Though the opening ceremonies aren't until tomorrow, the 2014 Olympics officially kick off today in Sochi—and the Wall Street Journal is ready with its extremely complex medal prediction system, which proved to be accurate to within just a few medals at the last two Olympics. So who's likely to be the big winner this time around? The Journal predicts Norway will walk away with the most overall medals at 33, followed by the US at 32, Canada at 30, and Germany and Russia at 27 each. As for gold medals, Norway and the US are predicted to tie for the top spot with 13 each. Germany and Canada are also in the top four there, predicted to walk away with 10 and nine gold medals, respectively.
What are the factors at play? Well, consider that Norway has already racked up the most Winter Olympics medals of all time and the most gold medals from the Winter Games. Their athletes are focused on Nordic sports like cross-country and ski jumping: "We concentrate where we can do well," explains an International Olympic Committee member who organized the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Meanwhile, the US gets a boost from three newly-added competitions in sports at which it excels: snowboarding, freestyle skiing, and women's ski jumping. But one big problem for the US? Many important athletes are struggling with injuries.
- A very different model—one that focuses on statistics like a country's GDP and exports rather than the athletes themselves—predicts the US will win out with 29 medals total, while Norway will only grab 16, Smithsonian reports.
- And if you'd rather look at betting odds for your prediction, the most recent story on SB Nation says the odds basically agree with the Journal: Norway is favored to be the top gold medal-winner, followed closely by the US, while the US is favored to bring home the most overall medals, followed by Norway.