Olympic notebook: A fresh look at the medal table

Although the U.S. tops the traditional medal charts right now, one company has an app that shows Norway on top, adjusting for factors like a country's population or GDP.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
4 min read

QlikTech offers a different look at the medal tables, adjusting for factors such as a country's population or the size of its economy. CNET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--Although most of the attention on Olympic national medal totals focuses on the top of the aggregate standings, one company is offering a different option.

Radnor, Pa.-based QlikTech has an application that breaks things down along other means, adjusting for things like population and gross domestic product, to offer another measure of performance. While the U.S. tops the aggregate medal chart, for example, Norway is most impressive, when adjusted for GDP or population.

The application, which is available on QlikTech's Web site, also offers a weighted medal count (giving four points for a gold, two for a silver and one for a bronze), as well as historical data dating back to 1908 including winners by sport, age, and country.

In addition to offering Olympic partisans a new way to argue their favorite country is really No. 1, the application is also giving QlikTech a new way to show off its business intelligence software.

Bobsled, in miniature
Although I don't have nearly the guts nor the driving prowess to try out a real bobsled, I did get a chance to try my hand at a tiny replica of a sled course. At its suite, timekeeper Omega has set up a remote control bobsled to demonstrate how its scoring technology works. As with the real thing, light sensors show exactly when a sled starts and when it crosses the finish line.

Unlike, the true event, you don't have to be strong or fast, which was good news for me. The set-up at the Omega suite has a two button remote with both a standard speed and a turbo button. As one would assume, the turbo feature makes the sled go faster. But press it for any length of time and the sled will almost surely tip over.

With some practice (it was more than a little addicting), I managed to post several of the top five times. Here's a video of one of my runs.

I'll have much more later this week on the technology used to time and score the games, including details on the all-new starting gun, which, among other things, is a lot easier to get through airport security.

More fans washed out at Cypress
Olympic organizers on Tuesday dashed the hopes of more spectators as they canceled an additional 20,000 standing room tickets for events at the snow-deprived mountain.

After earlier canceling general admission tickets to the snowboard cross because of a lack of the white stuff, officials said on Tuesday that they were also scrapping plans for the tickets to the to snowboard halfpipe, ski cross, and snowboard parallel giant slalom events.

As with the prior cancellation, officials said the planned standing areas were unsafe because weekend rains had wiped out more than a foot of snow. With snow being shuttled in to keep the field of play in good shape, there was not enough snow to build back up the general admission area, officials said.

"Our senior management and venue team have spent significant time onsite to try and find a way to accommodate spectators in the standing room areas for the events," Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) Vice President Caley Denton said in a statement. "We've exhausted all avenues but it just wasn't possible to make the area safe for spectators."

That comes as a bummer for fans with the tickets, some of which are for events that aren't even taking place until next week.

"It's really disappointing that the organizers have not been able to find any way to accommodate spectators for events later in the Winter Games at Cypress,"said Vancouver-based public relations consultant David Brodie. "I can understand canceling seats for the snowboard events this week based on conditions, but it's surprising that they can't find any solution to be able to allow people who have purchased tickets to attend next week's events. The people it is really going to impact are those who came to Vancouver just for these events and those whose family and friends are competing."

And while folks will get refunds for the tickets, they will only get face value. In many cases, people have paid far more for tickets, even in some cases paying more through the organizers' own fan-to-fan marketplace, which let people resell tickets top others at a premium.

"What is most surprising about the whole thing though is that VANOC has a fan-to-fan ticket reselling function available on their Web site that they always said was the best and safest way to purchase tickets," Brodie said in an e-mail interview. "Now in today's press release they are saying they will only refund the tickets for face value, not what they were purchased for in their official fan-to-fan marketplace, which was usually hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars more than the original price."

Correction, February 17 at 10:30 a.m. PST: This story initially misstated the extent of the QlikTech application's archive. It has historical information going back to 1908.