When it comes to the Winter Olympics, who knows more than Yakima's medal-winning Mahre twins? Phil and Steve cut their teeth at White pass and grew up to bring home the gold and silver in slalom from the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo with the whole world watching.

The 2022 Olympic Winter Games are about half-way over and the ratings have not been good...maybe record lows.

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Lots of Americans are choosing not to watch as a way to protest the games being held in China, given China's bad behavior in the world community and especially toward the USA.  I doubt the participants care about ratings....but they do care about medals.

Midway Medal Count

A quick check of the standings shows Norway, where it's winter most of the time anyway, out in front with 6 Golds and 14 medals total.

Austria is tied with 14 total medals, 4 of them Gold, 6 silver, and four bronze.

Germany has the Gold lead with 7 and 11 total.

Team USA is tied with the Netherlands with 10 medals.  But perhaps the two most interesting stats are the 7 bronze of Canada and the 6 silver of Austria.  Now, why would that be?  Because science says Third-Place finishers, with the BRONZE, are actually happier than Second-Place finishers who won SILVER!

Does that make sense?  Third is better than second?

The Psychology Behind 3rd is Happier Than 2nd

I guess maybe it is if you have to spend a lifetime of thinking "what if" or "if only."

Researchers say when the games are done, the career is over and competitors hang up the skates or skis, bronze medalists are typically happier than silver medalists   It's a win/loss psychological pain computation.  For example - you finish second and win silver--the most easily imagined alternative outcome for silver medalists is winning gold which means, rats,  you came up short.  For athletes who finish third and win bronze, the most easily imagined alternative outcome is getting no medal at all, which means for them it was close but, whew, they made it!.

When our species was struggling to survive in the wilderness a hundred thousand years ago, obtaining some extra food would make tomorrow easier. But losing our food meant there might not be a tomorrow.  In other words: the stakes of loss were higher than those of gains, so today we try very hard to avoid loss at all costs. In science, this is known as the endowment effect or loss aversion.

Thank Heavens Beats If Only

So, I guess It makes sense in terms of human evolutionary psychology --a bronze medal is better than no medal and it still means you were among the best, while a silver medal is a forever reminder that you just weren't the best.

Maybe that's why at the Oscars they always remind us of just how much of an "honor it is to be nominated" as though the nomination itself was the same as the win.  (I wonder how many actors have the nomination letter on display in their desks?)

Is it possible more Americans will watch a half dozen Super Bowl Commercials and the viewership will equal the totality of viewers who watched the winter games?  Speaking of Super Bowl...


LOOK: 25 fascinating vintage photos of the first Winter Olympic Games

The first-ever Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France, showcasing a variety of sports and athletes. Stacker assembled a collection of photos from those first Games.

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