Beijing 2022 countdown accelerates as winter season begins
Sharpen those blades, dust off the skis and make your stone shine – the coolest show in the world is just around the corner.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are on the horizon, with Beijing becoming the first city to host the Summer and Winter Games when they open on February 4.
For British athletes competing in the 109 medal-winning events, 15 disciplines and seven sports, the journey to the Chinese capital began after the curtain closed on PyeongChang in 2018.
But those who do their business on ice and snow are really igniting Olympic ambitions with the start of the 2021-22 winter sports season this month.
Stay on track
Beijing itself is hosting one of the campaign’s first events with the ISU Short Track World Cup on October 21, with snowboarding, alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and figure skating also underway this weekend.
2017 world champion and ten-time European champion Elise Christie continues her Olympic journey by campaigning for a third Games in short track speed skating.
Having had a taste of the Games in 2018, Kathryn Thomson and Farrell Treacy will also be bidding for a start line spot in one of the most exciting and unpredictable sports we’ll see in Beijing.
After four World Cup events, the European Short Track Championships will take place in Dresden from January 14-16, and the World Championships will follow the Games in Montreal in March.
The GB team won five medals at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, the team’s highest winter harvests.
Izzy Atkin – who won Britain’s first Olympic skiing medal with bronze in slopestyle in South Korea – is hoping for a fairytale comeback alongside his sister Zoe, 18, herself a world medalist.
Big Air has been added to Beijing’s freestyle ski program and elder Atkin could open her campaign with a World Cup event in this discipline on October 22 in Switzerland.
The Men’s and Women’s Big Air are among the seven new medal events added for the 24th Winter Olympiad, which also includes the monobobsleigh and five mixed team events.
Slopestyle specialists James Woods and Gus Kenworthy, who are aiming for his debut for the GB squad, mean the British men seem just as strong at freestyle skiing.
The Winter X Games will be a key prelude to Beijing for free skiers and snowboarders, taking place January 21-23 in Aspen, Colorado.
Meanwhile, Katie Ormerod, who became Britain’s first-ever 2020 Crystal Globe winner in slopestyle snowboarding, has unfinished Olympic business after an injury dampened her hopes at PyeongChang.
Ice cream, baby ice cream
The GB team have won skeleton medals in every Games they’ve appeared in and three consecutive gold medals for women, with 2018 bronze medalist Laura Deas this time spearheading the charge.
Marcus Wyatt and Matt Weston are among those who have emerged into a strong men’s squad, with the World Cup season culminating with the European Championships in St Moritz on January 14.
Great Britain qualified two places in the four-man bobsleigh in 2014 and 2018 and will aim to do so again with drivers Brad Hall and Lamin Deen in the foreground, preparing for a first global racing opportunity in Innsbruck on November 20.
The curling campaign is already underway and Bruce Mouat and his world silver medalist team won their first ever overseas competition of the Olympic season.
They beat Canada’s No. 1 ice rink in the world at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard to create momentum for preparation in Beijing.
Mouat et cie. won a quota spot for the GB team at the 2021 World Championships, and the captain did the same alongside Jen Dodds in the mixed doubles equivalent to ensure Great Britain feature in the debut Olympic discipline.
Spaces are guaranteed in figure skating, one of the blue ribbon events of the Winter Games, with Natasha McKay scoring a spot in singles and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson doing the same in ice dancing.
The GB team has also secured places for alpine skiers, led by Dave Ryding, and cross-country skiers with Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young who continue to innovate for Britain in the sport.
That’s the general theme – Britain is going where it has never been in winter sports – to bring it all together and make history in Beijing.