It only comes around once every four years, but it seems that the 2018 Winter Olympics have really crept up on us this year, and officially get underway this Friday, the 9th of February from Pyeongchang in South Korea! With so many obscure sports that we really only see once ever four years on the plate over the coming few weeks, it’ll be a tough time trying to pick some winners, but we’ve done some quick research and we’ll give our best bets for the 2018 Winter Olympics below.
One of the more intriguing matchups of the 2018 Winter Olympics is that of global mega star Shaun White and Aussie hopeful Scotty James in the men’s snowboard half pipe. Scotty James might be fourth in the odds behind White, and Japanese pair Ayumu Hirano and Yuto Totsuka, however, the intrigue comes from statements made by James about the biased scoring towards White in the lead up to the Olympics.
James, who will be flag bearer for the Aussies at the opening ceremony, admitted to having words with judges after recent competitions where he felt White was overscored and James himself was marked down. It breathes life into arguably the most interesting event at this years Winter Olympics, and with White claiming he is working on something big after missing last months Winter X Games in Aspen, it should be a fierce contest between himself and James.
However, our eyes are on someone else for the gold. Japan’s Ayumu Hirano took gold in the Men’s Super Pipe competition at the X Games last month, compiling three scores of 93, 96.66 and a ridiculous 99 in his last run to edge out James. Hirano became the first person ever to land back to back 1440’s in his final run, earning the 99 score and making history in the process. He is the form half pipe contender in the world at the moment and we are more than happy to take the value with him here.
What was inarguably the most popular sport at the Winter Olympics year in year out might take a back seat this year after the NHL announced last year that they will not schedule a break in their season for players to compete in Pyeongchang. It means that the Canadian and United States teams will be made up of amateur players or players playing in overseas competitions. Canada have had the Men’s Ice Hockey competition in a stranglehold in recent history, winning three of the last four gold medals, however, without any of their NHL stars, we cant see a scenario where the brigade of college kids and overseas players from the US and Canada find a way to win here. This opens the door for the Nordic teams in Sweden and Finland and most of all Russia.
The Russian KHL is no doubt the second best Ice Hockey league in the world and while many of Russia’s top players head to the US to play in the NHL, their squad for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be made up of KHL players top to bottom. A huge advantage for them will be the harmony they have within their lines. They boast eight players from the CSKA Moscow Club and 15 players from SKA Saint Petersburg, and the lines they throw out will likely be full five man teams from each club. They’ll be in sync with each other from day one and should give the tournament a massive shake.
Another three Aussies with a massive chance at a medal are Lydia Lassila and Danielle Scott and Laura Peel in the Women’s Aerials competition. It’s a must watch for Aussie fans, as all three ladies have been amongst the medals across the six events in the recent FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Season. Danielle Scott was ultra impressive when she claimed the gold in Beijing in December, while Lydia Lassila and Laura Peel both had podium finishes in the final two events in Lake Placid in the lead up to the Olympics.
The Aussies main competition in Pyeongchang will of course be the number one ranked Women’s Aerial Skier in the world, Xu Mengtao from China. Mengtao finished on the podium in four of the six World Cup events, winning two of the last three in dominant fashion. At $2.40, she is the clear cut favourite to take out the competition, however, the showing that Lassila has put forward in the last two events to win one and come second in the other have been extremely impressive. At $8 behind even Danielle Scott, we love the Aussie to climb two steps higher on the podium than she did at the last Winter Olympics.
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