China’s Eileen Gu and Zhongyan Ning are favoured to win gold for the host country in the Women’s Big Air Freestyle Skiing and the Men’s 1500m Speed Skating events respectively. We’ve got picks in these two events as well as an underdog play in the Women’s Sprint Freestyle Cross-Country race in this Tuesday’s Winter Olympics best bets.
Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Big Air
China’s Eileen Gu is one of the most interesting and polarising figures of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Gu was born and raised in America, but at 15 years old in 2019 decided she would represent China (where her mother was born). Already a huge star in freestyle skiing, Gu didn’t make the switch out of necessity as some American athletes do to make the Olympic Games; she simply wanted to represent China instead of the United States. She has since become a massive superstar in China and is the favourite to win the Women’s Big Air at +110 with BetOnline.
With her best run, she’s a likely winner. But with so much scrutiny and pressure on her at just 18 years old, these odds don’t leave enough margin for error. The value on this race looks to be on second favourite Tess Ledeux, who represents France and is going off at +250 to take gold. Ledeux won gold in the same event at the 2019 Utah World Championships, the 2020 Aspen Winter X Games and the 2022 Aspen Winter X Games. Should Gu falter, it’s Ledeux that is the most likely contender to take advantage.
Tess Ledeux to win gold
Speed Skating: Men’s 1500m
Zhongyan Ning (+200) recorded his personal-best time in the 1500m in Salt Lake City last April with a 1:41:38. The margin on that time is razor thin compared to the next two favourite on the betting board; the United States’ Joey Mantia (+300) skated the 1500m in his personal-best time of 1:41.15 in April, and Netherlands’ Thomas Krol (+350) recorded a 1:41.89. Krol’s personal best in the 1500m came back in 2019 when he skated it in 1:40.54.
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This race is a tough one to cap. Krol is the most decorated of these three contenders at this distance with gold medals in the World Single Distance Championships in 2019 and 2021 and in the European Championships in 2020. He’s tough to pass up on at this price, but home-country advantage has historically played a significant role at the Olympic Games. Given how thin the gap is between these skaters, we’ll pay the premium to take Zhongyan in his home nation to win gold.
Zhongyan Ning to win gold
Cross-Country: Women’s Sprint Freestyle
The betting board has this race pegged as essentially a head-to-head battle between two Swedish cross-country stars in Maja Dahlqvist (+120) and Jonna Sundling (+140). Both are accomplished and talented skiers that led Sweden to gold together in the team sprint freestyle at the 2021 World Championships. In all likelihood, one of them will win and the other will grab silver.
But this is a fairly unknown course, and that could lead to some uncertainty. If the two favourite aren’t at their best, or if they wear each other out fighting for the lead, the United States’ Jessie Diggins could spring an upset. Diggins rallied from a slow start to finish sixth in the Women’s Skiathlon over the weekend and will now be competing at a shorter distance that is more catered to her strong finishing. The American won gold in Pyeongchang with her performance in the team sprint and is a live dog here at +900 if the race shakes out the right way.
Jessie Diggins to win gold
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