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U.K. Versus France At The Olympics  
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1625 times:

France, so far, has 9 medals, versus Britain's 1.

(Spoiler warning -- news page has spoiler information for U.S. viewers.)

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/torino2006/medals

Does anyone have an opinion as to why two countries of such similar population are separated by by eight medals? Has France always done better than Britain in the Winter Olympics?

Thanks in advance.

[Edited 2006-02-24 00:19:30]

31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJean Leloup From Canada, joined Apr 2001, 2116 posts, RR: 19
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1610 times:

Well, can you think of any winter sports that are popular in Britain? I don't believe any of the ski resorts there are much good (the mountains are not high enough), and it doesn't seem as though many people skate. So, not many skaters and skiers, or boarders to speak of, and that covers most of the sports at the olympics right there!

Actually, I'm surprised that there seems to be a strong British Skeleton team (if i recall correctly, that's where the one medal came from). Is there a good track in the UK for them to train on?

Anyway, there are lots of other big countries that don't do anything at the winter olympics. Any country that is warm, for instance! (Although Australia seems to be getting stronger in some events, so they may soon be an exception).

Population doesn't have all that much to do with it, I don't think. If it did, we might say that the US and Russia are having absolutely terrible results, as they each have about the same number of medals as Canada, while they have populations many times larger. And we could say that Norway is the most athletic country in the world, because they win so many medals with such a small population. All that really matters in the long run is the number of athletes competing in these particular sports in these countries, along with the support they receive for doing so. I don't think there are huge numbers of competitors, or much support, in any winter sports in Britain.

p.s. Interesting fact relating to the number of participants in any given sport: 94% of the curlers in the world are Canadian! (Nevertheless, in this case, many other countries are able to field quite competitive teams).

JL



Next flight.... who knows.
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1600 times:

^^Wise words!  Smile

Canada is a Winter Olympics powerhouse these days, I think.

I think that some very relevant factors, as you've alluded to, are geography and national interest.

I wonder why British people aren't all that interested in alpine sports; they could always train in France, next door.


User currently offlineJean Leloup From Canada, joined Apr 2001, 2116 posts, RR: 19
Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1594 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
I wonder why British people aren't all that interested in alpine sports; they could always train in France, next door.

True; but that said, if I were a young Brit, I'd probably find myself interested in whatever other sports were popular amongst my peers, football, cricket, etc. It should be pointed out, though, that Britain is often perceived as having weak performances at the summer games, too. Perhaps it's just that everyone in Britain is trying too hard to play football!

The Canadian Olympic Commitee is trying to strategize to be the top medal-winning country in 2010, on our hoome turf. I think there's no way it'll happen; but it's nice to see us setting these goals, anyway. Now Germany, there is a winter-olympics powerhouse. They are competitive in seemingly every sport. Short-track speedskating and, well, hockey and curling, are the only exceptions that come to mind. All things that Canada is good at!  Smile

JL



Next flight.... who knows.
User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3556 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1584 times:

I think when it comes to the Winter Olympics, it helps to have big snowy mountains on which to practice. That seems to be the common variable amongst the top 10 in medals:
Germany
United States
Austria
Russia
Canada
Norway
Switzerland
Sweden
Italy
France

As far as I know, the UK does not have that.


User currently offlineChrista From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1583 times:

Quoting Jean Leloup (Reply 3):
True; but that said, if I were a young Brit, I'd probably find myself interested in whatever other sports were popular amongst my peers, football, cricket, etc. It should be pointed out, though, that Britain is often perceived as having weak performances at the summer games, too. Perhaps it's just that everyone in Britain is trying too hard to play football!

The Canadian Olympic Commitee is trying to strategize to be the top medal-winning country in 2010, on our hoome turf. I think there's no way it'll happen; but it's nice to see us setting these goals, anyway. Now Germany, there is a winter-olympics powerhouse. They are competitive in seemingly every sport. Short-track speedskating and, well, hockey and curling, are the only exceptions that come to mind. All things that Canada is good at! Smile

JL

Games that are in both the Summer & Winter Olympics just aren't very popular in the UK. The main sports that people play in the UK are; Football (Soccer), Rugby - Union & League, however Union is much more popular, Cricket and then to a lesser extent things such as Golf.

Athletics does play quite a big role in the UK, but no where as near as anything seen in the USA or even in many continental European countries. There are a lot of people who are involved with Athletics but many have it as a secondary sport. Take for example, many Rugby wings and centres have some sort of connection with running at some point in their sporting lives.

As for Winter Olympic sports, it only tends to be the sports that can be created in an internal enviroment such as Curling, Ice Hockey that tend to be popular here. Sports such as skiing are just not feisable here in the UK as we do not have the climate or correct geography.

Hope this helps!

Regards,
Chris


User currently offlineMhodgson From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2002, 5047 posts, RR: 25
Reply 6, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1583 times:

We have very few ski resorts - the Cairngorms are the only true ski resort, and even then I don't think it has had skiable snow for a while. Wheras France has the Alps and the Pyrennees, and thus a much greater enthusiasm as the sports are more accessible.


