The first medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will be awarded in the early hours of competition on Feb. 8, as the men's snowboard slopestyle finalists hit the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park to battle it out for gold. SkyBet updated its betting odds on Feb. 7 to reflect the results of the Feb. 6 qualification round, which saw eight contestants advance directly to the medal round and the rest of the pack relegated to the semifinals.
Still favored to win gold with 5/4 odds is Canadian Max Parrot. Although not Canada's top snowboarder --that distinction belongs to Mark McMorris-- the 20-year old Parrot made a statement by posting the highest qualification score (97.50). Even if he doesn't take gold, SkyBet considers him a virtual shoo-in to take either silver or bronze with 2/7 odds of a podium finish.
On the strength of a second-best qualifying mark of 95.75, Finland's Roope Tonteri sits in second position with 6/1 odds of winning gold and an 11/10 shot at winding up on the podium. Staale Sandbech of Norway follows with 8/1 odds of scoring gold and a 13/8 chance at medaling.
The rest of the field is rated as follows, with the likelihood of winning the competition listed first and the chance of medaling at all second:
- Sven Thorgren, 10/1, 7/4
- Mark McMorris, 10/1, 2/1
- Peetu Piiroinen, 10/1, 7/2
- Sebastien Toutant, 12/1, 5/1
- Jamie Nicholls, 14/1, 6/1
- Gjermund Braaten, 16/1, 4/1
- Seppe Smits, 20/1, 7/1
- Billy Morgan, 25/1, 8/1
- Chas Guldemond, 25/1, 7/1
The biggest surprise is the low rating of McMorris. Although the 20-year old is competing with a broken rib he sustained on Jan. 25 in Aspen, Colo., he is a two-time Winter X Games slopestyle champion and should be considered a force with which to be reckoned.
Also moderately surprising is the lack of American talent listed. Although he failed to advance directly to the finals, Sage Kotsenburg is widely regarded as "one of the most stylish" riders competing. If the Olympic judges opt to reward his spin on the sport --which they did not do during qualifiers-- he'll be a podium threat.