Let’s Talk Olympics

I’m watching figure skating right now. My wife is a big fan, so I have to watch far more than my share of the sport each winter. It only barely interests me, but as I watch today I can’t help but think about the betting opportunities that the Olympics bring up. Figure skating is not usually one of the sports you can bet on because it’s judged, but there are plenty of things that we can bet on, and lots of odds that are posted already. Here’s a look at three of the interesting betting storylines at this point leading up to the start of the Olympics on February 12:

Lindsey Vonn
– If you don’t spend a lot of time following skiing, let me make this simple for you – Lindsey Vonn is the Tiger Woods of skiing without all the mistresses. There have been five World Cup downhills for women so far this year. Vonn has won all five of them. She is so much better than the rest of the field right now that it is almost ridiculous. Pinnacle has Vonn at -125 to win the gold medal in the downhill, and the rest of the field at +107. She also has three wins in Super G this year, and is heavily favored to win that one as well, though not by as much – she is +156 and no one else is better than +666. The trick in handicapping the women’s skiing, then, comes down to just one decision – are you with her or against her?

– I’m a Canadian. For the last year (or more) all you can hear about in the sports media up here is the Olympic hockey tournament – who will be on the team, who will be captain, can we erase the embarrassment of finishing 7th last time out? It’s endless and monotonous, but I couldn’t possibly overstate the importance to Canada of winning the gold on home soil. They are heavily favored to do so +130 at Pinnacle. The book basically has it as a two team tourney – Russia is at +260, and Sweden is way back at +698. That’s how it should turn out as well. Canada has ridiculous depth – with the possible exception of a goalie, the country could field a second team that would be a very legitimate medal threat. Goaltending is a bit of a concern in my eyes, though. So is the fact that it all just comes down to one game, and Russia has three of the four most talented offensive players in the tournament – Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuk (Crosby is the fourth). If he gold medal were a best of seven affair the Canada would win it most of the time. In a single game anything can happen.

– After hockey the medal that means most to the host Canadians is the men’s curling. Canada is the world’s curling power, and we take pride in that. This tournament is, like the hockey, shaping up to be a two team tourney if things stay close to form. Kevin Martin is the skip of Canada’s team and probably the world’s best curler right now. He is at -140 at 5Dimes to win the gold. The second choice at +375 is perhaps the hottest curler in the world right now – Great Britain’s David Murdoch. Murdoch spends a lot of his time curling and training in Canada, and he recently became the first non-Canadian to win the prestigious TSN Skins Game. Martin and Murdoch have an intense rivalry – the Canadian beat the Scot in the finals of the 2008 World Championships, and the Scot turned the tables in 2009. It’s a tight contest every time they play, and either team could win, so while my heart will be with Martin, my head says that Murdoch represents far better value.

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