Every four years, the world’s best and brightest hit the slopes and the ice to compete for supremacy in a variety of sports and disciplines. We are of course talking about the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing, China this year. And as athletes compete for medals, you can compete for money. That’s right, you can indeed bet on the Olympics.
The Winter Olympics are about to officially kick off with opening ceremonies set for Friday, February 4th. 2,871 athletes representing 91 countries will compete in 109 events across seven different sports disciplines. While smaller than the Summer Olympic Games, the Winter Olympics have grown in popularity and viewership over the years with fans tuning in to see sports that otherwise aren’t televised much or at all such as curling, biathlon, speed skating, and more.
The roughly two-week long event began on Wednesday with some round robin play in mixed curling and preliminary runs in luge, and will culminate on February 20th, when the final medals are awarded in ice hockey, curling, skiing, and bobsleigh. Of course, the two bookending attractions are the opening and closing ceremonies, which take place on February 4th and February 20th respectively.
Note, as the Games are in China, there is about a 12-15-hour time difference between when some of the events will air live (China is ahead of the U.S.) and when they will be televised as part of NBC’s primetime coverage. That being said, make sure to plan your bets accordingly as wagers will only be accepted up until the specific date/time listed for each sport/event. Based on when competition begins for these events will also determine your betting window.
As we mentioned above, yes, you can bet on the Olympics, and it’s not just medal counts either. While that is certainly an option as we mentioned in our February monthly preview, most of the fun will be betting on individual athletes and individual sports. Bovada is our #1 trusted sportsbook, so for purposes of this betting preview, we will be sticking to their betting options, of which there are many.
In addition to being able to bet on individual country medal counts and gold medal counts (done over/under style), which country will win the most medals and gold medals, and countries that will finish top three in medal count, you can pretty much bet on every Olympic sport taking place over the next two weeks. USA Betting thought it would be fun to pull out a few of those bets and share our thoughts on how to wager. Enjoy, and good luck!
Men’s Ice Hockey Favors the ROC
Certainly a common sport in the U.S., ice hockey remains one of the more popular Olympic viewing, and this year, the intrigue is at an all-time high. Bovada lists the Russian Olympic Committee, still competing under the IOC’s flag due to a doping scandal uncovered at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, as the favorites. Russia/ROC is of course the defending gold medalist but their status as favorites likely is due more to the fact that the NHL is not sending their athletes to Beijing this year. Due to rescheduling issues, the NHL pulled their athletes from the Olympics, which gives the biggest disadvantage to the United States and Canada, who have won three of the last five gold medals and who have medaled in 10 of their 16 appearances.
The top five for men’s hockey are as follows: ROC +150, Finland +400, Sweden +450, Canada +600 and the Czech Republic +800. While this would be no Miracle on Ice, if you want to bet the U.S. to take it all, you can get them at +1000 odds.
Most Olympic cycles, Canada is a favorite but here is a chance to get them in a position where you can make a buck. While the lack of NHL players does deplete their squad, hockey isn’t Canada’s national pastime for no reason. We’re backing the Canadians to win the gold. Additional bets can be made within each group with Canada, ROC and Finland being the favorites to advance out of their pools.
- Note: Olympic men’s hockey begins 2/9/22 at 3:40 AM ET. Please place all bets by then.
Snowboarding: Back Chloe Kim; Avoid Shaun White
Sometimes, it’s hard to separate your brain from your heart, something we are sure will be the case when it comes to snowboard halfpipe betting on the men’s side. Shaun White is no doubt the sentimental favorite. Competing in his fifth and final Olympics, White is a three-time gold medalist in the pipe, with his most recent coming in 2018 when he scored a 97.25 out of 100. His win then was surprising as White had failed to medal at the 2014 Games.
Now 35, White is looking to add to his impressive resume but two young, up-and-coming riders are hot on his tail. That would be 2018’s silver and bronze medalists, Ayumu Hirano (+185) and Scotty James (+300). White has the third best odds to win the event at +600. Our advice is to back Hirano, even though sentimentally, we’ll be pulling for White.
On the women’s side, we’re also backing the favorite, American Chloe Kim. Just 21, Kim won the gold medal in the first Olympics she ever participated in during the 2018 Games. Since then she is a two-time world champion, and is the overwhelming favorite in the women’s halfpipe. Kim is listed at -300 with her next closest competitor, Cai Xuetong of China, listed at +700. While odds like this don’t exactly favor betting on the favorite, we like Kim to win back-to-back golds and continue her recent run of pipe dominance.
- Note: Olympic snowboard halfpipe competition begins 2/7/22 at 9:40 PM ET.
Women’s Speedskating: Buy Low on Erin Jackson
Something really inspiring happened last month at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Brittany Bowe, who had already secured her Olympic spot in both the women’s 1000 and 1500m races, gave up her Olympic spot in the 500m, to teammate Erin Jackson, who slipped during her race, ultimately costing her a top-two finish.
Bowe’s sacrifice did not go unrecognized however as the U.S. was ultimately allotted that third spot due to reallocations and now both Bowe (+3300) and Jackson (+600) will be competing in the race. Pay attention to that second number. Ranked the world No.1 coming into the Games, Jackson holds the U.S. record in this event and won four out of eight World Cup races against the top names she’ll see in Beijing. Jackson is the U.S.’ best chance for a medal in this event and at +600, she’s a great wager as well.
- Note: The women’s 500m competition begins 2/12 at 8PM ET.
Canada or Maybe Great Britain Looking to Sweep Curling Golds
Co-favorites in the men’s (+200) and second favorites in the women’s (+300) and mixed curling (+300) competitions, the Canadians are hoping to pull off the three-for-three curling sweep that was denied them in 2018 when they failed to podium in both the men and women’s events.
This year’s Canadian teams enter as top units and are poised to claim the hardware they fell short on attaining during the last Winter Olympics. Standing in their way are Great Britain, who have risen as a curling powerhouse in just a short amount of time. Great Britain are co-favorites in the men’s competition (+200) and favorites in the mixed doubles (+175). They have the third best odds on the women’s side (+375). Either Canada or Great Britain could very well complete the sweep.
We won’t be backing any sweeps however as we like the Canadians on the women’s side and the Brits on the men’s side. But before we get too far into this, the U.S. is once again a wildcard to consider. Team Shuster’s men are looking to do what no American team has ever done, by scoring back-to-back gold medals. This group of rag tag athletes captured the hearts of a country as the Americans truly rose from underdogs who almost didn’t make the medal rounds, to eventual gold medal champions, shocking the world in the process.
Here is where I remind you not to back a sentimental favorite. The U.S. team pulled off an upset in 2018 and those don’t tend to happen back-to-back. We’re certainly on board with betting a top-three finish for USA at +225, but as for gold, your best bet is to look elsewhere.
- Note: The men and women’s curling competitions begin 2/9 at 8:05 AM ET.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.