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Best Bets for 2022 Winter Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics began Tuesday in Beijing. The betting opportunities are nonstop, and these picks could mean gold for sports fans.

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are on, with plenty of opportunities for bettors—overshadowed in some cases by Covid-19.

Officials in the host country of China are trying to thwart outbreaks in the Olympic Village, and already athletes arriving in Beijing have had to quarantine after getting back positive tests. For example, Polish speed skater Natalia Maliszewska, a medal hopeful, now will miss her event unless she can produce two negative tests.

Another factor is the lack of NHL players in men’s hockey. The National Hockey League made the decision to ban its players from representing their countries due to Covid-19. And that has certainly changed the gold medal odds.

But there are 109 events to bet within 15 disciplines, and hundreds of athletes representing 80+ nations. Seven new winter events have been added, including men’s and women’s big air freestyle, women’s bobsleigh, mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping, snowboard cross, and mixed relay short track speed skating.

You won’t be alone as you place your bets: An estimated 20 million Americans are expected to join you, at sportsbooks like BetMGM, Caesars, PointsBet and BetRivers.

Here are some wagers you should consider.

Shiffrin Should Shine in Slalom

Team USA skier Mikaela Shiffrin has been dominant in slalom events for the past few years. The 26-year-old has two gold medals and is a six-time world champion.

But the past couple of months have tested her resolve. Her father died a year ago and Shiffrin is still grieving the loss, which made her question whether she wanted to continue skiing. And in December, a nasty bout of Covid paused her notoriously intense training routine.

All that is behind her. Shiffrin is focused, healthy and ready to add to her gold medal collection. She’s the favorite to win the giant slalom at +225, while France’s Tessa Worley and Sweden’s Sara Hector are next at +450.

Shiffrin is the second pick in the slalom at +120. The favorite is Slovakia’s Petra Vlhová.

Shiffrin is in top form and both bets could pay off. Look for the Colorado resident to make a strong showing on the slopes in Beijing.

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Great Britain to Dominate in Curling

Canada’s reputation as the world’s curling king took a hit in the 2018 Olympics when neither the men’s or women’s teams medaled. In the 2022 Olympics, Canada still is a questionable candidate for the podium.

Canadian curling officials were still assembling teams in December when the Olympic mixed doubles trials were canceled due to a rise in positive Covid tests. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess who will compete on what used to be the dominant teams in the sport.

That uncertainty has opened the door for Great Britain, now the favorite in the men’s division and the third pick in the women’s competition. The men’s team are fetching +190 odds at PointsBet, followed by Canada at +200.

In the women’s division, Canada and Sweden are the favorites at +275, but Great Britain is right behind them at +300. Both of these events should be very competitive, but Great Britain might be the play here.

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Zhongyan China’s Best Hope for Gold

Along with women’s freestyle skier Eileen Gu (who was born and raised in San Francisco, but will compete on the Chinese team), Ning Zhongyan is China’s best hope for a gold medal.

The 22-year-old men’s speed skater is the second pick at +300 at Caesars Sportsbook to win the men’s 1,500-meter event. Dutch 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter specialist Thomas Krol is the favorite at +275.

But Zhongyan says the National Speed Skating Oval presents him with an advantage, since he has been training at the facility. “The venue is big and beautiful,” he said. “I think it can inspire me to compete at my best level.”

Also in his favor: Zhongyan won the men’s 1,500-meter and 1,000-meter gold medals in the World Cup series this season, and could be a great value bet.

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Russia Should Take Men’s Hockey Gold

If the NHL hadn’t banned players from taking part in the Winter Olympics, Canada would have been the favorite to win the hockey gold medal. Just imagine players such as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby playing alongside each other.

With those superstars sidelined, the Canadian amateur team is now the fourth pick at BetRivers. Russia’s tops at +150, with Finland next at +425.

The Russians will be led by two former NHL players. Artem Anisimov scored 180 goals and 376 points over 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators. Mikhail Grigorenko had 76 points in 249 career NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets.

There shouldn’t be a lot of obstacles for the Russians. Look for them to take the gold with relative ease.

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Chen Could Bag First Gold

Team USA’s Nathan Chen has never won Olympic gold; his only career medal was the bronze won in team figure skating at the 2018 games.

This year, Chen—the winner of six straight U.S. national championships and three consecutive world championships—is the odds-on favorite to take the gold in men’s single skating, with odds of -400. The closest skater behind him is Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu at +550. Hanyu won men’s singles gold at the Winter Games in 2014 (Sochi) and 2018 (Pyeongchang).

Chen may skate past him this time. In March 2021, he bested Hanyu at the world championships. And heading into these Winter Games, Chen is well-placed to win his first Olympic gold.

Olympics Fun Facts

Let’s brush up on your Olympic trivia:

  • The first Olympics were in 776 B.C. They lasted up to six months, and included wrestling, boxing, javelin, discus-throwing—even chariot racing!
  • In ancient Greece, athletes didn’t wear sponsored jerseys, protective gear, athletic cups—or anything at all. Those hardy warriors competed buck-naked!
  • Hot-air ballooning and tug-of-war once were Olympic sports, along with live pigeon shooting and even dueling! Thankfully, the latter “sports” fell out of favor.
  • In 393 A.D., the games were cancelled by Emperor Theodosius, who considered them pagan. They didn’t resume until 1896, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee and revived the competition.
  • Coubertin designed the Olympic symbol. Its six colors—blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white background—were chosen because every nation’s flag contains at least one of them.
  • Women did not compete in the Olympics until 1900.
  • Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan the Ape Man in a dozen Hollywood movies, won five gold medals for swimming in the 1920s.
  • The Olympic torch is lit in Athens, then borne by couriers to that year’s host city. The torch has traveled by boat, by air, on horseback, on camelback, underwater and even in a canoe.
  • American swimmer Michael Phelps holds the record for medals, having won 23 gold, three silver and two bronze between 2012 and 2016. Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina is second, with 18 medals.
  • The United States holds the record for most gold medals: 2,980. The U.K. is second with 948, followed by Germany with 892.
  • Could you be an Olympian? The odds are pretty slim. Bill Mallon, of the International Society of Olympic Historians, puts your chances at approximately 560,000 to 1. By one estimate, the odds of winning the gold are a mind-bending 22 million to 1.

How to Watch the 2022 Winter Olympics

While some preliminary Olympics events started Wednesday, February 2, the games officially kick off on Friday, February 4 and run through Thursday, February 20.

Watch live coverage on NBC or the USA Network. If you’re a Peacock subscriber (NBC’s streaming app) you can watch live coverage there too as well as on the NBC Sports app. All channels are carried by most cable providers and streaming services such as YouTube TV, Sling, Fubo, etc.

P.S. Keep time zone differences in mind! Beijing observes Central Standard Time, which is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time. So, for example, 2 p.m. Friday in Beijing is 1 a.m. Saturday in New York City. For a complete schedule of Olympic events, click here.

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