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4 nations to battle for top in Sochi

Updated: 2014-02-06 22:30
( Xinhua)

THE HAGUE - A record amount of teams could win medals at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games with the United States and Norway appearing to be the strongest, sports analyst Simon Gleave told Xinhua on Thursday.

One day before the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games all delegations are hoping for glory, but most of the 88 participating teams will not gain a medal in one of the 98 medal events. Dutch sports statistics company Infostrada Sports developed a method to project the medal distribution in a Virtual Medal Table (VMT).

The VMT is based on a statistical model for performance which takes account of results, competition level and the time since the performance was recorded. According to the latest VMT, released earlier this week, 26 NOC's are currently projected to win medals at the 2014 Winter Games, which would equal the record of Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010).

"We have 26 NOCs with medals, but it could easily be more as Slovakia have no medals but a projected fourth place for example," said Gleave, Head of Analysis of Infostrada Sports.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see the record broken. We don't expect teams to win their first ever Winter Games medals though."

With 16 golds, nine silver and four bronze medals, the United States are projected to finish on top of the final medal table. They are expected to end two gold medals ahead of Norway. However, in terms of total medals it is Norway, with a total of 37, who are expected to lead the field in Sochi.

Canada, with 33 medals including 11 golds, and Germany with 29 medals and nine golds are projected to round off the leading quartet of medal winning nations.

"The US are now ahead because of adding two golds to our projection in the final month - Noelle Nikus Pace in skeleton and Heather Richardson in 1000m speed skating," Gleave explained. "Norway's golds are the same as last month, when they were on top."

"Given the uncertainty in sport, I would suggest only a battle for the top between the United States, Norway, Canada and Germany, " Gleave said. "The US and Norway appear to be the strongest when looking at results. The best US sports are freestyle skiing and snowboard, with six medals in each projected, while Norway is best in cross country with 16 medals and biathlon with 12."

According to Gleave the top of the medal ranking could also be the other way around with multiple events scheduled in which both the United States and Norway have contenders for medals, that is top-8 in the events according to the Virtual Medal Table. Among these events are the men's Super G (1 Aksel Lund Svindal vs 2 Ted Ligety), cross country women's sprint (1 Kikkan Randall vs 3,4,6,7 Norwegians) and snowboard women's slopestyle (1 Jamie Anderson vs 3 Silje Norendal and 5 Kjersti Buaas).

Russia, the Netherlands, South Korea, France, Switzerland and China are projected to complete the top 10 of Infostrada's VTM.

With a 10th position, China, projected on four golds, two silver, seven bronze medals, would fall short on their best ever performance at the Winter Olympics four years ago. In Vancouver China had its best Winter Olympics medal finish, winning five gold medals and 11 in total, ending seventh in the medal standings.

Hosts Russia are on fifth place on the VMT with six gold, seven silver and four bronze medals. Although 17 medals will be an improvement for Russia on their performance in Vancouver four years ago, it falls short of the likely top four teams.

The United States, Norway, Canada and Germany are all expected to pick up at least 29 medals at this year's Games and battle for the top spot in the final medal table.