Measuring performance at the Olympic Winter Games: comparing different performance measures from a Swiss perspective

Weber, Andreas Christoph; Kempf, Hippolyt; De Bosscher, Veerle; Shibli, Simon (2018). Measuring performance at the Olympic Winter Games: comparing different performance measures from a Swiss perspective (Unpublished). In: 10th Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society of Sport Science. Magglingen. 09. February 2018.

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Research Background and Aim: Different measures are applied to analyse elite sport performance of nations at the Olympic Games, such as number of medals, or market share of medals/diplomas (De Bosscher, Heyndels, De Knop, Van Bottenburg, & Shibli, 2008; Shibli, De Bosscher, Van Bottenburg, & Westerbeek, 2013). In practice, Swiss Olympic prioritizes resources between disciplines by analysing, amongst other things, the number of medals/diplomas won, whereas when analysing the development of the nation’s performance at the Games over time, market share is used (SwissOlympic, 2013). However, to date there is no study analysing different performance measures for different research purposes. The aim of this study is to detect differences in the performance indices applied and to identify a suitable measure to rationalise the prioritization of resources amongst sports. Research Method: The performance of Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands at the 2014 Sochi Games is analysed per discipline (i.e. 15), as measured by a) total number of medals won, b) number of diplomas won, c) market share of total medals won, and d) market share of diplomas won. Additionally, two new indices are introduced: market share of e) contestable medals, and f) contestable diplomas (see Weber, Kempf, Shibli, & De Bosscher, 2016). The performance data is derived from the Gracenote Sports database and the number of contestable medals/diplomas from the explanatory competition books published by the IOC. To detect differences between these indices, we apply the two-sided Spearman’s rho coefficient. Results and Findings: In contrast to the high correlations found in existing research between different measurements of success (De Bosscher et al., 2008), in this sport by sport analysis, the correlation values vary notably. Our interpretation of the identified differences between market share of medals/diplomas and contestable medals/diplomas, is that the first is suitable to compare a nation’s overall performances over time, while the latter is more suited to comparing performance in a specific sport over time. However, when prioritizing resources amongst sports, these relative indices are less suitable than absolute indices, because the number of medals/diplomas won includes information on the market size for medals, and therefore includes best the number of winning possibilities. This distinction is particularly valid for that are strong in many disciplines.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen SFISM > EHSM - Sportökonomie


Weber, Andreas Christoph;
Kempf, Hippolyt;
De Bosscher, Veerle and
Shibli, Simon


Sportwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft der Schweiz (SGS)




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Date Deposited:

29 Mar 2022 15:46

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2022 15:46

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Olympic Winter Games Comparing performance measures Market share Spearman’s rho coefficient Sportökonomie




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