2018 is shaping up to be quite the year for sports. The Philadelphia Eagles’ thrilling Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots is now in the rearview mirror, but we still have the Winter Olympics in South Korea and this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia on the horizon.
The Olympics are set to get underway later this week from Pyeongchang. The Opening Ceremonies are set to go down on Friday, February 9, and several weeks of action will follow. Without further ado, let’s jump right in. Here are 5 value bets worth considering if you’re interested in getting in on wagering on the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Men’s Ice Hockey
- Russia +105
- Canada +450
- Sweden +500
- Finland +800
- Czech Republic +900
- United States +1000
- Switzerland +3300
- Germany +6000
- Slovakia +8000
- Norway +10000
- Slovenia +40000
- Republic of Korea +40000
Ice hockey is typically one of the most popular sports at the Winter Olympics, at least here in the United States. While the vast majority of us are unfamiliar with most of the sports being played at the Olympics, hockey is familiar to us. The NHL is the biggest hockey league in the world, so it makes sense that a large chunk of the league’s fanbase will tune in to Olympic hockey. While NHL players won’t be playing this year, fans can still check out familiar old names and up-and-coming prospects.The Russian team, for example, features ex-NHLers Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Back in 2014 in Sochi, the Canadian men’s national team took home the gold medal, while Sweden earned silver and Finland got the bronze. The United States impressively topped Group A, which also featured Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia. The Americans subsequently got past the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals before falling at the hands of their Canadian rivals in the semifinal.
Heading into this year’s tournament, the Americans are priced way down at +1000 to win gold. The Russian team is listed as a heavy favorite here despite the fact that Russians have failed to win the gold in any of the last 6 Olympics.
The lack of NHL players this year makes the hockey field fairly unpredictable. Canada has taken the top prize in each of the last 3 major tournaments (2014 Olympics, 2010 Olympics, 2016 World Cup), but they won’t have stars like Jamie Benn leading the charge.
Canada still looks like an excellent value, particularly because this is not a young team. The youngest player on the Olympic roster is 25-year-old Christian Thomas, while their oldest is 37-year-old Chris Lee. There is solid value in the Canadians, even if the roster is generally unproven.
Russia as the favorite makes sense because it’s the team with the most familiar names leading the charge. That said, a short tournament can be defined by goaltending. If a team has an in-form net minder, they’re capable of making a deep run. That’s part of what makes Sweden an appealing value here at +500. The Swedes will be led in net by former NHL players Jhonas Enroth and Viktor Fasth. They also have 17-year-old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL draft.
Snowboarding Men’s Halfpipe
- Shaun White, USA +250
- Ayumu Hirano, Japan +300
- Yuto Totsuka, Japan +325
- Ben Ferguson, USA +550
- Scotty James, Australia +550
- Raibu Katayama, Japan +800
- Jake Pates, USA +1600
- Chase Josey, USA +2100
- Nikita Avtaneev, Russia +2600
- Naito Ando, Japan +2600
- Peetu Piiroinen, Finland +3500
- Patrick Burgener, Switzerland +3500
There is no shortage of snowboarding set to take place in Pyeongchang. Snowboarding will be represented in some form or another on all 15 days of the competition, though there is arguably no more highly-anticipated event than the men’s halfpipe.
Shaun White is arguably the most recognizable male American athlete representing the U.S. at these Olympics. The 31-year-old San Diego native has a decorated Olympic track record, with a pair of gold medals in this competition (2006 Turin, 2010 Vancouver). In 2014, however, White finished a disappointing fourth in the same competition.
In spite of his shortcomings last time around, White still checks in as the favorite to reclaim his gold medal. Most bettors will flock to White because he’s the most recognizable name on the board, but the sneaky play here is Australia’s Scotty James.
Back in 2010, James became the youngest Australian Olympian in 50 years. He was just 15 during the 2010 games in Vancouver, and he was the youngest male competitor among all sports. The Aussie failed to medal in 2010, but he’s been racking up the hardware of late. James has won 4 medals in the last 3 Winter X Games, including a gold, silver and bronze in each of the last 3 superpipe competitions. James also won gold at the 2017 World Championships in the halfpipe.
He appears primed to break out on the world’s biggest stage, and he should become a household name before long.
