What’s better than an Olympic gold medal? The Summit Daily’s ‘platinum medals’
February 28, 2018
A gold medal is great and all, but in the wake of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the Summit Daily was left to wonder: Who is the best of the best?
Here in Summit County, freestyle skiing and snowboard halfpipe, slopestyle and big air competitions are the preeminent events each year. That's because the Dew Tour features the disciplines each December at Breckenridge Ski Resort, while other events such as U.S. Grands Prix at Copper Mountain Resort also highlight the international schedule.
On top of that, three snowboarders with very close connections to Summit County returned to the High Country of Colorado with medals across all three disciplines: Red Gerard's gold medal in snowboard slopestyle; his close friend Kyle Mack's silver in snowboard big air; and Arielle Gold's bronze medal in snowboard halfpipe.
Those are the "locals," as all three reside a majority of their time here in Summit County. But most all of the top freestyle skiing and snowboard athletes from around the world are also familiar with Summit County, as Breckenridge's "Freeway," Copper's superpipe and other winter sports terrain here in the county are top training destinations.
And that includes the only two athletes the Summit Daily deemed as "platinum medal" winners from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games: Californian snowboard phenom Chloe Kim and veteran snowboarder Jamie Anderson.
But how did we come to the conclusion that Kim and Anderson rather than, say, Red Gerard and Shaun White, were "platinum medalists" in these disciplines from this year's games?
We did so by finding out just how much better each of the gold medalists' scores were than the silver medalists' scores in second place behind them.
We quantified this by calculating the percentage difference between the gold medal winner's score and the score for the silver medalist in each event. And we compared scores across different disciplines that use different maximum scores — for example, on a scale of 50 maximum points, 100 or 200 — by adjusting each gold and silver medal score to the 100-point scale.
And once we calculated just how much better all 26 gold medalists — since halfpipe's debut in 1998 — were than the respective silver medalists, we drew a cutoff line. That cutoff line is at 4.7 percent, as that was the mean — or average — percentage difference between all 26 gold and silver medalists.
Above that? You're platinum! Below that? You're merely golden.
So, for example, Gerard's score of 87.16/100 was only 1.35 percent better than slopestyle silver medalist Max Parrot's score of 86.
And though Shaun White's gold medal-winning run this year certainly was better than his 2006 and 2010 gold medal runs, this year's run didn't get a platinum medal, but the others did. Because in both of those years, White was that much better than the silver medalist behind him.
In 2006, his gold medal score of 46.8/50 was 6.36 percent better than fellow American Danny Kass' 44. In 2010, his score of 48.4 was 7.56 percent better than Peetu Piiroinen of Finland's 45.
This year? Blame White's lack of a platinum medal on his rival Ayumu Hirano of Japan. Though his 97.75 gold medal run in Pyeongchang was his highest-marked Olympic run yet, White only bested Hirano (95.25) by 2.62 percent.
As for the "greatest" freestyle ski or snowboard platinum medalist in the history of the Olympics, that honor goes to a 2018 American Olympic snowboarder who also dropped in in Pyeongchang alongside Kim. It's a woman twice the age of 17-year-old Kim: Kelly Clark.
Way back at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the then-18-year-old Clark scored 47.9 out of 50 in the halfpipe — 11.4 percent better than the silver medal score of 43 posted by Doriane Vidal of France.
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