Introduction to Winter Sports
Winter sports is the cumulative term we give to sports practised over the colder, snow-filled months. It encompasses ski jumping, speed skating, alpine skiing, slalom, cross country skiing, and biathlon, which combines cross country skiing and rifle shooting.
With skiing or skating the main components of all these sports, the season for winter sports is relatively short, unlike summer sports that can still take place over many colder months. As a result, the winter sports betting season is also shorter. Bettors have less time to learn on the job, so it’s even more important to understand the basics of winter sports before wagering your hard-earned cash.
What Type of Winter Sports Exist?
While many sports are traditionally played over the winter months, some are more confined to this period due to the required conditions. Ice Hockey is a winter sport, but it’s played throughout the year in indoor temperature-controlled facilities.
Here, we focus specifically on outdoor winter sports. Read carefully, as you may pick up some winter sports betting tips.
The winter biathlon combines cross country skiing and rifle shooting and tests an athlete’s endurance, speed, and precision. These factors, and the fact that biathlon has five events, make biathlon betting a challenging task.
The men’s race takes place over 20km, and the women’s over 15km. Competitors set off at 30-second intervals. The course has four shooting stations.
Athletes have five shots at the target at each station. The shooting position alternates between prone and standing, with prone at the first station, standing at the second, etc.
Each missed target accrues a time penalty of one minute, added to the athlete’s total skiing time. The winner is the athlete who completes the course in the fastest time.
The sprint course is 10km for men and 7.5km for women, with a staggered start. Athletes have five attempts at each of two stations to hit the target. Each miss results in a penalty lap of 150m that the athlete completes before continuing with the race.
The athletes’ results in the sprint event determine their starting positions in the pursuit. The course is 12.5km for men and 10km for women. There are four shooting stations. The first two require a prone position, while the athletes can shoot from a standing position at the last two.
Athletes shoot from the lane number corresponding to their race position when they arrive at the shooting station. The athlete completes a 150m penalty loop for each miss. The race winner is the athlete who crosses the finish line first.
All competitors start the race together. The race takes place over 15km for men and 12.5km for women. There are four shooting stations, with the first two being prone shooting and the last two standing.
Competitors complete the 150m penalty loop for each missed shot. The winner is the first across the finish line.
Each relay team has four competitors, skiing a 7.5km leg for men or a 6km leg for women. All first-leg competitors start at the same time. Each leg has a prone and a standing shooting round.
There are eight bullets for each shooting round, but competitors must manually load the final three bullets. If the competitor hasn’t hit all five targets after eight shots, he/she must ski the 150m penalty lap for each miss before continuing. The next competitor sets off when the previous-leg competitor finishes.
Ski jumping is an individual event, and the goal is to score points from the judges for your jump. Jumpers descend a steep ramp called the in-run and launch themselves off the end into the air, travelling as far as possible.
The end of the jump is the K-Line and is marked on the snow at the bottom of the hill on which the in-run is located. The closer to the K-Line a jumper lands, the higher his score. Jumpers lose points for each meter over or short of the K-Line they land.
Competitions usually have two rounds. The first consists of 50 jumpers, of which the best 30 compete in the second round. Each jumper has two jumps, and the cumulative scores determine his place on the scoreboard.
A jump is only valid if the jumper doesn’t touch the ground with his hands. The winner is the jumper with the highest cumulative score in the second round.
Alpine skiing is one of the most popular winter sports events. Its fast pace and high-risk manoeuvres attract many enthusiasts to alpine skiing betting. Alpine skiing takes place on a downhill course of up to 5km.
Sets of poles called gates mark out the course. Skiers must pass through each gate on their way down the course. There is one timed practice run that determines the running order for the race.
Skiers set off at one-minute intervals. The winner is the fastest finisher who passed through all the gates.
Slalom is very similar to alpine or downhill skiing in that it takes place on a course dotted with gates. The turns require speed and precision as they’re sharper than those you find in downhill skiing. There is little room for error in slalom skiing.
Men’s slalom events have 55 – 75 gates, while women’s events have 40 – 60. The first gate is always red, after which the colours alternate between red and blue. Both a skier’s skis and legs must pass through each gate to avoid disqualification.
Each skier completes two courses, and the times are added together. The ultimate winner is the skier with the fastest cumulative time.
Skiing styles aren’t specific to events. The International Ski Federation determines the style for each event. In a race with a mass start, the winner is generally the first to finish the course.
In races with a staggered start, the winner is the skier with the fastest course time. Men’s races vary between 1.4km for an Individual Sprint and 50km in a Mass Start event, while women race over 1.2km and 30km for the same events.
While there are many winter sports competitions, the highlight on the calendar is by far the four-yearly Winter Olympics. This global sporting event started in 1924 in Chamonix, France. With the exception of the years coinciding with WWII, it took place every four years until 1992.
At this stage, an International Olympic Committee decision kicked in to separate the summer and winter games by two years. The next Winter Olympics took place in 1994, and it’s continued unabated since then.
Ski jumping and cross country skiing were two of the first sports included in the Winter Olympics. The modern-day biathlon evolved from military patrol, which was also one of the first events. Alpine skiing, incorporating slalom, was added later and quickly adopted as a permanent fixture on the Olympic program.
The Winter Olympics runs over 16 days, and the number of participating countries can run into the hundreds. The scope of the games provides many opportunities for winter sports betting online.
The USA has hosted the event four times and topped the medal table just once in 1932. To date, the best-performing country is Norway who has led the medal tally eight times.
Where to Bet on Winter Sports?
You probably won’t find a ton of markets for winter sports betting all year round, but in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics or any winter sport championships, interest in ski jumping betting and the like increases exponentially.
Any sportsbook that means the business will make sure that the main tournaments and events are represented; there are plenty of serious bookies out there with a broad sports offering.
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- The layout of the website could still be improved
You can trawl the internet yourself looking for winter sports betting sites, or you can put your trust in our capable hands. We’ve already done a lot of the groundwork and drawn up a list of legal, reputable sportsbooks with winter sports betting markets.
Winter Sports Facts and History
Long ago, an abundance of snow and ice meant that traditional transport methods weren’t possible. This led to the invention of other modes of transport, such as skis and ice skates, that were more suited to extreme conditions. Over time, people used these to develop pastimes and sporting activities that evolved into many of today’s familiar winter sports.
Alpine skiing has its roots in the 18th century having started as a military exercise in the Norwegian army. The 19th century saw the start of ski jumping, with Norwegian Olaf Rye executing an unplanned, unpractised jump of 9.5m. He survived, and ski jumping developed into a winter sport favourite.
Although winter sports aren’t year-round events, they generate sufficient interest to be a popular addition at the bookies. Winter sports betting may be short-lived, but when the big events come around, we’ll have the best winter sports betting sites for you.
When are the Winter Olympics held?
This event takes place every four years, two years after the Summer Olympic Games.
What is a biathlon?
Biathlon consists of two sports. In winter sport, the biathlon is cross country skiing and rifle shooting.
What is the easiest market to bet on for winter sports?
Each sport has a range of markets, but the easiest for new bettors is to bet on the winner of the event.
Can I place live bets on winter sports?
Most winter sports betting sites have an inplay option, although this isn’t always available for each sport or event. Check the sportsbooks in play section to see what’s available for live betting.
Can I bet in advance on the Winter Olympics?
Most sportsbooks have futures markets for the Winter Olympics, but more markets open up as the event date draws closer.