No trees were harmed by this message. However, several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced
User currently offlineWhiteHatter From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1579 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Does anyone have an opinion as to why two countries of such similar population are separated by by eight medals?

Go find a map, then look at how the two countries differ.

Britain doesn't have the Alps, which are where winter sports in France are focussed. The climate is also different in that we don't get the same cold continental weather France sometimes does.

It's just not part of the British sporting tradition as much as France. Same reason Mexico or Saudi Arabia don't do well in winter sports, lack of snow and ice!


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21876 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1552 times:

France has the Alps, and the UK has Scotland. That's pretty much all you need to know.

Plus the fact that it's a lot harder to start a riot at a figure skating competition than a football match...  duck 

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineYOWza From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 4919 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1547 times:

Quoting Travelin man (Reply 4):
I think when it comes to the Winter Olympics, it helps to have big snowy mountains on which to practice. That seems to be the common variable amongst the top 10 in medals:
Germany
United States
Austria
Russia
Canada
Norway
Switzerland
Sweden
Italy
France

As far as I know, the UK does not have that.

That's basically it.

YOWza



12A whenever possible.
User currently offlineOli80 From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2006, 685 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1521 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Does anyone have an opinion as to why two countries of such similar population are separated by by eight medals? Has France always done better than Britain in the Winter Olympics?

Population doesn't equal medals, otherwise China and India would be cleaning up.  Wink

As many have already stated, we're interested in other sports that are readily available on our doorstep. Like, football, rugby and cricket.

I think you'll find that in general (note: not always) people are good at what they can do a lot of. A British kid might have a playing field outside his house or down the road, whereas a French kid might have a 3300m Mountain up the road. Odds are that the French kid is going to win a medal at skiing...

Just my  twocents 


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 11, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1521 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 8):
Plus the fact that it's a lot harder to start a riot at a figure skating competition than a football match...

I suspect you're right. We'll have to look to your example (iron bars and kneecapping ring any bells?) to see how its done.  Wink

The reason why we are hopeless at the winter Olympics has already been explained pretty much.

However, given our climate, the fact that we invented half the sports at the Winter Olympics is a pretty good effort, wouldn't you say?

Quoting Jean Leloup (Reply 1):
Actually, I'm surprised that there seems to be a strong British Skeleton team (if i recall correctly, that's where the one medal came from). Is there a good track in the UK for them to train on?

Nope. The have a short track to practice starts on (i.e. about 20 feet) and that's it. But you have to remember that it's a nutter sport, and therefore significant numbers of Brits are fairly likely to be drawn to it.  Wink



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineWillo From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1506 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 8):
it's a lot harder to start a riot at a figure skating competition

unless your name is Tonya Harding, of course

Quoting Mir (Reply 8):
the UK has Scotland.

and the alpine resort of Milton Keynes - home of the Snowdome!

 Wink


User currently offlineA319XFW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1487 times:

And if you look at where most French and German skiiers come from, they come from the Alps (or Pyrennees or Harz).
As a kids, people from there can just go for a ski after school and sometimes schools teach skiing etc as a sport class. You hardly see many winter sports being successfully won by people from Hamburg, Paris or Berlin.

Team GB has got a bob start run at Bath University where they can practise in summer (and use the gym etc) and head off to places with tracks during winter (or head to the Andes etc in the northern summer).


User currently offlineWillo From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 12
Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 1467 times:

Quoting A319XFW (Reply 13):
As a kids, people from there can just go for a ski after school and sometimes schools teach skiing etc as a sport class.

It really pi***s me off to have a class of 7 year olds with near perfect technique go streaking past me on the slopes Sad


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21876 posts, RR: 55
Reply 15, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 1444 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 11):
We'll have to look to your example (iron bars and kneecapping ring any bells?) to see how its done.



Quoting Willo (Reply 12):
unless your name is Tonya Harding, of course

Ok, you didn't hear this from me, but yes, that's the secret....  Smile

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineA319XFW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 10 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1434 times:

Quoting Willo (Reply 14):
It really pi***s me off to have a class of 7 year olds with near perfect technique go streaking past me on the slopes

I've had ones even younger do that to me when I was learning to snowboard!

When I was briefly at uni in France they had to do some kind of sports for the degree too, so a guy I knew took skiing (trips, lessons, gear paid for by uni!) and all you had to do to pass, was to show you were improving.
Needless to say he got the marks as he couldn't ski before!


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 1410 times:

Great points, everyone. Practice does makes perfect, so naturally if you don't have a snowy mountain within reasonable commuting distance, you're going to be at a disadvantage.  Smile

User currently offlineToulouse From Switzerland, joined Apr 2005, 2759 posts, RR: 57
Reply 18, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 1404 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Does anyone have an opinion as to why two countries of such similar population are separated by by eight medals?

As Travellinman said... easy I think:

France... The French Alps, the French Pyrenees, and winter sports in other smaller mountain ranges such as the Massif Central, the Jura.

The UK, while there is some winter sports in Scotland (albeit the hard weather conditions which doesn't exactly make it a very popular destination outside the UK), has no mountains suited to winter sports.



