It’s that time again when Britons don their goggles and become experts on snow and ice for two weeks. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics officially begin on Friday and we have picked out 10 British athletes worth keeping an eye on.
Skier Dave “The Rocket” Ryding, well, rocketed to fame last month as Britain’s first ever gold medal winner at the Alpine World Cup. The 35-year-old from Chorley says he “won’t be defined by an Olympics” but his recent performance in Kitzbuhel was the best by a Brit since 1981, immediately catapulting him into the category of potential Beijing medallist.
Throwing yourself down a track on what must feel like a tin tray headfirst may be an acquired taste, but British female athletes have made the skeleton their own. No country can beat Team GB’s three golds – Lizzy Yarnold in 2018 and 2014, plus Amy Williams in 2010 – alongside one silver and two bronzes. Laura Deas was third in Pyeongchang four years ago and the pressure is on to continue the golden streak.
A bronze medalist in Sochi in 2014, women’s curling captain Eve Muirhead is an experienced Winter Olympian. Beijing will be the Scot’s fourth Games and, alongside her teammates, Muirhead will hope to at least return to the podium after finishing fourth in South Korea.
British spectators may be familiar with Elise Christie and short-track speed skating, but in Ellia Smeding, Team GB have their first female long-track speed skater for 42 years. Smeding set new national records across three distances in December and is joined in the squad by her partner and fellow speed skater Cornelius Kersten.
Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy comes into this Olympics as a former medalist – but, curiously, not for Britain. The 30-year-old is British born but won silver in 2014 for the United States. Having switched to competing for his birth nation in 2019, Kenworthy won his first medal as a Brit in February 2020 and will go for halfpipe gold in Beijing.
Gerken Schofield sisters
Skiing’s moguls are notoriously difficult and can be body-shattering, so how about three siblings all being in the small percentage of people who compete in it professionally? Twins Leonie and Tom Gerken Schofield and sister Makayla all compete in the moguls, but it’s the two sisters who have qualified for the Games. The sibling rivalry must be palpable.
German-born Rupert Staudinger is Team GB’s only entrant in the highly dangerous luge – although at least they hurtle down feet first, unlike the skeleton. The 24-year old qualified in 2018 despite receiving no UK Sport funding and will be looking for an improvement on his 33rd place in Pyeongchang.
Snowboarder Katie Ormerod’s story is one of resilience. Just one day before her event, slopestyle, in Pyeongchang, she split her heel in training. In March 2020, after learning how to walk again, she became the first Briton to win a World Cup title. A true inspiration for her team-mates, Ormerod is due to begin qualifying on Saturday.
Former sprinter Montell Douglas will become the first British female to compete at both the Summer and Winter Olympics when she goes for gold, alongside Mica McNeill in the two-woman bobsleigh. Douglas once held the British record for the 100m sprint and also made her previous Olympic appearance in the Chinese capital, in 2008.
Lloyd Wallace is following in the footsteps of his parents by competing at the Winter Olympics, as both his mum and dad did in skiing events in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2018 he became the first British aerial skier at the Olympics since 1998.