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谁将是2014年索契冬奥会奖牌榜赢家?

更新时间:2014-2-6 12:02:13 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Who Will Win the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Medal Race?
谁将是2014年索契冬奥会奖牌榜赢家?

More than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings evolved into fierce, intimidating conquerors. Now the Norsemen are at it again, this time in the form of the Olympic team from tiny Norway.

This country of five million people is poised to pull off one of the great triumphs in sports by winning the overall medal race and likely the most gold medals at the Sochi Olympics. The Wall Street Journal's medal projections for Sochi suggest the Norwegians will win 33 medals, one more than a strong team from the U.S., whose population is roughly 65 times as large. The two countries should be neck and neck for the internationally coveted spot atop the gold-medal table as well. Deep teams from Canada and Germany could challenge for supremacy, too -- and keep an eye on the Russians with their home-snow advantage.

Norway's Winter Olympics success over the years represents one of the unlikeliest feats in sports. Though it last swept the medal tables at a Winter Games in 1968, the country is the all-time leader in both gold and total Winter Olympics medals. And even though it lacks Cold War political ramifications, the 'Knut vs. Goliath' battle between Norway and the U.S. in Sochi should make for one of the most entertaining Olympic medals races.

At bottom, it's a competition between two diametrically opposed approaches to success in Olympic sports. The U.S. will bring 230 athletes and challenge for medals in everything from speed and figure skating to alpine skiing and Nordic combined, an event that requires both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Meanwhile, Norway will focus its fire almost exclusively on Nordic sports that involve some form of cross country and ski jumping.

'We concentrate where we can do well, and on what is closest to our hearts,' said Gerhard Heiberg, the International Olympic Committee member who organized the 1994 Games in Lillehammer.

At last year's World Championships in Nordic sports, Norway won 16 gold medals and 30 overall. If it repeats that performance in Sochi, it could conceivably win both medal races without even bringing ice skates, alpine skis or a curling stone to Sochi.

The Journal's forecasting system, which has proved accurate to within a few medals in the last two Olympics, takes into account basic information such as interviews with experts and the performances of athletes in recent national and international competitions. But rather than simply anointing first-, second- and third-place finishers in each event, the model assigns probabilities to the top medal contenders, then uses those probabilities to project the most likely outcomes.

For instance, Germany's two top duos in doubles luge -- Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt and Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken -- have won every World Cup event this season. They have finished one-two in six of eight races. Together, the two teams are a combined 80% favorite to win the gold by our count. A tandem from Austria has a 20% chance.

On the other hand, Ted Ligety, the American alpine skiing champion, performs in far more competitive events. He is the world's best technical skier, but he hasn't been on a Super G podium this season, even though he is the defending world champion in that event, so his chances of prevailing in Super G are just 25%.

To compile the figures, we enlisted sports actuary John Dewan, founder of Stats LLC, to tally the probabilities and run 1,000 simulations of the Games.

Norway won the most gold medals in 471 of these simulations, including ties, beating the U.S., which won the most golds 439 times. Germany (141), Canada (58) and Russia (48) were next. The results in the overall medal race lean significantly toward Norway, which won the most medals 549 times, compared with 369 for the U.S.

Relative long shots by comparison are Canada, with 154 simulated overall medal wins; Russia, with 32; and Germany, with 28.

A warning to Winter Olympics gamblers: Predicting outcomes of events that take place on slippery surfaces and on blades a few millimeters thick can be a fool's errand. The outcome of the medal tables could turn on a split-second brush with the wall.

In Vancouver in 2010, the U.S. slaughtered the competition in the overall medals race, winning 37 overall, seven more than second-place Germany. The Canadians collected a world-best 14 golds on home snow and ice after investing $100 million to improve their efforts. During the next three years, Team USA became even more formidable: It dominated world championships in alpine skiing last year, Kikkan Randall became the world's fastest freestyle Nordic skier and Tim Burke won a silver medal in the biathlon world championships.

Also working in favor of the U.S.: The IOC in 2011 added two more competitions in snowboarding and freestyle skiing, sports at which the U.S. excels. And it added women's ski jumping, an event that now has an American world champion in Sarah Hendrickson. The stage appeared set for a U.S. triumph in enemy territory.

