Ski jumping is one of the most thrilling events at the Winter Olympics. Spectators watch as athletes shoot down the slope before soaring into the air, momentarily flying before they make that perfect landing.
The sport is not marked solely on technique the way gymnastics is. The key to winning the event is distance – and in this respect, ski jumpers are human javelins. They're judged on how far they land from the construction point, also known as the K-point. They get 60 points for landing on the K-point, with points added for going beyond the marker. Those who land before it have points deducted from the standard 60.
Athletes are also marked on style during flight and landing. This often has a direct impact on the distance, with certain styles allowing the ski jumper to fly further. Current styles include Windisch, Dascher or parallel, V-style and H-style. Knowing the athletes and the styles they prefer can often help when it comes to placing a bet on who'll win the gold.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes has Poland’s Kamil Stoch pegged as favourite for both the Normal Hill event (where the K-point is set at 90 metres down the slope) and the Large Hill, with the K-point further along at 120 meters. Stoch is attracting odds of 7/4 for the first event and 6/4 for the second, both with good reason. At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the Polish ski jumper became the third man in the history of the games to win gold on both hills; on the Normal Hill he did so with a huge margin of 12.7 points. He did sustain an ankle injury after Sochi, but soon recovered, going on to win all four competitions in the 2017 Four Hills Tournament.
Stoch’s nearest rival in terms of odds is German ski jumper Richard Freitag, with Ladbrokes offering 5/1 on the Normal Hill and 11/2 on the Large Hill. Prior to PyeongChang, Freitag’s only other Winter Games were at Sochi, where he failed to qualify for a medal. In the four years since he has racked up an impressive number of wins, including Titisee-Neustadt in his native Germany in December 2017, as well as Engelberg in Switzerland a week later. He has ski jumping in his genes, with both his father Holger and sister Selina having represented Germany at the international level.
This young Norweigan ski jumper started competing at a professional level in the January 2014 World Cup event in Bad Mittenhof. In less than two years, Daniel Andre Tande claimed his first World Cup win in November 2015 at Klingenthal. More recently, in January 2018 he became the new world champion, beating rivals Stoch and Freitag at the FIS Ski Flying World Championship. He also managed to help Norway retain the team title, becoming a double world champion. Unibet is offering 7/1 for Tande on both the Normal and Large Hill events. With his youth and upward momentum, he's a solid outside bet.
Unsurprisingly, Tande’s Norway team are favourites to win the Men’s Team event, having successfully defended their Ski Flying World Championship title. Top bookies are offering 5/4 if the champions continue their recent success and take gold at PyeongChang. However, the team event is closer in odds than the individual jumps, with the Stoch-led Poland team biting at Norway’s heels. The Poles are currently sitting at odds of 11/8.
From here the odds taper off. Freitag’s German team have solid odds of 4/1, alongside teammates Markus Eisenbichler, Pius Paschke and Andreas Wellinger. They came third in the 2016/2017 Nations Cup, narrowly beaten by Austria to the silver spot. The team took second place at the most recent Nations Cup event at Zakopane in January 2017 and are currently leading overall through points.
A long shot for the Men’s Team winner would be Slovenia, with Black Type offering odds of 16/1. Hopefully the men can learn from the skill shown by the Slovenian Junior Women’s team, who took home gold in the Junior World Championships held in Kandersteg at the start of February.
So if you think you can tell which ski jumper will soar past the K-point to take home a gold medal, why not place a bet online now? If you join today, Ladbrokes are offering a £30 free bet when you wager just £10, so get your skis on.