Athletes from winter powers like Germany and Norway could pick up unexpected medals with some top Russians absent because of a massive doping scheme four years ago at the Sochi Games.
One medal forecast for Pyeongchang , compiled by Gracenote Sports, which refers to itself as a “sports and entertainment provider,” shows the impact if Russian athletes are missing.
Gracenote released its medal-table projection on Wednesday, this time removing all Russians from the calculation. The U.S.-based company said it would release a final prediction just before the Olympics open on Feb. 9, this time including Russians who are known to be eligible and who will compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” or OAR.
Their participation, of course, would cut into the medal haul of other strong nations.
The Russian Olympic Committee said in December that “more than 200” athletes will meet the qualifying criteria. However, the final decision, barring appeals to the based-Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be in the hands of an IOC commission — the Fourneyron Commission.
Germany and Norway are the big winners without Russia.
Gracenote forecasts Germany would win five extra medals, followed by Norway with four. Canada, France and Japan would pick up two extra medals. Finland, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands would get one each.
Germany’s extra haul would push its medal-leading total to 40 — 14 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze. Norway is next with 37 overall, but it would take 14 gold to tie Germany in that department.
Canada is predicted to take third place with 33 overall, followed by the United States (29) and France (24).
— If Germany wins 40 medals, it would be the country’s most successful total since 2002 in Salt Lake City. Biathlon will net Germany’s largest haul with 10 medals.
— These could be record-setting games for Norway, which has never won more than 29 overall. Norway is forecast to win a whopping 19 medals in cross-country skiing alone.
— Canada and the United States are forecast to win medals in 10 of the 15 sports at the Winter Games: alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short-track speedskating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, speedskating.
— France also is on a record-setting pace, predicted to win 24 medals — nine over its record total in Sochi.
To calculate its predictions, Gracenote weighs results in recent world championships and other world-class events, giving more weight to the most recent.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Gracenote compiled a top-5 list in every discipline. It said 80 percent of the eventual medalists came from these lists. It is expecting similar results for Pyeongchang.
AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth in Moscow contributed to this report.
For more AP coverage of the Winter Games: http://wintergames.ap.org
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