Which nation wins most medals in PyeongChang? Germany looks golden

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Germany will top the PyeongChang Olympic medal standings if results repeat from this season’s winter sports world championships.

Germans have easily won the most medals (34) and golds (18) in Olympic events across this season’s world championships. A total of 100 of the 102 Olympic events (or their equivalents) have had their world championships contested already this season.

While men’s hockey and mixed doubles curling worlds are still to take place, Germany’s lead is insurmountable.

The medal standings:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany 18 10 6 34
USA 12 7 9 28
Norway 8 9 10 27
Canada 7 11 8 26
France 5 8 9 22
Austria 8 5 7 20
Russia 4 8 7 19
Netherlands 10 3 5 18
Japan 4 7 4 15
Switzerland 3 6 5 14
China 4 3 3 10
Sweden 2 4 4 10
South Korea 3 1 4 8

Germany cleaned up in its hallmark sliding sports, winning seven gold medals in 10 events at bobsled, luge and skeleton world championships (aided significantly by hosting bobsled and skeleton worlds). It also earned seven of 11 golds at biathlon worlds and swept the three Nordic combined gold medals.

Germany topped the Winter Olympic medal standings in 1998, 2002 and 2006. It slipped to second behind the U.S. at Vancouver 2010.

In Sochi, Germany fell all the way down to sixth in total medals with 19, its fewest since reuniting East and West Germany at the Olympics 25 years ago.

The U.S. is likely to finish second in the world championships medal table, setting up well to repeat its second-place finish in the Sochi Olympic medal standings next year.

The Americans excelled in a number of sports this season. They range from the traditional strengths — freestyle skiing and snowboarding — to events with no Olympic medal history — biathlon and women’s cross-country skiing.

Russia, embroiled in a doping scandal, is not looking like the power that topped the Sochi standings with 33 medals and 13 golds. This winter, Russians have earned just four gold medals and rank seventh in total medals.

Russia finished sixth, fifth and sixth in total medals in the three Winter Games before Sochi. It appears likely to revert toward those places in PyeongChang, assuming it is able to send a full delegation.

Meanwhile, Olympic host country South Korea has earned eight medals this season, all in short- and long-track speed skating. That’s good for 13th place, which would match its output in Sochi.

South Korean athletes will undoubtedly receive a home-field advantage next February, likely resulting in a medal boost since most world championships were held in Europe.

They better. South Korean sports officials have repeated that the 2018 Olympic medal target is 20 overall, with eight gold, more than double the totals from this world championships season.

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MORE: PyeongChang 2018 daily schedule highlights

Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in Lake Louise downhill

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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Here’s a scary thought for her competition: Mikaela Shiffrin is still getting comfortable with the intensity and the speed of the downhill.

That’s why podium finishes are still a little surprising even to her.

The American three-time overall World Cup champion finished runner-up to Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria in a downhill race Saturday. Schmidhofer cruised through the course in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds to edge Shiffrin by 0.13 seconds. Francesca Marsaglia of Italy wound up third.

Schmidhofer has four career World Cup wins, with three of them arriving at Lake Louise.

Known as a tech specialist, Shiffrin is steadily getting up to speed in the speed events. This was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup podium finish in the downhill, which includes a Lake Louise win in 2017.

So, does Shiffrin anticipate this kind of downhill success?

“No, no, no,” the 24-year-old from Colorado said. “It’s certainly not normal (for a downhill podium). Even racing downhill doesn’t feel normal. But I feel every year like I have more experience and get more comfortable.”

Shiffrin currently sits at 62 World Cup wins, which ties her with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell for second-most on the women’s side. Lindsey Vonn had 82 wins before her retirement.

“I’m certainly more comfortable with the long skis,” Shiffrin said of downhill racing. “Right now, it’s enjoying it, because speed is a little bit extra for me. My goal is to be able to succeed in speed as well. It’s making the transition and trying to have fun with it.”

Czech Republic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka finished fourth Saturday. She was the surprise winner of Friday’s season-opening downhill, which was delayed and shortened by heavy snowfall on the mountain. The race Saturday was restored to its full length.

Next up, a super-G on Sunday.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky for me from downhill skis to super-G skis and to change the timing a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I’m going to have fun.”

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