5. Figure skating
Sportsbooks figure Canada’s Patrick Chan at -200 is the skater to beat in the men’s competition while Yu-Na Kim is the -167 betting favourite in the women’s singles event. Of course, both will face stiff competition for Gold in Sochi.
Chan, who failed to come through on his Olympic odds during the 2010 Vancouver Games (his home Games, so to speak), appears to be a soft favourite in a deep men’s field which include sportsbooks’second favourite Yuzuru Hanyu at +175 and Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko at +500. Indeed, Plushenko, the 2006 Gold Medalist and 2002 and 2010 silver medallist, will have the home advantage.
Kim meanwhile will most likely have to contend with Russian skater and 2014 European champion Julia Lipnitskaia, listed as the +700 bet to win outright and Mao Asada, listed at +250. As well, rising American star Ashley Wagner will hope to make an impact, although she’s listed a distant +2500 betting odds for Gold.
As well as individual figure skating, sports enthusiasts can turn to the pairs and dance figure skating odds, the latter of which is headlined by American favourites Meryl Davis and Charles White at -200 to win Gold at Bet365.
4. Alpine Skiing
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway headlines Downhill Alpine Skiing betting markets at +160 while Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany leads the charge in the women’s markets. Svindal’s biggest threat however is American Bode Miller, who is a value sports pick at +240. Erik Guay of Canada is also a great alternative at +1200 in this category.
Value long shots include Italy’s Dominik Paris at +3300 and France’s David Poisson at +10000 – the pair finished on the podium at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships behind Svindal with silver and bronze, respectively.
American Ted Ligety, winner in Super G, Giant Slalom and Super Combined at the recent World Championships is also a major player and runaway favourite in several markets for the above events. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher nips at his heels at +150 and is sure to give Ligety a run for his money.
3. Men’s Bob Sleigh
Ever since John Candy’s Cool Runnings made such a splash, the thought of Bob sledding invariably brings Jamaica to mind. And happily the Jamaicans are back to their first Winter Olympics since 2002. In spite of qualifying for the Games however, the betting odds are stacked against the much-loved Jamaicans across sportsbooks, a market stance exacerbated by the fact that their gear arrived in Sochi late, forcing them to miss valuable practice time.
Jamaicans are listed at whopping +50000 to win the two-man bobsleigh Gold, a pipedream by all accounts. USA’s tandem of Holcomb and Langton spearhead this market at William Hill as the +175 short-odds favourites, while Swiss tandem of Hefti and Baumann and Germany’s pair of Friedrich and Baecker are considered viable threats at +250 and +700, respectively.
2. Speed Skating
Betting on Speed Skating offers several events such as the 500m sprint, 1000m sprint, 1500m sprint and 5000m sprint as well as the team pursuit. The men’s front however takes it one step further with an additional 10000m sprint. Those, in the know, know the top favourite in the women’s longer distances is Martina Sablikova, Czech Republic’s decorated long distance speed skater. The tiny Czech took Gold in both the 3000 and the 5000m in Vancouver. Recently, she won Gold in 2013 Trentino. Predictably, she is the runaway favourite at -500 to win Gold in Sochi in the 5000m and the -118 favourite to win Gold in 3000m. On the men’s front, American Shani Davis is the -125 favourite to defend his Gold medal in 1000m sprint from the last Olympics. But fellow American Brain Hansen cuts an interesting figure at +450 to win outright. Russia’s Ivan Skobrev took Silver and Bronze in Vancouver in 10000m and 5000m respectively. He’ll be looking to improve on that score surely in his domestic games, potentially making him a value sports pick at +1000 to win the 5000m and +25000 to win the 10000m.
Arguably, the top sport at the Olympics in terms of viewing and betting is hockey. No other sport features quite the same amount of competitiveness as well as heated rivalry as hockey does. Leading the charge naturally are the defending Gold medallists Canada at +200. What’s more, they’ve drawn a rather favourable Group B that includes credible threats Finland (albeit listed fifth in the pecking order at +1100 to win outright at Bet365) and tournament lightweights Norway and Austria.
Russia, who failed to podium at the last Olympics are determined to save face before their adoring fans, are listed as close second favourites at +210. But they got no favours from the draw with both USA and Slovakia – two nations with strong hockey cultures – falling into Group A alongside Slovenia. With the proverbial Group of Death to contend with, it’s also no wonder the Americans, who were finalists in Vancouver and very nearly won, are deemed the fourth overall favourites at +700 to win Gold. While Slovakia, who narrowly missed out on a podium finish in Vancouver (lost to Finland in the Bronze medal game), are tipped somewhat disingenuously at +5000. The teams to survive this group, though, should benefit from high confidence for the knockout stages.
Finally, Sweden and Czech Republic fall into Group C with Switzerland and Latvia. Sweden are the hot favourites in this group as well third overall favourites across sportsbooks for Gold at +450. Czech Republic at +1200 could make a strong run for top spot while Switzerland at +3300 could do some damage.So that’s just a short overview of our Top 5 sports to bet on at Sochi. Naturally, Winter Olympics are comprised of many events, for which sportsbooks have served up a veritable buffet of betting odds and props – many of which we’ll look at individually to serve up additional free picks for your consideration over the course of the Games. So for now, suffice it to say: May the best athletes, teams and nations win!