As members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team including freeskiers Nick Goepper and Joss Christensen began winging their way toward Sochi, Russia on Jan. 29, Bovada Sportsbook posted odds predicting which nation will come away from the Winter Games with the highest gold medal count.
Projected to earn the most gold medals with 5/4 odds are the athletes representing Norway. The nation, which lies along the western shore of the Scandinavian Peninsula, has long-produced star-quality athletes in winter sports. Included in the mix is Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, a 40-year old biathlete who, with 11 top three Olympic finishes to his name, enters the Sochi Games just two podiums from setting an all-time Winter Olympic medal count high water mark.
Athletes representing the United States are next-likely to claim the most gold medals, with 7/2 odds. Gold medal favorites from Team USA include defending halfpipe champion Shaun White, slalom skier Mikaela Shiffrin, and World Champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, among others.
Germany, the home of former gold medalists including two-time Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt, begins the Sochi Games with 6/1 odds of scoring the most top placements. After a solid performance at the Vancouver Games that saw German athletes earning an impressive 10 gold medals, the 2014 incarnation of the team has veritable medal hopefuls in speedskater Stephanie Beckert and luger Natalie Geisenberger, among others.
Host nation Russia is ranked fourth, with 13/2 odds of claiming the top spot on the gold medal count leader board. Top prospects include powerhouse 15-year old ladies' figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, and pairs skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, the reigning European champions in their respective disciplines.
The rest of the published odds are as follows:
- Canada 7/1
- Austria 33/1
- South Korea 33/1
- China 33/1
- France 33/1
- Sweden 40/1
- Switzerland 40/1
- Netherlands 50/1
The first gold medal awarded at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi will go to the winner of the men's slopestyle snowboard event on Feb. 8.