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Predicting the 2014 Winter Olympics

Using Advanced Analytics to predict winners and losers.

The XXII Olympic Winter Games are just around the corner, and some of us don’t really know what to expect. Many of the millions of fans that will tune in to see over 1,000 athletes compete on snow and ice don’t habitually follow winter sports. The festive and exciting atmosphere of the Olympics is enough to attract viewers, but knowing about the competitions and the athletes makes it that much more interesting. To enhance your Olympics experience, MicroStrategy has created a comprehensive dashboard using our Analytics platform, complete with data visualization and advanced analytics. This dashboard gives us insight into the Games’ past, and projects a glimpse of the future.

 

We used publicly available data from DatabaseOlympics and Sports-Reference on every Winter Olympic Games dating back to 1924. The data covers the individual performance of every medal-winning athlete, including, sport, event, and finishing time/points and provides higher level data such as country medal counts, host nation, number of countries participating and total athletes competing. We also used data about the 2014 Winter Olympics, with information about the participating athletes and the schedule for Sochi.

 

Using these different datasets, we built a dashboard with a number of visualizations that allow users to interactively explore the information. For example, by looking at a map and the size of the bubbles in Image 1, you can see which countries have won the most medals throughout the history of the Winter Olympic Games.

 
Understanding the history of the Winter Olympics through the visualizations in this dashboard helped identify the greatest athletes in each sport, the sports their country typically medal in, whether the country has been improving, and much more.

 

We then decided to expand our analysis using some of the other features available in our Analytics Platform, specifically to do some forecasting and make predictions.

 

The first thing we looked at was the medal board. How many medals will each country win at the 2014 Winter Olympics? To answer that question, we used the advanced analytical functions to train our metric, looking at historical data on a variety of indicators, like GDP per capita, population, type of government, if the country hosted the Games, and past medal counts. We took the resulting predictions and statistical confidence percentages from the enterprise environment and added that data to our Winter Olympics dashboard. The results are pretty surprising (see Image 2). Keep in mind that the algorithm is based on historical data, and doesn’t necessarily reflect more current information such as emerging stars, recent funding boosts, and an unexpectedly large addition of new events to the program.

 
We dug deeper, making full use of the integration with R Analytics, to project the gold medal winning times for specific events. We decided to focus on a sport that traditionally takes place in similar conditions during every edition of the Winter Olympics: speed skating. After selecting the 1500m and 5000m events in long track speed skating, we plugged an R script into the metric editor to create a data point, in seconds, for the expected gold medal winning time in 2014. The graph below shows the actual times over the years in red and the predicted finishing time for Sochi 2014 in blue.  
With background information, medal count predictions, and finishing time projections, what else could you possibly need to be 100% ready for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics? Well, you need to know when to tune in and which athletes to support. Since we are a US-based company, we decided to add a  “Team USA 2014” tab on the dashboard that tells you all about the 230 athletes heading to Russia to represent the United States, with visualizations like the one shown in Image 4. The last tab on the dashboard provides information on the schedule for the Winter Games and tells you which American athletes you can expect to see when you tune in to an event. Analytics Express and Analytics Desktop are such easy to use and intuitive products, you could quickly build a similar dashboard for your home country.  
The Winter Olympics only come around once every four years, so make sure you’re ready! At MicroStrategy we are so excited for them that we presented a demo based on this data to the customers, partners, and analysts that attended our MicroStrategy World Conference held last week in Las Vegas. Make sure to watch the video below to see the presentation, and then explore the Winter Olympics Dashboard to get all the insights you need on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

 

For more information on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, visit the official website here.

 

Learn more about the MicroStrategy Analytics Platform here.

 

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