Ten underdogs you can't ignore when betting on the 2018 Winter Olympics odds

Feb 7, 2018 |

Everyone loves an underdog story and nowhere is this more true than at the Olympics, where unheralded athletes frequently come out of nowhere to assume their place atop the podium.

Here are 10 underdog plays you should consider when placing your bets ahead of the 2018 Winter Games, which get underway this weekend in PyeongChang, South Korea (odds courtesy Bet365):

Hockey - Men's Tournament

Team USA (+1,300)

The American team isn't expected to reach the podium, but it certainly has enough expertise to put a scare into teams. Led by 39-year-old forward Brian Gionta, the U.S. has plenty of NHL experience in the fold, including defensemen James Wisniewski, Matt Gilroy and Jonathan Blum, and forwards Chris Bourque, Jim Slater and Mark Arcobello. The goaltending is a major unknown, and Russia, Canada and Sweden will put up a solid fight - but if the Americans can gather some momentum, they're a dark horse.

Downhill - Women's Slalom

Wendy Holdener, Switzerland (+1,000)

If anyone is going to challenge American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, who is installed as an overwhelming -334 favorite in this event, it's Holdener. The Swiss star hasn't reached the top of the podium yet this season, but has placed in the Top 3 five times and sits fourth in the World Cup points standings after placing third in each of the previous two seasons. Shiffrin has five titles to her credit already this season, but the Olympics are a different beast - one slip-up will open the door for Holdener.

Biathlon - Women's 10km Pursuit

Dorothea Wierer, Italy (+900)

Wierer finds herself as a considerable underdog in this event, well back of favorite Laura Dahlmeier of Germany (+160). Wierer finished second in the overall World Cup pursuit race, but slipped to fifth last season. While she has second-place finishes at pursuit events in Oberhof, Germany and Antholz, Italy so far this season, she has never won a pursuit competition since graduating from the junior ranks. But with consistent results for four straight seasons, she has a live shot at breaking that goose egg in Korea.

Bobsled - 2-Man Event

Nico Walther, Germany (+500)

The two-man bobsled competition is expected to be a two-team battle for first place, with Germany's Francesco Friedrich (+200) and Canada's Justin Cripps (+250) the sled to beat. But don't sleep on Walther, who has had an all-or-nothing season so far with World Cup victories in Lake Placid and St. Moritz - and no other two-man podiums to his credit. Walther and sled-mate Christian Poser have the form to challenge for gold, and should mount a legitimate challenge in PyeongChang.

Cross-Country Skiing - Men's 30km Skiathlon

Alex Harvey, Canada (+900)

The skiathlon - an event that sees skiers combine classical and free techniques, with an equipment change at the midway point - requires an incredible amount of focus and stamina. Harvey has been one of the best in the world in long-distance events, posting third and fifth-place showings in the 30-kilometre event and fifth and first-place results in the 50-km competition at the previous two world championships. Norway's Johannes Klaebo (-125) is a heavy favorite, but Harvey should be in the mix.

Freestyle Skiing - Women's Moguls

Justin Dufour-Lapointe, Canada (+550)

While Jaelin Kauf of the United States carries the lowest odds (+250) into this event, bettors would be foolish to rule out Dufour-Lapointe, the defending Olympic champion. The 23 year old finished second in the World Cup standings in every year from 2012-2016, before slipping to third last season, mirroring that result with a bronze medal at the worlds. But she won an Olympic tuneup event in Tremblant, Quebec, last month, and is showing the kind of form that makes her a real threat to defend her gold medal.

Figure Skating - Men's Singles

Javier Fernandez, Spain (+400)

The men's figure skating competition is expected to be one of the most tightly-contested competitions in the Olympics, with Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu (+175) and Shoma Uno (+200) and American Nathan Chen (+200) in a virtual dead heat in oddsmakers' eyes. But Fernandez is an incredibly solid underdog option. He's the six-time defending European champion, won the world championship in 2015 and 2016 and has improved dramatically from his fourth-place finish at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Skeleton - Women's Event

Tina Hermann, Germany (+550)

The women's skeleton competition is German superstar Jacqueline Loelling's to lose. She's the two-time defending World Cup champion and carries whopping -125 odds into the Olympic event. But countrywoman Hermann is a live underdog option after finishing second to Loelling in each of the previous two World Cups and winning the world championship in 2016. Hermann has won just one World Cup race over the past two seasons, but she has the skill set to pull off the upset in Korea.

Ski Jumping - Men's HS109

Daniel Andre Tande, Norway (+500)

It isn't often that you can get such juicy odds on the defending world champion. That's the situation bettors are in with Tande, who trounced the field in qualifying before edging out Olympic favorite Kamil Stoch of Poland (+175) to claim the world title in Oberstdorf, Germany last month. Recent form is often a good indicator of future success, particularly at the Winter Games and from that standpoint, Tande has to be considered a major threat to Stoch and the rest of the contenders.

Snowboard - Men's Half-Pipe

Scotty James, Australia (+600)

Oddsmakers are fully expecting an American half-pipe sweep, with snowboard legend Shaun White (+200) favored on the men's side and Chloe Kim (+150) expected to run away with the women's title. But James shouldn't be ignored. The Aussie sensation is the defending world champion and finished second at this year's Aspen SuperPipe with a score of 98.00 after claiming gold in that same event last season. A similar performance in PyeongChang could put James on top of the podium.

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