AerospaceFan
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U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:17 am

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]
What's fair is fair.
 
Jean Leloup
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:30 am

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
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AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:36 am

^^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.
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Jean Leloup
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:43 am

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
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travelin man
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:59 am

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.
 
Christa
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:00 am

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
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mhodgson
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:02 am

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.
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whitehatter
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:04 am

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!
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Mir
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:15 pm

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
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yowza
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:54 pm

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
 
oli80
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:04 pm

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 
 
Banco
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:07 pm

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
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willo
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:59 pm

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
 
A319XFW
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:33 pm

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).
 
willo
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:34 pm

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
 
Mir
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:30 am

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
 
A319XFW
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:10 am

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!
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 8:32 pm

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
What's fair is fair.
 
Toulouse
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 8:59 pm

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.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:11 pm

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]
What's fair is fair.
 
A319XFW
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:18 pm

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!
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:26 pm

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.
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A319XFW
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:46 pm

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!
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:20 pm

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]
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halls120
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:49 pm

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.
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Gman94
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:08 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 24):
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.

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 the Summer Olympics. Our passion for sport was one of the selling points in our Olympic bid for the 2012 games and whether there was a Brit in with a chance or not of winning a medal you could almost guarantee that most venues will be pretty much full.

Just as an example of how passionate we are there are estimates of between 30000 and 50000 of us travelling all the way to Australia next winter to cheer on England in the Ashes cricket test series, I'm sure QFF can't wait to greet us all. Big grin

Passionate or crazy, you decide? Big grin
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AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:08 am

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 marathon, I believe.
What's fair is fair.
 
sebolino
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:47 am

In the same line, why has Germany 29 medals ?

I never heard of the German alps ...
 
A319XFW
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:54 am

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 27):
I never heard of the German alps ...

Well the Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 Winter Olympics were held there.....
 
willo
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:45 pm

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 27):
I never heard of the German alps ...

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 medals are in disciplines that don't actually need steep mountains.

Quoting Gman94 (Reply 25):
We are very passionate about our sport but most of us are not really interested in sports played at the Olympics

for sport read Football  Wink

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 24):
When I'm in the UK after a big premiership match, your papers give the kind of post game analysis that we tend to reserve for the Super Bowl or World Series.

Todays 32 page sport section of my paper devotes 15 pages to football, 7 pages to the 6 nations Rugby and half a page to the Winter Olympics.
 
Gman94
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:58 pm

Quoting Willo (Reply 29):
Quoting Gman94 (Reply 25):
We are very passionate about our sport but most of us are not really interested in sports played at the Olympics

for sport read Football

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 us and to be honest both are vastly superior sports to football, but that's a whole new topic. Big grin

Just look at events such as the Lions tour and the 1st test match in Brisbane five years ago, the wall of red that the Australians saw that day still sends shudders down their spine, it's one of the reasons why they've screwed us over with tickets for this years Ashes. And as I said earlier the estimate of England fans going down to Australia for the Ashes next winter is anywhere between 30000 and 50000, I don't think any other country in the world would have that many fans going to watch their teams on the other side of the world.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: U.K. Versus France At The Olympics

Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:58 pm

Quoting Willo (Reply 29):
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 medals are in disciplines that don't actually need steep mountains.

That's a good point. Who can forget Torville and Dean, that brilliant figure skating pair from Britain, by the way?  Smile

One thing that detracts from the snowy mountain thesis, admittedly, is that all developed nations can afford indoor skating rinks.
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