While Germany and Norway were 1-2 in gold medals the last time that a Winter Games was held in Asia, the reality of a reduced Russian presence is why the two European nations are expected to do so again at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
With the Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, due to officially begin on Friday, Norway is a narrow +150 favorite with Germany a +160 second favorite on the most gold medals futures board, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The countries are each listed at +175 to garner the most medals overall.
In gold medal props, the United States (+500) and Canada (+700) are the high-value outside shots. The prices are similar in overall medals futures: United States +400 and Canada +500.
The main question is how much Russia being marginalized due to doping scandals – it has been allowed to keep 29 medals from Sochi 2014, but the Olympic Athletes From Russia team will be lucky to reach half that – will open opportunities for other leading nations.
The working theory for taking Norway in either prop is the Scandinavian nation’s consistency – a minimum of nine golds in five of the last six Winter Olympics – and its depth in the few sports its masters. Norway is a lock to dominate cross-country skiing, while alpine skiers Kjetil Jansrud and Askel Lund Svindal will duel for downhill and super-G hardware.
A similar case can be made with Germany, which won the most golds during two of the last five Winter Olympics (Nagano 1998 and Torino 2006). Biathlete Laura Dahlmeier, with her primary rival dropping out, could be Phelps-on-snow with a chance at six gold medals. Germany is also poised to dominate the sliding center, with projections of a four-gold sweep in luge and two strong sleds in two-man and four-man bobsled.
With the Americans’ spread of talent across all 15 Winter Games sports and 102 events, the United States is worth a value play to win the most gold medals. The over/under on American golds is 10.5, which is certainly attainable, especially if the women’s hockey team, a -120 favorite against even-money Canada, is able to get the gold.
The over/under on golds for Canada is 8.5, but America’s northern neighbor has only exceeded the threshold twice, in 2010 and 2014. Between the NHL sitting out the men’s hockey competition and key injuries to stars – defending women’s ski cross champion Marielle Thompson hasn’t raced all winter and world champion alpine skier Erik Guay is out due to injury – it might be best to fade the Canadians.
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