Long track speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia kicks off Feb. 8 with the men's 5,000 meter event. Although three Americans are scheduled to compete, none are considered gold medal favorites, according to betting odds posted to SkyBet on Feb. 7.
The runaway event favorite with 1/6 odds of taking gold is the Netherlands' Sven Kramer. The 27-year old Dutchman took 5,000 meter gold in Vancouver in 2010 and silver at the 2006 Torino Games, and is a six-time winner of the World All-Round Speed Skating Championship title. His world record time (6:03.32) in the distance has stood since 2007, so he is undoubtedly the man to beat.
Although Kramer is unlikely to lose, the man most-likely to claim the title with 5/1 odds is his teammate Jorrit Bergsma. Interestingly, Bergsma, 28, is engaged to American speed skater Heather Richardson, who is favored to win the women's 1,000 meters in Sochi.
Odds for the rest of the field of hopefuls are as follows:
- Ivan Skobrev, 16/1
- Lee Seung-Hoon, 16/1
- Jan Blokhuijsen, 25/1
- Sverre Lunde Pedersen, 40/1
- Bart Swings, 40/1
- Denis Yuskov, 50/1
- Jonathan Kuck, 50/1
- Havard Bokko, 66/1
- Alexis Contin, 100/1
- Patrick Beckert, 125/1
Although not ranked, two other Americans, Patrick Meek and Emery Lehman, will take part in the event.
The men's 5,000 meter speed skating event is scheduled to begin at 3:30 AM Pacific time on Feb. 8. Fans subscribing to cable TV can watch live via NBCOlympics.com.