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How to predict winners at the winter Olympics

How to predict winners at the winter Olympics

Game theoryFeb 13th 2018by J.T.twitter iconfacebook iconlinkedin iconmail iconprint iconFANS of winter sports are used to paying close attention to forecasts. Few would fancy taking to the slopes in howling gusts of 50mph (80kph) or temperatures that have fallen to -26˚C (-14˚F) with wind chill. Such conditions have caused the postponement of several events at…

FANS of winter sports are used to paying close attention to forecasts. Few would fancy taking to the slopes in howling gusts of 50mph (80kph) or temperatures that have fallen to -26˚C (-14˚F) with wind chill. Such conditions have caused the postponement of several events at the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which opened on February 9th. Increasingly warm winters are threatening the futures of many ski resorts around the world, but in Pyeongchang the artificial snow cannons are firing for the opposite reason. The air is so cold and dry that snowfall is scarce, with just seven days of it in February last year.

Yet weather readings are not the only forecasts that Olympic teams are monitoring in South Korea. The strongest countries have arrived with ambitious medal targets and will be keeping track of their chances of matching those tallies throughout the games. Until recently working out who was likely to win an Olympic event was a guessing game based on hunches and limited data. Some of the most popular sports, like athletics and swimming, have had unofficial world rankings based largely on form in any given season. But generally onlookers have had to rely on the odds produced by bookmakers for a guide of who is likely to win Olympic glory. That is no longer true. Though predicting medals in each sport is made difficult by the multiple players that compete in most contests and the rarity of similar tournaments outside of the Olympics, accurate projections are now readily available.

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