Latests Insights – France on target for record-breaking Winter Olympics
The Virtual Medal Table is projecting a total of 21 medals (9 gold, seven silver and five bronze) for the French team at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. If they were to achieve anywhere near this total, it would break the country’s record for the best Winter Olympics, set four years ago in Sochi when France won 15 medals including four golds.
France’s success in South Korea next year is heavily reliant on two biathletes – Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin Habert who are currently forecast to win eight medals between them by the Virtual Medal Table, including the mixed relay which they will both take part in.
All eyes on Fourcade
Fourcade is the favourite to win four events which, if he were to do so, would mean that he will have won as many gold medals on his own as his country have ever managed at a single Winter Olympics. That record of four golds was set at Grenoble 1968, and equalled at Salt Lake City 2002 and Sochi 2014.
In 1968, that record French performance was driven by legendary skier Jean-Claude Killy and his three gold medals in Grenoble stand to this day as the most by a French competitor at a single Winter OIympics.
As Marie Dorin Habert is projected medals in four different events, she would only need to be successful in two of them to equal the most Winter Games medals for France by a woman. Sisters Christine and Marielle Goitschel both won two medals for France at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck and Florence Bavarel-Robert also won two in biathlon at Torino 2006. The Goitschel sisters were the first sisters to win medals at the same Olympics in the same event, finishing first and second in both the slalom and giant slalom in 1964.
Top Three’s in sight
While France’s chance of its best Winter Games relies on the two biathletes to an extent, the country has a wide variety of projected podiums according to the Virtual Medal Table. French competitors occupy the top three positions in events in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding in addition to the biathlon. With chances spread so broadly, France look good for a new Winter Olympics medal record.
Canada’s curling dominance set to continue
Canada have dominated the sport of curling since it was re-introduced to the Winter Olympics at Nagano 1998, winning five of the 10 golds awarded and a medal of some colour in every single curling competition which has taken place. At PyeongChang 2018, there are three curling events for the first time as a mixed tournament has been added to the men’s and women’s events which have been present for 20 years. Canada’s curling teams therefore have an opportunity to win another medal in this sport and keep the country’s 100% medal record since the sport’s return to the Olympics going.
Canada on track to 100%?
It would be a huge surprise if Canada was to miss out on the medals in one of the curling events but the team is most vulnerable in the new mixed event. World Championship gold for the team from Switzerland in both 2014 and 2017 make the Swiss the gold medal favourites according to the Virtual Medal Table. Canada only reached the World Championship final this year but lost there to the Swiss. The Canadians are projected silver for this event in PyeongChang but may be pushed close by China and Russia in a tight looking field.
Canada are reigning Olympic champions in both the men’s and women’s events and are predicted to win gold in both again in South Korea. Canada finished 4th and 3rd in the men’s curling at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships but has since won the World Championship twice. Their closest rivals look like 2015 World Champions Sweden who Canada beat in the final of this year’s World Championships. The other World Championship winner since the 2014 Olympics, Norway have only managed fifth and eighth position at the last two World Championships and are therefore not forecast to get onto the podium.
Consistency might be the key
In women’s curling, Canada have been joined on the World Championship podium by Switzerland, Russia, Great Britain, Japan and Sweden since the 2014 Olympic Games. Canada have been in the World Championship final three times out of four but it is Switzerland who have won the most World Championship golds since 2014 (3). The Swiss team though only managed an eighth position at this year’s World Championships so Canada’s consistency in reaching at least every semi-final since the Olympics makes them the projected gold medallists ahead of the Swiss. The Russians have also reached every World Championship semi-final since Sochi 2014 and won medals at all four. They are predicted to win bronze at next year’s Winter Olympics.
A bronze for Russia next year will make them only the 12th NOC to win a medal in curling. Twenty-eight of the 33 Olympic curling medals have been won by just five – Canada, Sweden, Great Britain, Switzerland and Norway. That quintet are also the only gold medal winners. They are all likely to be contenders again this time around.