How many medals will Canada win in Pyeongchang?
Forecasts paints bright picture for 2018 Winter Games
Canada left the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia with 25 medals — just one shy of the national record set in Vancouver in 2010.
Can Canada eclipse the mark at the next Winter Games, which begin in exactly one year in Pyeongchang, South Korea?
This season, several Canadians are reaching podiums across various Olympic sports, leading at least one prognosticator to paint a bright picture for 2018.
Netherlands-based Gracenote Sports (formerly Infostrada Sports) currently predicts Canada will finish with a national-record 29 medals. That's the fourth-highest total in their projections, behind Norway (40), Germany (34) and the United States (32).
Canada's projected nine gold medals ranks fifth, behind those countries and France.
"We use results from all world championships and World Cup events, or equivalent, starting with the Olympic Games in 2014," explains Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports. "These events are weighted for the competition strength — Olympic results weigh more than World Cup — and recency."
The virtual medal table is automatically updated monthly, with a final prediction expected a few days before the start of the PyeongChang Olympics.
Canada strong in speed skating
Visit the virtual medal table via the hyperlink above, click on Canada, and you'll see that Gracenote's system has Canada winning six short track medals — led by Charles Hamelin with three (gold in the 1,000 metres and bronze in the 500 and 1,500), and Marianne St-Gelais with a pair (silver in the 500, bronze in the 1,500).
Other medals are expected in long track, including the men's 5,000 (Ted-Jan Bloemen), 10,000 (Bloemen, the world record holder) and team pursuit, and the women's mass start (Ivanie Blondin).
"Competitors from seven countries have won gold medals at short track worlds and Olympics since 2012, but China and Korea tend to dominate," Gleave says. "Korean and Chinese athletes [are blocking] the way for Marianne St-Gelais and the women's 3,000 relay team."
He adds that Park Seyeong of Korea projects to win silver in the men's 1,000, ahead of Canada's Samuel Girard (bronze) and behind Hamelin, who ranks behind Dutch short tracker Sjinkie Knegt and China's Han Tianyu in the 1,500.
"But the event is very competitive and the sport is highly unpredictable, so we will see," says Gleave. "This year's world championships [March 10-12 in Rotterdam, Netherlands] will be another important marker for Canada's [medal] expectations in the sport in Pyeongchang."
Humphries chasing American
The medal predictor is also a source of debate.
While Gleave concedes women's bobsleigh gold will be a showdown between Calgary's Kaillie Humphries and American rival Elana Meyers Taylor, he points out that Canada's two-time Olympic champion, who sits atop the overall standings this season, is behind Meyers Taylor in the silver-medal position in the virtual medal table because of the latter's World Cup success this season.
"She has won the last four World Cup events and finished second to Humphries in the other," Gleave says of Meyers Taylor. "Humphries' results have been fifth, second, fourth and second in those four events since her win in Altenberg [Germany] in January."
Gracenote Sports is forecasting a record 29 countries to medal in Pyeongchang. The projected 40 by Norway would not only break its national record of 26 but also shatter the Winter Games mark of 37 set by the U.S. in 2010.