The Globe’s James Mirtle takes a look at Canada’s rise in the medal standings over the last few games.
The biggest shift in Canada’s favour the last 20 years has been to the Games themselves, Mirtle writes, which have evolved dramatically in a bid by the IOC for better TV ratings and higher revenues.
How new events have changed the Games
The number of events at the Winter Olympics has increased dramatically the last 30 years, and the creation of new sports disciplines has been a big factor in that growth. In 1984, there were just 39 gold medals given out; in Sochi that total will hit a record high of 98. One-third of those medals will be in sports that didn’t exist in the Games prior to 1992: Curling, freestyle skiing, short track speed skating, skeleton and snowboarding.
Where Canada’s success comes from
For years, the Winter Olympics were heavily based on sports Canada has rarely produced medals in such as cross-country skiing, ski jumping and related events like biathlon and nordic combined. Adding new sports has dramatically changed this country’s fortunes at the Games.
Breaking down Canada’s medal count
Since 1992, Canada has won 53 per cent of its medals in the newer Winter Olympic sports, despite the fact they have made up less than a quarter of the available medals. Canada is also one of the top four countries (in terms of medals won) in all five of the new sports and particularly dominant in curling, short track speed skating and freestyle skiing.