I can't resist a quick post about the Olympics!
Much has been said about the US setting a new Winter Olympics medal record (37), and Canada setting a new Winter Olympics gold medal record (14). But what would the medal count look like if we weighted each medal according to some measure of significance?
Obviously, what's significant for a country may not be for another. Even then, I'm pretty sure even Koreans would agree that hockey medals mean more than speedskating ones. I used the following simple formula for determining the weight of each medal, and I think it produces intuitive results:
Square root of number of athletes on a team, rounded to the nearest integer
+1 if the event is the only Olympic event for (almost) every athlete competing in it
+1 if the event features a weeklong tournament
For example, hockey medals are worth 5+1+1=7, curling medals are worth 2+1+1=4, while 33 other medals are worth 2 and the remaining 49 are worth 1. This produces the following weighting of sports:
Freestyle Skiing 12
Alpine Skiing 10
Short Track 10
Figure Skating 8
Nordic Combined 4
Ski Jumping 4
Freestyle and snowboard appear overweighted at first glance. But I would argue that each of these "sports" is actually 3 sports: for example, ski cross and aerials are just as far apart as alpine skiing and cross-country, and more so than the two kinds of speedskating.
The total weight for the 86 events is 137 (69 for ice sports and 68 for snow sports), so I then multiply by 86/137 and round to the nearest integer to produce the adjusted medal count.
Top 10 Countries by Weighted Medals (actual in parentheses)
USA 42 (37)
CAN 37 (26)
GER 27 (30)
NOR 20 (23)
AUT 14 (16)
RUS 13 (15)
CHN 13 (11)
FIN 12 (5)
FRA 10 (11)
SWE 10 (11)
Canada and Finland are the big winners. The US gains as well, while all other countries lose out, but only slightly.
Top 12 Countries by Weighted Gold Medals (actual in parentheses)
CAN 24 (14)
USA 9 (9)
GER 8 (10)
NOR 7 (9)
SWE 6 (5)
KOR 4 (6)
SUI 4 (6)
CHN 4 (5)
AUT 4 (4)
NED 3 (4)
RUS 3 (3)
AUS 3 (2)
O Canada! Even if I had weighted the hockey and curling medals at 2 instead of 7 and 4, Canada's normalized gold total would still be 18. That's right - not only did Canada win the most medals ever, but it tended to win them in team events and in events where athletes did not have multiple chances. The latter means that to get to 14, Canada couldn't rely on a handful of sports that happen to have lots of events: amazingly, despite the huge overall total, Canada did not win more than 2 gold medals in any sport, and no Canadian athlete got more than 2 medals of any colour. Canada is also the only country to have won gold in a majority of the 15 sports (9).
So, in summary: once you apply some kind of sensible weighting scheme to events, the Canadian performance at the Games is even more impressive!