Then the Americans caught the injury bug. On Aug. 23, Evan Lysacek, the defending gold medalist in figure skating, tore his hip labrum, and Hendrickson tore her ACL and MCL in a training jump. Lysacek will miss the Games. Hendrickson just got back on snow three weeks ago. Earlier last year, two-time gold medalist in snowboard cross Seth Wescott tore his ACL filming a movie in Alaska. In December skier Lindsey Vonn, the defending downhill champion and a threat to win five medals, reinjured her ACL, removing her from contention.

'You're simply not going to replace a Lindsey Vonn,' says Alan Ashley, chief of Sport Performance at the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ashley says winning 37 medals again is 'imaginable,' but will go no further than that.

Ashley is responsible for channeling the USOC's resources where the organization believes it has the best chances to excel. Since 2010, the organization has steered several million dollars from BMW toward the bobsled competition, enlisting the sponsor to design a new two-man sled for an American team that often features the sport's most gifted athletes -- Olympic sprinters Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams are on the team this year -- but trails the Germans in technology. Now, American bobsledders, including Steve Holcomb, who piloted the victorious four-man crew in Vancouver, could win as many as four medals in Sochi.

The problem for Team USA is that it needs to win medals in sports that are unpredictable. Alpine skiing produced two gold medals and eight overall for the U.S. in Vancouver. Ligety and 18-year-old prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin are the best at their events, but in alpine skiing, a momentary gaffe can mean the difference between a gold medal and 12th place.

Norway, on the other hand, specializes in cross-country skiing and biathlon, which combines cross country and sharpshooting. They are the most medal-rich sports of the games, producing 69 medals -- and among the least competitive.

Throughout the 90-year history of the Winter Games, just four countries -- Germany, Norway, France, and Russia and its Soviet predecessors -- have won nearly three-quarters of biathlon medals. In cross-country skiing, five countries have won 82% of the medals.

Aksel Lund Svindal, who is something of an oddity as a Norwegian alpine world champion, says nearly all the best athletes in his country pursue cross-country skiing, so Norway's projected success in Sochi doesn't surprise him. 'When the best talent goes into sports that the U.S. doesn't hear about and you have a good program, it makes sense.'

Norway is continuing to reap the benefits of hosting the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer. The 20-somethings leading the Norwegian Olympic team now -- cross-country stars Martin Sundby, Petter Northug and Therese Johaug -- were young children then. They grew up on the new training facilities built for those Games, when the country recommitted itself to success at the Winter Olympics.

But Heiberg, the Lillehammer organizer, has a different message: Beware of the Russians. 'The Russians have mobilized so much that they will be hard to beat on home ground,' he says.

Indeed, U.S. medal totals jumped to 10 golds and 34 overall in Salt Lake in 2002 from six and 13 in 1998 in Nagano. Canada doubled its gold-medal haul to 14 in Vancouver from seven in Turin in 2006. The Russian team won just three gold medals and 15 overall in 2010, after which then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev forced the head of Russia's Olympic Committee to resign as punishment for the lackluster showing.

Russian sports officials have built new ski-jumping, bobsled and curling training facilities in recent years. They recruited foreign experts and athletes to bolster the Russian national teams. Led by Viktor Ahn, a former South Korean short-track speedskating champion, the Russians last month took the 5,000-meter relay at the European championships.

The Russians will also have a huge team in Sochi, with some 225 athletes. 'Even in the Soviet era, we didn't have as big a team for the Winter Olympics as we will have in Sochi,' Alexander Zhukov, the Russian Olympic Committee president, said at a recent news conference. Officials have said Russia has a shot at winning medals in 11 sports, up from seven in Vancouver.

Men's hockey is the priority. In recent years Russia's top pro league has recruited the country's NHL stars, including Ilya Kovalchuk, back to the motherland to prepare for the Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would be watching closely as Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Malkin take on Team USA on Saturday, Feb. 15, though the Russians will likely have to beat the defending champion Canadians to win the gold medal.

As Canada proved in 2010, it isn't just about hockey (or curling) anymore. Like the American team, the Canadians are deep and well-rounded. Dominique Maltais and Maelle Ricker are dominant in snowboard cross. Patrick Chan is a favorite for figure-skating gold, and his country may win the sport's first team gold medal, a new event.