Women’s Downhill Skiing
- Lindsey Vonn, USA -120
- Sofia Goggia, Italy +225
- Tina Weirather, Liechtenstein +900
- Cornelia Hutter, Austria +1600
- Mikaela Shiffrin, USA +2000
- Lara Gut, Switzerland +2500
- Michelle Gisin, Switzerland +2500
- Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany +2500
- Anna Veith, Austria +4000
- Johanna Schnarf, Italy +5000
- Nicole Schmidhofer, Austria +5000
- Breezy Johnson, USA +6600
- Jacqueline Wiles, USA +6600
- Ragnhild Mowinckel, Norway +6600
- Stephanie Venier, Austria +10000
- Ester Ledecka, Czech Republic +10000
While Shaun White is the biggest name among the American male athletes at the games, Lindsey Vonn is clearly the most decorated American woman set to compete in Pyeongchang. Vonn missed the 2014 games in Sochi after suffering a nasty ACL tear after a fall, but she’s back and ready to roll this time around.
Vonn won gold for the downhill skiing event at the 2010 games in Vancouver, while she took home the bronze for Super-G. She’s also taken home a number of gold medals for the downhill at several other events, like the World Cup and World Championships. Despite having missed the last Olympics, the American is understandably a heavy favorite to reclaim her top spot in 2018.
While most will tab Vonn as the presumptive winner, it won’t be a cakewalk. Vonn’s American teammate, Mikaela Shiffrin, may well be the next face of women’s skiing in this country. Shiffrin, who is just 22, won the bronze in slalom back in the ‘14 Olympics.
Another name to watch is Austria’s Stephanie Venier, who won the silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in a field that included Vonn and several other Olympic hopefuls. This will be Venier’s first go-round on the Olympic stage, but she hasn’t let bright lights affect her performance in the past.
If you want to play the chalk, just bet on Vonn to win gold here at -120. If it’s value you’re after, then Shiffrin is an excellent pivot play at +2000.
- Canada +140
- Switzerland +500
- China +500
- Russia +550
- Norway +800
- USA +1100
- Republic of Korea +1400
- Finland +2500
As is the case with snowboarding, we’ll have at least one curling event every day during the Olympics. If you love people furiously sweeping on ice in a glorified game of shuffleboard, do I have the sport for you. Curling may look ridiculous, but it’s typically one of the most popular Winter Olympic events.
The Canadians are coming in as heavy favorites to win the gold at +140. The Swiss are tied with China with the second-best odds at +500. The Swiss tangled with Canada at the most recent World Championships and came out with a narrow 6-5 victory to take home the gold. It’s safe to say Canada will be out for revenge here in Pyeongchang.
All indications are that Canada and Switzerland are likely to go toe-to-toe once again at the Olympics. Canada makes for the safest bet on the board, but you can get wonderful value here on the Swiss for +500.
10km Men’s Sprint Biathlon
- Johannes Thingnes Boe, Norway +110
- Martin Fourcade, France +150
- Emil Hegle Svendsen, Norway +2200
- Simon Schempp, Germany +2200
- Tarjej Boe, Norway +2500
- Julian Eberhard, Austria +4000
- Andrejs Rastorgujevs, Latvia +5000
- Benedikt Doll, Germany +5000
- Erik Lesser, Germany +5000
- Lowell Bailey, USA +10000
The men’s 10k sprint comes with a pair of heavy favorites here. Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe and France’s Martin Fourcade are widely expected to be the most serious challengers for the gold in the men’s biathlon. The rest of the field is comprised of longshots.
This is not an event that has been kind to Americans in the past. The U.S. has failed to medal in any biathlon event at an Olympics in the past. It is actually the only winter sport in which no American has ever medaled. This is an event that is expected to be dominated by Germans.
The Americans’ best hopes at taking home a medal on the men’s side lie with Lowell Bailey. Bailey is set to compete in his fourth Olympics after he became the first American to ever win gold at the 2017 Biathlon World Championships. His eighth-place finish in the men’s 20km event in the 2014 games was his best Olympic showing to date.
Thingnes Bo is the favorite after having won a trio of silver medals in different events during the 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen. He comes into the games as the No. 1 ranked individual in the world. He’ll be appearing at his first Olympics.
If you’re feeling patriotic, you can take a flier on Lowell to shock the world and take home the gold for the Americans here at +10000. This event looks rather wide open, but there’s also decent profit potential with Thingnes Bo here for +110.