Ryan Larson '14 uses skills he learned through research and coursework to predict who will win the gold in Olympic hockey.
As the Winter Olympics draw to a close Sunday, hockey lovers the world over will be watching to see which nation claims the gold.
However, sociology major and hockey fan Ryan Larson '14, Grand Rapids, Minn., believes he already has the answer.
While T.J. Oshie’s stunning performance against team Russia on Saturday morning has stoked media speculation, Larson has turned to statistical analysis in the hopes of predicting 2014’s big winner.
He published his predictions at ThickCulture, a blog to which his faculty mentor, Dr. Andrew Lindner, regularly contributes. Lindner is an assistant professor of sociology.
Larson, who will begin a doctorate program in sociology this fall, learned the methods he used to construct the models through coursework as well as his own study and research collaboration with Lindner.
At the core of Larson’s prediction is hockey statistician Rob Vollman’s assertion that having many NHL players is an indicator for Olympic success.
“This makes theoretical sense, as the hegemonic domination of the NHL in the professional hockey market clearly attracts the world’s finest athletic performers,” Larson writes.
Add to that, the fact that NHL all-stars appear to be the most important factor in determining gold medal wins and it seems as though a pretty clear pattern emerges.
Larson says, however, there may be more to it than just the number of NHL players on a nation’s team. When creating his model, Larson also factored in data such as a country’s population, gross domestic product and the players’ experience.
At the end of the day, Larson is confident that his models yield a greater insight into the possible outcome of this particular medal race than any conjecture to be found in the media.
“The predictors included should allow us to get a better idea of who will ‘bring home some hardware’ in Sochi above and beyond the speculation rampant in the media,” Larson writes.
Visit the blog for the full article, along with Larson’s updated bracket predictions. But, of course, if you’re a hockey fan following the games yourself, watch out for spoilers.