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The freakonomics of figure skating, and how it might help Patrick Chan

Forget the Canadian Curse. Is there something magical about the number 5?

Canada’s Patrick Chan’s likelihood to get the gold medal this morning (10 a.m., NBCSN) has nothing to do with his quadruple jump, or the depth of the edges or whether Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu will mess up.

He might win because, in his first Olympics, Chan came in fifth.

I developed this theory years ago, after my family teased me for being inconsolable after Nancy Kerrigan finished fifth at the 1993 World Championships. “After four, we don’t care anymore!” they chanted. But in studying figure skating, particularly in the men’s competition, you should care. Why? Because at some point, the fifth will be first at the Olympics.

(continue reading…)

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