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2018 Winter Olympics Projections

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The 2018 Winter Olympics kick off this week in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with comprehensive coverage scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The ultimate prize for the competitors is an Olympic medal, with 306 awarded in 102 events. We ran 1,000 simulations for these Olympics using probabilities provided by the Wall Street Journal to try to determine which countries would fare best.

We project that the United States and Norway will top out at 36 medals each, with Canada (33) and Germany (32) close behind.

Projected Medal Counts
2018 Pyeongchang Games
Country Gold Medals Total Medals
United States 11 36
Norway 12 36
Canada 11 33
Germany 13 32

Rachel Bachman and Ellen Emmerentze Jervell of the Wall Street Journal provide an in-depth examination here.

Based on the 1,000 simulations, the United States has about a 45% chance of winning or tying for the most medals, a hair better than Norway’s 44%. Canada’s chances are about 15%, with Germany at 10% (note that percentages add up to more than 100% because of the chance for ties between two or more countries).

The United States topped out at 47 medals in its best individual simulation. Norway was slightly better, with its top simulation projecting them for 49 medals.

Highest and Lowest Medal Counts
In 1,000 Simulations
Country Highest Lowest
Norway 49 24
United States 47 23
Canada 43 22
Germany 39 20

Germany (42%) and Norway (37%) have the best chance at winning the most gold medals, followed by the United States (25%) and Canada (15%).

Germany’s strengths are in biathlon (4 projected gold medals) and luge (3). Norway is dominant in cross-country skiing, where it is projected to win 5 gold medals.

Germany maxed out at 20 gold medals in its best simulation. Norway (23) and the United States (22) fared slightly better in individual simulations, though Germany still fared best overall.

Two of the sports you’ll probably be watching closely will be figure skating and ice hockey. In men’s figure skating, Nathan Chen is the USA’s best hope for a gold medal. He’s projected as having a 30% chance to win gold.

As a result of the NHL’s decision to discontinue participating in the Olympics, the United States is only projected as having a 20% chance to win bronze or silver in men’s hockey. The gold is likely to go to Russia (60%) or Canada (30%).

Note that Russia is projected for only 12 medals, as its athlete pool was weakened by doping allegations dating back to the Sochi Olympics (the IOC is permitting athletes to compete as “Olympic Athlete from Russia”).

In women’s hockey, it’s a toss-up, with both the United States and Canada given a 50% chance to win the gold medal.

That epitomizes just how close the competition in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games will be.

Most Projected Medals Won
2018 Pyeongchang Games
Country Gold Medals Total Medals
United States 11 36
Norway 12 36
Canada 11 33
Germany 13 32
France 7 20
Netherlands 6 18
Japan 5 14
South Korea 5 13
Sweden 5 13
Austria 4 12
Russia 4 12
Italy 5 11
Finland 3 10
Switzerland 0 8
China 2 5
Czech Republic 1 4
Great Britain 1 4
Latvia 1 4
Australia 2 3
Poland 1 2
Hungary 1 2
Croatia 1 2
Spain 0 2
Slovenia 0 2
Belarus 1 1
Ukraine 0 1
New Zealand 0 1
Bulgaria 0 1
Kazakhstan 0 1
Slovakia 0 1
Belgium 0 1
Liechtenstein 0 1

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