Archive for Olympinomics

How Has Winter Olympics Performance Changed Over Time?

My latest Olympinomics post is now up at Olympics Reference Blog.

Today’s topic is how performance has changed over time. In particular, one Olympic sport (alpine skiing) has not behaved like the others.

Which ism Killed Scandinavian Figure Skating?

My latest Olympinomics post is up at Olympics-Reference Blog. Today, I take a look at possible political and economics reasons why figure skating lost popularity in Scandinavia in the mid-twentieth century.

Where Are the Good Scandinavian Figure Skaters?

Today’s Olympinomics post was inspired by Keith Law, who asked “why are there no good figure skaters from Scandinavia?”

Scandinavian countries tend to be quite good at most winter sports, which is no surprise given their climate; however, no Scandinavian athlete has won a figure skating medal since 1936.

Why is this? Read more at Olympics-Reference Blog.

When Gender Matters and When It Doesn’t

My latest Olympinomics post is up at the Olympics-Reference Blog.

One of the consistent findings in the academic literature on aging and athletic performance is that women tend to reach their athletic peak earlier than men. This difference is stronger in strength and speed events which tend to peak younger than endurance events for both genders. In this post, I compare the average age of medal winners by gender to see their differences across sports.

Apolo Ohno Is an Old Fogey

My latest Olympinomics post is up at Olympics-Reference.

Apolo Ohno may be the most recognized American participating in this year’s games. Not only is he a Dancing with the Stars champion, but he’s competing in his third Olympics. And unless you haven’t been listening to any of the commentary, you’re probably aware that he is attempting to win more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other American. With his win Saturday night in the 1,500 meters Short Track, he tied Bonnie Blair for six total medals. Even if Ohno does not surpass Blair, his performance may be more impressive considering that he has competed across Olympic games that were all four years apart. Blair benefited from the short gap between the 1992 and 1994 games.

But why am I calling him an old fogey? At 27 Ohno isn’t even close to the oldest person to win a medal in the Winter Olympics.


With the Winter Olympics starting up with the opening ceremony tonight, I wanted to announce that I will be blogging about the games over at the Olympics-Reference Blog. My first post (below) is up, and I will start posting analysis next week.

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If you’re like me, you like the Winter Olympics; not because you know much about the sports or participants, but because it’s fun to watch people play around in the snow. And while I enjoy sitting down front of the TV to watch whatever NBC decides to show me, just staring at screen and cheering for the athlete with the saddest side-story doesn’t feel right. For years I’ve been watching baseball through an analytical lens, trying to better understand the factors that matter most. I’ve blogged about it extensively at, my book The Baseball Economist was published three years ago, and my latest book Hot Stove Economics will be published this coming fall.

Well, it’s time for a little more in-depth analysis of the winter games, and thanks to Olympics-Reference this is possible. When Sean Forman rolled out the site I happened to be working on a project investigating how baseball players age, so I was familiar with how researchers had been using Olympics data to analyze aging patterns. The academic literature contained several interesting studies of Olympic sports that examined how athletes aged, but most of the analysis has concentrated on summer sports. I saw Olympics-Reference provided a fruitful data source for analysis of winter events.

Winter sports pose a new challenge, because almost every sport requires tools like skis, skates, sleds, and even guns. So, I decided to take on a project that looked at aging in winter sports. How does aging differ across sports? How has it changed over time? How does aging differ by gender? These are some of the questions that I have been examining, and I thought it would be a good idea to blog about some of my findings while the winter games were going on.

So, starting Monday, I’ll be blogging here about the Winter Olympics. If you’re familiar with the games in a way that I am not—I’ve lived most of my life in the South, so I’m not all that familiar with winter sports—feel free to chime in. I see some puzzles in the data that are ripe for examination.