An analytics company predicts a big Winter Olympics for Norway and says Canada will finish fourth in total medals won next year in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The U.S.-based sports and entertainment data company Gracenote has Norway topping its virtual medal table with a whopping 40 medals, including 15 gold, which would both be Winter Games records.
The current highs are Canada’s 14 gold and the 37 medals won by the United States in 2010 in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.
Canada is projected to collect 29 medals â€” nine gold, nine silver and 11 bronze â€” behind Germany with 34 and the U.S. at 32 in Pyeongchang.
France is pegged to post its best performance, tying the U.S. for gold with 10 and Russia at 22 medals.
The 2018 Winter Olympics open Feb. 9 and close 16 days later.
With a year to go, The Canadian Press forecasts 28 medals for the Canadian team (eight gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze).
Those who run Canadian sport are waiting until after world championships conclude to declare the country’s goal for Pyeongchang.
Finishing first in total medals won was the target in both 2010 and 2014, when Canada won 26 medals for third and 25 for fourth, respectively.
Canada ranks third among countries in gold medals (31) and total medals (116) so far this winter sport World Cup season behind Germany (64, 163) and the United States (45, 126).
The Canadian Olympic Committee expects to send a team of approximately 240 athletes to Pyeongchang, which would be the largest for a Winter Games.
Former short-track speed skater Isabelle Charest was named Canada’s chef de mission earlier this week.
The great unknown in the equation in South Korea will be Russia.
The International Olympic Committee has yet to say if Russia will participate in Pyeongchang, in the wake of a report that said the country was behind an “institutional conspiracy” that corrupted drug testing at the 2012 and 2014 Olympics.
World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren has issued two reports that detail Russian state involvement in a huge program of cheating. That puts pressure on the IOC to act, though a blanket ban on Russian athletes seems unlikely.
“Two IOC commissions have been set up to co-ordinate our response to the McLaren report,” the IOC said in a statement to the AP. “They will respect the due process including the right to be heard of the persons concerned.”
Lee Hee-beom, the head of the Pyeongchang organizing committee, has said he expects Russia to compete in South Korea. But his spokesman acknowledged the decision rests with the IOC.
“As of now, we are preparing for the Games on the premise that the Russians will be there,” spokesman Sung Baik-you told the AP.
The IOC allowed selected Russian athletes to compete in Rio de Janeiro. The International Paralympic Committee, however, banned the entire delegation. The IPC said that bans remains in place “because the RPC (Russian Paralympic Committee) has not yet met the reinstatement criteria.”
The IPC also prohibits Russian athletes for entering qualification events.
Data analyst Simon Gleave said he’s running his informaiton on the premise that Russia will be there. He has Russia finishing sixth in the overall total with 22 medals. It is also sixth in the gold-medal table with six â€” tied with South Korea and the Netherlands.
Russia led the medals table in 2014 in Sochi with 33 overall.
Gleave has constructed a complex program to track performances leading up to the Olympics. It gives more weight to larger events, and to the most recent. But the system isn’t perfect.
At last year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Gracenote and Gleave predicted just over 50 per cent of the medal winners correctly â€” without regard to the colour of the medal. He said 80 per cent of the medallists in Rio came from his list of the top eight contenders in each event.
He predicted the United States would lead both the overall and gold-medal table in Rio. But he didn’t foresee the level of American dominance.
And he was correct with China and Britain next in the overall standings.
“The differences are tiny,” Gleave said. “It would be a bit harsh if we had to get it all right. It’s sport. Some sports are incredibly unpredictable. The difference between the athletes at the top of these sports is generally very tiny.”
â€” With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press