Winter is an exciting time in the world of sports, and though fans may not be able to enjoy typical favourites such as football or tennis, the season lends itself to some unique and exhilarating sports that are sure to generate enthusiasm among sports betting fans.
Most winter sports take place on ice or snow, and there are several sporting events, such as the Winter Olympics (which happens every four years, the next one being in Beijing, China, in 2022) that honour these distinctive sports. The season for winter sports is typically shorter than most summer sports, which makes it especially important for sports bettors to understand the various sports they’d like to bet on so that they’re able to hit the ground running and place (hopefully) winning bets.
We’re taking a look at some of the most popular sports to bet on during winter – from the Winter Olympics that revolves around various forms of skiing (hello Winter Olympics betting!), to ice hockey and snowboarding – as well as what types of bets you can look forward to placing.
Popular winter sports
There are a number of skiing-related disciplines and events that take place each winter, but this sport in particular centres on the Winter Olympics. Cross-country skiing and ski jumping were two of the first sports to be featured in the Winter Olympics when it began in 1924 at Chamonix, in the French Alps. Biathlon, which evolved from military patrol, was also featured during the first Olympic Games, while Alpine skiing was added a few years later. Popular disciplines in the skiing category include:
- Cross-country skiing – This falls under the “Nordic events” category in the Winter Olympics. It is completed over long distances and is highly competitive, unpredictable and suspenseful, making it great for sports bettors willing to do their research and who delight in making relatively risky bets.
- Alpine skiing – This is a classic skiing event where competitors race downhill in events such as the Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super-G. Both men and women compete in Alpine skiing competitions.
- Biathlon – A biathlon consists of two sports; and in the case of winter sports, the biathlon refers to the combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Like cross-country skiing, biathlon also falls under the Nordic events category. Events within this sport include individual, pursuit, sprint and team relays.
- Ski jumping – This is both highly exciting and potentially dangerous, making it a crowd favourite and popular among sports betting fans. (You remember Eddie the Eagle, don’t you?) Since 2014, ski jumping events have only been open to male competitors.
- Nordic combined – This sport literally combines cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
The most popular sport in the ice sports category is of course ice hockey, with a number of major tournaments taking place all over the world. The grandest of these is the North American National Hockey League (NHL), where teams battle it out every year for the Stanley Cup. Ice hockey, unlike most winter sports, is played indoors, and is a common favourite among American football and basketball fans, being another fiercely competitive team sport. There’s plenty of fast-paced action, and lots of opportunity for sport betting as a result.
Other ice-based sports in the Winter Olympics include bobsled, curling, figure skating, speed skating, skeleton and luge. Together they provide a wealth of choice for spectators and bettors, and a broad range of activity types.
Snowboarding is an extreme sport that requires incredible skill, a lot of practice and an admirable dose of courage. These factors happen to make it very appealing to avid sports bettors as well. As exciting as it is, the sport has yet to gain the same following as skiing and betting only takes place during major events like the Winter Olympics, FIS Snowboard World Championships and FIS Snowboard World Cup.
Popular types of bets
Winter sports are unique in that betting markets only really operate significantly during major events, which in some cases, is only every few years. Before and during these major events, however, betting increases dramatically and can offer some great action to fans.
As in all sports, it’s important to understand the discipline at hand and do research into the teams and competing athletes to make informed betting decisions. (Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for this before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics!) Popular types of bets include:
- Outright winner – This is the most popular type of bet for most winter sports, especially various forms of skiing. Punters simply place their bets on who they think will win the race or competition, or who they believe will achieve a podium finish. This is by no means boring, however, considering the amount of sport on offer during major winter sporting events.
- Match-ups – With winter sports being so competitive, match-up bets are a convenient way to increase the interest and profitability in a sport by putting athletes up against each other. Match-up bets offer bettors the opportunity to choose between who, out of two athletes, they think will fare better. So long as your chosen athlete does better than their named rival, you win.
- Winning margin – This type of bet allows you to bet on how many points, or even how many seconds, the winner will win by. This usually takes the form of the popular over/under bet, and the sportsbook will give you a fixed number to choose from.
- Winning team – These bets move from betting on specific athletes to betting on which country or nationality will fare best.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about winter sports and are excited by the prospect of being able to follow lots of thrilling action at Beijing in February 2022 – and much more besides. We can’t wait!
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