And what of Germany, the world's pre-eminent winter-sports country since unification? The Germans should clean up in luge, as usual, but they have fallen off in biathlon, which historically has been a strength. Its best biathlete, Magdalena Neuner, winner of three medals in Vancouver, two of them gold, retired in 2012 at 25, in part to pursue a fashion career.

Still Michael Vesper, Germany's chef de mission for Sochi, predicts his country will take home at least 30 medals. 'We have to do better in the new sports,' Vesper said recently. 'In snowboarding and moguls, we didn't get any medals in Vancouver. We think we can get some this time.'

Perhaps Germany might be better off sticking to what has traditionally made it so strong. That strategy seems to be working just fine for Norway.

一千多年前,维京人一度变成狂热的、令人生畏的征服者。现在这些北欧人又要卷土重来了,这次可能是凭借挪威奥运代表队在冬奥会上的出色表现征服观众。

挪威是一个只有五百万人口的小国,但该国很可能在索契冬季奥运会的奖牌榜和金牌榜上位列第一。《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)对索契冬奥会奖牌榜的预测显示,挪威队有望摘取33块奖牌,比实力强劲的美国队还多一块,而美国的人口大约是挪威的65倍。对于国际各国都希望占据的金牌榜首位来说,挪威和美国应该会有同样强劲的实力去争夺。加拿大队和德国队也可能依靠其实力来冲击奖牌,而俄罗斯队的主场优势也是值得留意的。

多年来,挪威在冬奥会上的出色表现是体育界最难实现的壮举之一。尽管挪威上一次包揽冬奥会金牌榜和奖牌榜首位还是在1968年,但从历史上看,该国夺得的冬奥会金牌和奖牌数量一直位居前列。虽然挪威与美国在冬奥会上的争夺缺乏冷战政治色彩,但“北欧霸主与美国巨人”的较量还是会成为索契冬奥会最有看头的奖牌争夺战之一。

归根结底,这是两种截然相反的奥运成功模式之间的竞争。美国将派出230名运动员,争夺从速度滑冰和花样滑冰到高山滑雪和北欧两项运动(同时包含了越野滑雪和跳台滑雪的运动项目)的所有项目奖牌。而挪威几乎全部的夺奖实力都在北欧两项运动上。

国际奥委会(International Olympic Committee)委员海伯格(Gerhard Heiberg)说,我们将把精力集中在那些我们能做好的项目上,集中在那些与我们心灵贴得最近的项目上。海伯格曾组织举办了1994年利勒哈默尔冬奥会。

在去年的北欧两项世界杯赛事上,挪威摘取了16块金牌,并总计赢得了30块奖牌。如果在索契冬奥会上能有同样的发挥,挪威就可能在金牌榜和奖牌榜都占据首位,甚至都不必参与滑冰、高山滑雪和冰壶项目的争夺。

《华尔街日报》的获奖预测模型在过去两届奥运会中的预测准度可达到与实际情况所差无几的水平。该系统将采访得到的专家意见和运动员近期在全国及国际赛事中的表现纳入考量。不过该模型并非简单推断每项赛事获胜的前三名选手,而是对角逐奖牌的顶尖选手施以概率,然后使用这些概率来测算出最有可能的结果。

举个例子,双人雪橇的两个德国最佳组合——文德尔(Tobias Wendl)/阿尔特(Tobias Arlt)和埃格特(Toni Eggert)/贝内肯(Sascha Benecken)揽获了本赛季世界杯双人雪橇比赛的全部奖杯。八场比赛中,他们有六场包揽了第一第二的成绩。根据我们的计算,这两个组合加起来有80%的可能会赢得金牌。一只来自奥地利的队伍则有20%的可能。

而美国高山滑雪冠军利盖蒂(Ted Ligety)的奖牌角逐要激烈得多。他的滑雪技术全世界无人能敌,但虽然他是超大回转(Super G)比赛的卫冕冠军,本赛季他尚未赢得任何奖牌,因此他卫冕成功的几率仅有25%。

