The 2014 Sochi Games are almost upon us and I will take a look at a sport that has grown in popularity of late and that is Curling. This is an event that has been dominated by Canada of late as they have won Gold in the last 2 Olympics. The curling competition begins on Monday, Feb. 10 at the Ice Cube Curling Center, within the grounds of the Olympic Park. Vegas Odds have Canada listed as the favorite at 2/3 to take home their 3rd Olympic Gold Medal in a row.
What is Curling? No it's not something you do with weights. Curling is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric rings. Just think of shuffleboard or Bocce Ball on ice. The polished granite stones are also call "rocks" while the Target area is called the "house". The goal is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each end. An end is like an Inning in baseball. An Olympic game is made up of 10 ends.
The curler looks to induce a curved path by causing the stone to slowly turn as it slides, while two sweepers with brooms accompany it as it slides down the sheet of ice, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. A great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, which gives curling its nickname of "chess on ice". Now that we know what curling is, lets take a look at the odds for the teams involved.
As I stated above, Canada is the favorite at 2/3 to take home Olympic gold in Curling. Curling was first introduced in the Olympics in 1998 and Canada has the most medals in the event with 4, while taking gold in the last 2 Olympics. In the 2010 games at Vancouver, Team Canada went a perfect 11-0 on their way to the gold medal. Brad Jacobs is the captain of this strong and confident Canadian team and his is joined by 2 brothers and 2 cousins on this 6-man team.
Sweeden comes in with 9/2 odds to take home the gold. Niklas Edlin is the reigning World and European champion and he captains a team that has been given a decent chance to upend Canada. Edin did beat Jacobs at the 2013 World Men's Curling Championship setting the stage for a great rematch in Sochi. Should the Sweedes carry their momentum from the World Championships then they could medal for the first time since 1998.
Great Britain is next at 11/2. David Murdoch, is the captain for this solid Brit team and may be among the most accomplished curlers heading to the Olympics. He has yet to win an Olympic, but he has piloted his team to multiple awards on the international curling scene, including gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships. The Brits are expected to do well at the Sochi games and they should grab their first ever Olympic medal.
Norway comes in at 9/1 odds to take home the damn **** in the Sochi games. Team Norway is led by Thomas Ulsrud, who has led his team to two European titles and a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver games. giving Norway a nice edge is the fact that they have been together as a team since 2008. Also watch for their flashy new uniforms that they will be wearing. This is a solid and dangerous team.
Switzerland is at 11/1 odds to walk away with the gold in Sochi. The Swiss are led by Sven Michel, who led his team to the gold medal at the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships back in 2013. Switzerland captured Gold in the 1998 games, and then 4 years later they took the Bronze.
Team USA is way down the list at 50/1 Odds. The Americans are led by Skip Shuster, who was benched at the 2010 games in Vancouver for not performing all that well. He looks for a comeback in this one. Shuster has appeared on American curling teams since 2003 and received a bronze medal at the 2006 games in Turin. In 2011 Shuster formed his own team, leading them to back-to-back bronze medals in the World Championships. Team USA is a definite longshot.
Rest of the Men's Curling Odds. Denmark (25/1)... China (33/1)... Germany (50/1)... Russia (80/1)
My Best Bet for this event is an individual matchup Between Switzerland and Sweden. Team Sweden is favored at -190 over Team Switzerland and I will look for Sweden to finish higher than Switzerland in the standings.
See the entire curling schedule for information on the round robin portion.
The television schedule can be found here.
Many thanks to Wikipedia, Bleacher Report and the Sports Network for providing the info needed for this article.
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