Long live Aer Lingus!
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1393 times:

I think it's interesting to compare the list of countries that have attended the Winter Olympics with the list of those that have sent athletes to the Summer Olympics. It bears out the truth of the snowy mountain hypothesis.  

One thing I've noticed as well is that China has seemed to up its medal count in the Winter Olympics. Despite its large population as a whole, the most mountainous areas (e.g., the Himalayas) in that country are far away from major metropolitan centers. Interestingly, as I recall, those areas of China that are the most mountainous are close to areas populated by ethnic minorities -- people who don't fit the Han (majority) profile. I haven't seen any non-majority Chinese athletes at the Games, though.

[Edited 2006-02-26 13:13:33]

User currently offlineA319XFW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1388 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 19):
One thing I've noticed as well is that China has seemed to up its medal count in the Winter Olympics

If you look at the Chinese medals won at the Olympics, most were in skating (speed, dance) competitions where you don't need mountains (that's why the Dutch are good at that too - they can skate on the 'Grachten' in cold winters)

The other Chinese medals came from the freestyle aerials, where a mountain isn't really needed either - and apparently the Chinese competitors came from trampolining. So their aerial technique was superior to their skiing technique!


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1382 times:

Quoting A319XFW (Reply 20):
If you look at the Chinese medals won at the Olympics, most were in skating (speed, dance) competitions where you don't need mountains (that's why the Dutch are good at that too - they can skate on the 'Grachten' in cold winters)

Point taken.  Smile

What do you think about the entry of non-majority Chinese in future Winter Games, though? In some of the western parts of China, the population there looks a bit like people in the southern parts of the old Soviet Union.

I don't imagine that development in those areas have reached the point where there is a lot of leisure time with which to hone the necessary alpine skills, but perhaps in a few decades, things will be different.


User currently offlineA319XFW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1378 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 21):
I don't imagine that development in those areas have reached the point where there is a lot of leisure time with which to hone the necessary alpine skills, but perhaps in a few decades, things will be different.

I agree with you there. Another major factor would be money.
If you see how much money is spent on equipment and all that goes on around the competitors, then the mountainous poorer regions in China will need that too.
Quite a lot of the German medal winner/competitors are part of the German Army sports battalion, so essentially state-funded (and as it's part of my tax money and I'm not German, it's something I can do without  Smile).
Take the bobsled - those probably cost more than a small car nowadays!


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 1372 times:

Interesting comments!

Another thing that occurs to me is that South America seems very underrepresented.

A fine resource on the numbers behind the Winter Olympics may be found at:

http://cbs.sportsline.com/olympics/winter/history

Looking at that page, I didn't find any South American country on the list of nations whose athletes have received Winter Olympics medals. Yet that there are mountainous areas in South America is not to be denied, nor the fact that that continent extends all the way to the extremes of the southern latitudes.

South American nations have sent athletes to the Winter Olympics, though:

http://cbs.sportsline.com/olympics/winter/nations

As you have said, the relevant resources may have a lot to do with it.

[Grammatical correction of an earlier post of mine: "I don't imagine that development in those areas have reached the point" should have read, "I don't imagine that development in those areas has reached the point".]

[Edited 2006-02-26 14:29:49]

User currently offlineHalls120 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 10 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 1358 times:

Quoting Christa (Reply 5):
Games that are in both the Summer & Winter Olympics just aren't very popular in the UK. The main sports that people play in the UK are; Football (Soccer), Rugby - Union & League, however Union is much more popular, Cricket and then to a lesser extent things such as Golf.

Athletics does play quite a big role in the UK, but no where as near as anything seen in the USA or even in many continental European countries. There are a lot of people who are involved with Athletics but many have it as a secondary sport. Take for example, many Rugby wings and centres have some sort of connection with running at some point in their sporting lives.

Maybe this is a naive statement coming from someone who lives afar, but I've always thought that sports matter in the UK just as much as in the US, if not more. The coverage you give sports in your papers far outstrips what a typical US paper devotes to sports - if not in volume, at least in intensity. When I'm in the UK after a big premiership match, your papers give the kind of post game analysis tht we tend to reserve for the Super Bowl or World Series.

That said, I think all the posts that have cited the lack of winter venues in the UK prett much sums it up as to the UK-France discrepancy.


25 Post contains images Gman94 : We are very passionate about our sport but most of us are not really interested in sports played at the Olympics, although we do take an interest in
26 AerospaceFan : I think that Britain does much better in the Summer Olympics. I can think of several Summer sports in which Britain does very well -- e.g., the marath
27 Sebolino : In the same line, why has Germany 29 medals ? I never heard of the German alps ...
28 A319XFW : Well the Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 Winter Olympics were held there.....
29 Post contains images Willo : People who don't follow winter sports assume that the Winter Olympics consist only of downhill skiing when the actually the bulk of the available med
30 Post contains images Gman94 : You can't just say that it's football we are passionate about, yeah it's our number one sport, but Rugby Union and Cricket create similar feelings in
31 Post contains images AerospaceFan : That's a good point. Who can forget Torville and Dean, that brilliant figure skating pair from Britain, by the way? One thing that detracts from the
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