为对数据进行编制,我们邀请来体育数据分析师、Stats LLC创始人德万(John Dewan)对概率进行计算,然后对赛事进行了一千次的模拟分析。

在全部模拟中,挪威有471次赢得金牌总数量最多或与美国打平,后者在439次模拟中登顶金牌榜。随后分别是德国(141次)、加拿大(58次)和俄罗斯(48次)。奖牌总数方面,挪威在549次模拟中赢得的奖牌总数最多,而美国为369次。

相比之下加拿大、俄罗斯和德国冲顶奖牌榜的几率要小一些,三个国家赢得奖牌总数最多的模拟次数依次为154次、32次和28次。

但是这里有一条对奖牌榜预测的警告:对于运动员在极滑的冰面上穿着几毫米厚的冰刀比赛的赛事而言,想要预测其结果可能只是徒劳。因此,奖牌榜可能瞬息万变。

在2010年的温哥华冬奥会上,美国队以37块奖牌荣登奖牌榜之首,比位列第二的德国队多出7块奖牌。东道主加拿大队以14块金牌荣登金牌榜之首。为了在这届比赛中取得好成绩,加拿大整整投入了1亿美元。在这届冬奥会结束后的三年里,美国队表现出了更强的实力。在去年举行的世界高山滑雪锦标赛上美国队大放异彩,兰德尔(Kikkan Randall)夺得自由式滑雪冠军,伯克(Tim Burke)在冬季两项比赛中摘得一枚银牌。

为美国队增添优势的是,2011年国际奥委会决定在冬奥会滑板滑雪和自由式滑雪项目中增添两个小项,这都是美国队的强项。国际奥委会还决定增加女子跳台滑雪项目,美国选手亨德里克森(Sarah Hendrickson)曾在世锦赛中赢得该项目的冠军。这似乎都为美国队在索契冬奥会上取得胜利创造了条件。

但伤病是美国队奥运夺金路上的阻碍。去年8月23日,花样滑冰男单冬奥会卫冕冠军莱萨切克(Evan Lysacek)臀大肌拉伤,亨德里克森在一次训练中拉伤了膝关节前叉韧带和膝内侧副韧带。莱萨切克将因此缺席索契冬奥会,亨德里克森三周前刚刚返回赛场。去年早些时候,夺得两届冬奥会男子单板越野滑雪赛冠军的维斯考特(Seth Wescott)在阿拉斯加拍摄一部电影时拉伤了膝关节前叉韧带。冬奥会女子高山速降卫冕冠军、在五个项目上有夺奖希望的沃恩(Lindsey Vonn)去年12月膝关节前叉韧带再度受伤,无缘索契冬奥会。

美国奥委会(U.S. Olympic Committee)体育成绩负责人阿什利(Alan Ashley)说,没人能取代沃恩。他说,索契冬奥会上美国代表团的奖牌数有可能达到上届的37枚,但要超越这一数字就不可能了。

阿什利负责调配美国奥委会的资源。2010年以来,美国奥委会已经把宝马(BMW)提供的数百万美元赞助费投入到雪车项目中,并且邀请宝马为美国雪车队设计了一款新的男子双人座雪车。美国雪车队一直有实力强劲的选手,今年的参赛者包括奥运会女子田径运动员琼斯(Lolo Jones)和威廉姆斯(Lauryn Williams),但在技术方面美国队仍逊德国队一筹。包括霍尔康博(Steve Holcomb)在内的美国雪橇选手有望在本届索契冬奥会上夺得四枚奖牌。霍尔康博带领的美国队曾经在温哥华冬奥会上夺得男子四人座雪车项目的金牌。

美国队面临的困难是它必须在难以预测的项目上夺得奖牌。在上届温哥华冬奥会上,美国队在高山滑雪比赛中夺得两枚金牌,共八枚奖牌。利盖蒂和18岁的天才选手谢夫林(Mikaela Shiffrin)是夺奖热门选手。但在高山滑雪比赛中,一个偶然的失误就可能意味着从第一名跌落到第十二名(最后一名)。

