2018 Winter Olympics Predictions: A Data Scientist's Golden Guide to the Winter Olympics

With the Opening Ceremony officially kicking things off on Feb. 9, the 2018 Winter Olympics will bring the world's best athletes to Pyeongchang, South Korea for 17 days of competition.

With the Opening Ceremony officially kicking things off on Feb. 9, the 2018 Winter Olympics will bring the world's best athletes to Pyeongchang, South Korea for 17 days of competition.

A record 102 medals are up for grabs across 15 different sports, with eight new events introduced to appeal to younger audiences and bridge the gender divide. Snowboarding's Big Air event should provide a thrilling visual spectacle for all ages, while curling, alpine skiing and speed skating will feature mixed men's and women's events for the first time.

Athletes from 92 nations have qualified for the games. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore will make their Winter Olympics debut. Because of a doping scandal, Russia is banned from competing in Pyeongchang. Instead, Russian athletes will compete under the designation Olympic Athlete from Russia. Russian government officials are also excluded from the games. Neither the country's flag nor anthem will be present.

Here are few interesting historical facts and figures about some of the participating countries:

  • Austrian Alpiners: Austria leads the all-time tally for Alpine Skiing with a total of 119 medals, which is slightly more than one fourth of total medals awarded in the history of the event.
  • Nordic Advantage: Norway often dominates in skiing events. It leads in cross-country skiing with a total of 107 medals. It has won 40 gold medals out of a total 158 gold medals awarded in the Olympics preceding 2018. The country leads in nordic combined, a sport that also features cross-country. It has won 30 medals, including 13 golds (Finland is second with 14 medals in total).
  • Team Players: Canada has been on the podium in ice hockey in all but six Olympics. It has won gold in women's ice hockey four out of five times since the event's inception in 2002. In curling, Canada has missed the podium only once, in the 1924 men's event. It has won gold in the past three installments of men's curling.
  • Twists and Turns: The United States lead the historic medal table in figure skating, with close to 20 percent of total medals awarded (49 medals out of 256 medals). The country also leads in snowboarding with 24 medals, twice as many as Switzerland, the next-best country on the table.
  • Sliding for Gold: Germany leads the all-time medal list in luge with 75 medals out of a total 129 medals awarded. Italy is second on the all-time list with 17 medals, almost half of Germany's gold medal count (31).
  • Medal Sprint: South Korea has won 42 medals overall out of 144 medals in short-track speed skating. The Netherlands leads in speed skating with 105 medals.

This marks the second time South Korea has hosted the Olympic Games, following the 1988 Summer Olympics. Pyeongchang is relatively isolated, so new high-speed trains were built to shuttle spectators from Seoul in less than an hour. Between Pyeongchang and neighboring Gangneung, the games feature 13 different venues, six of them brand new.

The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France in 1924. Originally held in the same year as the Summer Olympics, the two events were placed on separate four-year cycles starting in 1994. Norway has traditionally dominated the competition, racking up more than 300 medals. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the United States led all nations with 28 total medals. Norway barely edged out the competition in gold medals, however, notching 11, with Canada and the United States taking home 10 and nine gold medals, respectively.

The games wrap up Feb. 25 with the Closing Ceremony.

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