spo: Norway will top the medals table for the second successive Winter Games in Beijing in February with the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in second place, according to a projection by Nielsen's Gracenote.
The Norwegians, who won 14 gold and a record 39 medals in all on the back of dominant performances in cross-country skiing and biathlon in Pyeongchang, are forecast to raise those tallies to an imposing 22 gold and 44 total medals.
Russian athletes, who will compete under the flag of their Olympic committee as a result of doping sanctions, are projected to win 14 gold medals compared with just two four years ago when they competed as individuals.
Skating powerhouse the Netherlands will scoop 12 gold medals in Beijing, according to the projection, pipping Germany (11 golds) to third place in the table for the nation's best finish at a Winter Olympics.
The United States are predicted to finish fifth in the table with seven golds, down from nine in 2018, but that would still be enough for them to reassert their ascendancy over Canada.
The Canadians won 11 gold medals in Pyeongchang to finish above their North American neighbours but are forecast to drop from third to eighth on the table behind Switzerland and Sweden with just four titles in Beijing.
Gracenote uses data from previous Olympics, World Championships and World Cups to feed a statistical model that forecasts the most likely gold, silver and bronze medallist in each event.
Hosts China are predicted to win four golds and six medals in all but Gracenote concedes that may be an underestimate due to the inactivity of Chinese athletes in many sports since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That issue may also impact the other Asian winter sports powers, Japan and South Korea, who are projected to win three and two gold medals respectively.
The Beijing Olympics open on Feb. 4.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Robert Birsel)