil Stoch (Poland), Ski Jumping
After becoming only the second man in the 65-year history of the prestigious Four Hills Tournament to win all four of the events in that competition, 2014 double Olympic gold medallist Kamil Stoch is the new virtual medal table leader for ski jumping’s large hill at the Winter Games.
Nao Kodaira (Japan), Speed Skating
World Champion Nao Kodaira has won all seven World Cup races over 500 meters this season. Because of this she has moved ahead of 2014 Olympic champion and 2016 world champion Lee Sang-Hwa (South Korea) as the favorite to win Gold in PyeongChang.
Projected to win 10 medals total, including seven golds, host nation South Korea appears poised to finish sixth on the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table. If the country hopes to post its best overall Winter Games performance, it will need to surpass the 14 overall medals won in Vancouver 2010.
The sports of short track and speed skating are expected to produce South Korea’s best medal chances. However, the country also has opportunities to reach the podium in bobsleigh, skeleton and snowboarding.
Historically, short track has been South Korea’s best event with 42 of the country’s 53 overall Winter Games medals won in the sport. Prior to the introduction of short track at Albertville 1992 Winter Games, South Korea had never won a medal. By winning 44% of golds in the sport since its Olympic debut 26 years ago, South Korea has dominated short track.
In addition to its core sport of short track, South Korea is forecast to occupy four other podium places in the Virtual Medal Table with Yun Sungbin (silver in men’s skeleton), Lee Sang-Hwa (silver in women’s 500m speed skating), Lee Seung-Hoon (gold in men’s mass start in speed skating) and Kim Bo-Reum (bronze in women’s mass start). In snowboarding, Lee Sang-Ho is currently ranked in the world’s top-8 as are Yun-Jong Won’s 2-man bobsleigh team and the South Korean women’s curling team.
Japan is expected to see the biggest change in its total medal haul since our last VMT predictions in November. The country is projected to improve to 4 golds, 7 silvers and 4 bronze from 3 golds, 6 silvers and 2 bronze in November. Based on this, Japan has moved up three places on the table into the top-10 if ordered on gold medals. Here are the Japanese athletes who have improved within the top-3 or broken onto Gracenote’s virtual podium over the last two months:
- Akito Watabe is now projected to win silver in nordic combined’s large hill event after winning November’s World Cup event in Ruka, Finland.
- Nao Kodaira (Speed skating) is set to win virtual gold in the women’s 500m, in which she has not been beaten since March 2016, and silver in the 1000m where she will battle American Heather Bergsma.
- Miho Takagi (Speed skating) is projected to score silver in the women’s 1500m after four World Cup wins in November and December and may take over the virtual gold medal position from Team USA’s Heather Bergsma soon if the American’s form does not improve.
- Women’s Team Pursuit: Including Miho Takagi and her sister Nana, the speed skating team is now forecast to win gold ahead of previous favorites, the Netherlands, after beating the Dutch at the Heerenveen World Cup in November.
Gracenote’s Virtual Medal Table (VMT) is a statistical model based on individual and team results in previous Olympics Games, World Championships and World Cups to forecast the most likely gold, silver and bronze medal winners by country. This information is presented in simple to understand predictions and seamless data feeds that enable broadcasters, media publishers and pay TV operators to deliver unique Olympic-focused stories across Web, mobile and broadcast properties.
Gracenote, a Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) company, provides music, video and sports content and technologies to the world’s hottest entertainment products and brands. Gracenote is the standard for music and video recognition and is supported by the largest source of entertainment data, including rich data on 4,500 of the world’s most popular leagues and competitions as well as a deep trove of historical Olympics information going back to the very first modern games in 1896. For a closer look at the full Virtual Medal Table, its features and methodology, please visit: http://sportsdemo1.gracenote.com/documentation/vmt. For more information on Gracenote Sports, visit: http://www.gracenote.com/sports/global-sports-data/.