The much-anticipated figure skating team event will make its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi on Feb. 6. Betting odds posted to SkyBet on Feb. 5 predicted which of the 10 squads of talented hopefuls will stand atop the podium when the event concludes on Feb. 9.
Favored to win gold with 5/4 odds is home nation Russia. They enter the competition with strong skaters in three of four disciplines, including reigning European ladies champion Julia Lipnitskaia; pairs Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, and Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov; and ice dancers Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev, and Yelena Ilinykh and Nitika Katsalapov, all of whom should put the nation in good shape to score a medal. The only potential weak link is three-time Olympian Evgeni Plushenko, who despite dropping out of Europeans and finishing just second at Russia's championships, insisted he be given Russia's sole berth for a male singles skater.
With 6/4 odds, the team representing Canada is second-most likely to score the team victory. Like Russia, Canada will field strong skaters in three of four areas. Included are Patrick Chan, reigning ice dance gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who are expected to contend for the top prizes in the men's, ice dancing and pairs events. The biggest question mark for team Canada, since 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette is not competing, is how well the ladies singles skaters will perform.
Ranked third with 3/1 odds is the team from the United States. Although Meryl Davis and Charlie White should post astronomical numbers for the ice dance portions of the team total and Gracie Gold should put up a strong score for the ladies long program, the strength of the other performances is something of a wild card. Ashley Wagner, who is slated to perform the women's short program, imploded at U.S. nationals in January. If she's able to pull herself together, she's capable of posting an excellent score. Men's singles skater Jeremy Abbott, who will perform the men's short program, didn't fare well in his Olympic debut in 2010, and long program skater Jason Brown is a fan favorite, but the absence of a quad jump in his routine could hurt his marks. Finally, the U.S. isn't known for strong pairs skaters, so though national champs Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir may deliver solid routines, the scores may pale compared to those posted by German, Canadian and Russian skaters.
The rest of the posted odds are as follows:
- Japan, 33/1
- France, 80/1
- China, 100/1
- Germany, 100/1
- Great Britain, 150/1
- Italy, 150/1
- Ukraine, 200/1
The figure skating team event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi begins Feb. 6 with the men's and pairs short programs. Abbott is scheduled to skate fifth, while Castelli and Shnapir will skate sixth during the pairs event.