Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Johannes Klaebo.
- The Winter Olympics won't be back for a while, but the World Cup seasons for several winter sport disciplines are in full swing.
- Marky brushed up on his skiing knowledge to find where the value lies for three events this weekend.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are a long way away. Too damn long. How am I supposed to go four years between betting on sports like cross-country skiing, biathlon, ski jumping and the like? I can’t. I won’t.
This weekend offers a sultry slate of snow sports, in which svelte Scandinavians will be swooshing around the slopes for your entertainment.
And, although it sounds crazy, it is actually quite entertaining … if you bet on it.
Men’s Cross-Country Freestyle Sprint – Davos, Switzerland
Last year’s wunderkind Johannes Høsflot Klæbo won three Olympic golds and the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in a breakout season at just age 21.
The Norwegian helped me cash my big Norway Olympic medal count bets so I’m forever indebted to him.
My man is not off to a hot start in the new season, though, coming in second place in his specialty — the sprint — in its first running and not making the finals last go-round because someone broke his pole in the semis.
(Cross-country skiing gets pretty heated)
As a result, JHK is +130 for this weekend’s sprint. We’re talking about a guy who was -500 for the sprint in the Olympics. Now he’s not even the favorite thanks to a fluke.
I watched a couple episodes of his vlog while researching this piece and he is out for blood. He’s pissed, training hard and will grab his first win of the season in Davos this weekend.
At plus-money odds, this is a no-brainer. Of my three bets this weekend, this is my favorite.
The Pick: Klæbo +130
Women’s Biathlon 7.5 km Sprint – Hochfilzen, Austria
Skiers with guns. Who wouldn’t want to bet on this?
With two-time gold medalist at Pyeongchang Laura Dahlmeier sidelined due to an injury and Darya Domracheva enjoying retirement, 40% of last season’s top five biathletes will be missing at Hochfilzen.
Last year’s World Cup champ — Kaisa Mäkäräinen — took advantage of the weaker field by winning both the sprint and pursuit at the first event this season, matching the number of wins she had all of last year.
As a result, the 35-year-old Fin is the +150 favorite. I won’t be betting on her.
This is not the type of sport you want to be consistently betting on anyone with shorter than +500 odds, especially not +150 odds.
There were 22 events last season and 10 different women took home at least one win. Even with two of the best competitors missing from the field, there is still a lot of parity.
The best sprinter in last year’s World Cup standings — Anastasiya Kuzmina — came in a disappointing 18th place in the first sprint race of the season thanks to two missed shots, but has tremendous value at +1300.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist in this discipline, Kuzmina shouldn’t be looked past because of a rough first race of the season.
The pick: Anastasiya Kuzmina +1300
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Men’s Ski Jumping HS140, Event 1 – Engelberg, Switzerland
Back to Switzerland for the Ski Jumping World Cup, in which Kobayashi has been on fire to start the season.
No, not that Kobayashi. Ryoyu Kobayashi. The 22 year old was okay at the Olympics last year, but nothing special. He finished just 24th on the World Cup circuit, which I reckon I could manage.
This season, he’s won three of the first five events and came in third in the two others. His previous best finish had been sixth …
He’s the +125 favorite thanks to that, with the next best man at +500.
Despite his early dominance, I think that aforementioned next best man — Kamil Stoch — has a lot of value at 5-1. He may not be the best jumper in the world anymore with Kobayashi’s arrival, but he’s still damn good.
He won last year’s World Cup pretty easily and, in my mind, shouldn’t be down to +500 after just a couple weeks worth of competition.
The Pick: Kamil Stoch +500