The United States won the most medals in Vancouver, but Canada ended the Winter Games with the most golds. The press has declared the U.S. the winner of the medal count, but the International Olympic Committee will rank Canada at No. 1 by virtue of those 14 gold medals. So, which nation was the true victor of the 2010 Winter Olympics? Fourth-Place Medal has created a new medal tabulating system to answer that very question.
For years, the media has used total medals to determine the winner of the medal count. It's an imperfect system in which a country winning six bronze medals would be ranked ahead of a delegation bringing home five golds. That method is only slightly better than solely using gold medals as a benchmark, which is the official IOC stance. Should silvers and bronzes really mean nothing? Why even award them then? Canada's 14 golds are a great achievement. But are they more impressive than the 28 silvers and bronzes won by the United States?
In an attempt to end the confusion, Fourth-Place Medal developed a clear-cut, weighted system to evaluate the Olympic medal count. It assigns value to each medal and also gives added importance to medals won in marquee events. It's not perfect — are five bronze medals really equal to one gold? — but our weighted count is a vast improvement over the simple tally currently used to determine the "winner" of the Winter Olympics.
In FPM's system, most gold medals are worth 25 points, silver medals are worth 10 points and a bronze earns five. Other attempts to assign a value to the medals have used a 5-3-1 distribution. That scoring system overemphasizes the importance of silver medals. Two silvers certainly aren't worth more than one gold.
Another wrinkle we've added is that the medals won in some marquee events carry a higher value. Though a gold medal is a gold medal no matter if it was won in a high-profile sport or not, some events have more prestige and, therefore, should have their medal value reflect this. Basically, a gold in women's figure skating should be worth more than a gold medal in men's skeleton. For these marquee events (figure skating, Alpine skiing, speedskating, men's hockey), we've doubled the point values (gold: 50; silver: 20; bronze: 10).
Here's how it broke down:
The United States wins our weighted medal count thanks to 14 marquee medals and the staggering 28 silvers and bronzes won overall. (If you take away the nine gold medals won by the U.S., the nation would still have finished second in the medal count.) Canada finished third in the total medal count but leaps ahead of Germany in our tally on the strength of those 14 golds. The victory in Sunday's gold medal hockey game moved the Canadians closer in our weighted total, but the lack of secondary medals kept them one step lower on the podium they wanted to own.