Americans disappoint in Sochi Halfpipe, but get Breakthroughs in Curling, Luge

sochi-halfpipe-no-american-medalsLeading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics halfpipe event, several snowboarders had complained about the halfpipe conditions, including American Danny Davis. And even though Shaun White was a heavy favorite to win gold on the betting lines, at 1-2 odds, the course conditions meant that anybody could rise up to take first.

Now, we shouldn’t say that “anybody” won. After all, Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, who was given the second best odds at 5-1 by many sportsbooks, ended taking the gold. But both White and Davis, who were rated first and third going into the halfpipe, missed out on medals. White took fourth, Davis finished 10th and Greg Bretz, another highly respected snowboarder, took 12th place. This is the first time in Winter Olympic history that the US failed to earn a snowboarding medal.

Perhaps the US failing to grab a medal in either the halfpipe or slopestyle events was counteracted by some American firsts in the luge and curling. Erin Hamlin took bronze in erin-hamlin-bronzethe luge, which is the United States’ first ever medal in this event. Dating back to the luge’s initial run in 1964, Americans had never seen the luge podium.

The US didn’t have much of a chance of winning a medal in curling, on the men or women’s side. In fact, both teams were a combined 0-5 going into yesterday. However, the American men were finally able to notch a victory after beating Denmark 9-5. The Danes have a pretty strong curling team, however, they were ambushed as the US got five points off of steals.

With over a week to go, Norway leads the overall medal count with 12. Canada and The Netherlands aren’t far behind with 10 medals, while the United States and Russia are tied for fourth with 9 medals. Here’s an expanded look at the medal count as of now:

Top 10 Medal Count
1. Norway – 12 medals (4 golds, 3 silvers, 5 bronzes)
2. Canada – 10 medals (4, 4, 2)
3. The Netherlands – 10 medals (4, 2, 4)
4. United States – 9 medals (3, 1, 5)
5. Russia – 9 medals (2, 4, 3)
6. Germany – 8 medals (6, 1, 1)
7. Austria – 5 medals (1, 4, 0)
8. Switzerland – 4 medals (3, 0, 1)
9. Slovenia – 4 medals (1, 1, 2)
10. Sweden – 4 medals (0, 3, 1)

Elite Snowboarder Danny Davis angry over Sochi Halfpipe Conditions

danny-davis-sochi-olympicsWe’ve already heard plenty about the bizarre and sometimes third-world-country conditions at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Hotel rooms with no hot water, double toilets in stalls and endless stray dogs are just the beginning of the conditions that media members and athletes alike have been baffled over. But what American snowboarder Danny Davis recently complained about has nothing to do with hotel rooms or wandering dogs…

No, Davis is upset over what he perceives to be appalling conditions on the Sochi halfpipe course. His beef is with the halfpipe’s flat bottom, or rather the ground area in between the 22-foot walls on each side. He says that the flat bottom is bumpy and full of powdery snow, which makes it both difficult and dangerous for the athletes to perform their best. “It’s the Olympics. It should be flawless,” he said. “What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what a lame way to treat the athletes.”

danny-davis-sochi-olympics-1The IOC has since postponed Monday morning’s halfpipe in an effort to work on salvaging the course. The big problem is that temperatures in Sochi have reached the 50s, which means that it’s tough to reshape the snow and keep it flattened out. Earlier, snowboarders voiced complaints about the pipe’s vertical edges and these were reshaped to fit Olympic standards. However, many riders think that this may have impacted the flat bottom.

From a betting standpoint, these problems and warm temperatures (by Winter Olympics standards) definitely throw a wrench in things. This is especially the case when you consider that many online sportsbooks have given Shaun White astronomically large odds of winning the gold at 1-2. Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov is the next closest favorite at 5-1 odds of winning, while Davis closely follows him at 6-1 odds.

But with as down as Davis is about the pipe, you may want to hold off before taking him at 6-1 odds. “The IOC probably didn’t want to pay the right guys to do it,” he said. “I’m pretty sure what they’re focused on is keeping as much money in their hands as possible. That’s the shame of it all. All these kids, myself included, worked very hard to get here. And then the pipe is just no fun and boring and (expletive). Halfpipe is super fun, but riding a crappy pipe and having to perform in it is the worst.”

Hopefully everything gets ironed out with the flat bottom before the competition officially begins on Tuesday.

Shaun White is Huge Betting Favorite in 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

shaun-white-sochi-big-favoriteWe at GTBets have seen our fair share of big favorites across the sports world. But saying that Shaun White is a big favorite in the 2014 Winter Olympics halfpipe event is almost an understatement.

Some online sportsbooks are listing the winter sports legend as a 1-2 favorite to win the gold medal. You rarely see an individual given these kind of odds on a betting line. And the whole situation is even crazier when you consider that his next closest competition, Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, carries distant 5-1 odds.

There’s good reason why White is such an overwhelming favorite in the halfpipe at Sochi: he was only beaten once in this event during the entire season. Furthermore, he’s captured the last two halfpipe Olympic gold medals, taking first in the 2006 Turin Games and another first in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

As for the guy who beat White this season, Greg Bretz, he only did so because White hurt his ankle and finished second. Even still, Bretz is worth some consideration because his odds are listed at 33-1. So if you’re looking for a decent low-risk, high-payoff bet, this isn’t a bad proposition.

shaun-white-sochi-big-favorite-1Going back to White, the San Diego, California native spent most of his early years skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding. He befriended skateboarding legend Tony Hawk at a local skatepark and got some good coaching from his older friend. Hawk is a big reason why White was able to become a professional skateboarder by age 17. He’s since won five medals at the X Games, taking golds in the 2007 and ’11 “Vert” event.

White is much better known for his snowboarding skills these days. He’s earned 13 gold medals in the Winter X Games along with three silvers and two bronzes. From 2003-2006, he managed to win four straight Slopestyle events, before finally losing to Andreas Wiig and Teddy Flandreau in 2007.

As for his latest Olympic appearance, in Vancouver in 2010, White captured an easy victory in the halfpipe. During his second run, he tallied a score of 48.4, which isn’t far off the perfect score of 50.0. His next closest competitor scored a 45.0, which was 3.4 points behind White.