挪威队的优势项目是越野滑雪和冬季两项(包括越野滑雪和射击两项),这两个项目一共将产生69枚奖牌,竞争并不激烈。

在冬奥会走过的90年历史中,四个国家——德国、挪威、法国、俄罗斯及其前身苏联——囊括了冬季两项近四分之三的奖牌。五个国家囊括了越野滑雪82%的奖牌。

挪威高山滑雪世界冠军斯文达尔(Aksel Lund Svindal)说,在他的国家,几乎所有最好的运动员都投身于越野滑雪,因此挪威在索契冬奥会取得预料中的成就不会令他感到惊讶。他说,一旦最优秀的人才从事很多美国人都没听说过的运动时,你就有了一个不错的项目,这是有道理的。

挪威仍在从1994年主办利勒哈默尔冬奥会的经历中获益。目前引领挪威奥运代表队争夺奖牌的20多岁的年轻人(包括越野滑雪名将松德比(Martin Sundby)、诺萨格(Petter Northug)和乔奥格(Therese Johaug))那时还都是孩子。这些人是在为那次冬奥会兴建的新训练设施中长大的。

然而海伯格有一个不同的看法:要注意俄罗斯人。他说,俄罗斯人已经进行了如此大的动员,在主场赢过他们会很难。

2002年盐湖城冬奥会,美国金牌数从1998年长野冬奥会的六块增至10块,奖牌总数从13块增至34块。2010年温哥华冬奥会,加拿大金牌总数从2006年都灵冬奥会上的7块增至14块。2010年,俄罗斯队只摘取了四块金牌,奖牌总数也只有15块。之后,时任俄罗斯总统的梅德韦杰夫(Dmitry Medvedev)要求俄罗斯奥委会主席辞职,以此作为奥运会表现不佳的一种惩罚。

近些年来,负责体育事务的俄罗斯官员已经建造了新的跳台滑雪、雪车和冰壶训练设施。他们聘请了外国专家和运动员来帮助俄罗斯国家队提高成绩。上个月,在前韩国短道速滑名将维克托•安(Viktor Ahn,安贤洙)的带领下,俄罗斯队在欧洲短道速滑锦标赛上夺取了5,000米短道速滑接力的冠军。

俄罗斯将在索契冬奥会上派出规模庞大的代表队,人数约为225人。俄罗斯奥委会主席茹科夫(Alexander Zhukov)在最近的一次新闻发布会上表示,即使在苏联时代,我们也没有派出如此大的代表队来参加冬奥会。一些官员认为,俄罗斯可能在11项运动中具备争夺奖牌的实力,而温哥华冬奥会时只有7项。

这要以男子冰球为首。最近几年,俄罗斯已经将在卡瓦利丘克(Ilya Kovalchuk)等在美国国家冰球联盟(NHL)效力的明星召回本土,以便为奥运会作准备。俄罗斯总统普京(Vladimir Putin)表示,他将密切关注奥维琴科(Alexander Ovechkin)和马尔金(Evgeny Malkin)在2月15日周六对阵美国队的表现,但俄罗斯队可能还需要击败上届冠军加拿大队才能摘得金牌。

加拿大在2010年证明,该国已经不只在冰球或冰壶项目上具备争夺奖牌的实力。与美国队一样,加拿大队也是很全面的队伍。马尔泰斯(Dominique Maltais)和雷克尔(Maelle Ricker)在单板滑雪越野项目上具有绝对优势。陈伟群(Patrick Chan)是花样滑冰夺金热门,而且加拿大队有可能在历史上首次摘得这一项目的团体金牌。

那么德国呢?自从两德统一以来,德国一直是世界上最突出的冬季运动国家。与以往一样,德国人应该会在雪橇项目中横扫对手,但他们在以往一直擅长的冬季两项上实力却大大下降。德国最优秀的冬季两项运动员纽内尔(Magdalena Neuner)已经于2012年退役进入时尚圈,退役时年仅25岁。纽内尔在温哥华冬奥会上摘取了三枚奖牌,其中两枚是金牌。

不过,德国索契冬奥会代表团团长维斯佩尔(Michael Vesper)仍预计,德国将摘取至少30枚奖牌。他最近说:我们需要在新项目上取得更好的成绩;在温哥华冬奥会上,我们未能在滑雪板和自由式滑雪项目上获得任何奖牌,这次我们认为自己能摘取一些。

如果德国继续将力气用在那些传统优势项目上,结果可能会更好。对于挪威来说,这种策略似乎很奏效。

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