Canada projected to win 31 medals in Pyeongchang
Virtual standings take into account Russia's status for 2018 Games
If the latest virtual Olympic medal table is to believed, Canada will finish third in the overall standings at the Winter Games with 31 medals — just five of them gold.
The Canadian Olympic Committee has not stated its goal for Pyeongchang, but chief executive officer Chris Overholt is confident of big things.
"We don't make any effort to kind of pin down the particulars of how medals will be won or not won at an Olympic Games," he said Wednesday. "It's an impossible science. We certainly expect to contend for the No. 1 position."
The Canadian team took home 25 medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including 10 gold.
Simon Gleave, the head of analysis for Gracenote Sports, pieced together results from his statistical model to predict the top medal-winning countries for next year's Olympics. He created a virtual medal table on the assumption that Russia's full team will participate and not be subject to a doping ban.
"At the moment we assume with everything we're doing that Russia is in," Gleave told The Associated Press.
Gleave projects that Canada's gold medals will come from men's and women's curling, freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury, snowboarder Max Parrot and the men's hockey team. He's predicting Canada's championship run in women's hockey will end with the U.S. stealing away the gold in Pyeongchang.
Humphries tabbed for silver
He also had reigning women's bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries — who won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014 — finishing second.
"They had me tabbed for silver in Sochi too," Humphries said with a smile.
With Russia in, Gleave predicts that Germany will win the most gold medals, and the most overall. Germany is predicted to win 14 golds and 35 overall, followed by Norway with 12 gold and 32 overall. The United States is next with 10 gold and 29 overall.
After Germany, Norway and the United States, the top 10 in the gold medals are: France (9), Austria (7), South Korea (7), Netherlands (6), Russia (6) and China (6).
If Russia is out, Gracenote figures the 21 overall medals would be distributed among 11 different countries. The big winners would be Germany and the Netherlands. Its six gold medals would go to the Netherlands (2) with one each for Canada, Germany, Japan, and Norway.
The International Olympic Committee said it hopes to decide on Russian eligibility in December with the Olympics opening on Feb. 9. But it may drag right up to the eve of the Games, as it did last year in Rio de Janeiro.
"Most of the [Canadian] team hasn't qualified yet, that will happen over the next 90 days," Overholt said after the unveiling of the country's hockey jerseys for Pyeongchang. "And look, sport is sport. You're never going to be able to predict it.
"You can have one day [when] a world No. 1 [is] heading into a competition and it just doesn't wash out the way you might hope or expect. On the other side, we see great stories all the time that emerge out of the Games."
On Wednesday, Olympic officials in Pyeongchang marked 100 days to go until the opening ceremony.
Men's hockey a tough call
Accustomed to dealing with the unpredictable, Gleave said there is another dark spot. Men's hockey will be tougher to predict, since NHL players will not participate.
That leaves him relying on results from recent world championships.
"The strong countries in ice hockey are the strong countries in ice hockey — whether it's their first teams playing or their second teams," he said.
But he acknowledged his picks for men's hockey will not be "as strong" as in other events. He predicts Canada will defeat Sweden in the gold medal game while Russia will take bronze.
To get his predictions for all sports, Gleave weighs results in recent world championships and other world-class events, giving more weight to the most recent.
Most winter sport seasons are just beginning and Gleave expects "minor changes" when he calculates the standings again in January with a month to go.
At last year's Rio Olympics, Gleave said 80 per cent of the eventual medallists came from a top-eight list he compiled for every discipline. He said he expected the same for Pyeongchang.
"None of us know the outcome," Humphries said after Canada's World Cup bobsled team was introduced at a downtown event. "I think the Canadian team as a whole is working very hard to not focus on that and to focus more on the process and more on the steps."