The Wild Winter Olympics

We are close to one of the more interesting Olympics due to several, mostly geopolitical, factors, and also, German dominance.

1. Banned

Russia, one of the more dominate countries in the Games (top five in medal count total over the past six Olympics), has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is after hosting the previous Winter Olympics in Sochi. One of the head scientists of the Russian Olympic team informed authorities of an elaborate system (using the KGB no less) circumventing ongoing testing of athletes during the Sochi Games. If you haven’t had time to watch Icarus on Netflix, make time. It not only provides the first-hand account of the recent cheating, but the years of systematic lies and deceit.

Russia being banned is a big deal. The IOC finally took a stand and would not be bullied or paid off. Russian athletes who are found to be clean can still participate, but are unable to represent the Russian flag. No medals will be awarded to the Russian country.

2. North v South

When you have a “demilitarized zone” that is heavily fortified on either side, it just seems like any time it could turn sour. There have been some positive news as of late, but with ongoing saber rattling and posturing this could be interesting.

3. Donald Trump is President

See above. And with ongoing tweets about how smart he is, I can only imagine the sound bites from Fox and Friends and CNN.

Zee German Crush It

Now, for some medal talk… The top five countries, in the medal count since the 1994 Olympics, account for almost 50% of the medals. The other 50% is comprised of 26 countries. Think about that, 26 countries! Just looking at the average that would mean there are 141 medals per the top 5 countries, while 27 per remaining 26 countries. That’s obviously not how it shook out, but shows the concentration at the top. Russia and Austria have won 111 and 99 respectively, while Belgium, Uzbekistan, and Denmark have won just once.

Germany accounts for 12% of all medals awarded in this same timeframe and lead the pack with 167 medals. They have led the medal count is three of the past six Olympics. While they don’t have the best goal to total medal ratio, they have one sport figured out – Luge.

Country Grand Total Gold Medals Gold to Medal Ratio
 Germany (GER) 167 62 37%
 United States (USA) 150 49 33%
 Norway (NOR) 144 55 38%
 Canada (CAN) 120 47 39%
 Russia (RUS) 111 45 41%


The Luge is one of the fastest winter sports, with Athletes reaching speeds of over 90 mph. It is extremely technical (I am pretty sure it is… to say it is not makes it seem like anyone can do it… and that’s a frigging lie. Not everyone can get on a sled and go as fast as a speeding car and live) and well, life threatening.

To really appreciate the German dominance in this event we need to go back to 1964 (when it became an Olympic sport) and for simplicity sake look at just Men’s Single (don’t worry, they kill it in other Luge events). If the table below feels overwhelming it because it is – there are a lot of Olympic games and its filled with German flags. I should note that I changed all German names, like East Germany or West Germany, to the modern German flag. And I also didn’t do the other flags. This made it even easier to see the German flags. If you have a problem with it… I don’t care.

Men’s Single Luge Results

Year of Games Gold Silver Bronze
1964 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
1968 Austria 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
1972 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
1976 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
1980 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Italy 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
1984 Italy Soviet Union Soviet Union
1988 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Soviet Union
1992 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Austria Austria
1994 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Austria Italy
1998 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Italy 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png
2002 Italy 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Austria
2006 Italy Russia Latvia
2010 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Italy
2014 1200px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Vacant Italy

Okay, so, let’s just break this table down a bit.

  • Of the 42 chances to medal, Germany has been won a medal ~55% of the time.
  • They have swept the podium three times and had a streak of winning the gold four games in row from ’88 to ’98.
  • Now, the most impressive piece is that Germany has won the Gold medal 10 of 14 times; 71% of the time.
  • Finally, the Germans have 23 total medals, 15 more than the second ranked Italy.

Admittedly, if you were to crunch the numbers from ’94 and on, the total medal count margin is cut down. Germany has seven total medals, Italy has six. However, the gold margin is 2:1 in Germany’s (4) favor over Italy (2), while no other country has won gold. While the days of sweeping the podium may be over their dominance hasn’t changed.

I will be anxiously watching to see if a tradition is carried on.

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