2014 Winter Olympics: Which Countries Performed the Best?

By Carlton Chin
Yulia Lipnitskaya
Robert Deutsch – USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ended on February 23. History has been written, new records have been achieved and medals have been awarded. There have been many story lines such as Russian skating sensation Julia Lipnitskaya becoming the youngest Olympic gold medalist in team figure skating at age 15. The Olympics are a special time as the world cheers for athletic excellence and countries seem to pull together to root for their country’s athletes.

As Olympic fans note, there are several lists of medal counts. Some people like to follow the gold medal count while others focus on total medals. Based on an informal survey, we created a point value system for medals as follows: five points for a gold medal, two points for silver, and one point for bronze.

Based on this point system, we awarded the following medals for overall country performance:

Gold — Russia
Silver — Norway,
Bronze — Canada
Special mention: USA (fourth place)

In previous work, I have discussed home-field advantage and other factors related to Olympic medals. Population as well as financial and economic resources also play a large role in winning Olympic medals. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi led to Russia increasing its gold medal count to a nation-leading total of 13, up from three gold medals four years ago. Russia also led the total medal count, winning 33 medals versus 15 at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

Interestingly, Canada did well in Sochi, but saw its medal performance decline slightly from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when they held the home-field advantage. Here are the countries that saw the most improvement, based on percentage medal point change since the last winter Olympics: Gold – Slovenia, Silver – Belarus, Bronze – Russia. Special mention to the Ukraine, which earned six medal points in 2014 after not winning a medal in 2010.

How about medal performance as a function of population? The best countries in terms of winning medal points per capita this year are:

Gold — Norway
Silver — Slovenia
Bronze — Switzerland

The best performance by country in terms of medal points per GDP per capita:

Gold — Russia
Silver — China
Bronze — Canada.

The Olympics are meant to be a celebration of athletic achievement. Congratulations to all athletes and countries that participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi.

Carlton Chin is a portfolio manager, quant researcher, and sports analysis contributor at Rant Sports. Please follow him on Twitter @QuantFacts, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your Google network.

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