Never mind the judges
February 14, 2002 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Never mind the judges Geography and GDP rule the medal totals at the Olympics.
posted by srboisvert (2 comments total)
"In the entire history of the Winter Olympics, no athlete or team from a snowless nation has ever placed higher than 14th in an event,"

Totally no way.

The study also showed that countries with a small population outperform larger ones at the Winter Games, while the reverse is true in the summer. The effect of GDP was shown to be greater in the winter.

I suppose that's more interesting. Perhaps it's because nations with inhospitable weather conditions have less people living in them. And skiing is a rich man's sport.
posted by Summer at 3:28 PM on February 14, 2002

I think calling that an "effect" is a stretch. It's a correlation, to be sure, but that does not imply causation. (As you say, colder countries tend to have fewer people, but colder countries probably do well in the WO for different reasons.) Certainly the Soviet bloc nations outperformed their per-capita GDPs by a large margin, which had much to do with the level of state support, as well as a much more overt ideology of sports heroism tied to nationalism and world socialism.

Also, they may be completely precise when they say snowless nation. There have been interesting contenders from non-Arctic nations over the years, but from equatorial countries? Certainly in numbers they are in single-digit percentages of all-time athletes.
posted by dhartung at 6:42 PM on February 14, 2002

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