Sometime in the last couple of weeks, I saw someone on Twitter (I don't remember who!) suggest that there is a better way to do the medal count board. If you've watched the Olympics at all, you've seen the board where all the medals are totaled up. Russia 'won' the Olympics with 33 medals. Our U.S. came in second with 28. In the past I've seen people try to weight the totals by giving different values to gold, silver and bronze. This makes some obvious sense as a gold medal is more sought after than silver or bronze. As far as I can tell, there is no consensus way to weigh them though and I'm not creating a system here.
Anyway, the idea was to sort the medals by population of the country. Therefore smaller countries would get more credit per medal. This makes some sense. The larger the country, the easier it should be to find an elite individual. So I decided to crunch some numbers.
Note: I'm going to figure medals per million people. My population numbers are from Wikipedia and I'm simply hoping that no one cared enough to mess with this info. Also, I rounded to the nearest million so there may be some messiness with the numbers. Also, I'm not doing the entire medal count. Just the top eleven, with a few extras that are special.
11. China 150.11 medals per million people - They have 1.35 billion people and won nine medals. This is unfair to China. Their population is simply so huge that would always have trouble by this metric. If they had won a medal in each event, they would have come away with 98 medals and brought their number down to 13.79.
10. United States 11.35 - This represents 28 medals for 318 million people. I've heard people say that this was a disappointing games for the United States and maybe that's so. They won 28 medals out of 294 possible. In Vancouver 2010, they won 37 out of 258 so this was a step down. (I'm not all that disappointed.)
9. France 4.47 - The French picked up 15 medals to go with their 67 million people. When I first looked at this calculation, about a week ago, the French were not doing so well. In fact, I had them mentally pegged as the worst performers of the countries that actually care about winter sports. They must have done much better in the second week.
8. Russia 4.36 - Even though they won the most medals, their population of 144 million dilutes the count. Russia also blatantly imported athletes to inflate their medal count, so I don't feel badly for them.
7. Germany 4.26 - Here we have 19 medals spread through 81 million people. Before I started this, I didn't really understand some of the relative population differences between European countries. Did you know that Germany had 81 million people?
6. Canada 1.4 - I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these were great games for the Canadians. They brought home 25 medals for their 35 million countrymen. This includes both gold medals for hockey. Not too shabby.
5. Switzerland .74 - If you know a million Swiss people, then you about one and a third medal winners. (Or something like that.) This is what happens when a country of 8 million win 11 medals. This is the opposite situation of China.
4. Netherlands .67 - The Netherlands only have 16 million people. They won 24 medals. 23 of those medals came from speed skating. That's 23 out of a possible 36 medals. That's an insane number.
3. Sweden .67 - This is 15 medals for 10 million people. Eleven of those medals were for cross country skiing. Not quite as impressive as the Dutch, but still very good.
2. Austria .47 - There are 8 million Austrians. Those 8 million brought home 17 medals. More than half (9) of these were for Alpine skiing. I guess they know their way down a mountain in Austria.
1. Norway .19 - This is an outstanding number. Norway has five million people and 26 new Olympic medals. I'd say that Norway has a very strong claim to have 'won' the 2014 Winter Olympics.