The run-up to the XXIII Olympic Winter Games has been about as straightforward as a Super-G slalom.
The spectre of the Sochi showpiece from four years ago is still hanging over this year’s event and the clumsy combined Korean Ice Hockey team is making the headlines instead of the disciplines themselves.
However, with the games set to get underway this week, there are plenty of positives for punters looking to plunder some pounds from performances on the peaks of Pyeongchang.
Dan Roebuck, Winter Olympics odds pundit, talks us through this one…
Germany’s Golden Generation to Grab Glory
Unless you held onto your betting slip for over three years, you would have got paid out on Russia topping the medal table at the last Winter Olympics.
The hosts would eventually be downgraded to fifth after losing 13 medals (four golds) in November of 2017, as 43 athletes were disqualified having been involved in state-sponsored doping. However, there was even more confusion last week when 28 cases were overturned.
With Russia as a nation definitely banned – although 169 Russians will take part as neutrals (a number unlikely to rise even after the February 1st ruling) – the country best positioned to benefit from the absent stars who competed under the Trikolor in 2014 is Germany.
Given their strength in the sliding events, they look worth an interest at 7/4 to deny favourites Norway, who trade at 3/4. The Norwegians are traditionally strong in all of the alpine disciplines but look weak in most of the blade sports.
— Olympics (@Olympics) February 5, 2018
The USA has sent its biggest ever Winter Olympics team – 241 athletes who will compete in all 15 disciplines across seven sports – and are 5/1 shots to top the medal table for the first time since 1932.
No Uphill Task For Norwegians In Race To The Bottom
Alpine skiing’s Downhill remains the Blue Riband event of the games, but, boy, have recent renewals been difficult to predict.
Matthias Mayer (16/1, 2014), Didier Defago (14/1, 2010) and Antoine Dénériaz (33/1, 2006) were all shock winners, so it’s not just as simple as investing in this year’s market principle, Beat Feuz, at 11/4.
The Swiss won the final men’s World Cup downhill race before the Olympics in Germany and now leads the seasonal standings courtesy of a third win of the campaign. Aksel Lund Svindal, silver medallist in 2010, is 40 points behind Feuz and is quoted at 13/4 for glory at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
However, it’s Svindal’s fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud who makes more appeal at 9/1. Jansrud won the test event at Jeongseon two years ago and picked up bronze in the Downhill and gold in the Super G in Sochi.
OAR to Send the Pucks Flying
The biggest team event at the Winter Olympics is Ice Hockey, but this year the absence of all of North America’s National Hockey League stars will seriously impact the quality on show – and the destiny of the medals.
Canada have won gold in three of the last four games, but as all of their players that defeated Sweden in the final in Sochi were drawn from the NHL, it’s unsurprising that they are 9/2 third favourites to retain their crown.
With the USA, 13/1 shots, also missing star names, it’s the team that fly under the ‘Other Athletes from Russia’ flag who should benefit.
At 23/20, they are the market leaders, but with all of the squad pulled from the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, they look the best bet for gold.
The Czech Republic, who can also boast a strong KHL contingent, look value at 37/20 to win Group A.
Britain’s Best to Bask in the Winter Sun
Great Britain matched their best ever medals haul at the 2014 Winter Olympics, with one gold, one silver and two bronze gongs.
— Olympics (@Olympics) February 5, 2018
Team GB’s largest ever winter games squad (59 athletes) will assemble in Pyeongchang and they are in with a great chance of bettering their Sochi total. Elise Christie is second favourite to win the short track speed skating at 11/4.
Snowboarder Katie Ormerod, who won the World Cup big air title in 2016, is a 7/1 shot for gold in the same discipline. Elsewhere, Isobel Atkin (10/1) and James Woods (30/1) have good chances in the Slopestyle, while the Curling teams (11/2 Women and 16/1 Men) could also make the podium. And don’t rule out Lizzy Yarnold, heroine of Sochi in the skeleton, at 25/1 for a repeat win.